Pope Francis has signalled a shift from longstanding Catholic doctrine by declaring that divorce is sometimes “morally necessary”.
During an address in St Peter’s Square earlier this week, the 78 year-old Pontiff told the watching crowds that divorce could save vulnerable spouses and children from abusive relationships. He declared:
“There are cases in which separation is inevitable. Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it’s about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from the more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation.”
The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires referred to the “so-called irregular families” created by divorce, expressing his dislike for the term, and called on the Church to try and help children “avoid children becoming ‘hostages of daddy or mummy.’”
A three week synod of Catholic bishops from around the world is to be staged in Rome in October. Despite the Pope’s conciliatory comments on divorce, the Synod is expected to leave the existing ban on divorced people taking communion in place, following publication this week of the key topics to be placed under discussion. Any new relationships entered by divorced Catholics are classed as sinful by the Church.