Pope Francis has called for the Catholic Church to be more compassionate towards those who have divorced and remarried.
He said that “no one can be condemned forever” as that would go against “the logic of the Gospel”.
The comments were included in a 260-page document published this week called ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (The Joy of Love). The Argentine Pontiff said that divorced Catholics should not feel like “excommunicated members of the Church” simply because of their marital status. Such people should be “more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal”, the Pope declared.
Under current Church law, people who have divorced cannot receive communion. Divorce is not recognised so, in the eyes of the religious authorities, that person is still married. Any subsequent marriages they enter are similarly disregarded.
Despite urging a more lenient approach to divorced people, Pope Francis was unmoved when it came to same sex relationships. He claimed there were “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to … marriage and family”. However, he stated that gay people should be “respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration” and decried “unjust discrimination” against them, especially “any form of aggression and violence”.
These pronouncements follow several earlier statements from the Pope about divorce and remarriage. In a Vatican speech last August, he signalled his intention to depart from more traditional teachings on this matter when he said that the Church should welcome people who have previously been married.
Photo courtesy of Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Flickr