He accepts everyone! Pope Francis released a new document on Friday, April 8, that paves the way for reintegration into the Roman Catholic Church for those who are divorced, and urges Catholics to show compassion toward LGBT individuals, single parents, unmarried straight couples living together and those struggling with disabilities or addiction. Although this is a new and progressive era for the church, Pope Francis maintains the strict stance on same-sex marriage and contraception.
The 256-page document titled “Amoris Laetitia,” which is Latin for “The Joy of Love,” doesn’t change official church doctrine or offer any new rules, but it recognizes that the church needs to be accepting of difficult family situations. “Pastors are to avoid judgments that do not take into account the complexity of various situations,” he wrote.
Pope Francis outlines a new route for divorced and remarried Catholics to be welcomed back to the church through an examination of conscience and help from priests. Typically divorced people cannot receive Communion unless their marriage has been annulled, which can be a long and costly process. “It is important that the divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church,” he wrote. He says that because the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases, the consequences do not necessarily need to be the same.
The Bishop of Rome also calls for more compassion toward the LGBT community in “Amoris Laetitia.” “Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided,” he wrote.
He asks priests to welcome single parents and unmarried straight couples who are living together as well. “Whatever the cause, single parents must receive encouragement and support from other families in the Christian community,” he said.
Another sign of progressive times: Pope Francis makes a statement that seems as if he may be open to the idea of married clergy. “Ordained ministers often lack the training needed to deal with the complex problems currently facing families,” the Pope wrote. “The experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy could be drawn upon.”
Although this is a huge step for the church, Pope Francis firmly rejected the idea of same-sex marriage. “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” he stated.
He also maintained a firm stance on contraception and questioned the “safe sex” message commonly taught these days. “Frequently, sex education deals primarily with ‘protection’ through the practice of ‘safe sex,’” Pope Francis said. “Such expressions convey a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against.”
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church recently joined Instagram with the handle @francisus, and has amassed more than 2 million followers in two weeks. He’s also @Pontifex on Twitter.
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