Pope Francis Urges Compassion, Openness for Divorced and Gay Catholics
A new papal document has created huge buzz online after calling for the church to be less judgmental of non-traditional families all across the world, including divorced couples as well as addressing those in the LGBT community. On Friday, Pope Francis unveiled his Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), which calls on the “Catholic church to revamp its response to modern family life, urging greater acceptance for divorced people and those in same-sex relationships while adhering to traditional church teachings,” the Guardian reported.
In the lengthy document, Francis recommends to Catholic priests around the globe to give special attention to local community needs, rather than strictly adhering to stringent church doctrine. “Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs,” he wrote, according to the Guardian. Francis’s biographer, Austen Ivereigh, said the Laetitia represents a “paradigm shift” in the Catholic church and has the “potential to shape the church’s response to the family for generations to come.” One group that has long been ostracized are divorced and remarried couples, who are barred from the Holy Communion according to church doctrine. But Francis’s statements suggests to priests that they should be less judgmental of divorced individuals and not exclude them from church life. Francis “laid out the church’s warmest welcome in modern times to divorced and remarried couples, saying they should not be judged, discriminated against or excluded from church life. And he encouraged their priests to be merciful in considering whether such Catholics can receive Communion,” the Washington Post reported. Along with divorced and married couples, the Pope signaled a shift in how the church can become more welcoming to gay couples and others in the LGBT community. Stopping short of opening the doors to full acceptance, Francis urged Catholics to “reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.” Francis also denounced aggressive or violent “unjust discrimination.” For many, the Pope’s document pointed toward a need for the church to accept modernity and stray from its rigid past. As the Post reported, “Francis seemed to be urging his clergy to start dealing with the world they live in and not the one they want.”
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