The Catholic Church should welcome divorced and remarried Catholics, said Pope Francis on Wednesday. His call for acceptance and equal treatment of remarried Catholics challenges traditional church doctrine, which does not categorize divorce as a “moral offense” but does state that “contracting a new union […] adds to the gravity of the rupture; the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery.”
Pope Francis is hoping to remove the stigma placed on divorced and remarried Catholics. “No closed doors!” he proclaimed to an audience in Rome.
Currently, Catholics who divorce and remarry are considered to be living in sin and are not permitted to receive Communion. Although the ban on Communion has not yet been lifted, the Pope has brought attention to this matter by urging churches to embrace remarried Catholics.
Catholic Bishops from around the world are scheduled to visit the Vatican in October to review the Church’s teachings on family. Among the major issues to be discussed, the group will reevaluate the rule preventing remarried Catholics from receiving Communion.
“People who started a new union after the defeat of their sacramental marriage are not at all excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way,” the Pope said to his first audience after his summer break. “They always belong to the Church.”
Pope Francis also emphasized that children of divorce should especially be welcomed by the Church. He suggested that treating divorced families differently by holding them “at an arm’s length” is unfair and sends the wrong message to the youngest members of the Catholic community. He questioned how it could be possible to present children with an example of Christian faith if their parents were treated as though they had been outcast.
‘We must not add more weight to what children in these situations already have to bear,” he said. “If we look at these new unions through the eyes of young children – and the young are watching – we see even more urgency to develop a real welcome in our communities towards people who are living in such situations.”