Prayitno is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Prayitno is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pope Francis wants a more open, compassionate and merciful church. Divorced or remarried Catholics “always belong to the church.”

Since Pope Francis became the leader of the Catholic Church in 2013, he was noted to be unique in his style of leadership. He wants to the Church to be more open, compassionate and merciful. Perhaps, he is much known to touch and talk about the most controversial issues in religion that other previous pontiffs failed to act upon.

The most recent liberal message of the pope is his call for Catholic churches around the world to welcome divorced Catholics who eventually remarry even if their first marriage has not been annulled yet. He made the announcement on August 5, 2015 during his weekly public appearance.

According to the pope “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. They always belong to the church.”

The call was made by the pope in line with the current teaching and practice of the Church which prohibits these couples from receiving the sacrament of Eucharist or communion unless they abstain from any sexual relations. Because in the Catholic Church, annulment (nullification of marriage from the beginning) is the recognized form of separation and not divorce.

This is just one of the issues that the pope wants to discuss during major summits or conventions with Catholic bishops. Among the other hotly debated issues include gay or same-sex relationships and the concept of living in or cohabiting. But those with opposing and conservative views see the changes that the pope wants to introduce are not in line or will only undermine the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Related to his call, the pope also wants to put attention to the children of divorced parents who eventually remarry. According to him, the children are already suffering from their parents’ situation and not welcoming their parents to the church will only add to their burden. He asks pastors or priests “not to add additional weight beyond what the children in this situation have to bear.”

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The church is actively campaigning that parents raise their children in a Christian way of life. But according to Pope Francis, treating parents in such situation as though they are already excommunicated will not be an encouragement or a good example of a firm and practiced faith.

The pope added that “If we look at these new bonds with the eyes of small children – and the children do watch, we see once again the urgency of developing in our communities a real welcome for people in such situations.”

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