Become an informed Catholic. Click here to join the fight.
VATICAN CITY, August 6, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis says civilly divorced and remarried Catholics are living contrary to the marriage sacrament, but are still part of the Church.
The comments were part of his general audience yesterday in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, where he continued an ongoing series on marriage and family. This week, his specific focus was the increasingly conflict-ridden topic of "divorce and remarriage" — a shorthand for situations in which at least one spouse of a civil marriage has already been sacramentally married before and never had an annulment. This amounts to adultery, as the sacramental marital bond is indissoluble, which means the person in a second union is still married to someone else.
"Today," the Pope began, "I want to draw our attention to another reality: how to care for those who, after the irreversible failure of the matrimonial bond, have undertaken a new union."
"The Church knows well that these situations contradict the Christian Sacrament," stated the Holy Father. "However," he adds, "her gaze always draws from a mother's heart, which, animated by the Holy Spirit, always looks for the good and the salvation of people."
He went on to clarify their status as Catholics. "These people are not excommunicated," he affirmed.
He in fact repeated the point for emphasis: "They are not excommunicated! And they should never be treated as such. They are always part of the Church." It was this addition that drew the applause of the audience.
He added that the faithful must welcome civilly divorced and remarried Catholics into community life, especially for the sake of any children they may have in the second "marriage."
"As these situations especially affect children, we are aware of a greater urgency to foster a true welcome for these families in our communities."
"How can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm's length?" the Holy Father asks. He stressed, citing Pope St. John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio, that discernment in individual cases is important, noting a meaningful "difference between one who has endured a separation and one who provoked it."
The topic of divorce and remarriage has been especially prominent since last year's Extraordinary Synod on the Family, where Cdl. Walter Kasper's proposal to allow people in such adulterous unions to receive Communion was debated. The Kasper Proposal, as it has come to be called, remains on the list of subjects to be discussed at this year's upcoming Ordinary Synod.