Pope Francis has sent out a call for Church officials to be more forgiving towards Catholics who have obtained a divorce in a new papal proclamation released on Friday.
The 256-page “Amoris Laetitia,” Latin for “The Joy of Love,” states that a “breach of the marriage bond” is “against the will of God,” but says that fellow Catholics should not discriminate against the divorced.
“Language or conduct that might lead them to feel discriminated against should be avoided, and they should be encouraged to participate in the life of the community,” the Pope wrote. “The Christian community’s care of such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage…”
The document also continues the Pope’s message of understanding and compassion among Catholics, calling on them to follow the example of Jesus Christ in exercising forgiveness.
“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” he wrote. “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”
Pope Francis also continued to call for the fair treatment and respect of the gay community, but reaffirmed the Church’s position that gay marriage is not equal to marriage between a man and woman.
“Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration,” he said. “As for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as 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 also touched on sex education, which he seemed to say encouraged young people to use sex as a means to fulfill desires that should be saved for marriage.
“Frequently, sex education deals primarily with ‘protection’ through the practice of ‘safe sex’. 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,” he wrote.
“It is always irresponsible to invite adolescents to toy with their bodies and their desires, as if they possessed the maturity, values, mutual commitment and goals proper to marriage,” he continued. “They end up being blithely encouraged to use other persons as a means of fulfilling their needs or limitations”