THE VATICAN – The Pope made a statement on Wednesday urging church leaders and pastors to show leniency to Catholics who divorce and remarry. Those who do so cannot take Communion, an important part of the Catholic faith, and while the Pope did not speak of ending that ban, he did say divorced persons who remarry need to be treated better.
“How do we take care of those who, following the irreversible failing of their family bond, made a new union?” Pope Francis said. “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.”
He made these statements as the Catholic Church conducts a month-long meeting on family-issues as they relate to the Church. The Pope noted that the children of divorced members of the flock are not always being well-treated as a result of sanctions against their parents. The church should not, the Pontiff said, “add additional weight beyond what the children in this situation have to bear. Unfortunately the numbers of these children and young people are truly great.”
Divorced and remarried Catholics are hoping the ban on their receiving the Eucharist will be dropped by the Church and they hoped the Pope would counsel the Church to do so. However, while he did not, his supportive words may signal the beginning of the end to the ban.
Pope Francis made his remarks during one of his general audience talks, his first since taking a summer break. His listeners were made up of Pilgrims and tourists.