Pope stresses divorced and remarried not excommunicated

Pope Francis has said divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are not excommunicated and must not be treated as if they were.

At his general audience on August 5, the Pope said such people are “still part of the Church”, even though “their unions are contrary to the sacrament of 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.

“For 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?” he asked.

He stressed that his predecessors “have worked diligently to let these families know they are still a part of the Church”.

Acknowledging that “there is no easy solution for these situations”, he said: “We can and must always encourage these families to participate in the Church’s life, through prayer, listening to the Word of God, the Christian education of their children, and service to the poor.”

The Church is always looking with the “heart of a mother” to seek out the good for people, the Pope said.

He also called on priests “to manifest openly and coherently the availability of the community” to welcome and encourage divorced and remarried persons.

The Pope added: “May everyone, especially Christian families, imitate the Good Shepherd, who knows all his sheep and excludes no one from his infinite love.”

Quoting from his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), the pontiff said: “The Church is called to always be the open house of the father.”

“No closed doors,” he told the audience, repeating: “No closed doors!”


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