In ‘Joy Of Love’ Manifesto Pope Francis Calls For ‘Mercy’ For Gays, Divorced
Pope Francis urges Faithful To Accept Non-Traditional family structures
Pope Francis has released this Friday a 256-page document –“The Joy of Love” or “Amoris Laetitia” in Latin- outlining a new plan for the Church to become more open and accepting towards its members who live in a different family structure to what the Catholic Church has considered as acceptable. In fact, the document establishes a groundbreaking statement: that those living in what the Church considers as irregular situations (divorced, remarried or homosexuals) cannot be necessarily considered as living in a state of mortal sin, but could be viewed as “in a state of grace“. This would make them even more pleasing to God, while the Vatican must recognize that life isn’t always perfect.
In this document, Pope Francis has also invited Catholics to look into their own conscience and not to rely exclusively on the rules of the Church to judge the complexity of today’s world. While the document does not change any Church doctrine, according to the AP it does however establish that,
…”the church must no longer sit in judgment and “throw stones” at those who fail to live up to the Gospel’s ideals of perfection in marriage and family life.”
In it, the Pope also acknowledges that no person is infallible, and that discrimination, aggression and violence due to sexual orientation or family status ought to be eliminated. As Buzzfeed explained, while Pope Francis has not officially endorsed allowing divorced Catholics to receive the holy communion (a topic that has been highly debatable), this document does emphasize the need for both clergy and members of the Church to be more open and tolerant. To erase from their minds the idea that things are either black or white, because it is this idea what causes so much discrimination and prejudice, and what leaves so many Catholics outside the Church. As Pope Francis stated,
“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness…By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God.”
The Pope has urged the Vatican and the church to stop dealing with the world it wants, but with the world we live in. And in this the Church must be there to support, not to judge. The document doesn’t change church doctrine on homosexuality, marriage, birth control or abortion. Rather, while the Pope continues to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, he is nevertheless asking for the LGBT community, the divorced, and others to be welcomed into the Church – and for discrimination against them to stop immediately.
While this may leave many liberal Catholics disappointed, this is a huge step toward easing the Church’s strict and antiquated rules that clash with our modern times. His words must be spread worldwide even outside the Church; his comprehension of the human diversity and the need for tolerance towards this is exemplary. As the Pope declared in The Guardian, each country or region in the world can surely find solutions that are better suited to its particular culture and that are sensitive to its traditions and needs; something that the Church cannot continue deciding for everyone. As Monsignor Fred Easton, who led the Indianapolis Archdiocese’s tribunal for 31 years told The Washington Post
“He’s giving us a new way of approaching moral decision making. It’s not a wooden approach. It has to relate to the situation of the people. He’s giving us priests at the parish level an encouragement to look for the wide spectrum of possibilities that are there . . . unlike his predecessors, he is telling us not to cut off dialogue so quickly as we had in the past, to see if there is a legitimate path to keeping them in church. That’s the direction he’s going in.”
While the document still does not signify a free pass for everyone to do whatever they want inside the topics of love, family and human sexuality, it does recognize that the Church cannot continue functioning as a torture chamber and its sacrament cannot be offered as prizes. Instead, the institution is here to help everyone without discrimination, to serve as nourishment for the soul and must evolve with today’s society. Confirming that being homosexual, being divorced or remarried are not sins, Pope Francis has once again taken a huge step towards a more tolerant, welcoming and respectful global society.
(Cover photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)