Their acts are contrary to the sacrament of marriage, Pope Francis says of Catholics who divorce and then remarry. But the pontiff is stressing that those spouses — and their children — must be embraced by the church.
The headline on the Vatican's official news site is explicit: "Pope: divorced and remarried people not excommunicated."
The AP reminds us, "Catholic teaching says divorced Catholics who remarry are living in sin and are not allowed to receive Communion, leaving many of these people feeling shunned by their church."
The pope's remarks on divorce came as he spoke about the family in today's General Audience catechesis.
Many are seeing the pope's comments as a signal that he might consider easing the ban on divorced people receiving Communion. But as the AP notes, similar speculation came to naught one year ago, during the Vatican's sessions on the family.
"There is no easy solution for these situations," Francis said Wednesday, after thanking his predecessors who sought to maintain the church's ties to families that have been touched by divorce.
Pope Francis said:
"Though their unions are contrary to the Sacrament of marriage, the Church, as a Mother, seeks the good and salvation of all her children. 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?"