Pope says Church should embrace divorced people

Updated 10:29 AM EDT, Wed August 5, 2015

Story highlights

The Pope reminds Catholics that divorced people are not excommunicated

He says the Church should especially welcome children of divorced parents

(CNN) —  

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for a more open Church – one that embraces people who are divorced and remarried and their children.

“No closed doors!” the Pope said to a crowd gathered for his weekly audience in Rome.

“The baptized who have established a new union after the failure of sacramental marriage are not at all excommunicated: they are not excommunicated. And they absolutely should not be treated as such,” the Pope said.

Catholics who are divorced and remarried, while not excommunicated, are currently barred from receiving communion. In October, Catholic bishops from around the world will meet at the Vatican to review this and other church teachings on the family.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that while divorce itself does not “constitute a moral offense,” “contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery.”

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Pope Francis encouraged Catholic churches to especially welcome children whose parents are divorced.

“We must not add more weight to what children in these situations already have to bear,” the Pope said.

“If we also look at these new unions through the eyes of young children – and the young are watching – we see even more the urgency to develop a real welcome in our communities towards people who are living in such situations. This is why it’s important that the style of the community, its language, its attitudes, are always attentive to people, beginning with the smallest. They are the ones who suffer the most in these situations.”

The Pontiff said the Church could not encourage divorced parents to raise their children as Christians or give them an example of Christian faith “if we keep them at arm’s length.”

He also called for “discernment” regarding the difference between those who have been abandoned in a divorce and those who have provoked it.

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