Pope: Church Should 'Accompany' Those Divorced, Not Condemn

Pope Francis on Friday appeared to soften the Roman Catholic Church’s position on another hot-button social issue: Divorce.

During a morning Mass on Friday, Pope Francis said those divorced should be “accompanied,” not “condemned,” according to the official Vatican news network.

The pontiff went on to say that those around a divorcing couple should not give in to the temptation of casuistry, a specific-instance based reasoning often used in debating ethical questions.

“It is always the small case. And this is the trap, behind casuistry, behind casuistical thought, there is always a trap,” the pope said. “Against people, against us, and against God, always.”


Pope Francis declares divorcees deserve compassion too

The church ended up being “an amazing place of healing,” says Amanda. “It was the first time I felt like there was no shame in my story. I had felt a lot of shame at my old church. I realized, ‘God has brought me here and he brought me here to heal me.’”

Amanda became friends with a man who was deeply involved in the church. After a while, they began dating. Still new to the church, she was worried. She says, “I remember thinking our pastor wouldn’t want me to date him because I was damaged goods. But he was so excited for us.”…

Pope Francis told an interviewer last year that the church should be a, “field hospital after battle.” He added, “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.”

Which is why, as he exhorted Christians to support divorced people, he reminded them that, “[W]hen…love fails—because many times it fails—we have to feel the pain of the failure, [we must] accompany those people who have had this failure in their love. [W]alk with them.” Help them heal.

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I not aware of anyone in my circle that thinks divorcees should be denied compassion, so I assume this is an attempt to mollify the actual excrement storm that is brewing–namely, a certain quarter in the Church pushing for couples divorced and remarried without annulments to be admitted to communion.

See Dr. Peter’s recent entries dismantling the the lame arguments in support of this: canonlawblog.wordpress.com/

Here is L’Osservatore Romano’s coverage of the Holy Father’s homily of 2/28/14:

When a love fails


However, he added that “the Lord’s masterpiece was not finished there, during the days of creation”. For the Lord has chosen this very image “to explain the love that he has for his people, the love that he has with his people”. The Lord’s love is so great, that even “when his people are unfaithful”, still “he speaks to them words of love; we think of the way the Lord describes his unfaithful people in Chapter 16 of the prophet Ezekiel”. Thus, the Pope said, “the Lord holds up this love contained in the masterpiece of creation in order to explain the love he has for his people. Yet there is another step: when Paul needs to explain the mystery of Christ, he also does so in relation and in reference to the bride. For Christ is wedded: he wedded the Church, his people; as the Father had wedded his people Israel, so Christ espoused his people to himself”.

“This is the story of love. This is the story of the masterpiece of creation. And casuistry crumbles before this journey of love, before this icon, and becomes pain”. Pain in the face of failure. “When he leaves his father and mother to be joined to a woman, when they become one flesh and continue on, when this love fails – for it often fails – we need to feel the pain of the failure”, the Pope said. And in that moment we also need “to accompany those persons who have failed in their love”. We don’t need “to condemn” but “to walk with them”, and above all, we need not “turn their situation into casuistry”.

All of this, the Pope continued, brings to mind the “plan of love”, “the journey of love of Christian marriage, which God blessed in the masterpiece of his creation with a blessing that can never be taken away. Not even original sin destroyed it”. And “when one considers this”, he quite naturally sees “how beautiful love is, how beautiful marriage is, how beautiful the family is, how beautiful this journey is”. But he also sees “how much love, and what great closeness we should also have for our brothers and sisters who, in their lives, have had the misfortune of a failed love”. A love that “begins poetically, for the second account of the creation of man in the Book of Genesis is poetic”; and that “concludes poetically in the Bible, in the Letters of St Paul, when he speaks of the love that Christ has for his bride, the Church”.

The Pope emphasized, however, that “here also we need to take care that love does not fail” so that we end in “speaking about Christ as ‘a bachelor’: Christ married the Church! And we cannot understand Christ without the Church”, just as “we cannot understand the Church without Christ”. “This is the great mystery of the masterpiece of creation”. Pope Francis concluded his meditation by asking the Lord for the grace to understand this mystery “and for the grace never to fall into the casuistic attitude of the Pharisees and doctors of the law”.
It’s actually a rather beautiful teaching, talking about when we fail, God never abandons us. And how the Church should not abandon people when they fall. The whole thing is well worth reading.

What really irks me here is that, in the second article cited, the case given was not even for a Catholic woman…it was for an evangelical. They couldn’t find a Catholic woman with some kind of divorce nightmare? At least as long as I’ve been alive, the Church has never taught that spouses should remain in an abusive relationship…divorce has never really been the issue. Subsequent civil unions following the dissolution of a valid marriage…that’s always where the issue’s been.

One of the saddest things I’ve seen in my semi-long life is the concerted and consistent effort to twist this Pope’s words.

I don’t look at it that way. I think I agree with Cardinal Dolan (watch his interview on NBC this weekend in the other thread.) The Holy Father is a teacher. His students are everyone on earth. Pretty large class :slight_smile: A good teacher makes you think. Makes you grapple with the hard issues. I think that is exactly what the Holy Father is doing.

Sure it is easy to have an autocrat to restate rules, regulations and dogma, and it is a lot clearer for the short term, but you don’t change people’s minds that way.

And to a large extent, a lot of what a lot of apologists have been saying is “NO, NO, NO” instead of sharing the love of Christ and the Good News. There is a lot of love an compassion in what we believe. It is time to start sharing that.

I agree that the Holy Father is being a good teacher. No argument there at all.

My statement was not referring to the Holy Father. My statement was referring to the media and certain progressive elements within the Church trying to shoehorn his teachings into their paradigm.

Take, for example, the first and last paragraphs of the NBC article you linked:

Pope Francis on Friday appeared to soften the Roman Catholic Church’s position on another hot-button social issue: Divorce.


Francis’ remarks about divorce come at a time when he has been working with cardinals to discuss family-related issues such as contraception, cohabitation, divorce and gay relationships.

How is he softening the position?

If anything, he is calling on pastors to be more pastoral when dealing with this issue…not to change Church teaching.

Indications that the Church is going to change anything regarding contraception? Hardly. Cohabitation? You joke, right? Divorce? The Church already allows divorce…the Church is hardly going to condone adulterous relationships after the divorce occurs. Gay relationships? Really???

They are pushing their agenda.

Either he hasn’t “softened” anything, or I missed the part where the Church’s position was to condemn those who have divorced.

Sure secularists push their agenda. So do some people who want the Holy Father to condemn certain classes of people. Many people have agendas. That shouldn’t stop the Holy Father from teaching.

Amen. The Church has never condemned the divorced, it’s the remarrying that is problematic (as it amounts to adultery).

Oh good, divorce isn’t a mortal sin anymore.

Read the Catechism. Divorce isn’t a mortal sin (remember your spouse can divorce you without your consent and without any way of you stopping it). Remarriage is sinful because you are still married to your first spouse, thus “marrying” your second spouse amounts to adultery.

Agreed. But that said, I think in this day and age, many people enter into marriage without fully understanding what it means, or what the Church teaches on this subject. The result is a short-lived marriage and a demand for a “quick” divorce. Such “quickie” or “no-fault” divorces would certainly be sinful, even if not mortally sinful. Similarly, divorcing one’s spouse for sinful reasons (not being open to life, or wanting to marry someone else) would compound the sin, and would probably count as mortal.

I have read the Catechism. *Have you? * I’ll save you the trouble of pulling it off the shelf. It may be hard for you to find.

2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. 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:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

Perhaps only a page was torn out of yours and it begins with

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

In that case, I can excuse your ignorance.

I think Pietro made an honest mistake. That was uncalled for. :o

Also, the Catechism usage of “divorce” and our use of the term in common parlance mean two different things. A woman deserted by her husband (or vice versa) is certainly not sinning, even if they go through the rigmarole of a civil divorce. Similarly, a separation on grounds of, say, domestic violence or child abuse is not only lawful, but wise.

I never said it should stop him from teaching.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the media to report an incident without superimposing their secular, libertine, and leftist agendas on everything (including the Holy Father). If you hear me complain, it’s not about the Holy Father…it’s about the reporting on the Holy Father.

Have you ever heard people complain about the “Spirit of Vatican II”? Where some progressive forces attempted to superimpose all manner of foolishness on the Church, using “Vatican II” as a justification?

This is an analog. (For example, the AG of Kentucky saying he won’t defend the state’s ban on homosexual marriage because of Francis. What he means is he won’t defend it because of the “spirit of Francis”) (where is the vomiting smiley?)

It was brusque, but I feel I reacted appropriately to someone demanding that I “read the Catechism” after baldly contradicting what it actually says.

Point taken. :slight_smile: I think he was referring to the situation in CCC 2386 (as you mentioned), but unilaterally divorcing one’s spouse and repudiating the marriage bond - as I said in my post - is certainly sinful.

No one said the Pope should have to stop. The Pope is great. But ideally people would be more honest when reporting what he said.

(Also, I am not aware of anyone wanting the Pope to condemn any class of people (only classes of sin, which he does), but I am aware or many people who want the Pope to accept sins as good as well as people, which he does not.)

Well, there are definitely a lot of people who don’t want a certain type of person (based on avowed temptations, social or economic views, or philosophical inclinations) around to influence the Church. You make up your mind if they are a class or not.

Is grave offense the same as mortal sin?

I thought: mortal sin = grave offense/matter + full knowledge + full freedom

Fortunately, the Church has no such proscriptions.

Otherwise, according to not a few, neither I nor anybody holding the same views, would be welcome in the Church.

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