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Pope Announces Progressive Measures for Catholics

In a document that’s over 250 pages long, called the Amoris Laetitia (LA-EY-TEE-SEE-YA), or “The Joy of Love” in Latin, Pope Francis writes to Catholics in a very personal  and approachable style. Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesman, says he does this to inspire them.

BURKE: It’s a kind of love letter from the Pope. Francis is emphasizing all that’s positive and promising in family life, without denying all the difficulties

One of those difficulties? Divorce.

BURKE: The Pope’s urging everyone in the church to make marriages work and if they don’t, to be even closer to the people. Pope Francis wants the doors to stay open. No one gets excommunicated just because they’ve been married a second time. Everyone is welcome.

Pope Francis has made his a stance on these issues clear in interviews, speeches and other statement. But this is the first time it is put together in a major church document.

ALLEN: In catholic culture, when the pope says something is okay, you’re living in a new world

John Allen has covered the Vatican for 20 years and is now the editor of Crux, an independent catholic newspaper. He says despite the influence this document could have, the church’s official stance on marriage and divorce hasn’t changed.

ALLEN: The church teaching on marriage remains the same, the law on marriage remains the same.

Allen says this text encourages pastors to meet with individuals and look at every case of divorce individually.

ALLEN: This not something new under Francis, without making a fuss this happens all the time. What is new is that he is enforcing it, and encouraging more people to do it.

But encouragement from the Vatican, will have to trickle down to individual disease.

ALLEN: Of course there’s only so much the pope can do from home, then the question becomes, when they go their local church, what are they going to find?

Up until now, divorced catholics were often not seen as full participants of the Church. Although the experience varies from one case to the next, some like Vince Frese felt like they weren’t getting much support ….

FRESE: I went through a divorce 16 y ago, when I turned to the church, there were no resources. I did have a pastor who said he would pray for me, but that’s really all he could offer me.

Frese is the author of ‘Divorced catholics, now what?’ And he has been helping other catholic divorcees for over 10 years. He’s optimistic about the publication of this document.

FRESE: This pope has raised the awareness for the needs of catholics who are going through a divorce

The challenge going forward for the church will be how they chose to implement Pope Francis’s vision at a more local level.

Alison Vicrobeck, Columbia Radio News


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