Pope Francis in his yearly exhortations has called on catholic clergy and lay faithful to be more lenient in their dealings with homosexuals and divorcees, while condemning abortion and death penalties.
In a move that many describe as a giant step away from the traditional conservative stance of the catholic church, the Pope called for a change of altitude towards the modern family.
While maintaining its traditional belief that abortion and homosexual unions are sinful, the papal exhortation noted that pastors should avoid being judgemental and move towards counselling of such persons.
The papal publication entitled: “Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family,” -a teaching of the church on family, sexuality and marriage prescribes the following measures.
1) On challenges facing married couples and families today, the head of the catholic church stated that marriages in the modern society are difficult and beset by several difficulties.
Marriage is “mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures.”
“No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love …All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families.”
“Longer life spans now mean that close and exclusive relationships must last for four, five or even six decades; consequently, the initial decision has to be frequently renewed.”
2) Speaking on Homosexuality, cohabitation and the position of the church, the Pope wrote that every individual should be respected regardless of sexual orientation. While noting that same sex union cannot be equated with marriage, the Pope, however, called on pastors to provide pastoral guidance to individuals who manifest homosexual orientation.
“Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”
“De facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage.”
“Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.”
3) On the thorny issue of divorced individuals in the church, the Pope wrote that the church should be more open and welcoming to them.
“For divorced people who are living a new union it is important to let them know they are part of the Church, they are not excommunicated.”
Jesus proposed a demanding ideal but “never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery.”
“While clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgments that do not take into account the complexity of various situations.”
“A pastor cannot feel that it is enough to simply apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.”
4) On abortion and death penalty, and its rightfulness or wrongfulness, the Pope maintained the traditional position of the church in condemning the unnatural termination of human life.
“No alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life.”
“Similarly, the Church not only feels the urgency to assert the right to a natural death, without aggressive treatment and euthanasia, but likewise firmly rejects the death penalty.”