By Sarah Mac Donald - 06 August, 2015
"They are not excommunicated, and should not be treated as such, but rather must be encouraged, with their families, to participate in the Church’s life."
Pope Francis has said that the Church must foster a true welcome for the divorced and remarried and their families.
Resuming his Wednesday General Audiences following the summer holiday, the Pope said the Church must always show her pastoral care for those in such situations, especially the children.
In his catechesis on the family, the Pontiff said “The Church knows well that such a situation contradicts the Christian Sacrament.”
However, he added the Church, as a Mother, always seeks the good and salvation of all her children.
Pope Francis noted that the Church in recent decades has developed a greater awareness of the need to be welcoming toward the divorced and re-married.
He emphasised that they are still part of the Church – they are not excommunicated, and should not be treated as such, but rather must be encouraged, with their families, to participate in the Church’s life: through prayer, listening to the Word of God, the Christian education of their children, and service to the poor.
He recalled the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who called for careful discernment and wise pastoral accompaniment, while recognising that there are no “simple solutions” to the difficulties wounded families face.
The Church, Pope Francis said, should imitate the Good Shepherd, welcoming all her children as a mother who is willing to give her life for them.
“Each one of us can do our part by having the attitude of the Good Shepherd, Who knows every one of His sheep, and excludes no one from His infinite love.”
The issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried is likely to be one of the main issues discussed at the Synod on the Family in October.