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Pope Calls for Compassion for 'Imperfect' Catholics

  • VOA News

Faithful and tourists reach out to Pope Francis as he arrives for his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 6, 2016.

Faithful and tourists reach out to Pope Francis as he arrives for his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 6, 2016.

Pope Francis has urged compassion toward "imperfect" Catholics, such as those who are divorced and seeking to remarry.

In a 260-page treatise titled "The Joy of Love," which the Vatican released Friday, Pope Francis said, "No one can be condemned forever because that is not the logic of the Gospel." The document covers a range of issues relating to sex and marriage and was created from two gatherings of Catholic bishops who met to discuss family issues in 2014 and 2015.

Current Catholic teaching does not explicitly allow divorced Catholics to receive communion and remarriage is only possible if they obtain an annulment of their first marriage.

The pope did not issue a new law or regulation guiding Catholic marriage. He instead appeared to endorse a case by case basis for dealing with the remarriage of Catholics, writing that he could "not provide a new set of general rules... applicable to all cases" while calling for "responsible, personal and pastoral discernment." He urged Catholic clergy to avoid a "cold bureaucratic morality" and instead look for God's grace in "wonderfully complicated" family situations.

Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri, left, and Christoph Schoenborn show a copy of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation ' Amoris Laetitia ' (The Joy of Love) during a press conference at the Vatican, April 8, 2016.

Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri, left, and Christoph Schoenborn show a copy of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation ' Amoris Laetitia ' (The Joy of Love) during a press conference at the Vatican, April 8, 2016.

Divorce, same-sex unions

Analysts said the treatise does not formally state divorced Catholics can receive Communion but instead provides for the possibility for the Church to remain open to different situations.

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of a Jubilee mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 3, 2016.

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of a Jubilee mass in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 3, 2016.

Pope Francis also said gays should be respected but did not change the Church's position on same-sex unions, saying there are "no grounds" for its equation with heterosexual marriage.

On abortion, the pope said, "No alleged right to one's own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end of itself."

The treatise reaffirmed a 2015 Vatican document urging individuals' right to exercise their conscience when making decisions about contraception.

"There each one is alone with God," he wrote, "whose voice echoes in the depth of the heart."

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