VATICAN CITY (Web Desk) – Pope Francis has said Catholics who remarry – and their children – deserve better treatment and warned his pastors not to discriminate against them.
The Catholic church suggests divorcees who marry again are ‘living in sin’ and should not receive communion.
Now Francis, 78, has hinted the ban could someday be lifted by saying: “They always belong to the church.”
Catholics who divorce but do not take up a new union, such as a second marriage, can still receive Communion.
The Vatican will hold a month-long meeting on family issues this autumn, the Daily Mail reported.
Remarried Catholics hoped a similar meeting held earlier this year would result in the communion ban being lifted.
“People who started a new union after the defeat of their sacramental marriage are not at all excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way,” Francis told hundreds of pilgrims and tourists at his first general audience since the summer break, the Daily Mail reported.
Francis acknowledged the Catholic church’s rule that ‘taking up a new union’ after divorce is wrong but said the church must be one of ‘open doors’ and should ‘seek the well-being and salvation of persons’.
He warned his pastors ‘not to add additional weight’ to the children of failed marriages, adding “Unfortunately the numbers of these children and young people are truly great.”
The Argentinian pontiff also said it would be difficult to give these children “an example of convinced and practiced faith” if their parents are kept fare from the community – “as if they were excommunicated”.
He added: “If we look at these new ties with the eyes of young children… we see ever more the urgency to develop in our community true welcome toward people living in these situations.”
Other than being widowed, the only possible way for Catholics to remarry is if they receive an annulment.
That long, complicated process essentially involves examining whether the marriage ever existed in the first place. Grounds for annulment include refusal by a spouse to have children.
In the past, Pontiffs have complained that annulments in some places – notably in the United States – were being granted too liberally.