Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pope Says Divorce-Remarriage No Cause for Shunning

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pope Says Divorce-Remarriage No Cause for Shunning

Article excerpt

Pope Francis delivered a message right out of the Catholic Church catechism Wednesday, but it wasn't directed to people just learning about the faith. It was aimed to those who should know it well: his fellow priests.

At a general audience at the Vatican, Francis emphatically declared that people who are divorced and remarried should not be shunned as if they are excommunicated.

He gave no hint of any change in church doctrine, which says that unless the church annuls a previous marriage - declares it invalid sacramentally - a divorced-and-remarried person cannot receive communion. But Francis said there are plenty of ways they and their children should still be embraced by the church.

"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 pilgrims and tourists at his first general audience after a summer break.

"They always belong to the church." The church, he said, must be one of "open doors."

That shouldn't be news to anyone who has read the catechism, which says such persons "deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the church, especially of pastors."

But the very fact that Francis repeated it reflects the actual experience of many remarried persons who felt shunned by their churches, which makes it unlikely they'd bring their children to church.

"I would hope that would not" be the case, said Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik. "But there are a number of people who speak to the issue of being left out. Some of them might be coming from second marriage. I think the pope speaks to how we really have to go out of our way to make sure people don't feel excluded."

The Rev. Kris Stubna, pastor of St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland, agreed.

"We've got to be able to welcome and include people from all states of life with the idea that it's the mercy of God that can lead them to the truth," he said. …

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