“No closed doors!” Pope Francis has said, calling for a more open Church — one that embraces people who are divorced and remarried and their children.
For Catholics who divorce, the culture of the Church, if not its canon law, has added to their feelings of guilt and shame.
Though divorced Catholics are no longer excommunicated, the stigma of divorce remains, and fellow parishioners may not accept that they are welcome in the church, let alone divorced Catholics who remarry. The plight of divorced Catholics is so pervasive and misunderstood that the Pope publicly clarified the Church’s law and urged compassion.
“The baptized who have established a new union after the failure of sacramental marriage are not at all excommunicated: they are not excommunicated. And they absolutely should not be treated as such,” said the Pope, quoted ina recent CNN article. **
He’s expressed concern for the children of divorced parents, imploring that they and their parents not be shunned. The Pontiff said the Church cannot encourage divorced parents to raise their children as Christians or give them an example of Christian faith “if we keep them at arm’s length.”
On one hand, it’s terribly sad that, in this day and age, when our society’s views on divorce have radically altered, the attitude of as large an institution as the Catholic Church has affected “ . . .millions of divorced Catholics around the world . . .[who] express frustration over their status in the church” according to New York Times article
On the other hand, it’s hopeful that Pope Francis, who champions the disenfranchised, is proclaiming that divorced Catholics are not pariahs and urging clergy and laity treat fellow Catholics with compassion and welcome them with church doors wide open.
©2015 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation