Pope Francis released a document Friday that paves the way for new integration into the Roman Catholic Church for divorced Catholics, but does little to soften the church’s strict views on hot-button topics like gay marriage, abortion and contraception.
While the 256-page apostolic exhortation called “Amoris Laetitia,” Latin for “The Joy of Love,” makes no change to church doctrine it establishes that the pope sees individual conscience as the most important principle for Catholics trying to navigate difficult issues surrounding sex, marriage and family life.
“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” the pope said. “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”
“We have been called to form consciences, not replace to them,” he said.
The document is the product of a wide-ranging two-year process that included two high-level church councils called synods, and discussions at tens of thousands of local churches where detailed questionnaires for Catholics were used to gauge their views on family issues. Read more