Today Pope Francis finalized a document that celebrated “family life,” just not family life for same-sex couples, couples who wed later in life and are not procreating children, or those who wed and don’t have plans to procreate.
The Washington Blade quotes Francis’ words to this effect. “We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage,” said Francis. “No union that is temporarily or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.”
“Amoris Laetitia” in Latin or “The Joy of Love,” a testament to Family Life, urged priests around the world to be more accepting of divorced Catholics, and other people living in what the church considers “irregular” situations. But those irregular situations didn’t include marriage equality, which is not considered at all by “The Joy of Love.” A Boston gay man, who requested anonymity, told The Rainbow Times that it was “some kind of love, the joy of ‘some’ love.”
The more than 260 page document, comes after Francis summoned the world’s Catholic bishops twice to discuss the issues in conferences known as synods, or an assembly of bishops.
The there are “absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar … to God’s plan for marriage and family,” Francis told the USA Today.
Dignity USA, a group of LGBT Catholics spoke to the Blade about the incredible gap present that shows “how LGBT people and others are seen by church officials, up to and including the pope himself.”
The document leaves room for interpretation because it is vague when it comes to some aspects of it.
“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” the pope said to the USA Today. “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”
According to the New York Times, Pope Francis urged pastors to treat others with kindness and not rigidly following rules and expectations that are hard to attain for church goers.
“A pastor cannot feel that it is enough to simply apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives,” he wrote, as reported by the NYT.
There should be no casting of stones, but Francis’ document casts stones”indirectly” by not even entertaining the recognition of marriage for same-sex couples, and only focusing on marriage as the union of “one man and one woman.”
Speaking on behalf of family life and the high expectations placed on it, Francis called for governments to provide support for families in the form of health care, education and employment. He described the families, according to the NYT, “as under siege by the pressures of modern life.”
A progressive approach in the eyes of some Catholics, the document will undoubtedly create chaos within the Church because it moves away from the rigid “word of God” about behaviors that the Church and the Bible have long condemned. Its interpretation can also become a source of tension for many, as the Bible has too for years. However, many had hoped Francis might have been more liberal as to not leave anyone unfairly treated behind. Specifying health exceptions to the ban on contraception, “expanding the roles for women in the church or prescribing a clear process that would permit Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the church to receive communion.”
To read a more comprehensive report on this story, click here.
Check back for more updates as the story unfolds.