Pope Francis speaks during an audience to Italian Christian Workers Associations (ACLI) in the Paul VI Audience Hall

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Pope: Though 2nd Union for Divorced Goes Against Sacrament, Church Welcomes as Loving Mother

Says ‘No One Is Excluded From God’s Infinite Love’ During 1st Weekly General Audience Following Summer Break

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“The Church knows well that the situation of the divorced who have entered a second union contradicts the Christian sacrament of Marriage. However, her gaze always draws from a mother’s heart, which, animated by the Holy Spirit, always looks for the good and the salvation of people.”

Pope Francis stressed this during his weekly General Audience this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. Marking the first General Audience after his summer break, the Pope continued his catechesis on the family, focusing on the situation of those who have divorced and entered a second union. 

In his discourse, Pope Francis said that given the role of the Church as Mother, “She feels the duty, ‘for the sake of truth, to ‘exercise careful discernment.’ Francis noted how his predecessors expressed this, citing St. John Paul II as an example, who did so in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (no. 84).

Pope Benedict XVI, Francis also pointed out, spoke on this issue, “calling for careful discernment and wise pastoral care,” saying that there are no ‘simple recipes’ during his address to the Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan, June 2, 2012.

The Holy Father said he is especially grateful to the many pastors, guided by his predecessors, who have worked diligently “to let these families know they are still a part of the Church.”

“As these situations especially affect children, we are aware of a greater urgency to foster a true welcome for these families in our communities,” the Pope said, noting the great number of little ones who are affected by this reality.

“How can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm’s length?” the Pope asked the faithful gathered. While saying there is no easy solution for these situations, he underscored that we can and must always encourage these families to participate in the Church’s life. Some suggestions he offered on how to do this included prayer, listening to God’s Word, and Christian education of their children. 

The biblical icon of the Good Shepherd presented in the Gospel of John, Francis said, sums up the mission that Jesus received from the Father to give his life for his sheep. “This attitude,” Francis stressed, “is a model for the Church, which welcomes her children as a mother who gives her life for them.”

As the Good Shepherd gives his life, so the Church as a Mother gives her life for all her children, by being always the “house of the Father, with doors wide open.” “No doors closed,” the Pope told those gathered, speaking off the cuff. 

Reflecting on those with failed marriages, the Pope said, “In fact, these people are not at all excommunicated, and should never be treated as such: they are always part of the Church.” 

The Holy Father concluded, praying that everyone, especially Christian families, “imitate the Good Shepherd, who knows all his sheep and excludes no one from his infinite love.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/general-audience-on-wounded-families

 

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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