‘Full of love’
Pope addresses how to approach modern family life
Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. A U.N. human rights committee denounced the Vatican on Wednesday for systematically adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, and urged it to open its files on the pedophiles and the bishops who concealed their crimes. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church should deal with modern lifestyles that are removed from its doctrine in ways that are “intelligent, courageous and full of love,” Pope Francis said Thursday.
He was opening a two-day meeting of cardinals due to debate controversial issues — such as the right approach toward Catholics who divorce and remarry, the use of contraceptives, sex before marriage and same-sex unions.
“We will seek to deepen the theology of the family and discern the pastoral practices which our present situation requires,” Francis said, rejecting a case-by-case approach to get around church teachings.
In a separate statement, the pontiff spoke out against euthanasia — days after Belgium became the first country in the world to drop all age restrictions on the practice, legalizing it for terminally ill children.
“Lack of health or disability are never a good reason to exclude, or worse, to eliminate a person,” Francis said in a message to the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Earlier this month, a worldwide survey commissioned by the U.S. television channel Univision indicated that a majority of Catholics opposed doctrine on divorce, abortion and contraceptives, but agreed that gays and lesbians should not be allowed to marry.
Bishops around the world have conducted similar surveys among ordinary Catholics, in preparation for fuller discussions on family life scheduled for October at the Vatican. In some countries, such as Germany, the results have been made public.
“The Church’s statements on premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried, and on birth control ... are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases,” the German Episcopal Conference said.
German Catholics have been prominent in calling for the Vatican to drop its ban on remarried couples taking part in Holy Communion.
Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re said he did not expect Francis to change position on the issue, but said he wanted to take a more understanding approach toward people who fall out of step with church doctrine.
“The pope is reflecting on what should be done to stay close to divorcees who marry again,” Re told the website Vatican Insider. They “must be helped to preserve their faith, to conduct a life of prayer and to take part in Sunday mass,” he added.
©2014 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by MCT Information Services