Pope Francis has been celebrated by many supporters as the face of change within the Catholic Church. His critics, on the other hand, have suggested that he has not gone far enough in bringing the Vatican’s thinking up to modern times.
Now, in what’s being hailed a “landmark” statement, he has changed the Church’s position on several key controversies – some significantly, others minutely.
According to news.com.au, the Pontiff’s 260-page document aims promote a kinder, less judgemental church, most notably the when it comes to the Church’s position on marriage.
To those hoping for serious change, the results are divisive to say the least.
On the marriage equality front, Pope Francis holds his ground: the Church remains opposed to legally recognised gay relationships.
He does, however, offer some progress in accepting unmarried couples, or those not wed before a priest – challenging the traditional idea that this was “living in sin”.
He asked the Church to “reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration”, and condemned “every sign of unjust discrimination”.
When it came to those in relationships outside traditional wedded unions, he stated that “de facto or same-sex unions… may not simply be equated with marriage”.
He urged parishes to make a greater effort to accept divorced believers who may have been remarried in civil ceremonies, suggesting the official ban on them could be lifted in some cases.
Martin Pendergast, a Catholic LGBT activist, told The Guardian, this was a small but promising step forward, suggesting the pope “clearly recognises the existence and experience of people in same-sex unions, although it’s still not willing to equate such unions with marriage”.
“But the door is still open. Conservatives won’t like this document.”
On the other hand, Pope Francis remains firmly anti-abortion. “No alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life,” he said.
He also described pregnancy as something that “must be received as a gift”, rejecting the idea of fertility treatment and suggesting infertile couples could instead adopt.
The document also covered some decidedly lighter ground. Pope Francis also emphasised the importance of the little things in life, recommending parents make sure their children learn to say “please”, “sorry” and “thank you”.
He also helpfully advises brides to take it a little bit easier in the lead-up to a wedding, so they don’t arrive at the al
He even suggests holding the occasional party to break up the “humdrum” of married life.
How do you feel about this “landmark” statement and the changes it could bring? Does it do enough to update the Church’s position on these very divisive issues?