In the long awaited papal document, titled Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), Pope Francis called for a more accepting tone towards gay people, before saying “de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage.”
The document – the result of a two-year consultation with bishops and two Synods – urges the church to “reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”
However, it doesn’t call for the recognition of gay marriages as equal to heterosexual. “De facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage,” said Pope Francis.
“Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.”
The treatment of divorcees, sex education and contraception are also discussed in Joy of Love.
Priests are urged to avoid language that might make divorced parishoners in new unions feel “discrimination against” and to encourage them to participate in the church life. “The Christian community’s care of such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage…”
The language around the teaching of sex education is more in-line with the Catholic doctrine of years gone by. “Frequently, sex education deals primarily with ‘protection’ through the practice of ‘safe sex’. Such expressions convey a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against,” reads the document.
“It is always irresponsible to invite adolescents to toy with their bodies and their desires, as if they possessed the maturity, values, mutual commitment and goals proper to marriage. They end up being blithely encouraged to use other persons as a means of fulfilling their needs or limitations”
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