Well, he did it. Many were afraid he would not, but he did.
Today, with the much anticipated release of his document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis confirmed the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception, pre-marital sex, and just about every other sex-related issue facing families.
It seems there may still be a tussle over divorced Catholics receiving the Eucharist at Mass, but that situation may be resolved by some changes to administration of the annulment process.
But there is a bigger picture to Amoris Laetitia it seems. Some would say it focuses on mercy to sinners, and with that, it could be a lessening of what is sinful and what isn’t.
From what I have seen and read so far, I see it to be about humanity. The Pope is not so much saying we should accept sin, or deem some sins to be less harmful. What he’s saying is that human beings are not perfect creatures. We are predestined to sin, like it or not, and when it comes to matters of family, those sins often lead to some odd and untraditional situations, i.e., single-parent families, abortion, child and spousal abuse, children being raised by grandparents, gender confusion in young children, and so on.
Francis stresses that ALL people are welcome within the Church. This is also stressed in the Chatechism – and it should not surprise anyone, especially not Catholics. We welcome homosexuals within the Church. Catholics do not believe same-sex marriage fits our definition of marriage. But just like someone who struggles with sins like fornication, gluttony or envy, those who face homosexuality are welcome to be active Church participants.
All people who are part of the Catholic Church face challenges when it comes to following Gods word. That goes for priests, nuns, bishops, etc. We all sin. God knows that we will and he allows us the prerogative to do so if we wish. What he does not allow is for us to decide something is not sinful because it’s become popular, or considered to be hard to resist.
What God offers us is forgiveness, if we are truly attempting to live as his children, and are truly sorry for our transgressions. Just as God can and will forgive sins like fornication, adultry, homosexual sex, divorce, abortion and abuse, we also must accept all sinners into the Church fold to allow them to repent and grow in Gods love. If God does not judge, nor should we, who are also imperfect by His design.
God welcomes all types of families into His Church. He realizes that in our imperfect world, miracles and goodness can rise from our mistakes and missteps – much the way children who grow into loving adults, can come from unusual relationships.
The Catholic Church has “rules” which have purpose and reason. As Francis has shown, no matter how much the secular world demands, they will not change. They are rooted in love. But we imperfect humans must take into account the reality of humanity in order for those rules to work in all lives.