Pope Francis has released much anticipated guidelines on the Church’s approach to love, sex and marriage.
The 260 page document lays down revised teachings on how Catholics should approach relationships.
Pope Francis said gays should be respected, but restated that there is “absolutely no grounds” to equate gay unions to heterosexual marriage.
He called for a Church that was less strict and more compassionate towards imperfect Catholics, such as those who divorced and remarried.
Pope Francis said couples who live together outside of marriage ‘need to be welcomed and guided, patiently and discreetly’, and the choice to cohabit may be based on external factors such as financial difficulties or cultural situations.
Remarried divorcee’s ‘should not be excommunicated and should not be treated as such’, and should be made to feel part of the Church ‘while avoiding any occasion of scandal’.
The Pope said the Christian Community caring for such people ‘is not to be considered a weakening of its faith ‘but a sign of ‘its charity’.
On broken marriages, Pope Francis said pastors should judge situations on a case-by-case basis. ‘We know that no ‘easy recipes exist’ he wrote.