Pope Urges Respect for Gay People, While ‘Absolutely’ Refusing to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

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Pope Francis holds his Weekly General Audience in St. Peter
AMA about people in "'irregular' situations."Photo: Pacific Press/© 2016 Pacific Press

The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church,” Pope Francis begins his more-than-250-page papal document on family life and values. The text, called “Amoris Laetitia” (“Joy of Love” in Latin), calls for the Catholic Church to be more open and understanding to those living in “‘irregular’ situations” — including divorced and remarried individuals, unmarried couples, single parents, and gay people. 

Yet even as Pope Francis urges mercy over judgment, the document does nothing to change Church doctrine — especially when it comes to same-sex marriage and things like contraception. Divorced and remarried people came out the biggest winners, as Pope Francis urged priests and bishops to find ways to work with those individuals and bring them back into the community of the Church — opening up the possibility that these people could once again receive Communion. 

But on same-sex marriage Francis stayed firm: “Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration,” Francis wrote about gay people. “As for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

On contraception, Pope Francis tempered the Church’s language and backed away from saying it was a sin, per NPR, but came out against anything that might “convey a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality.” He also reasserted the Church’s staunch opposition to abortion. However, the celibate pope did have some nice things to say about love and sexuality, per The Guardian:

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