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

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Photo: 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.

The pontiff also dedicated two pages to “the erotic dimension of love” within marriage, promoting a positive vision of sexuality. “[This] must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses,” he said.

Overall, the document — which came out of two synods, where Pope Francis debated these issue with bishops — will probably disappoint fans of Pope Francis, who expected more radical changes, while simultaneously upsetting the more conservative members of the Church. “The Joy of Love” reflects a sentiment that New York’s Lisa Miller had captured back in February, when the pope, speaking on the Zika crisis, said “avoiding pregnancy” wasn’t an absolute evil. “The pope was splitting hairs,” Miller wrote, “walking a fine line between the established doctrine of his Church and the wishful thinking of his fans — a line he has walked masterfully since he ascended to the throne of Peter, sending rhetorical signals about a modernizing, liberalizing church while not moving much on actual policy.”

“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: >