December 15, 2014

Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must find new ways to integrate divorced and civilly remarried people into the life of the Church and to make it easier for Catholic families to accept their homosexual members.

In an interview with an Argentine newspaper, the pope answered several questions about the October 2014 Synod of Bishops on the family, which considered a controversial proposal to allow some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion even without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriages.

By Church law, such Catholics may not receive Communion unless they abstain from sexual relations, living as "brother and sister" with their new partners.

Regarding such Catholics, "we posed the question, what do we do with them? What door can be opened for them?" Pope Francis said. "The solution is integration."

The pope noted several currently prohibited activities, including teaching Sunday school and distributing Communion, that he said amounted to the de facto excommunication of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

"Let us open the doors a bit more. Why can't they be godfathers and godmothers?" Pope Francis said.

He dismissed the objection that they would set a poor example for the baptized.

Divorced and civilly remarried godparents offer their godchild the "testimony of a man and a woman saying, 'My dear, I made a mistake, I was wrong here, but I believe the Lord loves me, I want to follow God, I was not defeated by sin, I want to move on.'

"Is anything more Christian than that?"

Such godparents are more worthy of their role than "political crooks" who happen to be properly wedded, the pope said.

"We must go back and change things a bit, in terms of standards," he said.

Pope Francis made his remarks in an interview published Dec. 7 in the newspaper La Nacion. The interview, with journalist Elisabetta Pique, was conducted Dec. 4 in the pope's suite at the Vatican guesthouse, where he lives.


Pope Francis referred to the synod's controversial midterm report, which used favourable language toward people with ways of life contrary to Catholic teaching, including those in same-sex unions.

"The synod addressed the family and homosexual persons in relation to their families," the pope said.

"We have to find a way to help that father or that mother stand by their (homosexual) son or daughter. That's what the synod addressed.

"That's why someone mentioned positive factors (of same-sex unions) in the first draft. But that was just a draft."