Family break-up not always a sin - Pope

25 June 2015 - 02:01 By AFP, Reuters, Staff reporter

Pope Francis said yesterday that it may be "morally necessary" for some families to split up, marking a significant change of tone in the Catholic Church's attitude towards troubled marriages. The church has always preached the indissolubility of marriage, and the pope's comments appeared to presage a softening of this stance."There are cases in which separation is inevitable," he said during his weekly general audience, with a message hoping to encourage compassion in the church ahead of a global meeting on family life in October."Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it's about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from the more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation," Francis said.The pope said there were many families in "irregular situations" and the question should be how to best help them, and "how to accompany them so that the child does not become daddy or mummy's hostage".The issue is likely to be addressed during the upcoming synod - a gathering of bishops - on the family, which Francis hopes will help reconcile Catholic thinking with the realities of life in the early 21st century.But a working paper for a major Vatican meeting on the family later this year indicated there would be no change any time soon to the rule that bans Catholics who have divorced and remarried outside the church from receiving communion unless they abstain from sexual relations.A synod last year saw riled conservative bishops mobilise to block the approval of language heralding an unprecedented opening to the gay community and greater flexibility on the treatment of divorced Catholics.The paper also suggested that organisers of the synod did not want the issue of how the church should reach out to homosexual couples to be a key topic.Gay rights activists had hoped the working document, the final one before the October meeting, might resurrect at least some of the conciliatory language on the pastoral care of gay couples that surfaced during a preparatory meeting last year.

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