Pope Francis 1 is a heck of a guy. He speaks his mind. Some would prefer he didn’t, but overall the public’s’ reaction to his transparency has been one of appreciation and approval. It seems that The Bishop of Rome doesn’t do well when it comes to catering to bureaucratic dictates. He purposefully circumvents the papal staff’s censorship preferring to tell it like he sees it. Without the inner circle monitoring his every word he has become known as the Vicar of Christ who may surprise you. This is refreshing and in this author’s opinion makes him even more interesting.
It started when he first took the office and chose 8 different titles, none of which was Pope. He is still referred to as Pope Francis 1, but officially he refused the title in favor of: Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Primate of Italy, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Bishop of Rome, and Servant of the Servants of God. He favored these titles over Pope because they mean more to him for what they actually mean, whereas Pope simply is the Italian endearment for “papa’. It is not a formal title as much as it is a colloquial term.
His flock of over 1 billion Catholics worldwide loved him from the beginning. Although he leaves us amazed at times he mostly leaves us smiling.
In the most recent news Francis speaks his mind about divorce. Going against the traditional norm, Francis was clear when he stated that sometimes divorce is inevitable.
Quoting Pope Francis: “Sometimes it can become even morally necessary, precisely when it comes to subtracting the weaker spouse, or small children, from more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation.”
The official stance has been that within a Catholic marriage, divorce has not been permitted. Circumstances did not allow for the possibility of divorce and it’s only been in recent years that the conversation has entered a more public arena. Never has the Leader of the Church ever openly sanctioned otherwise – until now. Maybe sanctioned isn’t the right term to use as the official position held by the Catholic Church still does not sanction divorce. What is permitted is Church sanctioned annulments. This has been the case for decades, but the procedure has been lengthy and complicated. In the meantime the damage within a relationship can grow critical. The Church has vowed to speed up the process and make it simpler.
At the center of the concerns is the right for those who fall outside of the sanctioned policies to receive the sacrament of communion. This restriction would be enough for the faithful to bow to the old ways and live in misery with a spouse who may be putting them in harms way.
When Francis spoke so publicly without papal staff filters this past week he had the attention of the Catholic community as well as the media. His outspokenness has created a split within the Catholic leadership. There will always be those who feel strongly that tradition is the rule, but there is also a large segment who firmly believe that the time has come to see past traditional restrictions for the greater good.
Should the Church adjust doctrine for changing family dynamics? What would you do? Leave a comment and share your feelings on the subject of Divorce and the Catholic Church, we would love to get your insights.