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Nation/World

April 25, 2014

Vatican: Pope's private calls don't reflect policy

(Continued)

The pope has called a synod in October to discuss a range of family issues, including contraception, marriage and divorce. In an unprecedented step ahead of that gathering, the Vatican sent all the world’s bishops a questionnaire asking them to solicit input from ordinary Catholics about whether or not they know or follow church teaching on such issues.

The question of whether to treat divorced and remarried Catholics differently has sparked a lively debate among cardinals, bishops and theologians ahead of the synod, and is particularly important to Francis. In “On Heaven and Earth,” a book he co-authored before becoming pope, Bergoglio called for a more merciful approach to the matter.

“It’s a very strong value in Catholicism, marriage until separated by death. Still, today in Catholic doctrine the faithful who get divorced and remarry are reminded that they are not excommunicated. While they live in a situation on the margin of the sacrament of marriage, they are asked to integrate in the life of the parish,” Bergoglio said.

The pope reportedly told Lisbona to ignore her local priest, observing that some Catholics “try to be more papist than the pope,” and advised her to take communion anyway in some other parish.

But Lombardi’s statement — issued in Italian, English and Spanish — cautioned that “consequences related to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred” from the pope’s private conversations.

“Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral relationships,” Lombardi said. “Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope’s public activities, no information or comments are to be expected from the Holy See Press Office.”

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