Pope Francis has invited a group of divorced and remarried believers to a private audience, in the lead-up to the release of a major document on Communion, reports Crux.
While the outreach certainly confirms Pope Francis’ interest in better pastoral care for divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the Church, it doesn’t quite tip his hand in terms of which way he may be leaning on the Communion debate.
The Pope invited a diocesan group in Italy that started a program to reach out to those who are in what the Church calls “irregular unions.” A date has not been set.
On the last Saturday of January, he called Deacon Paolo Tassinari, the coordinator of a group called L’anello perduto (“The Lost Ring”), in the Italian diocese of Fossano, located in the northern Piedmont region.
Pope Francis and Tassinari spoke on the phone for several minutes about the diocesan program, launched in 2008 at the request of Bishop Giuseppe Cavallotto.
Deacon Tassinari told the diocesan paper La Fedeltá about the Pope’s call, saying he found it hard to believe that the Pontiff was interested in “our little project.”
“This gesture of his is his hundredth to express the affection and esteem that the bishop of Rome has for a ‘periphery’ of human beings, such as the ones who live or have lived the failure of their own marriage,” he said.
The call came after some 60 members of the group sent a letter to Pope Francis to share their experience of divorce.
“In separation we have suffered abandonment, betrayal, the break-up of families, the collapse of the deepest values we believed in, the loss of identity and of all the safety, [our] confidence in God and at times the faith,” the group wrote in the letter.
“In this traumatic context, the Church has proven to be generally indifferent, or even hostile, and God seemed distant and aloof,” they told the Pope.