Longhorns react to Pope’s divorce comments and controversy

Marina Vences

When Pope Francis called for a forgiving view of second families and divorced or remarried Catholics in April, he faced immediate opposition. When two weeks ago he endorsed an Argentinian publication agreeing with this viewpoint that also called for leniency in church procedures, he sparked a worldwide debate. 

The pope’s document, titled “Amoris Laetitia,” covered the need for adapting how the church treats and feels about the modern family. He writes families should be viewed as a complex structure of individuals, not an idea. Since its release, both prominent Cardinals and members of the church have received the document with apprehension.

“At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families,” the pope said in the document. “We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations.”

Father Jimmy Hsu, associate director of the University Catholic Center, said the pope is not advocating for a change in procedure between the church and second families, but a more compassionate stance toward them.

“I think what the pope is talking about has to do with mercy for divorced Catholics who are still children of God,” Hsu said. “Not a change in how the church handles second families, but instead offering more love and understanding for the parents and children.”

Anthony Krupa, geology junior and member of the Catholic Center, said he agrees with the pope in saying second families, though not ideal, can benefit the children more than a first marriage because a marriage should represent a positive and healthy view of love.

“If the person marries someone the first time, but that isn’t the person they’re meant to be with for the rest of their lives, that hurts the family dynamic.” Krupa said. “Pope Francis isn’t saying divorce is okay or ideal, but that we need to change our attitude toward second families to be more positive.”

Pope Francis continues to comment on the topic, fueling the debate at the Vatican. 

“Francis is calling us to mercy,” Hsu said. “To humanize second families, instead of focusing on their titles.”