A Catholic's second marriage after divorce isn't exactly celebrated by the Vatican. But hey, the Catholic Church isn't going to excommunicate you should you choose to tie the knot a second time. That's the word from Pope Francis himself, who spoke about family values during a general audience today—the first after a summer holiday, reports Vatican Radio. While the "situation contradicts the Christian sacrament," the pope says, per the AP, "people who started a new union after the defeat of their sacramental marriage are not at all excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way." He adds the Church should welcome remarried couples and their families with open arms as it pursues "the well-being and salvation of persons."
As it stands, the Catholic Church believes remarried Catholics live in sin and bars them from receiving Communion. But "they always belong to the Church," Francis says, adding relatives should urge remarried Catholics to pray, teach their children the word of God, and care for the poor. "Each one of us can do our part by having the attitude of the Good Shepherd, who knows every one of His sheep, and excludes no one from His infinite love," he says. In particular, pastors should be careful "not to add additional weight beyond what the children in this situation have to bear," Francis says. "Unfortunately the numbers of these children and young people are truly great." He finished the audience by greeting newlyweds who'd come to hear him speak.