Pope Francis has called for an official policy of leniency toward divorced and remarried Catholics in a sweeping proclamation released Friday.
The document, titled "Amoris Laetitia," Latin for "the joy of love" says the church must increasingly open itself to a number of "irregular" family situations, like single parents, gay families and the divorced — offering a way back to communion for those in the latter group.
"Pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations," the document reads. "By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth."
The Pope also spoke out forcefully in defense of another group the church has historically marginalized, LGBT Catholics, but drew a sharp line in the sand on Papal acceptance of same-sex marriage
"Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration," the document reads. "As for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family."
The document was the culmination of two conferences — or synods — of bishops held in Rome in 2014 and 2015 to discuss the future of church and the family. Much of the document released Friday reflects conclusions drawn from those meetings, the New York Times reported.
Francis has built a reputation for pushing the envelope with regard to the policies of the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church. He's apologized and even publicly begged forgiveness for the church's role in South American colonialism. He's spoken up for accepting Syrian refugees, took on Donald Trump and — yes — released his own Christian rock album.
Though he's approaching 80, the Bishop of Rome has shown no sign of slowing down and is not likely to join his predecessor Benedict XVI in retirement anytime soon.