Pope Francis issued a controversial document on the family. The D.C. archbishop has a pioneering plan to implement it

Source: The Washington Post

Pope Francis stands on a congressional balcony with leaders including, far left, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, on Sept. 24, 2015, in Washington. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Pope Francis made global news in 2016 with a high-level document on family life meant to bring the church into modern times. It emphasized the need for priests to welcome divorced Catholics who remarry outside the church and many others in what the church calls “irregular situations.”

Francis fans cheered his emphasis on inclusion. Critics rued his lack of clarity.

Two years later, Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, has released one of the most comprehensive responses from a Catholic leader on how to implement the pope’s more lofty and theoretical document.

Like the pope’s, Wuerl’s document sidesteps giving a specific answer to the question of whether Catholics who appear to violate classic teaching — getting remarried outside the church, marrying someone of the same gender, cohabiting — can receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, a core ritual in Catholic spiritual life that represents connection with God.

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