Pope Francis Calls For Church To Treat The LGBT Community, Divorced Catholics With Respect

Worshippers have been anticipating this message.

On Friday, Pope Francis released a document addressing some controversial aspects of the Catholic Church's doctrine, including homosexuality, remarrying after a divorce and other family issues.

"I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion," Francis wrote. "But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness."

The 256-page document, titled the "Amoris Laetitia" (a Latin phrase meaning "The Joy Of Love") contained 325 paragraphs divided into nine chapters.

Addressing the issue of remarrying after a divorce, Francis reiterated that "divorce is evil," but called upon bishops and priests to treat remarried worshippers with respect, adding that they "are not excommunicated" from their faith.

Under current doctrine, Catholics need an annulment to divorce and remarry. Francis did not say that these worshippers are eligible for communion, but he is allowing greater flexibility among local priests on this issue.

When Francis addressed homosexuality in the document, he called for respect towards "every person regardless of sexual orientation." He also said that "every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence," although he remained unsupportive of marriage equality.

Some progressive Catholics, while pleased with a few aspects of Francis' document, felt that it came up just short of what needed to be said.

"It wasn't as innovative as many had hoped," Catholic scholar Lucetta Scaraffia told The New York Times. "The result is quite modest with respect to the investment and expectations that the world had."

Other Catholics say that Pope Francis' message can unite both progressive and conservative worshippers.

"What the pope has done really is seemed to embrace the middle path, looking for ambiguity, for individual situations," Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter told NPR.

Weaving together biblical verses and advice in the document, Francis also addressed contraceptives, sex education, parenting and gender equality.

"The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear," Francis wrote.

Cover via Franco Origlia / Getty Images.