RELIGION

Pope: Divorced Catholics who remarry deserve better treatment from church, as do their kids

  • Pope Francis greets newlyweds during the general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. Pope Francis says divorced Catholics who remarry and their children deserve better treatment from the Catholic church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis greets newlyweds during the general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. Pope Francis says divorced Catholics who remarry and their children deserve better treatment from the Catholic church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis is cheered by faithful as he arrives in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis is cheered by faithful as he arrives in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis delivers his message during the general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Pope Francis delivers his message during the general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis says divorced Catholics who remarry and their children deserve better treatment from the Catholic church.

Francis reminded pastors in a speech Wednesday that such Catholics aren't excommunicated, even though they're sometimes treated as if they are.

Catholic teaching says divorced Catholics who remarry are living in sin and are not allowed to receive Communion.

Francis' emphasis on the importance of mercy in church leadership has raised hope among many divorced Catholics that he might lift the Communion ban.

In his speech, Francis didn't go that far. But he said these couples' children suffer because estrangement from full participation in the church makes it harder for the parents to raise their children as Catholics. He said pastors shouldn't "add more weight" to what these children suffer from failed marriages.