Europe

Pope insists conscience, not rules, must guide faithful

  • Pope Francis speaks with Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, left, and his wife Sanja Dujmovic, right, on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Francis speaks with Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, left, and his wife Sanja Dujmovic, right, on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis receives a gift from Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, left, on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)

    Pope Francis receives a gift from Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, left, on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Thursday, April 7, 2016. (Alessandro Di Meo/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri arrives for a press conference to present the post-synodal apostolic exhortation ' Amoris Laetitia ' (The Joy of Love), at the Vatican, Friday, April 8, 2016. Pope Francis has insisted that individual conscience be the guiding principle for Catholics negotiating the complexities of sex, marriage and family life in a major document released Friday that repudiates the centrality of black and white rules for the faithful. In the 256-page document "The Joy of Love," released Friday, Francis makes no change in church doctrine. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri arrives for a press conference to present the post-synodal apostolic exhortation ' Amoris Laetitia ' (The Joy of Love), at the Vatican, Friday, April 8, 2016. Pope Francis has insisted that individual conscience be the guiding principle for Catholics negotiating the complexities of sex, marriage and family life in a major document released Friday that repudiates the centrality of black and white rules for the faithful. In the 256-page document "The Joy of Love," released Friday, Francis makes no change in church doctrine. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis has insisted that individual conscience should be the guiding principle for Catholics negotiating the complexities of sex, marriage and family life in a major document that rejects the emphasis on black and white rules for the faithful.

In the 256-page document "The Joy of Love," released Friday, Francis makes no change in church doctrine.

But in selectively citing his predecessors and emphasizing his own teachings, Francis makes clear that he wants nothing short of a revolution in the way priests accompany Catholics. He says the church must no longer sit in judgment and "throw stones" against those who fail to live up to the Gospel's ideals of marriage and family life.

He said of the church: "We have been called to form consciences, not replace to them."