Pope issues new guidelines on sex, marriage, family life

At the Vatican this morning, the Pontiff issued a 256-page document entitled 'The Joy of Love.'

At the Vatican this morning, the Pontiff issued a 256-page document entitled 'The Joy of Love.' (4/8/16)

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis released a document Friday outlining new guidelines for Catholics regarding marriage, divorce, sexuality and other issues.

The document, which in English is titled "The Joy of Love," suggests Catholics should rely on their individual conscience rather than church dogma when it comes to complex modern issues like sex, marriage and family life.

The pope also suggests that priests should use their own discretion on whether Catholics who have gotten divorced and remarried can take Communion.

"By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and growth," the pope wrote in the document.

He also reiterated his stance that gay individuals should not face discrimination and are welcome in the Catholic church, but the document did not reverse course on gay marriage. The pope wrote that "there are no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar" to heterosexual ones.

Robert Vitelli of the LGBT Network says people will choose for themselves whether that means they will return to the church.

"I think for a lot of LGBT people, they will feel an opportunity to come back with the Catholic church," Vitelli says. "I think others will say, 'You know what, equality is equality. Social justice is social justice.'"

In all, "The Joy of Love" is around 260 pages.

Pope Francis also referred to "responsible parenthood" and regulating the number of children a couple has, but he did not mention the church's opposition to contraception.

He did write that abstinence should be promoted when it comes to family planning, but not that other methods are forbidden.

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