The Vatican will unveil a papal document on Friday that is expected to soften the Catholic Church's message towards people who do not follow its teachings on family life, including divorcees and homosexuals.
The Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love in Latin) Apostolic Exhortation is supposed to wrap up a divisive debate that saw bishops engage in bitter rows during two summits, known as Synods, held at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015.
In the run-up to the publication of the 261-page document, Pope Francis has dropped hints about his desire for the church to be less intimidating towards sinners.
During Mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday, he spoke of the need for "touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters," and said "so many people ask to be listened to and to be understood."
On Wednesday, the pontiff met with an Italian Catholic support group called The Lost Ring for people whose marriages have broken down. Earlier in the year, the group's leader wrote to Francis to ask for a meeting, and the pope rang him to say yes.
One proposal from the bishops' synods which the pope was expected to take up is allowing case-by-case procedures to determine whether remarried divorcees can take the Holy Communion, following a period of penance and guidance from their priest.
The row over the treatment of divorcees and others who stray from Catholic family teachings, including people who use artificial contraceptives, is a reflection of a wider theological debate within the Catholic Church.
A progressive camp, led by German bishops, says the church should adapt to modern lifestyles in order not to lose touch with the faithful; conservatives retort that sacrificing key family life principles would amount to a betrayal of the Gospel.
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