Pope Francis recently made an unconventional move by marrying 20 couples, some of whom cohabitated and one of whom had a child out of wedlock, at the Vatican over the weekend.
Although sex before marriage and cohabitation before marriage remain sins in the Catholic Church, Francis focused his homily Sunday on the importance of forgiveness. "To spouses who 'have become impatient on the way' and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment," the pope said during the wedding ceremony, "God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them."
According to ABC News, at the Vatican on Sunday Francis married a couple who share a grown son, as well as some couples who lived together before marriage.
Francis commended the couples as the "bricks that build society," and said that each couple is representative of the imperfections of reality. "[Marriage] is a symbol of life, real life: it is not fiction," Francis told the couples during their ceremony.
Many are applauding Francis' recent move, saying it is symbolic of the church's progressive change. The pope's decision to personally marry couples who do not fit into the traditional requirements of the Catholic Church shows the pontiff's personal effort at inclusivity and acceptance.
Candida Moss, a theologian professor at the University of Notre Dame, told CBS News that Pope Francis' recent move may make those who feel alienated from the church feel more welcome.
"Lots of people feel alienated from the church, they don't feel welcome there," Moss said. "But it seems like Francis is saying that the church has to be more progressive, it needs to be more practical and it needs to be more compassionate."