Granted, what I reproduce below from "The Vatican Insider" is a reporter's story of what Pope Franics said often in his famous "off-the-cuff" ways which I would say is a new "low" (of-the-cuff-statements) in terms of how seriously we as Catholics should take what the pope is saying. It ain't infallible in other words. But the pope only speaks infallibly in the extraordinary magisterium of the Church which is, well, extraordinary. Most of what any pope teaches is ordinary or below that.
What Pope Francis imprecisely articulates is a "pastoral theology" which began to take shape as named in the late 1960's and 70's. In fact, Pope Francis has brought us back to this period as His Holiness must see this period of time as a "golden age" for the Church. Pastoral theology was meant to help priests to deal with the messiness of their parishioner's lives. Much of it is well advised.
Priests can live in a world very different than what most lay people live and when marriage and sex are integral to their lives, even if there is no marriage, priests sometimes can exhibit arrested development in terms of what normal laity have experienced at different levels of their lives. Many priests have a sort of ideal view of sexaulity on the academic level although deep down they know how conflicted it is for so many people and where perfection is seldom or ever attained.
So the messiness of lives, Pope Francis believes, means cutting people some slack but leaving the door open for conversion. I agree with His Holiness. We cannot control people. We are not moral poloicemen and morality is about liberation from sin and death not oppression by the Church.
Canon Law and the legal aspects of the Church should be respected. However, even in the so-called more legalistic or rigid days prior to Vatican II, the Church always allowed dispensations from certain aspects of the law. Sometimes this leads to a sense of arbritrianism. When I was a child in the pre-Vatican II Church and in peace time, military families were dispensed from the Friday abstinence! Why?
So here is another example of our pastoral pope raising more questions than he answers and seeking a more realistic Church when it comes to how people live their lives. He could have said this in an academic, uncontroversial way but then who would being reading it or discussing it?