Pope Francis has said that in cases of violence and exploitation, it may be "morally necessary" for spouses to separate. The pontiff's comments come ahead of a synod slated for October to discuss family life.
During his weekly speech addressing the "community of believers," Pope Francis said that in certain cases separation may be "inevitable."
"Sometimes, it can even be morally necessary, when it's about shielding the weaker spouse or young children from the more serious wounds caused by intimidation and violence, humiliation and exploitation," the pope said.
'With respect and sensitivity'
The pontiff's comments come a day after a working document on family life was released ahead of the upcoming synod. The synod, a high-profile gathering of bishops, is expected to hash out the subject of "the family in the church and the contemporary world."
However, last year's synod witnessed conservative bishops rally together to block language aimed at rectifying modern life with Catholic values, especially with regards to the acceptance of gay communities and divorcees.
The working document for the upcoming synod, released on Tuesday, seeks to include more open language towards communities criticized by conservative elements in the Catholic Church.
While the document said there were "no grounds for considering homosexual union" as analogous to marriage between a man and a woman, "nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity."
"Around us we find several families in so-called irregular - I don't like this word - situations, and we pose ourselves many questions. How can we help them? How can we support them? How can we support them so that children do not become hostages of their father of mother," Pope Francis added in his Wednesday statement.
The pope's statement marks an apparent break with the Church's established policy of the indissolubility of marriage.
ls/sms (AFP, dpa, EFE)