May 26, 2016
After two years of preparation and two Synods (or meetings of Bishops) later, Pope Francis has come out with a post-synodal apostolic exhortation:
Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love. When the Bishops met to discuss the issues of family life over the last couple of years in Rome, there was much speculation on where they would lead the Church.
We now have our official answer with the Holy Father’s document that is a response to those two synods of 2014 and 2015. While it’s best for us all to take a look at the document itself (it can be found at the vatican.va website), I wanted to provide you with a few highlights.
As usual, Pope Francis is sure to lay out for us the good news about the topic he’s tackling. So he begins this work on the family by telling us about the beautiful plans God has for love and marriage and family, even in our world which often challenges these things.
His extensive use of Scripture throughout the document, especially this first section, is inspiring. And it should leave us with no doubt that he is leading us directly down the path that the Church has already laid out for us. The synods and the Holy Father continue to uphold the age-old teachings.
So what is the focus of the Pope’s document? Why did he feel a need for this document at all? Characteristic of Pope Francis, the work focuses on pastoral care, especially for those who find themselves in difficult family situations. Fittingly enough, he ties in the Year of Mercy and then explains that it’s always our duty to extend mercy to these individuals.
Though there was speculation, we really shouldn’t have expected a whole new doctrine related to family issues. What we should have expected and what Pope Francis does deliver is a reminder of our call to mercy.
He writes, “It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” (AL 297)
I was also particularly struck by the fourth and fifth chapters of the document, dealing with the subject of true love. If you’d like some inspiring reading on true love to help deepen your own marriage and family life, I encourage you to read them yourself. There, you will find a well laid out depiction of forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness in marriage and family, as well as an in-depth look at the fruitfulness that accompanies marriage.
It is my hope that these brief thoughts on
Amoris Laetitia will inspire you to take the time to read at least some of the document. I can promise you that you will come away from the reading with a renewed sense of being pastored and cared for gently by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.