Statement re. Amoris Laetitia

April 8, 2016

Pope Francis is a good shepherd. The "Good Shepherd" knows his sheep and calls them by name. Today the Holy Father has presented his much awaited Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, "Amoris Laetitia," "The Joy of Love," On Love in the Family. In it he calls each of us by name to enter into an active meditation of love and family. It is a lengthy document and well worth a careful and patient reading. The Pope focuses on two related themes: the call of the family in the Church and the modern world and the mission of the family in the Church and the modern world. Both themes are significant. The weaving together of the themes allows the Holy Father to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage and analyze what is at stake in the call to Marriage; the weaving also permits him to urge and encourage couples and their families to witness to the gift of love in the world, the love that has its origin in God the Father and in his Son, Jesus Christ.

The realism of the call and the mission gives Pope Francis a wide panorama to examine the many sides of the family today, its strengths, its vulnerabilities, the healthy and the wounded. The Pope asks for discernment and accompaniment in the multiple situations of family life in our world. He has great compassion and mercy as well as timely pastoral advice for a range of issues in marriage and family life. He wants every human person to be included in the embrace of the Church and her members as they deal with marriage, love and family, especially for those who sense themselves placed on the margins or excluded.

Pope Francis has drawn on the recent two Synods on the Family, on the Scriptures and Revelation, on the experience of families, on recent Church teaching, and on his own good pastoral instincts as he opens his heart to write about the gift of love in the Sacrament of Marriage and in family life. He shows great simplicity of heart, but the document is not simple minded. In fact it is very detailed and complex as it speaks the truth and emphasizes mercy and integration as the methods for implementing the mind of the Pope on such an important reality.

The document affirms the definitive teaching of the Church on marriage as between a man and a woman; it also affirms the indissolubility of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. This clear teaching of the Church on the family and marriage life in no way negates the call to treat every person, regardless of their sexual orientation with respect and dignity. We should take time to read and ponder, discern and judge wisely what the Holy Father has written for our use, pastoral practice and spiritual wellbeing.