The long-awaited papal exhortation on the family was officially released this morning at 10am UCT.
Amoris Laetitia, or “Love in the Family” is the Holy Father’s response and summation of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that took place in the Fall of 2014.
I spent a couple of hours skimming through the 264 document, in order to get the general gist. I expected to provide you with a brief synopsis of its contents, but that will have to come later.
There’s just too much to process.
The Amoris Laetitia is jam-packed with insight, wisdom, and and guidance.
In his introduction, Pope Francis wrote:
5. This Exhortation is especially timely in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. First, because it represents an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family, and to persevere in a love strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience. Second, because it seeks to encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy.
6. I will begin with an opening chapter inspired by the Scriptures, to set a proper tone. I will then examine the actual situation of families, in order to keep firmly grounded in reality. I will go on to recall some essential aspects of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, thus paving 6 the way for two central chapters dedicated to love. I will then highlight some pastoral approaches that can guide us in building sound and fruitful homes in accordance with God’s plan, with a full chapter devoted to the raising of children. Finally, I will offer an invitation to mercy and the pastoral discernment of those situations that fall short of what the Lord demands of us, and conclude with a brief discussion of family spirituality.
7. Given the rich fruits of the two-year Synod process, this Exhortation will treat, in different ways, a wide variety of questions. This explains its inevitable length. Consequently, I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text. The greatest benefit, for families themselves and for those engaged in the family apostolate, will come if each part is read patiently and carefully, or if attention is paid to the parts dealing with their specific needs. It is likely, for example, that married couples will be more concerned with Chapters Four and Five, and pastoral ministers with Chapter Six, while everyone should feel challenged by Chapter Eight. It is my hope that, in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life, for “families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity”.4
I have to admit that, while there are sections of the exhortation that I like very much, there also are sections that greatly trouble me.
So, in fairness, I’m going to follow Pope Francis’ advice to avoid a rushed reading of the test.
I invite you to do the same.
Here’s the link to the pdf of the entire exhortation on the Vatican website.
Please do read through it slowly and prayerfully. Keep in mind that there are an awful lot of anti-Catholic-Church conclusion-jumpers out there who couldn’t wait to give their subjective spin. They will read only what they want to read and do their best to twist the Holy Father’s words and the public’s perception of the Catholic Church.