James Martin SJ, America Magazine – 8th April 2016
Pope Francis’s ground breaking new document “Amoris Laetitia”(“The Joy of Love”) asks the church to meet people where they are, to consider the complexities of people’s lives and to respect people’s consciences when it comes to moral decisions. The apostolic exhortation is mainly a document that reflects on family life and encourages families. But it is also the pope’s reminder that the church should avoid simply judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles.
Using insights from the Synod of Bishops on the Family and from bishops’ conferences from around the world, Pope Francis affirms church teaching on family life and marriage, but strongly emphasizes the role of personal conscience and pastoral discernment. He urges the church to appreciate the context of people’s lives when helping them make good decisions. The goal is to help families—in fact, everyone—experience God’s love and know that they are welcome members of the church. All this may require what the pope calls “new pastoral methods” (199).
Here are ten things to know about the pope’s ground breaking new document.
- The church needs to understand families and individuals in all their complexity.
- The role of conscience is paramount in moral decision making.
- Divorced and remarried Catholics need to be more fully integrated into the church.
- All members of the family need to be encouraged to live good Christian lives.
- We should no longer talk about people “living in sin.”
- What might work in one place may not work in another.
- Traditional teachings on marriage are affirmed, but the church should not burden people with unrealistic expectations.
- Children must be educated in sex and sexuality.
- Gay men and women should be respected.
- All are welcome.
Reprinted from America (8 April 2016) with permission of America Press, Inc., (8 April 2016). All right reserved. For subscription information, call 1-800-627-9533 or visit www.americamedia.org.
Amoris Laetitia is available on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website: https://www.catholic.org.au/synod-2015/home.