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Pope releases document on marriage and family

Pope Francis

Pope Francis: “I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.”
Photo: CNS

Update: April 13, 2016

POPE Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, (The Joy of Love) presents a pastoral approach to the most vexing marriage and family issues, 

including the reintegration into the Church of Catholics who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies.

A striking aspect of the 256-page document is Pope Francis’ exploration of individual conscience in guiding adult faith. 

“I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” Pope Francis wrote.

“But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness.

“We have been called to form consciences, not replace them.” 

On the issue of same-sex unions, The Joy of Love contains no change in doctrine.

Pope Francis wrote the document, formally known as a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, following two synods in which bishops debated family matters including why fewer Catholics are getting married and more are getting divorced.

He endorsed the idea that bishops must move Church practice closer to the realities of parishioners. 

He called for pastors to guide and accompany people in distress – to walk with them not walk away – and suggests a process of “discernment” and an examination of conscience.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge said The Joy of Love was “a document full of practical wisdom and deep pastoral insight”.

“He is trying and succeeding to get in touch with the great variety of marriages and families in particular, and on the understanding that many of them are, in fact, messy,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Pope Francis said many people in civil marriages following a divorce found themselves in a nearly impossible bind. 

If their second marriage had proven strong and fruitful, how could they simply abandon it without compounding a “messy” situation, he said. 

Pope Francis said this was not to insinuate their second marriage was not objectively disordered, but it was to say that the pressures, difficulties and dilemmas might mitigate their culpability.  

“Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace,” he said.

On the issue of single-sex unions, Pope Francis wrote: “Church teachings remain clear: marriage is between a man and a woman, and homosexual unions cannot be placed on the same level as Christian marriage.”

“It is important that we all learn to imitate God’s unconditional love, for everyone. The Church makes her own the attitude of the Lord Jesus, who offers his boundless love to each person without exception,” he said.

Concerning Catholics who were divorced and civilly remarry, Archbishop Coleridge said the emphasis was on hope and the prospect of healing.

“The Pope makes it very clear that they are not excommunicated, and that every effort must be made to accompany them, listen to them, discern with them and integrate with them,” he said.

“But they are part of the Church. They may not be able to receive Communion but the Pope says each of these situations needs to be discerned because there are so many factors from relationship to relationship.

“Whilst the Church cannot accept same-sex marriage, an implication of Amoris Laetitia would be we should listen to, accompany and work to discern with people who may be in same-sex unions.”

According to The Joy of Love, the Church “strongly rejects” State intervention for contraception, sterilisation and abortion. 

The document calls on governments to “help facilitate the adoption process, above all in the case of unwanted children, in order to prevent their abortion or abandonment”.

The Joy of Love also deals at length with marriage preparation, and “learning to love” which Pope Francis writes “does not happen automatically, nor can it be taught in a workshop just prior to the celebration of marriage”. 

“For every couple, marriage preparation begins at birth,” he wrote.

“What they received from their family should prepare them to know themselves and to make a full and definitive commitment. 

“Sadly, many couples marry without really knowing one another. 

“They have enjoyed each other’s company and done things together, but without facing the challenge of revealing themselves and coming to know who the other person truly is.”

Archbishop Coleridge said the Pope was calling for more thorough marriage preparation.

“It has implications for what we do in schools, particularly secondary schools – the catechesis of teaching young people to love …,” he said.

“And then beyond school we have to be far more focused and systematic and committed how we prepare couples for marriage.”

Archbishop Coleridge said he encouraged everyone to read The Joy of Love, an exhortation he said had great “realism” from the first page to last.

“Pope Francis is very keen to say there is no one size fits all, that there are vast varieties of marriages and families,” he said.

“I think one of the most important contributions of the document is the way it moves from a static view of the family to a dynamic sense of marriage and the family as essentially not a state so much as a journey.”

 

Original story: April 8, 2016

aRCH-MARK2

Papal document: Archbishop Mark Coleridge has a first read of Pope Francis’ exhortation on marriage and the family.

POPE Francis has issued one of the most eagerly awaited documents of his pontificate, a treatise on marriage and the family.

The 260-page document, (The Joy of Love), presents a pastoral approach to reintegration into the Church of Catholics who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies.

On the issue of same-sex unions, Amoris Laetitia (AL) contains no change in Church doctrine.

Pope Francis wrote the document, formally known as a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, following two synods in which family matters were hotly debated by bishops.

Issues included why fewer Catholics are getting married and more are getting divorced.

The bishops’ final document at the second synod spoke of a so-called “internal forum” in which a priest or a bishop may work with a Catholic who has divorced and remarried to decide jointly, privately and on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully re-integrated and receive communion.

On the issue of single-sex unions, AL states: “Church teachings remain clear: marriage is between a man and a woman, and homosexual unions cannot be placed on the same level as Christian marriage.

“It is important that we all learn to imitate God’s unconditional love, for everyone. The Church makes her own the attitude of the Lord Jesus, who offers his boundless love to each person without exception.”

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge described AL as “a document full of practical wisdom and deep pastoral insight.”

“I think one of the most important contributions of the document is the way it moves from a static view of the family to a dynamic sense of marriage and the family as essentially not a state so much as a journey,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“Pope Francis is very keen to say there is no one size fits all, that there are vast varieties of marriages and families.”

Concerning Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarry, Archbishop Coleridge said the emphasis was on hope and the prospect of healing.

“The Pope makes it very clear that they are not excommunicated, and that every effort must be made to accompany them, listen to them, discern with them and integrate with them,” he said.

“But they are part of the Church. They may not be able to receive communion but the Pope says each of these situations needs to be discerned because there are so many factors from relationship to relationship.

“Whilst the Church cannot accept same-sex marriage, an implication of AL would be we should listen to, accompany and work to discern with people who may be in same-sex unions.”

Also contained in Amoris Laetitia are calls for better programs for marriage preparation.

“It has implications for what we do in schools, particularly secondary schools – the catechesis of teaching young people to love…” said Archbishop Coleridge.

“And then beyond school we have to be far more focused and systematic and committed how we prepare couples for marriage.

“The most striking thing about this whole document is its sense of realism from first page to last.”

READ THE FULL TEXT AT BRISBANECATHOLIC.ORG.AU.

By Mark Bowling

Catholic Church Insurance

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