The Joy of Love – Pope Francis

The text of Pope Francis’ The Joy of Love is available at the link below.
‘America’ carries an article about Francis’ post-synod apostolic exhortation at;
One of the points America Magazine make is “The concept of integration is the key element in this 260-page magisterial text, where he emphasizes the importance of “reaching out to everyone” 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.” He insists, “No one can be condemned for ever [sic], be­cause that is not the logic of the Gospel!” and adds without explaining, “Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and re­married, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.”
Pope Francis – “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth.” Furthermore, “each country or region, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs”
Maybe of particular relevance to our own politicians who are trying, or not trying, to form a government is the quote by Francis from  Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family (22 October 1983) that states that “the family has the right to decent housing, fitting for family life and commensurate to the number of the members, in a physical environment that provides the basic services for the life of the family and the community”
The issue of conscience is referred to “We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”
The acceptance of the reality of present-day life rather than a ‘doleful lament’ is the way forward. “I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way. The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereo-type of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems. The situations that concern us are challenges. We should not be trapped into wasting our energy in doleful laments, but rather seek new forms of missionary creativity.”

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  1. Brendan Hoban says:

    The Joy of Love, a new dawn: ground-breaking, breath-taking, wonderful, hopeful, liberating, encouraging, life-affirming. Deo gratias.
    Brendan Hoban (ACP Leadership).

  2. At least in the very title of this document there is a realisation that joy comes from responding to love in openness between two people. That’s a positive and hopeful start

  3. I’m guess I’m raining on the parade…It strikes me that it took 2 synods for the Pope to write an exhortation that recommends treating divorced and remarried Catholics with pastoral care..in the best way possible…(My words)….Is that not what the common practise should have been all along?….Well….maybe there is some progress…in that….people ought not to be condemned forever…and that probably applies to anyone who has been censored or excommunicated….well…one would hope…

  4. Seamus Ahearne says:

    Justin Welby’s revelation in his statement* and in the words of his mother fits beautifully into the reality that is family life at the present time. Pope Francis and Justin must have been working together in ensuring that these documents would coincide.
    The language of both is very familiar. It is real
    In the last month I have discovered that my biological father is not Gavin Welby but, in fact, the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne.
    This comes as a complete surprise.
    My mother (Jane Williams) and father (Gavin Welby) were both alcoholics. My mother has been in recovery since 1968, and has not touched alcohol for over 48 years. I am enormously proud of her.
    My father (Gavin Welby) died as a result of the alcohol and smoking in 1977 when I was 21.
    As a result of my parents’ addictions my early life was messy, although I had the blessing and gift of a wonderful education, and was cared for deeply by my grandmother, my mother once she was in recovery, and my father (Gavin Welby) as far as he was able.
    I have had a life of great blessing and wonderful support, especially from Caroline and our children, as well as a great many wonderful friends and family.
    My own experience is typical of many people. To find that one’s father is other than imagined is not unusual. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal.
    By the grace of God, found in Christian faith, through the NHS, through Alcoholics Anonymous and through her own very remarkable determination and effort, my mother has lived free of alcohol, has a very happy marriage, and has contributed greatly to society as a probation officer, member of the National Parole Board, Prison Visitor and with involvement in penal reform.
    She has also played a wonderful part in my life and in the lives of my children and now grandchildren, as has my stepfather whose support and encouragement has been generous, unstinting and unfailing.
    This revelation has, of course, been a surprise, but in my life and in our marriage Caroline and I have had far worse. I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes. Even more importantly my role as Archbishop makes me constantly aware of the real and genuine pain and suffering of many around the world, which should be the main focus of our prayers.
    Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father’s (Gavin Welby’s) case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives. It is a testimony to the grace and power of Christ to liberate and redeem us, grace and power which is offered to every human being.
    At the very outset of my inauguration service three years ago, Evangeline Kanagasooriam, a young member of the Canterbury Cathedral congregation, said: “We greet you in the name of Christ. Who are you, and why do you request entry?” To which I responded: “I am Justin, a servant of Jesus Christ, and I come as one seeking the grace of God to travel with you in His service together.” What has changed? Nothing!

  5. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Exactly Darlene @3, one ought not be condemned, period, nor anyone else for that matter. The church is quick to cast the first stone and I’m not sure exactly where it evolved to this “stone casting” entity but it appears that Francis is telling everyone to put down their rocks at least. In the statement “each country or region, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs” he is literally pulling the Papacy away from meddling in the cultural affairs of others. At this rate, by the end of his term, he will have made the position of the Pope redundant. That my friends is true collegiality. He is such a smart man. His quest against the 1% is truly self aware. He is deconstructing the Papacy.

  6. Why are the divorced and re-married singled out for attention, we are all imperfect in some way.

  7. Joseph Ryan says:

    This certainly is a wonderful document, even at first glance, and what’s striking is its incredible respect for all people and all situations. Nothing less you might say than Christ would want.
    God’s mercy, compassion and understanding is seeping from every page of this document.
    Perhaps your site could include daily reflections from the various paragraphs.
    It’s hard to take it all in and what a shame it would be, if it got lost from our sights.

  8. “Why are the divorced and re-married singled out for attention, we are all imperfect in some way.”
    It seems some degrees of “imperfection” are greater than others.
    When – “Lord I am not worthy to receieve you – but only say the word and I shall be healed” seem to apply to those of lesser imperfection than others. ‘Lord I need your healing and life but I am more imperfect than him/her beside me ?’
    Not imagining a free for all. But that those in need of healing and realising that need – are not refused the “medicine”.
    Jesus says it is better to give than to receieve.
    The “better” “more excellent” is the way of Love. A way of grace.
    Not so much about our need to be loved as our capacity forlove.
    The latter being the more narrow way – the yoke made easier and burden lighter. A truth which liberates.
    Does ‘Church’ as institution with rules and rubrics need to be loved – or does, can it love. It should be able if composed of lovng human beings capable of imaging God.
    “Love one another as I have loved – love you.”
    I left the Christian faith, the Church for many years because I never felt worthy- good enough to be one of the in crowd.
    Then I read the gospels and realised that through weakness Christ manifests the power of his love and raises to new life.
    I am thankful to see Francis present the merciful face and heart of Jesus.
    I know many non Catholics thankful for same.
    A Church which loves and helps raise all – to new life.
    Go Francis – aka “Nanny Franny” by those needing much mercy. 🙂

  9. I am delighted with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia. My husband and I were married recently. I was previously civilly married at 20 due to an unplanned pregnancy. My husband was also married at a young age due to the same reason. We can both arguably say that we have both been ‘in the trenches’ as regards life and relationship experience.
    Many people married young for this reason, due to both family and societal pressures. Thankfully, I did not marry my ex-partner in the Church so only required a lack of form annulment. My husband however, did have to go through the ordinary process (tribunal hearings, witnesses etc.) but thank God was granted a Decree of Nullity three years ago. I have to commend the tribunal staff on their approach which was quite pastoral, nothwithstanding the procedures and requirements involved. No one in our parish ever condemned us or made us feel unwelcome, including our priests. Had they done so, we probably would have left the Church and only married civilly, not out of a sense of disregarding Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage but to protect our civil rights to the home, pensions etc. We attend Mass every Sunday and anything else in between that our work life enables.
    I am delighted to say that we are sacramentally married in the eyes of God and the Church. It took us a while but we got there. Pope Francis is trying to help others see this point of view. I do not believe that he’s trying to dismantle Church teaching as some are suggesting. Walk with people on their journey and meet them where they are is what the Pope is saying. If we keep throwing stones, people will just pick them up and build a wall. Good to keep that in mind.

  10. Haven’t read it yet, but if the following negative reaction is any guide, it may be a quite innovative document, in that it gives primacy to matters that were presented only sotto voce by Paul VI: the distinction between objective and subjective morality, the inalienability of conscience and its freedom, and the need to apply moral judgement with pastoral inflection, with epikeia (gentleness) and equity, taking into account the concrete situation of the person. http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4706/Chapter_8_of_iAmoris_Laetitiai_and_St_John_Paul_II.aspx   Sounds more exciting than most reports indicate.

  11. It is interesting that Amoris-Laetitia is being lauded for its pastoral value over its dogmatic value. Dogmas may have their usefulness in helping us formulate our values, but of necessity they must also have their limits. Otherwise we end up equating adherence to rules with faith in God. Dogmas also these days tend to attract not respect, but quaint curiosity similar to that given to items in a museum. This is particularly the case if, because of the church processes involved, they have less to do with reality and more to do with the personal opinions of a small group of instutionalised elderly male celibates trapped in a clerical bubble.
    It would not be a surprise if this was something that Pope Francis recognises and allows to influence his approach in finding a way around Vatican strictures to reach the people directly. Whether or not this is the case, let us hope that Amoris-Laetitia represents an important leap in the direction of a much less dogmatic church.

  12. There has been so much excellent commentary during the last week on Amoris Laetitia –and not much opposition –and this piece, below, by Clifford Longley in todays Tablet is another excellent,thought- provoking piece.
    Another of the most insightful observers of the Francis revolution is Mgr. Basil Loftus who writes a piece “Vatican Counsel” each week in the Catholic Times. He has lived and worked in Rome so he knows the terrain very well. I read the articles in the paper but I cannot get a digital link. It would be good if one of our correspondents could get a link to his articles as it certainly would add greatly to our discourse on this site.
    Almost without meaning to, Francis has shot Humanae Vitae dead Premium 14 April 2016 | by Clifford Longley | Comments: 2
    In 2009 the Catholic Church’s International Theological Commission proposed a fundamental change to the way the Church regarded natural law. It could not be presented “as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject”, it said. Instead, “it is a source of objective inspiration for the deeply personal process of making decisions”.
    This raised some eyebrows, not least because of the way natural law had consistently been imposed a priori by moral theologians to explain and justify Catholic teaching regarding sex. The most obvious example was the way natural law was invoked as the basis of the case against contraception, for instance in Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.
    But that redefinition of the role of natural law was just the opinion of a select group of theologians. Or at least it was until last Friday. That was when Pope Francis gave it the authority of his office when he adopted it as his own, in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. At the start of the process of consultation that led up to Amoris Laetitia, including two international synods, a questionnaire had been circulated asking to what extent ordinary Catholics understood natural law. A summary of the responses strongly suggested they did not.
    But there is a wider picture. There is a growing feeling in various parts of the Church – of satisfaction among liberals and dismay among conservatives – that under this Pope, Humanae Vitae itself has been falling apart at the seams. His undermining of the traditional way of using natural law followed his remarks, about the Zika virus in Brazil – that intervening to prevent pregnancy could in such cases be “the lesser of two evils”.
    This clearly allied him with those Catholic leaders who have suggested that the use of condoms to prevent infection from the HIV virus could be acceptable. The reason conservative Catholic leaders have resisted this is not because they want people to die of Aids, but because one exception is enough to drive a coach and horses through the whole thing.
    Humanae Vitae was quite explicit. Artificial intervention to prevent pregnancy was against natural law. It was always wrong, always gravely sinful. That was the logic of it. There could be no relaxation for hard cases, no matter how dire the consequences. A married woman who had been warned by doctors that another pregnancy could be fatal, could either rely on the “safe” period, based on her menstrual cycle, or, if that was not safe enough, avoid sexual intercourse altogether. Or conceive, and possibly die. There was no question of “a deeply personal process of making decisions” because there was no other way.
    Behind the phrase “the lesser of two evils” is, of course, the implication that one of those two choices is subjectively no evil at all. Very probably – to protect health and life, for instance – it is actually a moral good. In other words, if your reasons are sound enough, you may choose to use contraception.
    If Humanae Vitae had said that in 1968, even with stern warnings against developing a “contraceptive mentality” and so on, things would have been very different. Tens of millions of Catholic women, and many men too, would not have turned their backs on the Church and would have stayed to listen to the positive and important things it had to say about personal relationships, such as the many wise words of Pope Francis on the subject.
    So tenuous was the natural law basis for the 1968 decision that St Pope John Paul II saw the need to back it up with better arguments. He was urged to do so by the synod he convened in 1980. In a key passage in his post-synod exhortation Familiaris Consortio of 1981, he produced a developed form of the natural law argument, an appeal to anthropology.
    He declared that the difference between using contraception and relying on the safe period “is much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality”. He goes on to assert his compassion for those who find the teaching difficult, but offers them no other choice, no lesser evil. He could not. He knew that to do so would undermine the entire edifice.
    And now Pope Francis has done precisely that. Almost without meaning to, he has shot Humanae Vitae dead. And I have to say, it will not be missed. The Church will be better without it. Few papal texts have caused so much misery, or driven so many away.

  13. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Well imagine that – natural law being a source of “reform”. Thank you Paddy @ 12. Use it or lose it, as they say.

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