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Amoris laetitia year: Pope Francis says Church must defend the family

By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Pope Francis greets family members as he arrives to lead his general audience in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican in this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo. The "Amoris Laetitia Family Year," called for by the pope begins March 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Mar 19, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis on Friday encouraged Catholics to support and defend families by making an effort to be close to them in the struggles and joys of their daily lives.

In a video message for the start of the “Amoris Laetitia Family” year on March 19, the pope said: “We are called to accompany, to listen, to bless the journey of families; not only to trace the direction, but to make the journey with them.”

It is not enough to just reiterate doctrine, he said. We are called “to enter homes with discretion and with love, to say to spouses: the Church is with you, the Lord is close to you, we want to help you keep the gift you have received.”

Pope Francis’ video message was played during a webinar entitled “Our Daily Love,” organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life; the Diocese of Rome; and the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute.

The online conference marked the opening of a year dedicated to deepening the Church’s pastoral accompaniment of families, as outlined in Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.

In his message, the pope noted how important family ties have been during the coronavirus pandemic, even as families have been under extra pressure from the many challenges brought by the virus.

“So let’s support the family,” he urged. “Let’s defend it from what compromises its beauty. Let us approach this mystery of love with amazement, with discretion and tenderness.”

“And let us commit ourselves to safeguarding its precious and delicate bonds: children, parents, grandparents… These bonds are needed to live and to live well, to make humanity more fraternal,” he said.

He encouraged Catholics to share the Gospel with families by accompanying them and helping them, so that they can respond to their vocation and mission with an awareness of its beauty and its foundation in the love of the Trinity.

When a family lives its vocation well, it becomes a sign of God’s love for the world, he underlined.

“And in this context, the transmission of the faith between generations also takes place: it passes precisely through the language of good and healthy relationships that are lived in the family every day, especially when facing conflicts and difficulties together.”

Pope Francis emphasized the Church’s responsibility to help married spouses understand the “authentic meaning of their union and their love, a sign and image of Trinitarian love and of the covenant between Christ and the Church.”

Living this out is not easy, he noted, because the Gospel “is a demanding Word, which wants to free human relationships from the bondage which often disfigures their characters and makes them unstable: the dictatorship of emotions, the exaltation of the provisional that discourages commitments for a lifetime, the predominance of individualism, fear of the future.”

He said: “Faced with these difficulties, the Church reaffirms to Christian spouses the value of marriage as God’s plan, as the fruit of his grace and as a call to be lived totally, faithfully, and freely.”

“This is the path so that relationships, even if through a path marked by failures, falls and changes, open themselves to the fullness of joy and human fulfillment and become a leaven of fraternity and love in society.”


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4 Comments

  1. A Christian family is the center from which emanates a culture dedicated to goodness, loyalty, integrity, the sanctity of life. Amoris Laetitia calls into question the status of five traditional Catholic doctrines related to the family that were submitted for clarification by several cardinals to the Pontiff. Known as the Dubia these vital questions remain unanswered. An article by Elizabeth Mitchell in The Catholic Thing argues the Dubia were answered. Although indirectly by Emeritus Benedict XVI in an April 2019 essay, The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse. 1 Absolution and communion for D&R. To which Benedict answers no. “We run the risk of becoming masters of faith instead of being renewed and mastered by the Faith”. 2 Are there intrinsically evil acts that remain inviolable? Benedict responded yes, citing John Paul II Veritatis Splendor that there were actions that can never become good. 3 Adultery. Is it an objective situation of grave habitual sin as contained in the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration, June 24, 2000? Benedict responds yes. 4 Can mitigating circumstances mitigate moral responsibility? Benedict responds no. And quotes Veritatis Splendor n. 81, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice. 5 Does Veritatis Splendor 56 confirm that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object? Benedict answers Yes. The crisis of morality was chiefly the hypothesis that morality was to be exclusively determined by the purposes of human action that prevailed. Consequently, there could no longer be anything that constituted an absolute good, any more than anything fundamentally evil; only relative value judgments. Benedict’s publication of The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse caused consternation at the Vatican and with supporters of Amoris Laetitia. Encapsulated we have 1 confession and communion for D&R, 2 Intrinsically evil acts, 3 Adultery, 4 Mitigating circumstances, 5 Conscience. Mitigation and conscience have been levers for revision of Apostolic Tradition. And as an analogy, Loosening the hawsers that keep family and Church moored to Christ. If mitigation can be understood, as applied by Francis regarding habitual practice and diminishment of culpability, then conscience is the final arbiter of good and evil rather than the permanence of Eternal Law as realized in the revelation of Christ. Dubia questions must be revisited and resolved during this year of celebration centered on the Family.

    • Added to this is the recent remark by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, affirming the Papal approved CDF prohibition of blessing same sex relationships, “The Church as the path to salvation, first and foremost, needs to recognize that the path to salvation is not constituted by the leadership of the pope or the pastors or anybody in the Church, but by what Scriptures and Revelation have always provided about the path to salvation”.

  2. My understanding of Scripture is that John the Baptist held Herodias bound in marriage to Philip; and Herod used the situation after the arrest to do what he wanted to do already, kill John, pretending at first not to want to kill him “just so”.

    Herodians were not easy people (if you will) and yet John witnessed that they remained obligated under the natural law: Philip and his real wife Herodias, Herod and his real wife Phasaelis.

    How AMORIS LAETITIA can be reconciled with it I do not know and I haven’t seen anyone try to make the case or try to dispel the relevance. It’s hard to see where the first steps would be.

    So now I am a common disciple and an amateur in the pathways of Scripture, but Herod murdered John after Jesus spoke about divorce in Matthew 5, not before; and Jesus then expanded the issue in Matthew 19 against those who raised an attack on him about it.

    Jesus blessed children in Matthew 18. Then in Matthew 19 after the defense of marriage, he blessed children again. These points are a smattering that tend to indicate AMORIS and the dubia issues would remain unsettled, I think.

  3. “In a video message for the start of the “Amoris Laetitia Family” year on March 19, the pope said: “We are called to accompany, to listen, to bless the journey of families; not only to trace the direction, but to make the journey with them.”

    On the feast of St. Joseph, yet! How could he? It’s like the pontiff is rubbing our noses into acid while smirking by calling “Amoris Laetitia Family” year on March 19. Until that document gets straightened out, don’t be promoting it around my family, dear pontiff!

    St. Joseph chaste protector of the Holy Family! St. Joseph, the father who arose to be the most dedicated unselfish father. St. Joseph, patron of families, pray for us, pray for our families. Chaste and protective heart of St. Joseph, intercede that the sacramental bond of marriage will continue to grow stronger throughout the years between fathers and mothers and that in their home they will enjoy the filial affection of their children. Amen.

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