Pope Francis is having his “Inaugural Mass”? What’s happens in this Mass, and why is it important?Pope Francis’s much anticipated document on the family has now been released.
Here are 12 things to know and share . . .
1) What are the basic facts about the document?
It is called Amoris Laetitia (Latin, “the joy of love”), and it is what is known as a “post-synodal apostolic exhortation.”
An apostolic exhortation is a pastoral document in which the pope exhorts the Church. Although it contains doctrine, its primary focus is on pastoral care. (Apostolic exhortations are different than encyclicals, which do focus primarily on doctrine.)
When a pope issues an apostolic exhortation in response to a meeting of the synod of bishops (a gathering of bishops from around the world), it is called a post-synodal (“after the synod”) apostolic exhortation.
Amoris Laetitia was written in response to two meetings of the synod of bishops—one held in 2014 and one in 2015, both of which were devoted to the subject of the family.
2) What subjects does the document cover?
It is a document that is 255 pages long, so it covers a wide array of topics connected with the family in today’s world. In his own summary of its contents, Pope Francis explains:
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 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 (AL 6).
At the two synods of bishops the subject of pastoral care for those who are divorced and civilly remarried and of people with a homosexual orientation were discussed.
Although these are not the focus of Amoris Laetitiae—and, in fact, represent only a small part of what it has to say—they also represent the subjects many people will be most interested to know about, so they are what we will cover here.