Pope Francis’ ‘Amoris Laetitia’ to focus on ‘dialogue’

Pope Francis’s exhortation “Amoris Laetitia; On Love in the Family,” which is scheduled to be released on April 8, will be a call to “dialogue,” according to a “reading guide” released by the Vatican.

The guide, issued by the Vatican’s office for the Synod of Bishops, says that the exhortation will be “first and foremost a pastoral document.”

It says the pontiff wants the Church to ensure its doctrines are “at the service of the pastoral mission.”

The guide explains that Pope Francis “encourages not just a ‘renewal’ but even more, a real ‘conversion’ of language.”

“The Gospel must not be merely theoretical, not detached from people’s real lives,” the guide reads.

“To talk about the family and to families, the challenge is not to change doctrine but to inculturate the general principles in ways that they can be understood and practiced.”

“Our language should encourage and reassure every positive step taken by every real family,” it continues.

“Amoris Laetitia” or “The Joy of Love” was written by Pope Francis following the synods of bishops on family life in 2014 and 2015.

The meetings focused on some controversial issues, like divorce and remarriage and same-sex marriage.

The reading guide says Pope Francis “wants to express himself in language that truly reaches the audience — and this implies discernment and dialogue.”

Discernment, it says, “avoids taking truths and choices for granted; it has us examine and consciously adopt our formulations of truths and the choices we make.”

“Like his predecessors, Pope Francis asks that as pastors we discern amongst the various situations experienced by our faithful and by all people, the families, the individuals,” states the document.

“Discernment … encourages us to grow from good to better,” it states.

“One of the characteristics of discernment, according to St Ignatius of Loyola, is the insistence not only on taking the objective truth into account, but also on expressing this truth with a good, a constructive spirit.”

“Discernment is the dialogue of the shepherds with the Good Shepherd in order to always seek the salvation of the sheep,” it continues.

The reading guide states that dialogue “means that we must not … take what we ourselves think for granted, nor what the other thinks.”

“For the culture of dialogue, the inclusion of everyone is essential,” the document continues.

“The Pope suggests that we explicitly dwell on this way of understanding the Church, as the faithful people of God,” it states.

“The Pope’s vision of society is inclusive. Such inclusion involves the effort to accept diversity, to dialogue with those who think differently, to encourage the participation of those with different abilities.”


National Catholic Reporter
The New York Times
Catholic Herald
Image: The New York Times

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