Positive Kiwi reaction to Pope’s family exhortation

Four Kiwis who went to last year’s synod on the family have welcomed Pope Francis’s wide-ranging new apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family.

In a statement released through the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Cardinal John Dew, Bishop Charles Drennan, Dr John Kleinsman and Sharon Cole spoke on Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

They noted the merciful and pastoral emphasis of the document.

Amoris Laetitia signals the Pope’s vision for the Church as a family of families and reaffirms the welfare of the family as decisive for the future of every community and society.

Cardinal John Dew said “I haven’t yet studied the document fully, but already I get the sense that what Pope Francis is saying is coming out of a real and very grounded understanding of the difficulties that face families and that the wider Church family is the place where people should find support and accompaniment through these times.”

The cardinal noted that Pope Francis took particular care in talking about those who are divorced and in new unions.

There is a need for careful discernment of situations and avoidance of judgment that does not take into account complexities and differing degrees of responsibility.

“The emphasis is on showing love and tenderness and working to integrate all people into the Church community no matter what their situation,” Cardinal Dew said.

Among Bishop Drennan’s comments were:  “Francis says that our theological and pastoral language must reach the hearts of young people in such a way that they take up the adventure of marriage.”

The bishop said the Pope stresses that marriage is a treasure for everyone in society, and marriage should be valued publicly as a unique relationship.

Dr John Kleinsman, Director of the Catholic Bioethics Agency, The Nathaniel Centre, is heartened by the “idea that it’s not enough to simply stress doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues without knowing the actual situation of families and without encouraging openness to grace”.

He is also heartened by the Pope’s criticism of excessive idealisation in some of the teaching about marriage, rendering it less attractive.

Sharron Cole noted that Pope Francis emphasised that openness to children lies at the heart of authentic conjugal love and decisions about regulating birth must always respect the dignity of the person.

She also mentioned couples’ priorities and the Church’s role in allowing couples to form their own consciences.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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