Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 297

297.  It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing 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.  No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!  Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.  Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17).  Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion.  Yet even for that person there can be some way of taking part in the life of community, whether in social service, prayer meetings or another way that his or her own initiative, together with the discernment of the parish priest, may suggest.  As for the way of dealing with different "irregular" situations, the Synod Fathers reached a general consensus, which I support:  "In considering a pastoral approach towards people who have contracted a civil marriage, who are divorced and remarried, or simply living together, the Church has the responsibility of helping them understand the divine pedagogy of grace in their lives and offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God's plan for them",238 something which is always possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.

238  Relatio Synodi 2014, 25.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 296

The Discernment of "Irregular" Situations 325

296. The Synod addressed various situations of weakness or imperfection.  Here I would like to reiterate something I sought to make clear to the whole Church, lest we take the wrong path:  "There are two ways of thinking which recur throughout the Church's history: casting off and reinstating. The Church's way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement...  The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God's mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart...  For truly charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous".326  Consequently, there is a need "to avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations" and "to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience distress because of their condition".327

325  Cf. Catechesis (24 June 2015): L'Osservatore Romano, 25 June 2015, p.8.
326  Homily at Mass Celebrated with the New Cardinals (15 February 2015): AAS 107 (2015), 257.
327  Relatio Finalis 2015, 51.


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 295

295.  Along these lines, Saint John Paul II proposed the so-called "law of gradualness" in the knowledge that the human being "knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by different stages of growth".323  This is not a "gradualness of law" but rather a gradualness in the prudential exercise of free acts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law.  For the law is itself a gift of God which points out the way, a gift for everyone without exception; it can be followed with the help of grace, even though each human being "advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God and the demand of God's definitive and absolute love in his or her entire personal and social life".324

323 Apostolic Exhortation Familaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 34: AAS 74 (1982), 123.
324 Ibid., 9: AAS 74 (1982), 90.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 294

294.  "The choice of a civil marriage or, in many cases, of simple cohabitation, is often not motivated by prejudice or resistance to a sacramental union, but by cultural or contingent situations".319  In such cases, respect also can be shown for those signs of love which in some way reflect God's own love.320  We know that there is "a continual increase in the number of those who, after having lived together for a long period, request the celebration of marriage in Church.  Simply to live together is often a choice based on a general attitude opposed to anything institutional or definitive; it can also be done while awaiting more security in life (a steady job and steady income).  In some countries, de facto unions are very numerous, not only because celebrating a marriage is considered too expensive in the social circumstances.  As a result, material poverty drives people into de facto unions".321 Whatever the case, "all these situations require a constructive response seeking to transform them into opportunities that can lead to the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel.  These couples need to be welcomed and guided patiently and discreetly".322  That is how Jesus treated the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1-26):  he addressed her desire for true love, in order to free her from the darkness in her life and to bring her to the full joy of the Gospel.

319 Relatio Finalis 2015, 71.
320 Cf. ibid.
321 Relatio Synodi 2014, 42.
322 Ibid., 43.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 293

Gradualness in Pastoral Care

293.  The Fathers also considered the specific situation of a merely civil marriage or, with due distinction, even simple cohabitation, noting that "when such unions attain a particular stability, legally recognized, are characterized by deep affection and responsibility for their offspring, and demonstrate an ability to overcome trials, they can provide occasions for pastoral care with a view to the eventual celebration of the sacrament of marriage".315  On the other hand, it is a source of concern that many young people today distrust marriage and live together, putting off indefinitely the commitment of marriage, while yet others break a commitment already made and immediately assume a new one.  "As members of the Church, they too need pastoral care that is merciful and helpful".316  For the Church's pastors are not only responsible for promoting Christian marriage, but also the "pastoral discernment of the situations of a great many who no longer live this reality. Entering into pastoral dialogue with these persons is needed to distinguish elements in their lives that can lead to a greater openness to the Gospel of marriage in its fullness".317  In this pastoral discernment, there is a need "to identify elements that can foster evangelization and human and spiritual growth".318

315 Ibid., 27.
316 Ibid., 26.
317 Ibid., 41.
318 Ibid.