Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron made the following comments upon the release of Pope Francis’s Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“On Love in the Family.”)
Pope Francis writes in one of the first paragraphs of Amoris Laetitia, his Apostolic Exhortation “On Love in the Family,” that he would like all of us, from the particular perspectives of our states in life, to avoid a “rushed reading of the text” (n 7) — a very sensible admonition, given the Church’s rich message on marriage and family to which he offers his witness in the Exhortation. I would, nonetheless, like to offer here a first reaction to my reading Amoris Laetitia.
Throughout, he gives eloquent testimony to the Creator’s plan for marriage and family, as that has been restored in Christ: “…Only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life.” (n.52, see n. 62)
In the light of his Synod experiences, the Holy Father frankly acknowledges the challenges that the men and women of our age face in conforming their lives to Jesus’s good news about family and marriage. And so, like a good shepherd, Pope Francis calls all us pastors (especially in our parishes [n. 202]) to work all the more zealously to accompany Christ’s disciples in their efforts to respond to his call to “be perfected as the heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5: 48). This “accompaniment” is a great act of pastoral compassion, for the ultimate aim is leading others to the fulfillment that comes from finding the love for which the Lord made them (a theme which Pope Francis treats with great eloquence in the whole of chapters four and five). To help us “practitioners” of this important pastoral art, Pope Francis, in chapter eight — “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness” —offers a summary of the Church’s time-honored wisdom about this art, particularly relying on the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas (nn. 301-304).
I could characterize the last chapter of Amoris Laetitia, “The Spirituality of Marriage and Family,” as the crowning moment of the Exhortation. In line with the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on the “Universal Call to Holiness,” Pope Francis invites husbands and wives and their children to answer their call to become saints by the way they follow Christ in their families.
To learn more about Amoris Laetitia or to read the full Apostolic Exhortation, visit our resource page.