The leader of 1.2 billion Catholics has released a ground-breaking apologist’s exhortation on modern family life titled Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).
Pope Francis made headlines in early April with a new directive aimed at making the Catholic Church more accepting and forgiving of divorced people.
Throughout the comprehensive, reform-minded document, the Pope examines many of the pitfalls of modern life and establishes a theme of tolerance for all types of families. The lack of family cohesiveness clearly troubles the pontiff, who lamented that many families are compartmentalized, barely interacting with each other—paying special attention to the growing trend of families forgoing a “common meal” together at the end of the day.
Amoris Laetitia also treads on a much more controversial aspect to Catholic family doctrine.
Since its inception, the Catholic Church has viewed that divorce may be a mortal sin. As a result, many divorced people do not receive the rite of holy communion at Catholic masses, effectively disenfranchising some congregants from participating in one of the most important sacraments of the religion.
Leaning on the advice from bishops from around the world who gathered at two papal gatherings called synods, the Pope does not issue a top-down edict, but rather calls on local priests and other clergies to meet with divorced people and discuss their spiritual lives and their future in the church. The text does not explicitly state that all divorcees will be able to receive Communion again, but the door to doing so seems to have gone from closed to ajar.
Other highlights of the exhortation include calls for tolerance of non-traditional families, including unmarried couples who cohabitate as well as LGBT family units.
This latest work by Pope Francis, which follows a treatise on global warming in 2015, comes during a year dubbed as a “jubilee of mercy” by the Holy See. It is in line with other statements made by Pope Francis that emphasize the act of mercy, reassuring Catholics who have strayed from the flock that their alienation need not be permanent.
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