First, the positives. As there were in the Final Report of the 2015 Synod, there are many beautiful passages in the pope’s new Apostolic Exhortation on the Family,Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) testifying to: God’s original plan for man and woman; love and marriage; children, siblings, parents, grandparents; the bond between the generations; and the crucial importance of all this to the future – and the sheer survival – of the Church and society. Oh, and not least, the “tenderness” of God, which should be reproduced in our homes.
There are also quite a few unambiguous affirmations of Catholic principles related to the subject:
- openness to life (i.e., no contraception) in every marital act;
- the right to life, and the right – and duty – of healthcare workers not to participate in abortion, euthanasia, and other anti-life medical procedures;
- denial that “homosexual unions [are] in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (though persons with same-sex attraction should be ministered to);
- the need of children for both a mother and a father, and to be born of their own parents (even if sometimes with special needs), not via reproductive technologies that dominate human life or make children mere players in their parent’s life plans;
- the right of parents to control the education of their children and to receive assistance from the community in doing so.
And much more, even extensive quotations from St. John Paul (notably absent from the Synod text) and Benedict XVI.
Also, like the Synod Report, but at much greater length, Pope Francis lays out the many ways in which people need to be “accompanied” – one of his favored terms – during courtship, the wedding, and the first years of marriage, indeed, throughout their married lives. During the Synod, some of the most interesting presentations came from lay people involved in precisely these sorts of things.
Francis points to their necessity in our time, as never before, because young people around the world often come to marriage now with false or unrealistic expectations created by modern media. And given the poor to non-existent formation they get at home or in parishes these days, he urges parents, teachers, catechists, pastors to recognize how much they need to do before young people get anywhere near the altar in a culture like ours, which puts enormous economic, moral, and social obstacles in their way.
Read more at The Catholic Thing.