VATICAN CITY -- At a press conference, April 8, in the Holy See Press Office, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia: the joy of love", was released to the world. Here in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Bishop Glen John Provost, commented "Amoris Laetitia or The Joy of Love, the long-awaited apostolic exhortation on the family issued by Pope Francis, offers all of us much food for thought and reflection. It reaffirms family life and encourages us to approach the difficulties of the marital vocation with patience, kindness, and understanding. In a world where we find very few, if any, institutions or authorities, except the Church, speaking up for marriage and family life, families and all people of good will should find the Pope’s words supportive and encouraging.”
Father Jeffrey Starkovich, the diocesan spokesperson, also noted, "Since becoming the the Successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis has continuously lead the Church in Her mission of revealing the infinite and merciful love of God. In the Exhortation, Pope Francis identifies two reasons why his reflections are timely. First, he wants to encourage “Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family” by persevering in virtue. Second, he encourages “everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness where family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy.
"Beginning with the Scriptures, he outlines God’s plans for human love and the dignity bestowed by God upon marriage," Father Starkovich continued. "This is especially evident in the gift of children and the nurturing care that parents provide for them. Pope Francis emphasizes the need for improved education. Parents are tasked with teaching their children the ways of faith and love, and that all education is ordered towards that lofty goal.
"The Pope emphasizes that married couples reveal the joy of God’s love to the world," he said. "However, we recognize that human love is far from perfect and is wounded by sin. These wounds have caused both societies and individuals to ask fundamental questions about God’s gift of marriage and the nature of conjugal love. As an antidote, Pope Francis offers the unchanging teachings of Jesus Christ and calls each of us to a deeper conversion. Our fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His teachings on marriage is the only way to prevent the wounds caused by sin.
Father Starkovich concluded by saying, "He calls on the Church to use Jesus’ teachings on marriage not to “pigeonhole” someone in a difficult situation as an excuse abandon them, but instead see it as an opportunity to call them to a deeper conversion. He calls on the Church to listen to families in difficult situations and allow the light of God’s love and mercy to bring them healing. He urges pastors to approach these difficult situations with an open heart that discerns how the Church can best bring healing to their particular situation. Pope Francis’ desire is to strengthen marriages so that a family’s love for each other may reveal the joy of discipleship.
The exhortation was signed by the Holy Father on March 19, solemnity of St. Joseph. The panel at the press conference was composed of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria; and the married couple of Francesco Miano, professor of moral philosophy at the University of Tor Vergata, Rome, and Giuseppina De Simone, lecturer in philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples.
Cardinal Baldisseri explained that the titile Amoris Laetitia is in full continuity with the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. "From the joy of the Gospel to the joy of love in the family", he said. "The Synodal process has presented the beauty of the family by speaking about love. This constitutes the foundation of the family institution, because God is love among Persons and Trinity, and not solitude. … The result of the Synod Fathers' work brings together the diversity of experiences and points of view of the particular Churches. Disputes between different opinions took place with freedom and openness, which allowed an almost unanimous outcome to be achieved."
The principle according to which "time is greater than space", continued the Cardinal, "suggests that time is needed and there are different ways to find the best solutions to the different situations. … For example, the text refers to three prime situations in which the passage of time is necessary: in preparation for marriage, the education of children, and in mourning a death in the family."