A Reflection on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia by Archbishop Paglia
"The pages of Amoris Laetitia are illuminated by a special light: the exquisitely maternal way in which the Pope looks (and invites us to look) at today‘s families: the Church must make the joys and hardships, tensions and rest, suffering and deliverance, satisfactions and quests, hassles and pleasures our world‘s families her own." The President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, stated this in his presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in Krakow on May 27th. With this document, he explained, "Pope Francis collects the fruit of a long ecclesial process and proposes it authoritatively to the entire Catholic Church. For two years, from the Consistory in February 2014 to the two synodal Assemblies in 2014 and 2015, the Pope wanted the Church, in its various articulations and in a synodal style, to concentrate Her attention on the family;" and, in the course of the past year, he dedicated over thirty catecheses to the family. "There was also an important novelty—said Msgr. Paglia—, the double consultation of the local Churches, whose results were collected and examined by the Secretariat of the Synod. I do not think that any other papal document has been prepared in such a way. Moreover, the papal text frequently refers to the pontifical magisterium of St. John Paul II, especially Familiaris Consortio and the ‘theology of the body‘, and of Benedict XVI."
Archbishop Paglia then highlighted how the text is "marked on each page by a gaze of great sympathy toward the families, recalling the greatness of the mission that the Lord entrusts to them. Therefore, we cannot be reticent in proclaiming this ideal, in accordance with the Lord‘s strong word about the beauty and seriousness of the marriage bond, as full embodiment of the faith. The family is a vital asset for the life of the Church, a valuable asset for the evangelization of life, and an indispensable asset to human society itself. Pope Francis‘ Magisterium is solidly connected to that of St. John Paul II. Precisely the height of the ideal of the family drove Pope Francis to ask the Church for renewed commitment to approaching the families in the concrete reality of their lives." This topic was also recently addressed by the President of the Pontifical Council at the University of Tirana, in the presence of President of the Republic of Albania, where he focused on the fact that the Apostolic Exhortation "shows the human experience that qualifies the Church‘s maternal gaze and clearly manifests the diseases that afflict today‘s families, but without resigning to pessimism." Amoris Laetitia thus represents "a long meditation on aspects of family life, both the more enriching and the most critical ones. Yet, within a strategic vision, the family is not simply the story of individuals and their desires for love (which do exist), but the history of the world itself. We could say that the family is the mother of all relationships. Family and society are inseparable. When things do not go well for the family they do not go well in society either." In this sense the Exhortation "in fact calls for a change of ecclesiology, a new alliance between the families and the Church. Moreover, when the Church speaks of the families, She speaks about Herself—and vice-versa. The family is no longer conceived solely as a recipient of formative action, of a pastoral or sacramental act, but it is recognized as a subject of pastoral action, through the explicit proclamation of the Gospel."