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Share truth of family with mercy, help those struggling, pope's exhortation says


  • A family prays after arriving for Sunday Mass in 2011 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va. Pope Francis' postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), was to be released April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
  • An indigenous family poses for a photo in 2014 outside their home near Villamontes, Bolivia. Pope Francis' postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), was to be released April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
  • A U.S. youth poses in 2010 with his adopted brothers in Tennessee. Pope Francis' postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), was to be released April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)
  • A newly married couple hold rosaries in their hands as they leave Pope Francis' general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 24. Pope Francis' postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), was to be released April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis greets a young woman during a meeting with youths in Asuncion, Paraguay, in this July 12, 2015, file photo. Pope Francis' postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), was to be released April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, holds a copy of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), during a news conference for the document's release at the Vatican April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Copies of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), are seen during the document's release at the Vatican April 8. The exhortation is the concluding document of the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The same mercy and patience that are essential for building a strong family must be shown to those whose families are in trouble or have broken up, Pope Francis said in his highly anticipated postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

The document, "'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family," released April 8, contains no new rules or norms. However, it encourages careful review of everything related to family ministry and, particularly, much greater attention to the language and attitude used when explaining church teaching and ministering to those who do not fully live that teaching.

"No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love," Pope Francis wrote. People grow in holiness, and the church must be there to give them a helping hand rather than turn them away because they have not attained some degree of perfection.

The exhortation was Pope Francis' reflection on the discussion, debate and suggestions raised during the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Like synod members did, the pope insisted that God's plan for the family is that it be built on the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children.

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