Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley released the following statement April 8 on Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia, On Love in the Family'
We are grateful to our Holy Father, Pope Francis for the gift of his Apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia, On Love in the Family." He has given us a lengthy and significant teaching on the Joy of Love. This is a document that demands a careful reading and reflection from Catholics everywhere, and it is sure to bear great fruit. Pope Francis shows himself to be the gentle, merciful pastor who urges us all to take the time to meditate on the importance of families, for as he says, "The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church." (AL 31)
Amoris Laetitia brings together the deliberations of the two Synods on the family convoked by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015, and draws on a long history of Church teaching. This Apostolic Exhortation numbers over three hundred twenty five paragraphs, and it is not intended to be read and implemented too hastily. In the introduction to the document, Pope Francis notes that no one should rush through reading the text, but that the greatest benefit will come if each part is read "patiently and carefully", paying particular attention to those parts dealing with the specific needs of the reader. (AL 7) Rather than try to draw immediate conclusions from the text, we are urged to reflect upon it and to ponder, patiently and carefully, what the teachings will mean for the Church and for her ministry to families.
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, in which the Church celebrates the love and unending mercy of God, Amoris Laetitia is a joyful invitation for families to live the works of mercy and to receive the gift of God's healing where there is sin and brokenness. As he has done time and again, Pope Francis challenges us to approach the weak with compassion, to "enter into the reality of other people's lives and to know the power of tenderness." (AL 308) It is my fervent desire that we will read Amoris Laetitia patiently and carefully, so as to benefit from the richness of its teaching.