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Lay participants in the 2015 Synod respond to Amoris Laetitia

Sebastian Gomes

April 14, 2016
Pedro J. de Rezende and Ketty A. Rezende of the University of Campinas, Brazil were lay auditors at the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.  In that capacity they had the opportunity to address the Synod and participate in the small language groups which laid the foundation for the Final Relatio that was approved and given to Pope Francis on October 24, 2015.  After the publication of Francis' exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Friday, the married couple drafted the following analysis.
A brief analysis of the apostolic exhortation "The Joy of Love"
by Pedro J. de Rezende and Ketty A. Rezende
It was with great anticipation that we awaited the publication of an Apostolic Exhortation on the family, as it had been announced shortly after the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that took place last October. Many believed that it would contain pastoral guidelines that addressed the great diversity of situations in which families find themselves in the contemporary world.
However, "The Joy of Love" (Amoris Laetitia) ended up being a pastoral document far beyond our expectations. At the same time that it is a reiteration of the church's teachings, based on the Magisterium and on the texts from previous popes, one clearly sees the hand of Pope Francis in it: his style remains pedagogical, compassionate and very accessible to the lay Christian.
On the one hand, the document highlights doctrinal aspects already covered in previous encyclicals and exhortations. On the other hand, as is usual to Pope Francis, he stresses very concretely, to the couples and families who faithfully live their mission, the value of true conjugal love, openness to life and the education of children, as a source of wholehearted joy in the family environment and in the context of society.
It should be noted however, that "The Joy of Love" also promotes a pastoral novelty. It strongly emphasizes the aspect of “accompaniment” for those who are hurt or who place themselves apart from the Church. Francis speaks much about welcoming, caring and integrating them, in their present situation, into the Church's loving environment. At the same time, he calls on us to help each person to find his or her path for continuous conversion and to gradually open themselves to the mission entrusted to them through baptism.
Therefore, this exhortation is a document to be studied and reflected upon by every Christian. It must be read with the same spirit of joy and love with which it was written: with an open mind, fidelity to the truth and a sincerely compassionate attitude, as demonstrated by Pope Francis himself.