Between the courage of application and the creativity to go further…
(from the Alphonsian Academy Blog)
On March 19 of this year, the 5th anniversary of the publication of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis will inaugurate a year dedicated to what this document means and brings about, which will conclude on June 26, 2022, during the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome (Family Love: Vocation and Path to Holiness).
A website has already been created for this purpose, which we recommend you visit and keep very much in mind: www.amorislaetitia.va. In it, we are informed of the 5 objectives of this commemorative year*. It also points out some “Initiatives and resources”, “12 proposals and suggestions for a pastoral care of the family”, and promises “the diffusion of tools of the spirituality of the family, of formation and pastoral action on preparation for marriage, education in affectivity of young people, on the holiness of spouses and families who live the grace of the sacrament in their daily lives”. It also announces that “international academic symposiums will be organized to deepen the content and implications of the apostolic exhortation in relation to very current themes that concern families throughout the world”. We hope that this whole program will help to take better steps to deepen and make more concrete all the aspects contained in this document. And, at the same time, it will allow us to recognize that this is not only a point of arrival but also a point of departure so that we can go beyond it, with creativity, truly developing a more holistic and inclusive theology and pastoral care that knows how to overcome the ties and rigidities of certain ways of facing the problems that arise in marriage and the family.
Let us give just one example and then three keys that from AL seem necessary to undertake this dream and this path. We take this example from the theme that perhaps, for better or worse, focused all the attention at the time, the communion of the divorced who have remarried. We do not know if in practice, pastors and pastoral agents have undertaken paths of real and effective discernment in this regard. We only know that there have not been many pronouncements of the bishops and certain episcopates; some relevant others have repeated only general criteria. In this sense, it is perhaps worth quoting a text which we believe to be very bold and accurate, coming from Maltese bishops (14.01.2017): “For this discernment to happen, the following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL, n. 300), a separated or divorced person living in a relationship is able with a clear and informed conscience to recognize and believe that she or he is at peace with God, she or he cannot be prevented from participating in the sacraments of reconciliation or the Eucharist (Cf. AL, nos. 336 and 351)”. It would be good if this text were propagated and applied with sufficient evangelical courage.
Concerning the keys, among others offered by AL, we suggest considering in a principal way the content of numbers 35, 36 and 37, which contribute attitudes and hermeneutic steps not only to deepen what inspires the text but to go beyond it as a faithful and creative response to the clamours of reality and the strength of the Gospel of love, of marriage and the family. What we could summarize as the conviction of the need for a propositive announcement of marriage and the family; the need for a serious self-criticism for having presented an abstract ideal far from concrete life; the need to form and respect consciences and not to substitute them.
Fr. Antonio Gerardo Fidalgo, C.Ss.R.
(the original text is in Spanish)
* ) To spread the content of Amoris Laetitia, to “make one experience that the Gospel of the family is a joy that fills the heart and the whole of life” (AL, n. 200); 2) To announce that the sacrament of marriage is a gift and has in itself a transforming force of human love. To do this, it is necessary that pastors and families walk together in a spirit of co-responsibility and pastoral complementarity, among the different vocations in the Church (cf. AL, no. 203); 3) Make families the protagonists of the family ministry. This requires “an effort at evangelization and catechesis inside the family” (AL, no. 200), since a family of discipleship also becomes a missionary family; 4) making young people aware of the importance of formation in the truth of love and the gift of self, with initiatives dedicated to them; 5) broadening the scope and action of the family ministry to include spouses, children, young people, the elderly, and situations of family fragility.