News reports focus on a few paragraphs of Francis’s new document, Amoris Laetitia, namely 242-243, 250, and 298-305, yet this is but a small part of the document. Instead, I want to give you a medium-length summary of the whole document using quotes and paraphrase.
Amoris Laetitia doesn’t seem to have any radical new ideas but following the Church’s tradition: most of the theological arguments go back to John Paul II’s thought which was based on Vatican II, and we could continue back to Jesus himself. There are several direct antecedents which are quoted extensively throughout: Gaudium et Spes, from Vatican II, 48-51; John Paul II’s Theology of the Body; John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, and the final relations of the 2 synods. Francis develops these documents but never brings them up to contradict them (skipping certain paragraphs of the 2 synod relations could be seen as disagreement but could also indicate Francis doesn’t see them as important).
Francis’s goal seems to be to present a positive view of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. He starts with the Biblical foundation, spends half of chapter four meditating on St Paul’s hymn of love, and ends with a call to family prayer. Chapter 5-7 provide positive initiatives the Church can do to help marriage and the family. Only chapter 8 deals with specific tricky situations, like the divorced and civilly remarried, and even this needs to be seen in the context of the rest of the document.
I have decided to put paragraph numbers at the beginning of each quotation or slightly before if I summarize something leading up to the direct quotation. I have chosen also to simply put one quote / idea per paragraph and thus most paragraphs are very short. I note if Francis is quoting some source directly in parentheses at the end of the paragraph rather than in a footnote because footnotes don’t work well on websites.
Francis begins the document: “The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.” This gives his positive approach to the issues he carries throughout.
1: In the Light of the Word
Like any good theology, Francis contextualizes all he will say in the Biblical metanarrative that gives us meaning. He wants to locate these as primarily Gospel reflections and only secondarily reflections on the current state of affairs.
Paragraph 10 seems to follow up John Paull II’ Theology of the Body: “The majestic early chapters of Genesis present the human couple in its deepest reality.”
15: “We know that the New Testament speaks of ‘churches that meet in homes.’ A family’s living space could turn into a domestic church, a setting for the Eucharist, the presence of Christ seated at its table.”
18: Jesus goes against the tendency of the ancient Near East to view children “as subjects without particular rights and even as family property.” Instead, he presents them as teachers, from their simplicity. This is part of a Christian vision of the family.
Paragraph 30 refers to specific problems like refugees and poverty basing them on looking “to the icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth.”
2: The Experiences and Challenges of Families
Switching ends, Francis talks about the specific issues families face today in their concrete circumstances. He doesn’t take the view of liberation theology that circumstances are a theological source (locus theologicus) but he wants to meet families where they are.
31: “The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church.”
33: “Equal consideration needs to be given to the growing danger represented by an extreme individualism which weakens family bonds and ends up considering each member of the family as an isolated unit.” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 5.)
35: “As Christians, we can hardly stop advocating marriage simply to avoid countering contemporary sensibilities, or [because of] moral failings.”
38: “We must be grateful that most people do value family relationships that are permanent and marked by mutual respect.”
38: “Many are touched by the power of grace experienced in sacramental Reconciliation and in the Eucharist, grace that helps them face the challenges of marriage and the family.”
39: Francis sees a “Culture of the ephemeral” in “the speed with which people move from one affective relationship to another.”
39: “Narcissism makes people incapable of looking beyond themselves, beyond their own desires and needs.”
40: “We live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future.” (quoting: Address to the United States Congress (24 September 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 26 September 2015, p. 7.)
41: “Cultural tendencies in today’s world seem to set no limits on a person’s affectivity” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 10.)
43: “One symptom of the great poverty of contemporary culture is loneliness, arising from the absence of God in a person’s life and the fragility of relationships.” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 6.)
44: “Families and homes go together. This makes us see how important it is to insist on the rights of the family and not only those of individuals.”
46: “The persecution of Christians and ethnic and religious minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, are a great trial not only for the Church but also the entire international community.”
47: We must give attention to “families of persons with special needs, where the unexpected challenge of dealing with a disability can upset a family’s equilibrium, desires and expectations… Families who lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are greatly to be admired. They render the Church and society an invaluable witness of faithfulness to the gift of life.”
57: “I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way.”
3: Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family
Instead of beginning with dry doctrine to explain the Church’s teaching, Francis focuses on the vocation or calling of individuals to join in families. This vocation is an individual’s call of love from God, the other spouse, and ultimately from one’s children.
58: “In and among families, the Gospel message should always resound; the core of that message, the kerygma, is what is ‘most beautiful, most excellent, most appealing and at the same time most necessary.’” (quoting: Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 35: AAS 105 (2013), 1034.)
59: “Our teaching on marriage and the family cannot fail to be inspired and transformed by this message of love and tenderness; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than the defence of a dry and lifeless doctrine.”
61: “Contrary to those who rejected marriage as evil, the New Testament teaches that “everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected” (1 Tim 4:4). Marriage is “a gift” from the Lord (1 Cor 7:7).”
64: “The example of Jesus is a paradigm for the Church…” Then Francis goes on to point out where he joined family life in the Gospels such as Cana, Peter’s house, Martha and Mary, and suffering families. (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2015, 41.)
68: Francis points out how Humanae Vitae “Brought out the intrinsic bond between conjugal love and the generation of life” in number 10 while Karol Wojtyla (future John Paul II) focused on Humanae Vitae 12 where the subjective reasons are given. (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2015, 43.)
72: “The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment.”
73: “Mutual self-giving in the sacrament of matrimony is grounded in the grace of baptism, which establishes the foundational covenant of every person with Christ in the Church.” (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2014, 21.)
Paragraphs 85 and 87 show a mutual relationship between families and the Church – each are goods for the other.
85: “The Church is called to cooperate with parents through suitable pastoral initiatives, assisting them in the fulfilment of their educational mission.” But she must always recognize their primacy in raising their kids.
87: “In virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, every family becomes, in effect, a good for the Church.” (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2014, 23.)
4: Love in Marriage
This chapter is a profound meditation on the meaning of love and its application in Christian marriage. If a man or woman is to read any part of the document, I would recommend this chapter: for reading, for meditation and for classes on marriage.
89: The Gospel of marriage is incomplete without love. “All that has been said so far would be insufficient to express the Gospel of marriage and the family, were we not also to speak of love.”
Paragraphs 92-93 talk of patience as an active not simply passive virtue when related to love.
92: “Being patient does not mean letting ourselves be constantly mistreated, tolerating physical aggression or allowing other people to use us.”
93: “The word [translated “kind”] is used only here in the entire Bible. It is derived from [the Greek word for] a good person, one who shows his goodness by his deeds. Here, in strict parallelism with the preceding verb [patience]. Paul wants to make it clear that ‘patience’ is not a completely passive attitude, but one accompanied by activity, by a dynamic and creative interaction with others.”
97: “Those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves, but are focused on others; they do not need to be the centre of attention.”
99: “To love is also to be gentle and thoughtful. [The Greek word] indicates that love is not rude or impolite; it is not harsh.”
100: The term “antisocial” here refers to being against societyand using others not just “asocial” – Spanish distinguishes these two words better. This is not a condemnation of us introverts. “Antisocial persons think that others exist only for the satisfaction of their own needs. Consequently, there is no room for the gentleness of love and its expression.”
102: “It is more proper to charity to desire to love than to desire to be loved” (quoting: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 27, art. 1, ad 2.)
105: “Once we allow ill will to take root in our hearts, it leads to deep resentment.”
107: “Today we recognize that being able to forgive others implies the liberating experience of understanding and forgiving ourselves.”
108: “If we accept that God’s love is unconditional, that the Father’s love cannot be bought or sold, then we will become capable of showing boundless love and forgiving others even if they have wronged us.”
116: “Love hopes all things. Love does not despair of the future.” It shows us we can change and bring about a better future.
120: “Conjugal love… the love between husband and wife… is an ‘affective union,’ spiritual and sacrificial, which combines the warmth of friendship and erotic passion, and endures long after emotions and passion subside.”
122: “There is no need to lay upon two limited persons the tremendous burden of having to reproduce perfectly the union existing between Christ and his Church, for marriage as a sign entails ‘a dynamic process…, one which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God.’” (quoting: John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 9: AAS 75 (1982), 90.)
126: “Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another.”
128: “Love opens our eyes and enables us to see, beyond all else, the great worth of a human being.”
130: “Few human joys are as deep and thrilling as those experienced by two people who love one another and have achieved something as the result of a great, shared effort.”
131: Marriage is public because it is a leaving home to build a new life co-responsibly with another. “Marriage is a means of expressing that we have truly left the security of the home in which we grew up in order to build other strong ties and to take on a new responsibility for another person. This is much more meaningful than a mere spontaneous association for mutual gratification, which would turn marriage into a purely private affair.”
132: “To opt for marriage in this way expresses a genuine and firm decision to join paths, come what may. Given its seriousness, this public commitment of love cannot be the fruit of a hasty decision, but neither can it be postponed indefinitely.”
Paragraph 137 gives practical advice, especially for men: “Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say… Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledge their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams.”
143: “Desires, feelings, emotions… all have an important place in married life. They are awakened whenever ‘another’ becomes present and part of a person’s life.”
146: “If passion accompanies a free act, it can manifest the depth of that act.”
Emotional maturity in a family helps all the members grow, decide & take on big projects.
146: “A family is mature when the emotional life of its members becomes a form of sensitivity that neither stifles nor obscures great decisions and values, but rather follows each one’s freedom.”
149: “Married couples likewise respond to God’s will when they take up the biblical injunction: ‘Be joyful in the day of prosperity’ (Ec 7:14).”
150: “Sexual desire is not something to be looked down upon.”
152: “In no way, then, can we consider the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family.”
153: “Sex often becomes depersonalized and unhealthy; as a result, ‘it becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts.’” (quoting: John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (25 March 1995), 23: AAS 87 (1995), 427.)
156: “Every form of sexual submission must be clearly rejected.”
158-162 emphasize the value of non-married vocations for the Church.
158: “Many people who are unmarried are not only devoted to their own family but often render great service in their group of friends, in the Church community and in their professional lives… Their dedication greatly enriches the family, the Church and society.” (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2015, 22.)
159: “Virginity is a form of love… It is also a reflection of the fullness of heaven.”
161: “Virginity and marriage are, and must be, different ways of loving. For ‘man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him.’” (quoting John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis (4 March 1979), 10: AAS 71 (1979), 274.)
164: “We love the other person for who they are, not simply for their body. Although the body ages, it still expresses that personal identity that first won our heart. Even if others can no longer see the beauty of that identity, a spouse continues to see it with the eyes of love and so his or her affection does not diminish.”
5: Love Made Fruitful
This seems to be a continuation of the meditation of chapter four, focusing on marriage, bringing it into the practical realm of raising children in a family.
165: “Love always gives life.”
166: “The family is the setting in which a new life is not only born but also welcomed as a gift of God.”
166: “The gift of a new child, entrusted by the Lord to a father and a mother, begins with acceptance, continues with lifelong protection and has as its final goal the joy of eternal life.”
167: “Large families are a joy for the Church. They are an expression of the fruitfulness of love.”
Abortion is never an option, while adoption and foster-care are encouraged.
170: “Some parents feel that their child is not coming at the best time. They should ask the Lord to heal and strengthen them to accept their child fully and wholeheartedly.”
170: “A child is a human being of immense worth and may never be used for one’s own benefit. So it matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations. For ‘children are a gift. Each one is unique and irreplaceable… We love our children because they are children, not because they are beautiful, or look or think as we do, or embody our dreams. We love them because they are children. A child is a child.’” (quoting: Catechesis (11 February 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 12 February 2015, p. 8.)
174: “Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism… It is they who testify to the beauty of life.” (quoting: Catechesis (7 January 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 7-8 January 2015, p. 8.)
176: “In Western culture, the father figure is said to be symbolically absent, missing or vanished. Manhood itself seems to be called into question. The result has been an understandable confusion.”
178: “Marriage was not instituted solely for the procreation of children… Even in cases where, despite the intense desire of the spouses, there are no children, marriage still retains its character of being a whole manner and communion of life, and preserves its value and indissolubility.” (quoting: Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 50.)
179: “Adopting a child is an act of love, offering the gift of a family to someone who has none.”
180: “The choice of adoption and foster care expresses a particular kind of fruitfulness in the marriage experience, and not only in cases of infertility… They make people aware that children, whether natural, adoptive or taken in foster care, are persons in their own right who need to be accepted, loved and cared for, and not just brought into this world.”
186: “The Eucharist demands that we be members of the one body of the Church. Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ may not wound that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members.”
193: “The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society.”
196: “The love between husband and wife and, in a derivative and broader way, the love between members of the same family… is given life and sustenance by an unceasing inner dynamism leading the family to ever deeper and more intense communion, which is the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family.” (quoting: John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 18: AAS 74 (1982), 101.)
6: Some Pastoral Perspectives
The first 2/3 of this chapter discusses a bunch of problems such as illness of a spouse or communication breakdown that can arise in marriage 1 by 1. The Pope gives good but fairly general advice that I hope any good priest would. I won’t quote each one: if you are dealing with a specific issue, read the first line of paragraphs in this chapter till you find your issue.
200: “Christian families, by the grace of the sacrament of matrimony, are the principal agents of the family apostolate, above all through ‘their joy-filled witness as domestic churches.’” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 30.)
Paragraph 204 talks about the importance of lay professionals assisting the Church’s ministry to marriage & the family through their experience & expertise.
206: “Chastity proves invaluable for the genuine growth of love between persons.”
212 encourages fiancés to have the courage to be different & go forward with a small marriage celebration rather than postpone the marriage for a big party.
219: “I recall an old saying: still water becomes stagnant and good for nothing. If, in the first years of marriage, a couple’s experience of love grows stagnant, it loses the very excitement that should be its propelling force. Young love needs to keep dancing towards the future with immense hope.”
221: Francis encourages realism: “Among the causes of broken marriages are unduly high expectations about conjugal life.”
227: “We pastors have to encourage families to grow in faith. This means encouraging frequent confession, spiritual direction and occasional retreats. It also means encouraging family prayer during the week, since ‘the family that prays together stays together.’”
230 says that the Church needs to help couples return fully to practicing their faith when they come for their kids’ sacraments.
234: In marriage, “Crises need to be faced together.”
234: “Communication [especially in marriage] is an art learned in moments of peace in order to be practised in moments of difficulty.”
The Church needs to minister to the divorced, especially those who were unjustly separated or abandoned or sought it after unjust treatment by their spouse.
242: “Respect needs to be shown especially for the sufferings of those who have unjustly endured separation, divorce or abandonment, or those who have been forced by maltreatment from a husband or a wife to interrupt their life together.” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 47.)
242: “Divorced people who have not remarried, and often bear witness to marital fidelity, ought to be encouraged to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their present state of life.” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 50.)
243: “The divorced who have entered a new union should be made to feel part of the Church. ‘They are not excommunicated.’”
Note how the Eucharist is mentioned explicitly here when talking about those who are living celibate post-divorce but not talking about the divorced and remarried
245 notes that in separation & divorce the biggest victims are often children, who are always innocent. In divorce & separation proceedings, “The good of the children should be the primary concern… Never ever, take your child hostage! You separated for many problems and reasons. Life gave you this trial, but your children should not have to bear the burden of this separation or be used as hostages against the other spouse.”
247 reaffirms the current norms for Communion for Christian but non-Catholic spouses.
250: Regarding persons who experience same-sex attraction Francis reaffirms 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (published in 1992 under John Paul II’s authority) against unjust discrimination. “We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided.’”
251: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” This is particularly forceful language that has been ignored for the most part in the media.
7: Towards a Better Education of Children
This chapter is short and focused on raising children properly. It will not be quoted much in the media, except maybe out of context to further agendas unrelated to educating children in the faith. Nonetheless, it has some important lessons about teaching hope to children and leading them to a self-giving love with others.
259: “Parents always influence the moral development of their children, for better or for worse. It follows that they should take up this essential role and carry it out consciously, enthusiastically, reasonably and appropriately.”
Paragraph 261 observes the dangers of a certain over-parenting or “helicopter parenting”: “Obsession, however, is not education. We cannot control every situation that a child may experience… If parents are obsessed with always knowing where their children are and controlling all their movements, they will seek only to dominate space. But this is no way to educate, strengthen and prepare their children to face challenges.”
266: On a practical note, Francis notes that children need to learn “Please”, “Thank you”, and “Sorry” if they want others to see their good disposition.
267: “Freedom is something magnificent, yet it can also be dissipated and lost. Moral education has to do with cultivating freedom.”
270: “It is important that discipline [of children] not lead to discouragement, but be instead a stimulus to further progress.”
Paragraph 271 indicates that moral education asks children a proportionate amount of sacrifice so they learn and grow rather than resenting authority.
273: “A person may clearly and willingly desire something evil, but do so as the result of an irresistible passion or a poor upbringing.” This may seem to grant permission to do anything but refers to the person’s conscience where they are unaware that a certain thing is a sin. We need to raise children so this doesn’t happen.
279: “When children are made to feel that only their parents can be trusted, this hinders an adequate process of socialization and growth in affective maturity.”
280: We need “‘a positive and prudent sex education’ to be imparted to children and adolescents ‘as they grow older.’” (quoting: Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis, 1.)
283: “Frequently, sex education deals primarily with “protection” through the practice of “safe sex”. Such expressions convey a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against. This way of thinking promotes narcissism and aggressivity in place of acceptance.”
285: “Sex education should also include respect and appreciation for differences, as a way of helping the young to overcome their self-absorption and to be open and accepting of others.”
286: “The configuration of our own mode of being, whether as male or female, is not simply the result of biological or genetic factors, but of multiple elements… It is true that we cannot separate the masculine and the feminine from God’s work of creation, which is prior to all our decisions and experiences, and where biological elements exist which are impossible to ignore.” Francis uses this to address “machismo”: “Taking on domestic chores or some aspects of raising children does not make him any less masculine or imply failure, irresponsibility or cause for shame.”
287: “Raising children calls for an orderly process of handing on the faith… the home must continue to be the place where we learn to appreciate the meaning and beauty of the faith, to pray and to serve our neighbour.”
288: “Education in the faith has to adapt to each child.” I think this goes beyond just updating CCD materials to also looking at varied ways children learn including things like Myers-Briggs and special challenges like Autistic children who process things differently.
8: Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness
This chapter deals with the Church’s outreach to the weak or those who have fallen in a particular way. It is the most controversial chapter with people interpreting it in ways that go beyond and even at times against the text. I will try to stick as close to the text as possible while still summarizing to avoid misunderstanding what Francis wants to say which follows directly from what John Paul II would say.
291: “Although the Church realizes that any breach of the marriage bond ‘is against the will of God,’ she is also ‘conscious of the frailty of many of her children.’” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 24.)
Paragraph 292 gives a great definition of marriage: “Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other in a free, faithful and exclusive love, who belong to each other until death and are open to the transmission of life, and are consecrated by the sacrament, which grants them the grace to become a domestic church and a leaven of new life for society. Some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way.”
Paragraph 293 says that the Church should minister pastorally to those cohabitating with the view to an eventual marriage.
Paragraph 294 mentions the problems of poverty causing de facto unions because the price of the wedding party is too high and proposes some possible solutions.
295: The law of gradualness proposed by John Paul II: “This is not a ‘gradualness of law’ but rather a gradualness in the prudential exercise of free acts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law.”
296: “The Church’s way… has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement… The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous.” The line about “not to condemn anyone for ever” refers to earthly condemnation & is not negating Hell’s existence. (quoting: Homily at Mass Celebrated with the New Cardinals (15 February 2015): AAS 107 (2015), 257.)
297: “If someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community. Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion.”
Paragraph 298 follows John Paul II in admitting that “2nd marriages” can morally continue for reasons like bringing up children but should be celibate. Celibacy is not mentioned by Francis but his repeated references back to Familiaris Consortio indicate it where JP2 says this explicitly.
Paragraph 298 also mentions that individuals in “2nd marriages” could think internally their 1st marriages were invalid but gives no pastoral indication based on this.
299: “The baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal. The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care which would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the body of Christ, but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it.” (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2015, 84.)
Paragraph 300 explicitly states the document is not changing universal rules: “Neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases.”
After divorce, paragraph 300 suggests that spouses should reflect on how they handled the whole marriage & break up, “A sincere reflection can strengthen trust in the mercy of God which is not denied anyone.” (quoting: Relatio Finalis 2015, 85.)
300: “Given that gradualness is not in the law itself, this discernment [regarding irregular 2nd unions] can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church.”
The first half of paragraph 301 explains cases where moral imputability or responsibility is lessened due to mitigating factors. The second half 301 at first seems confusing but is just a reiteration of the first half once we read it in context.
305: “A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.” This refers to an overly negative moral theology that looks to condemnation over mercy.
In 305, Francis quotes the International Theological Commission explaining how natural law is not an a priori set of rules but objective inspiration for personal decisions.
305: “It is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” This refers to people who live in a state of sin (like cohabitation or a civil non-sacramental marriage) without realizing that what they do is sinful.
Paragraph 306 says we should always follow the path of charity and invitation when dealing with those living in objective sin.
307: “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur.”
307: “Young people who are baptized should be encouraged to understand that the sacrament of marriage can enrich their prospects of love and that they can be sustained by the grace of Christ in the sacrament and by the possibility of participating fully in the life of the Church.” (quoting: Relatio Synodi 2014, 26.)
It is worth noting that Francis using “participating fully” for young people considering marriage in paragraph 307, while he refers to the divorced and civilly remarried only being “fully integrated” or “participating” in the Church, indicating he realizes there are some limitations on their full participation.
Paragraph 308 points out the need to accompany individuals in irregular situations, helping them grow, making room for God’s mercy.
310: “Mercy is not only the working of the Father; it becomes a criterion for knowing who his true children are. In a word, we are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us.” (quoting: Bull Misericordiae Vultus (11 April 2015), 9: AAS 107 (2015): 405.)
311: “Mercy does not exclude justice and truth, but first and foremost we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth.”
9: The Spirituality of Marriage and the Family
This chapter sums up the whole document in a spirituality of the family. The main goal is realizing the presence of God in family and praying together to him.
315: “The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes.”
315: “The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures.”
317: “If a family is centred on Christ, he will unify and illumine its entire life.”
318: “Family prayer is a special way of expressing and strengthening this paschal faith.”
320: “No one but God can presume to take over the deepest and most personal core of the loved one; he alone can be the ultimate centre of their life.”
322: “All family life is a “shepherding” in mercy. Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others.”
325: “The teaching of the Master… on marriage is set – and not by chance – in the context of the ultimate and definitive dimension of our human existence.”
UPDATE: If you want to know how to read this without spin, I suggest reading my blog on the hermeneutic of continuity vs the hermeneutic of suspicion.
Note on republishing:
Unmodified: just give me credit, pay me the usual freelancer amount if you pay, and send me a link via my contact page.
Modified: Contact me and let’s work together.