Today, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), was unveiled. I am looking forward to reading this document, to sitting with it and to praying with in the next few days, weeks, and months. Social media is already abuzz with the glories of this document, while preservationist Catholics are girding their loins against any threat of changes (or breathing a sigh of relief that no doctrinal changes arise from this document).
However, I want to take a step back and remind myself that the beauty of this document will come from the possibility of the Institution’s extension of mercy and love to those who have been denied it for so long. Love and mercy have always been the jewel of this Church because it is the core message of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. Love and mercy have always been the action of the people of God because those who have listened whole heartedly to God’s voice can see that it is only through love and mercy that the Kingdom is reestablished.
And so, for years now many of the workers in the vineyard have gone out to the periphery to work with the people of God who have been marginalized and oppressed. Sisters have reached out to LGBTQ and Brothers have shown counsel and love for those whose hearts are broken by failed marriages or other circumstances. They did not need Amoris Laetitia to show them the way, because they have the Gospel of Jesus in their hearts.
However, for the rest of us whose hearts have yet to be transformed, I welcome Amoris Laetitia and the wisdom of Pope Francis. May he show us how to show love and mercy, as we have long been asked to do.
A PDF of Amoris Laetitia can be found here: https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf