Since last September, I have joined with all the other priests of the St John Vianney Society in making a study of Pope Francis' Letter, Amoris Laetitia. One of the priests of the Society, a priest from Burgundy, set out for us a study itinerary, with accompanying texts and helpful questions to guide us. We have been reading a chapter a month and have now just completed chapter seven of the Letter.
I have made my own brief notes as we have gone through the chapters and will publish these notes here, chapter by chapter, beginning with an introduction. I read Amoris Laetitia when it was first published but have found our common study of the text more helpful. I now have a much greater perspective on this Letter than previously.
In Pope Francis discourse to open the (first) Extraordinary Synod, and in his discourse to close the (second) Ordinary Synod, I note:
1. That he is intentionally placing all aspects on the table as equals (magisterial teaching, opinions, issues, arguments etc).
2. That he wants marriage and family to be looked at from the perspective of today’s issues, rather than from the perspective of foundational truths.
There is a sense in the Introduction to Amoris Laetitia that Pope Francis is avoiding the ideal of the family. There is also a sense from the Pope that we can’t attain the ideal which God wants us to be, so let's set the ideal aside. However, if there is no ideal to the family, then grace can seem to be something that is extrinsic to the family, something that is added to who we are. It feels as though he is speaking of the family with a Christian veneer! However, the reality is that grace is intrinsic to the family.
As an introduction to the text, these two addresses did not inspire me. Chapter 1 to follow.