Pope Francis appears to be saying that the way in which Pope John Paul II presented the ideal of marriage and the family has become remote to how people live. That way of looking at marriage and the family is no longer seen as an ideal, but as a judgement on people. Marriage and the family is an unattainable goal, according to Pope Francis. And so we need to look again at all the things that actually affect marriage and family life.
Pope Francis is calling the Church to stop putting the Christian vision before people, and instead, he is calling the Church to help people to live the nitty-gritty of marriage and family in a better way.
But what is lacking in his presentation is the foundation of marriage; that marriage is symbolic of the relationship between God and man. It seems to me then, that there is a Protestant anthropology within "Amoris Laetitia". Instead of applying the Gospel directly to people’s lives and calling them to allow grace to change us, there is a real sense of a negative anthropology – that we are in fact set in a fallen mode and must put up with that lot.
For priests, how do we experience marriage today?
1. We see the disintegration of marriage and family at large.
2. We observe that people no longer express the capacity for self-gift, and therefore, in some way, lack the capacity for marriage.
3. That people rarely, if ever, consult with us about these issues, but rather decide upon their own resolutions.
4. That today, the traditional cultural conformity - that everyone gets married - has gone, and that the sexual revolution has been integrated into people’s lives. The result is that people today want a relationship, but not marriage; this is the new cultural conformity. So, today conformity has moved away from what it used to be, and that which the Church gave her accord to. And there is now a new situation, which the Church cannot accord herself to.
5. Just as before, today also, a small minority actaullyget married with a sense of vocation.
What has caused this situation? This is very difficult to pin-point, but a loss of faith and the sexual revolution have played their part.
What is the response of the Church to this situation? This is also very difficult to answer. We know that we can’t shore up a shifting culture, still less a land-slide. Part of the answer lies, I believe, with Rod Dreher's "The Benedict Option", which implies new and small Christian communities who actually live Christian marriage and family, and who build themselves up in the Christian life, so that they can become a new leaven for the future.