Amoris Laetitia “the magisterial hermeneutic of the Church, always in continuity, yet always maturing”

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Stephen Walford and his family with Pope Francis

Amoris Laetitia “the magisterial hermeneutic of the Church, always in continuity, yet always maturing”

By Pope Francis

Dear Mr Walford,

I fondly recall you and your family’s visit on 27 July last. To me it felt like a concrete expression of Amoris Laetitia. Thank you! I would also like to thank you for your book on the communion of saints which I have begun reading.

In the letter you left for me, you asked if I could write some thoughts about Amoris Laetitia, and you proposed some questions. I will happily respond but I think it would be better for me to write freely what is in my heart. I hope this will be useful to you.

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is the fruit of a long ecclesial journey which involved two Synods and a subsequent consultation with the local Churches through the bishops’ conferences. Institutes of consecrated life and other institutions, such as Catholic universities and lay associations, also participated in this consultation. The entire Church prayed, reflected and, with simplicity, offered various contributions. Both Synods presented their conclusions.

One of the things that most impressed me in this whole process was the desire to seek God’s will in order to better serve the Church. Seeking in order to serve. This was done through reflection, the exchange of views, prayer and discernment. There were of course temptations during this journey but the Good Spirit prevailed. Witnessing this brought spiritual joy.

The Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is a unified whole which means that, in order to understand its message, it must be read in its entirety and from the beginning. This is because there is a development both of theological reflection and of the way in which problems are approached. It cannot be considered a vademecum on different issues. If the Exhortation is not read in its entirety and in the order it is written, it will either not be understood or it will be distorted.

Over the course of the Exhortation, current and concrete problems are dealt with: the family in today’s world, the education of children, marriage preparation, families in difficulty, and so on: these are treated with a hermeneutic that comes from the whole document which is the magisterial hermeneutic of the Church, always in continuity (without ruptures), yet always maturing. In this regard, in your letter you mentioned Saint Vincent of Lérins, in his Commonitorium Primum: “ut annis scilicet consolidetur, dilatetur, tempore, sublimetur aetate.” With respect to the problems that involve ethical situations, the Exhortation follows the classical doctrine of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

I feel certain that your book on Amoris Laetitia will be helpful to families. I pray for this.

Please pass on my best wishes to your wife and your children. I thank them for their witness. And I ask you, please, do not forget to pray for me!

May Jesus bless you and the Blessed Virgin protect you.

Fraternally,

Francis

From the Vatican, 1 August 2017

Stephen Walford is an English Catholic theologian author, pianist and teacher. His book Pope Francis, the Family and Divorce: In Defence of Truth and Mercy (Paulist Press) is available for pre order now and is released on August 28. He lives in Southampton, England with his wife Paula and five children

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 22:52
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