• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 00:07

The joy of love

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Sr Berneice Loch rsm150 2015In the short time since the release of "Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love" there has been praise, questioning and disappointment, depending on one’s viewpoint, beliefs and conscience. As a Church that is within the world, we encourage open discussion and debate as both healthy and necessary. All of us could cite examples from times within our Church when debate has been stifled and we are aware of the consequences that arose from that, whether it be people unable to speak on topics such as the world being round during the time of Galileo or in relatively more recent times the issue of women’s ordination.

Failure to engage in dialogue and discussion, particularly in a society that perhaps more than any time before is openly discussing and dialoguing about almost every aspect of life, would further ostracize the Church and detract from its mission, rather than enabling it to be a loving presence within our world. The open discussions during the Synod itself and since the release of this document are very welcome. As Francis notes, the process was both ‘impressive and illuminating’(4).

In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis says the Church needs to be humble and realistic and needs a healthy dose of self-criticism (36). Pope Francis reminds us the Gospel tells us not to judge or condemn (308) . Sadly, as we know some in society have felt judged by the Church. They have not experienced the welcome befitting a Church that is seeking to follow Jesus. Rather than seeing a humble Church they have experienced one that has been seen to judge and to cast certain groups into the realm of the 'other'. This has resulted in not only those the Church calls in 'irregular' situations not being able to participate, it has also meant that many who are considered to be 'regular' families have similarly not been able to reconcile their own conscience by participating (when many of their own brothers, sisters and friends were not able to fully participate in the Eucharist with them). As Francis states, “At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealisation, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite..” (36).

Let us hope the humility of Pope Francis as expressed in Amoris Laetitia and in many other ways so far during his Papacy, continues to work its way through all parts of the Church. Ultimately the Church is not an entity in itself, it is ‘all of us’. So for the Church to become more humble and loving, it is up to all of us to embrace the humility that was demonstrated through Jesus. As members of religious congregations we are in a somewhat unique position and can influence and demonstrate this humility through the cultures we create in our schools, hospitals and other organisations within our wide ambit. We can embrace the words of Francis who says “seeing things with the eyes of Christ inspires the Church’s pastoral care for the faithful who are living together, or are only married civilly, or are divorced and remar­ried” (78) and by “reaffirming 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”(250). As Francis says, “Since ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it”(3).

The joy of God’s love is one that is found in individual families, in the Church family and the wider human family. It is found also in the way in which we as a humble Church demonstrate that love through enabling all people to feel valued and so they can experience fully God’s grace, joy and love.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.