In the News 2016

Pope Francis’ ‘The Joy of Love’ treatise on marriage and family draws mixed reaction

Pope Francis’ ”The Joy of Love”—a 256-page statement on marriage and the family released by the Vatican on Friday—drew mixed response from Catholics in the U.S. and elsewhere. The lengthy document tackles the new realities facing the faithful but upholds Church doctrines on some of the thorny issues of the century such as divorce and the LGBT life.

Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, lauded the new document, describing it as “a love letter to married couples and families.” He said the new papal document is meant for the church “to realise more and more his mission to live and love as a family,” according to Religion News.

Conservative Christians were also reportedly delighted with the new publication, although others earlier expressed fears that the pontiff would tamper with dogma.

The document addresses “many important things about love, marriage, the family, and the current cultural crisis of a world in which the imperial autonomous Self is running roughshod over just about everything, leaving a lot of human unhappiness in its wake,” Conservative Catholic writer George Weigel writes in the National Review.

For the liberals who had hoped for a change in practices, they claimed that the Pope’s document is a “disappointment.”

“The Human Rights Campaign was ‘disappointed’ that the document, issued in the pope’s Year of Mercy, did not translate into fuller inclusion for LGBT Catholics,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, an HRC senior vice president.

But Maxwell said she found some consolation in knowing that a growing number of Catholic families and parishes are very welcoming of the LGBT group.

President Jon O’Brien of Catholics for Choice, a pro-contraception and an abortion-rights group, called Francis’ pastoral approach “a breath of fresh air—but talking about the law in a pastoral manner does not change doctrine, and it will not change the real practice of Catholics,” RNS said.

Non-Catholics have also reacted to the new document. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, tweeted @drmoore: “Man. #AmorisLaetitia is a mess.”

According to news reports, the massive document termed in Latin, Amoris Laetitia, touches on topics related to the family in the church and marriage. It affirms that the Church’s mission is to “promote marriage and the family to defend them against those who attack them.”

The pope also discussed abortion, describing its increasing number as “very troubling” and the practice as “evil.”

”So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent growing child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life,” the document says.

Pope Francis called on the Church to show pastoral sensitivity to those who live in irregular situations, referring to people who divorce or cohabitate. He then proposed ways in which married couples can possibly rediscover the value and beauty of marriage and live it more fully.

As for homosexuality, the Pope asserted that gays are also children of God and should be loved. But “The Joy of Love” noted that giving blessing to same-sex marriage is totally “unacceptable.”

“As for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” the document states.

This piece was originally published by Christian Today.

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