The following is a statement of Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger on Pope Francis’ long-awaited apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia
(The Joy of Love), released April 8:
Jesus meets us wherever we are on life's journey and even runs after us when we get lost. He is the model Pastor, going out of His way to be our Way. This is the living Savior Pope Francis invites us to encounter in our personal lives, our families and our Church.
I am taking my time to do what the Holy Father has asked us all to do and not rush my reading to find what I want to hear, but pray through it to hear what I need to hear. I want to grow and change, not just be told I am right and stay exactly where I am. Otherwise I will never reach others who need me to move to meet them.
There is an emphasis on what we, individually and collectively, should be doing. After all, ‘there is no sense in simply decrying present-day evils, as if this could change things’ (#35), or indeed on ‘wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness’ (#38). This is how I have always felt about our pastoral ministry.
Nothing the Pope says or is about — or our Church teaching —sees us as isolated "individuals" just on our own. Conscience is personal, yes, but never just individual. It is always formed in context, and that context includes experience, the actual situation, reflection on actions, principles, values and consequences — and an openness to the Holy Sprit, a source of truth outside ourselves.
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