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Pope Francis: Amoris Laetitia, “Integrating everyone”. “Accompanying, discerning and integrating” are the key verbs

“Accompanying, discerning and integrating”. These are the three key verbs used in the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitiae” to describe the “frailty” of the families in chapter 8. The same chapter deals with the “work” of the Church, which is often “like that of a field hospital”, whose “logic” is that of “pastoral mercy”. “The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement. The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone forever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart”. According to Pope Francis, there is a need to “avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations and to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience distress because of their condition”. In brief, “Amoris Laetitia” calls on all of us to “reach out to everyone”, to “help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous mercy”. “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!”, Pope Francis observes, going on to explain: “here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves”. The first imperative for the Church is to “accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence, like the beacon of a lighthouse in a port or a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way or who are in the midst of a storm”. All this in the awareness that “Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other in a free, faithful and exclusive love, who belong to each other until death and are open to the transmission of life, and are consecrated by the sacrament, which grants them the grace to become a domestic church and a leaven of new life for society”. “Some forms of union – the Pope points out – radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way”.

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