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Pope’s apostolic exhortation on the family due today

By Sarah Mac Donald - 08 April, 2016

Pope Francis with couple,babyjpg

Pope Francis’ much awaited apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (‘The Joy of Love’) will be published today at noon Rome time (11am GMT).

An apostolic exhortation is a formal reflection issued by a Pope following a Synod of Bishops.

According to CatholicCulture.org, a Vatican ‘reader’s guide’ on the document, prepared by the office of the Synod of Bishops and sent to prelates around the world, emphasises that the apostolic exhortation will be “first and foremost a pastoral document.”

The guide did not disclose the specific contents of Amoris Laetitia but it laid stress on the importance of dialogue about the role of the family.

“The Pope’s vision of society is inclusive,” the guide states. “Such inclusion involves the effort to accept diversity, to dialogue with those who think differently, to encourage the participation of those with different abilities.”

The reader’s guide does not directly address the question that has prompted the greatest amount of speculation: whether Pope Francis will open a path for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

But the document may offer a hint, in saying that “the challenge is not to change doctrine but to inculcate the general principles…” according to CatholicCulture.org.

Last October in Rome Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin attended the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme, ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World’, and this followed an Extraordinary Synod in 2014 which was themed, ‘The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangalisation’.

Both synods involved the participation of Synod Fathers from 190 countries.

At the 2015 synod Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was elected as Rapporteur of the second of four English-speaking groups and Archbishop Eamon Martin was elected as Moderator of the third of the four English-speaking groups.

The Church in Ireland is preparing for the 9th World Meeting of Families which will take place in Dublin in 2018.

Held every three years, and coordinated by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the largest gathering of Catholic families and it celebrates family life and the Church’s commitment to support families.

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