The following document is a paragraph-by-paragraph summary of Amoris Laetitia. Each sentence of the summary corresponds to its respective paragraph in Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. This post was originally made on May 29, 2016, but was not transferred to the new website until May 29, 2019.
1It is important to note that there is still a desire for marriage and family in our modern world. 2There are challenges facing marriage and the family that must be addressed in the light of faith. 3The purpose of this document is to provide general principles for individuals to make sound practical decisions. 4It is the fruit of the two-year synod on the family and the Pope’s own considerations. 5Families are to be encouraged to grow in their virtues and to seek strength in their weakness. 6The document will examine Scripture and doctrine to strengthen the family and pastoral practice regarding the family. 7It is a long document, which should be read carefully, and different people will find different parts more or less pertinent to their own state in life.
Chap. 1 – In the Light of the Word
8Scripture provides us with many insights to teach us what a happy and healthy family is.
9On the first page of the Bible we see that God created man and woman for each other, and their love for one another is the foundation of the family. 10The fruitfulness of man and woman together images the creativity of God. 11Their bringing forth of new life in love also images the Triune nature of God, which is an eternal communion of love. 12The spousal relationship of man and woman is also an image of God’s love for His people. 13The union of man and woman in marital love is both physical and spiritual.
14Children are the living stones by which the Lord builds the family and communities. 15The Lord must be welcomed into the family and the home to create a domestic church. 16Parents are the first teachers of their children and this responsibility is particularly important in regards to passing on the truths of faith. 17Educating their children is a serious responsibility and honouring one’s parents is also essential to holy family life. 18Children are not property, and as they grow, they must be given freedom to make decisions and even to teach their parents.
19Pain and suffering due to sin are, however, also part of the biblical presentation of marriage and family. 20There are numerous examples of family strife recounted in the Bible. 21The Gospels also reveal Christ’s sensitivity to the troubles of men and women facing various forms of suffering or conflict. 22Scripture is not abstract ponderings, but rather a personal encounter with the loving God.
23Work is integral to the full human experience. 24It is essential to the building up of the family and society. 25Unemployment is a cause of suffering. 26Sin, however, can tarnish work and lead to many other injustices in the world.
27Love is God’s motive for having a relationship with us, and it must be our motive for relating to Him and others. 28God’s love is a tender love, which seeks to feed and console us. 29Once again, the family is meant, through the love of parents and children, to mirror the communal love of God. 30The Holy Family in its perfect love and in its trials is the model of family life.
Chap. 2 – The Experiences and Challenges of Families
31The family is foundational to society, so we must carefully examine the challenges that today confront the family.
32There are both positive and negative shifts in the modern world that, respectively, provide opportunities for growth and threaten to undermine the family. 33Trends toward individualism and materialism are particularly hostile to the genuine, self-giving love that must be present in families and society. 34A relativistic understanding of truth combined with the assertion of one’s personal desires above the good of others precipitates conflict and dissatisfied relationships. 35For the good of the world Christians must promote the truth about marriage and family, but they must do it without simply complaining about present day evils or resorting to legalistic lecturing. 36We must recognize our own faults that have contributed to the present state of things and strive to provide concrete, desirable, and realistic help to the next generation of families.
37The Church is called to form consciences according to the truths revealed by God and to support families in living in His Grace. 38Most people still value family relationships and are willing to seek the help of the Church if we are willing to offer the gifts of the Church in an effective manner. 39The individualistic and narcissistic trends of our society make commitment and self-gift very difficult. 40There are many obstacles that keep young people today from entering into marriage and we must seek to find effective arguments to overcome those obstacles. 41Many people lack, for various reasons, the skills and mechanisms necessary to overcome the challenges faced in marriage and family life today. 42The contraceptive and abortive mentality promoted by individualism, consumerism, and other societal factors, are in many areas causing a dangerous decline in population.
43States have an obligation to help families overcome the difficulties that they are facing today. 44The stresses placed on families by economic and labour related challenges are also of great concern to the church. 45The various forms of child abuse and neglect that are increasing around the world are a cause of a great scandal. 46The Church must help those who, by choice or necessity, are migrating to new places in the world.
47Welcoming those with disabilities is another sign of our openness to life and our willingness to make sacrifices for the family and for society. 48Our treatment of the elderly, which must always respect their dignity and never allow for euthanasia or assisted suicide, is yet another opportunity for us to strengthen family bonds. 49The Church must be a loving Mother to those who are struggling to live the Gospel message because of poverty.
50There are many challenges to the family presented by our modern world. 51Drug use and other forms of addiction, violence, and various forms of hatred are some of the most serious challenges. 52Relationships that lack permanence and are closed to life are detrimental to the family, and certain arrangements, such as de facto and same-sex unions, cannot truthfully be equated to marriage. 53Many countries are systematically deconstructing the family based on individualistic ideologies, which focus on self-love, but renewal can only happen when the focus is on loving others. 54There have been steps forward in recent history regarding the recognition of the equal dignity of women and men, but there remain old forms of degradation and new forms of degradation have been created.
55The role of the father is integral to the family and the healthy development of children. 56We must not deny or repress the complementary differences between men and women because they are necessary for healthy family life. 57An approach that focuses on criticism and complaining is not helpful, and so we must seek creative and loving ways to rebuild and strengthen families.
Chap. 3 – Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family
58The core of the Gospel message, which is the kerygma, must be heard repeatedly within and among families. 59Our teaching on marriage and family must be animated by the love and tenderness revealed in Christ. 60This chapter seeks to summarize the Church’s teachings on marriage in the light of Christ.
61Marriage is a sacred institution. 62The sacrament of marriage is an indissoluble union. 63As a sacrament, marriage is an image of the Trinity and of Christ’s relationship to the Church. 64Christ is our model for ministering to families. 65There are numerous passages from Scripture that we should meditate upon to truly understand the mission of Christ. 66The Holy Family is our model of family life.
67The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes defines marriage as a community of life and love, and Lumen Gentium emphasizes the role of the family as a domestic Church, which manifests realities of the Church as a whole. 68Paul VI emphasized responsible parenthood, which requires that husband and wife rightly order the priorities of their family. 69John Paul II emphasized the vocation of men and women to love and that conjugal love is holy. 70Benedict XVI emphasized the sacrificial love of Christ on the cross as the model for marital love. 71The sacrament of matrimony is an image of God’s love for His people. 72Matrimony is a vocation, not merely a social convention, so it should only be entered after proper spiritual preparation. 73Only with God’s grace, through the sacraments, is marital love able to be an analogy, though imperfect, of the love of Christ for His Bride the Church. 74The graces of matrimony sanctify the sexual union, which is a physical expression of the marriage vows, and it also sanctifies all other aspects of family life. 75The baptized man and woman are the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony by their verbal consent and their physical union.
76The graces of matrimony must be nurtured to grow over time. 77The sacrament of matrimony is the full form of marriage, but there is also true natural marriage. 78The Church is called to approach, as Christ would, couples who are living together, though not validly married, to seek their conversion and bring them to a valid union. 79Pastors must always teach the truth about marriage while seeking to help couples accept and live that truth.
80Couples must always be open to the gift of life, which is the fruit of their mutual love. 81A child deserves to be born within a loving marriage by means of the husband and wife’s conjugal union. 82Children are a gift to be welcomed, not a commodity to be purchased. 82Life must be protected from conception to natural death. 83There are many threats to the proper education of children today, and the Church must help in their education while respecting that the primary responsibility rests on the parents, to whom Church and state are aids. 85The Church must help parents to realize that part of their marital vocation is educating their children in the faith.
86We give thanks for faithful families, who are living according to the Gospel for they are a profound witness of God’s love. 87Renewed reflection on the relationship of families to the Church as a whole will bear new fruit in our time. 88There are many fruits born from faithful families, which are necessary for the Church and society.
Chap. 4 – Love in Marriage
89Marriage is meant to perfect love, but we must understand “love” correctly. 90St. Paul’s hymn to love from 1 Cor. is worth meditating upon.
91”Love is patient” first refers to the habit of responding with restraint and mercy to the faults of others. 92Patience does not mean being a doormat, but it does require that we accept the other person as part of this world.
93Love serves others in kindness as an active complement to patience. 94Love is the choice to do good to others.
95Love is not jealous because jealousy is sorrow at another’s prosperity while love rejoices in the happiness of others. 96Love desires the happiness of others and respects their freedom to seek happiness while also striving to bring about equality.
97“Love is not boastful” means to use one’s gifts to strengthen others rather than to humble them. 98Even in family life it is necessary to remember that we must be humble in how we discuss matters of faith.
99“Love is not rude” means being respectful in your treatment of others. 100Love seeks to build relationships and to encourage others.
101An ordered love of self allows us to give generously of ourselves to others. 102Love seeks the good of the other without seeking anything in return.
103“Love is not irritable” means that we should not stew over the faults of others. 104Do not allow anger and resentment to fester within the family.
105Love seeks reasons to forgive others. 106True forgiveness can be challenging and it requires sacrifice to avoid family divisions. 107Recognizing and forgiving our own mistakes is necessary for forgiving the faults of others. God’s forgiveness of us is the model for how we are to forgive.
109Love rejoices in the success of others, not in their failures. 110Joy in the success of others is a fruit of love.
111Paul ends by listing four countercultural qualities of love. 112“To bear all things” first means that we must be charitable in how we speak of others. 113The quiet bearing of others’ imperfections and faults is not an ingenuous blindness but rather the ability of love to see the whole person, strengths and weakness.
114“Love believes all things” refers to the trust that must exist between spouses. Deep trust among family members allows each to grow in freedom and transparency while also strengthening the family bonds.
115“Love hopes all things” means that we hold to the truth that God is taking care of us. 116The primary object of hope is heaven, and the hope for heaven changes how we see the challenges of this life.
118“Love endures all things” means that despite any type of persecution or injustice you still love the good that is present in others. 119Love never stops seeking the good of the beloved.
120Conjugal love between husband and wife is an image of Christ’s love for humanity. 121Marriage, as a communion of love, is an image of the Triune God, who is the communion of love. 122Love between husband and wife is not perfect and so it must grow and develop. 123Marriage is a lifelong bond that is to be lived in love and fidelity. 124Love must be strong for marriage to last, and it needs the help of grace. 125The all-encompassing love that should exist between husband and wife is meant to lead them to “a free and mutual self-giving.”
126Distinguish between joy and pleasure, and seek to cultivate the joy of love in marriage. 127Strive to recognize and love the innate beauty and sacredness of your spouse without trying to possess her. 128The loving “gaze” with which we look at our loved ones is important. 129The greatest joys are in bringing joy to others, and this is a foretaste of heaven. 130A shared struggle or suffering is also a source of great joy.
131The love that leads to marriage necessarily entails the social aspect of building up society through enduring bonds. 132The public commitment made in marriage is necessary for a free and faithful bond.
133The words “please”, “thank you”, and “sorry” are essential for healthy family life. 134True love must always be growing, and it is a sign that the marriage is at risk if the love between spouses is not growing. 135There are no perfect families, so it is important to acknowledge the faults and imperfections in our own families while striving to work through those imperfects and grow as a family.
136Love in marriage requires dialogue, which requires us to recognize that we all communicate in different ways. 137Learn to be an effective listener. 138Recognize the importance of the person with whom you are dialoguing.
139Try to understand the other’s point of view before responding, be aware of the emotions that are being evoked within you, and respond carefully. 140Love the person with whom you are disagreeing. 141Dialogue also requires that we have something worthwhile to say, but this is only possible if we are feeding ourselves with good reading, reflection, and prayer.
142Passionate love is integral to marriage.
143The passions are essential to human life. 144Jesus had passions and showed emotion. 145Emotions, in themselves, are morally neutral, but they need to be trained, and how we respond to our emotions is where moral praise or blame can be assigned. 146When the passions are rightly ordered they serve the freedom and right decision making of the family.
147Sexual passion is from God, but like the other passions it must be rightly ordered. 148These emotions need to be integrated into the larger picture of a healthy marriage and family so that they do not become the focus of the marital relationship. 149Christian spirituality does not seek to deny the passions or the good of pleasure, but it does seek to order the pleasures to their appropriate place.
150God created sexuality as a gift to His creatures. 151Human sexuality is a language that must recognize the dignity of the other person in order to be life giving and a true expression of love. 152Sex, rightly ordered, enriches married love.
153Human sexuality, however, can and has often been warped through various manifestations of selfish self-gratification. 154Sex must always be a mutual gift of self between spouses, never the use of the other for one’s own gratification. 155Seeking fulfillment through dominating the other’s body dehumanizes both persons. 156Sexual submission is incompatible with true marital love; however, the “submission” spoken of by Paul in Eph. 5 is a free mutual belonging marked by fidelity, respect, and care. 157Love is not only to be understood in the “gift of self” but also in the “receiving of the other”.
158The contributions of those who remain unmarried are also important to the family, the Church and society. 159Virginity is a form of love that is a visible sign of God’s kingdom in heaven, and it is not at odds with married love. 160All people are called to perfection. 161Both virginal and marital love reveal aspects of God’s love for His people. 162The sacrifices made by spouses who truly love each other should be an aid to those in celibate life to also live in a way that seeks the good of others first.
163Marital love must transform through the years of marriage in order to remain strong. 164True love seeks new ways to express itself and to grow.
Chap 5. – Love Made Fruitful
165“Love always gives life”, and in marriage children are the living reflection of the love between husband and wife.
166New life is to be loved and welcomed, and we must avoid the shameful behavior of punishing children for the mistakes of adults. 167“Large families are a joy to the Church”, however, it is important to remember the Church’s teachings on responsible parenthood.
168From the moment of conception in his or her mother’s womb a child begins a unique relationship with God. 169Parents must have a dream for their child. 170Every child is a gift and must always be accepted from God as a gift, no matter what the circumstances of the birth may be. 171Mothers, please do not be afraid of the challenges that your child may bring, but be happy and joyful in the gift that God is giving you in motherhood.
172Children deserve the love of both their mother and father, and they need to see the love between their mother and father. 173Feminism has brought about many good effects in our modern world, but it has also weakened motherhood, which is a serious concern. 174Society needs the love, tenderness, and faith of mothers. 175Fathers and mothers have different, though flexible, roles in the family and both are necessary for the healthy growth of the child. 176There is a crisis of fatherhood in the West. 177The father and the gifts of his masculinity are needed in the family.
178Couples who are unable to have children may suffer because of this, but they are still true spouses called to love in a life-giving way. 179Adoption is one way for these couples to expand their marital love. 180The best interests of the child should always be sought in the process of adoption and foster care, and children should never be treated as commodities. 181All families are called to bear spiritual fruit in their communities through their interactions with other members of the community. 182Following the example of the Holy Family, families must seek to be part of the broader community in which they live. 183The love of the family must also be extended to those who are less fortunate, and in this way the family domesticates the world. 184Faithful families make God’s love present to the world in countless ways.
185We will now consider St. Paul’s critique of the abuses that were taking place among Christians in Corinth and what it means for us to discern the body. 186Communion refers both to faithful union with Christ in His one body the Church and to communion with our neighbours in fraternal love, and both are required for fruitful reception of the Eucharist. 187The nuclear family must interact with the extended family and broader community to avoid individualism and a narrow view of the world.
188We all received life from our parents. 189After the honour we owe to God, the honour owed to parents is foundational to society. 190Marriage requires men and women to leave their parents to form a new bond, which changes their relationship to their parents.
191The elderly are important and they must be treasured in our families, communities, and society. 192The neglect of the elderly we often see today is unacceptable for a number of reasons. 193By neglecting the memories and experiences of the elderly our society puts its own future in jeopardy.
194The love between siblings at home is foundational for how individuals will live in the broader community. 195Siblings must be taught how to love each other, and this experience of fraternal love is very important to their development.
196The family goes well beyond the parents and the children to include extended family and friends in the bonds of love and support. 197This broader family must be watchful of all the members to ensure that those who are vulnerable, suffering, or who have gone astray receive the care, love, and support that they need. 198In-laws can be challenging, but you must love them too.
Chap. 6 – Some Pastoral Perspectives
199The Synod requested that an effort be made to form new pastoral methods that address the diverse challenges of the family today.
200Through the Sacrament of Matrimony families are domestic churches and the Church must strive in various ways to help these domestic churches be visible signs of the Gospel. 201Evangelization needs to address the concrete issues faced by people today and it needs to promote the Christian values that will bring true happiness. 202The parish is the family of families and this is where the most important work takes place in ministering to families, so the weaknesses present in parish ministry must be addressed. 203Forming seminarians so that they will be able to minister effectively as priests to families is very important. 204Forming and recruiting lay people to assist in this ministry is also very important and complements the work of ordained ministers.
205Forming and educating engaged couples well will help them to build a strong family from the outset of their marriage. 206The marriage preparation programme must be robust and involve the broader parish community in order to address the many challenges that the couple will face. 207Through a processes of formation that involves the whole community the community itself will be strengthened, and the formation given will build up the engaged couple in more ways than just intellectual formation, which may not persuade their hearts. 208The remote preparations given to the couple through a well-developed parish life are of great help to their formation. 209Desire for each other is insufficient for marriage; the relationship must go deeper. 210Couples need to recognize the weaknesses in each other and discern whether these weaknesses pose a serious threat to their marriage. 211The marriage ceremony is not the end of the couple’s formation, and so the many resources of the Church must be proposed and made available for the couple in their ongoing formation.
212The many details and cost of preparing a modern wedding pose a threat to an authentic celebration, and so the couple and the parish must strive to promote a celebration that is focused on sanctifying the love of the couple. 213The marriage ceremony and the consent of the bride and groom should be profoundly personal and understood in their full meaning. 214Freedom and fidelity support each other, but the ability to keep promises has been weakened in the modern world. 215The Sacrament of Matrimony is an ongoing commitment that continues until death. 216There are various spiritual dimensions, symbols, and opportunities present in the marriage rite that can be utilized for the formation of the couple and their guests.
217There needs to be continued assistance and formation for the couple after they are married, especially in the early years, because of the particular challenges they will face in those years. 218Marriage is a life-long commitment and an ongoing project that requires husband and wife to strive together to live their vows more perfectly. 219A love that is hopeful for the future continues to grow by living well in the present to make the best future possible for the family. 220The ongoing nature of marriage requires frequent loving negotiations that result in what is best for the whole family – always seeking win-win solutions. 221False expectations about who a person is or what they will become in marriage is a common cause of separation, but this can be avoided when couples strive to help each other grow in loving ways. 222Openness to life is essential to marriage, and so marriage preparation must help couples be open to life while also giving them the means to live the Church’s teachings regarding responsible parenthood.
223The parish should offer various means of supporting new marriages. 224When love is present all challenges can be overcome over time and maybe with some help. 225Experienced, loving couples can help younger couples with practical advice on how to spend quality time with each other that will bear fruit. 226Young couples should be encouraged to form a routine of actions that help to strengthen and reinforce their love for each other, and they should also show their love through special gestures outside of the routine. 227Through various means pastors must encourage families to grow spiritually and in their habits of prayer. 228When one of the spouses is not a believer it can be a strain on the marriage, but their love can still be real and if so, it is a gift from God. 229The Christian community and the diocese can help families in many ways through the numerous programmes and support options that they can make available in the community. 230Pastoral care to the families who rarely come to church requires a missionary approach that reaches out to them and supports them in their needs, and in this way brings them back into the fold.
231We also recognize those whose love has matured like a fine wine.
232Challenges and crises within marriage should be seen as a means for the couple to strive together in love to overcome these obstacles and through this mutual mission their love grows. 233If crises are not dealt with effectively they will likely lead to the couple drifting apart. 234Couples need to face crisis together, and if they do not strive to do this early in the crisis it becomes more difficult to do so as time passes. 235Some crises are common to almost all marriages, so support in these situations should be readily available. 236Some crises are less common and may require more assistance, especially in learning the art of reconciliation. 237The many changes and challenges that occur throughout marriage should not be cause for ending the marriage, but rather opportunities to renew the love that brought them together. 238Many couples have the maturity to work through whatever challenges come their way, but it is obvious that there is a great need for pastoral ministry that will help to rebuild marital unions that have broken down.
239Old wounds, especially those of childhood and adolescence, can be a cause for ongoing suffering and turmoil within a family. 240If these wounds are not addressed, they will only make things worse for the individual who bears them and for those around him.
241Sometimes separation of the couple or the family is necessary for the good of those who are at risk because of the behaviour of someone in the family. 242Sensitivity toward the suffering of those enduring separation, divorce, or abandonment is needed in pastoral care, and the Church must find effective ways of helping these people, especially those who are also poor. 243Those who are divorced and have entered a new civil union are not excommunicated, and so they are still part of the Christian community. 244The annulment process has been simplified, but it must be run well. 245Concern for the wellbeing of the children is primary in these situations, so the mother and father, despite their reasons for separating from each other, must not act or speak in ways that will wound their children. 246The prevalence of divorce today is wounding children, and so we must seek to support these families as well as provide means to heal the wounds caused by divorce.
247Mixed marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic pose unique challenges but also offer opportunities for ecumenism and personal growth. 248Marriages between Catholics and unbaptized persons create other unique challenges and specialized pastoral care should be implemented to ensure the preservation of the Catholic faith in the family as well as the religious freedom of both spouses. 249Prudent pastoral care is necessary when one of the spouses involved in a natural marriage seeks baptism. 250Those who experience same-sex attraction are to be treated with respect, and they and their families should be given respectful guidance. 251Unions between couples of the same sex can in no way be considered equal or even analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. 252We must strive to help single parents regardless of why they are single.
253Provide comfort to the sorrowful. 254Losing a loved one can be very difficult, so help each other. 255Mourning is a process that should lead us to love the deceased as they are now and to move on. 256Death is not the end of our existence, and we are to live in the hope of heaven. 257We must pray for the dead, and those who are in heaven will pray for us. 258We are not to waste our lives away living in the past but rather make the most of the present.
Chap. 7 – Toward a Better Education of Children
259Parents always influence the moral development of their children, so they should strive to do a good job of it.
260Parents must be vigilant of the many factors that are influencing their children and seek to provide meaningful support, guidance, and direction. 261However, to obsess over and attempt to control the actions and thoughts of the children is not healthy and does not help them to develop proper maturity, freedom, discipline or autonomy. 262Mature, creative, and true freedom requires cultivation, and the fruits of this type of freedom are important.
263The affection, attention, and example of parents is necessary for the proper moral development of children. 264Parents, in various ways, must also work to shape the will of their children to desire what is truly good. 265In addition to knowing in an abstract way that certain actions are good, children must also understand that it is “good for them” in order to desire the good and do what is good. 266Good moral habits are developed through repetition of good actions. 267In various ways we cultivate freedom, which helps to build virtue and live a truly human life.
268Youth need to have misbehaviours corrected in order to grow in personal freedom. 269Correction must be given with love in a way that builds up the youth, it must not come from anger, and it must be proportionate to the fault. 270It must not be discouraging, but rather help to strengthen their dignity and instill a proper sense of responsibility and accountability.
271The demands placed on youth must be realistic and proportionate to their age so that they will not be overwhelmed. 272Bad experiences of the faults of adults can dissuade youth from accepting ethical formation, but if they are encouraged to see certain exemplary adults as their models, recognize the good present even in less exemplary adults, and given means of healing past wounds, they will grow in their ability to accept this formation. 273Taking into account various factors we must help youth grow in freedom at the pace appropriate to each individual.
274The values promoted and condemned in the family profoundly shape the thinking of a person long after he or she leaves home. 275There are many temptations toward a lifestyle of instant gratification, so parents must educate their children in temperance, which will allow them to live in hope of goods that they cannot acquire instantly. 276In the family we should learn to socialize in closeness and care, which prepares us for more selfless socializing in the world. 277In the family we also first learn the principles of communion and fruitfulness, which are the basis of society as a whole. 278The role of communications and entertainment media in the life of the family is something that the family must be conscious of and seek to use those media in a healthy way rather than allow them to bring negative influences into the family. 279The family, though a protective environment, should not overly shelter children from outside influences because children need to learn to trust others and to relate to the world with a love like that of Jesus.
280Children must receive sex education, but it must be in keeping with the true meaning of the human person. 281Sex education must be age appropriate and it must help youth realize what influences they need to shun and what influences will be of benefit. 282A healthy sense of modesty, which protects the person from being made an object to be used, is an important aspect of sex education. 283The heart of this education is to teach youth how to make true gifts of themselves. 284Sex, without true love, is a lie of the body that will ultimately leave people broken and alone. 285Understanding sexual differences, i.e., appreciating what it means to be male or female, is integral to personal and relational health. 286Masculinity and femininity are important realities that are shaped by many influences and there are necessary distinctions between the two, but they are not rigid stereotypes to force on people.
287The primary place of catechesis and faith formation of children is within the family with love. 288Faith formation must adapt to the needs of each child, and the personal witness of the parents living their faith is the most important aspect of this formation. 289Faith that grows within the family will naturally spread beyond the family. 290Through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy the family is a pastoral agent transforming communities.
Chap. 8 – Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness
291The Church desires to show mercy and to help those who are struggling because of moral weakness to live according to God’s plan for marriage and family. 292The Church’s definition of marriage is complete, while some other forms of unions either radically contradict true marriage or only share in some aspect of it; however, the Church does not disregard the good present in these other forms of union.
293There are many couples today living in improper situations, who may not even desire to enter into true marriage, and pastors must find gradual ways to bring these people to the Gospel. 294There are various motives that lead couples to living in de facto unions rather than valid marriages, but regardless of their motivations for living together these couples should be helped patiently and discreetly to live according to the Gospel. 295The “law of gradualness” recognizes that people are not able to perfectly live out the demands of the law, but they are expected through the help of grace to grow in their ability to live according to the law.
296The way of the Church is the way of Christ, which is to show mercy to those in need. 297Mercy does not mean letting people do whatever they want, but rather it means leading them to true communion. 298People have gotten themselves, culpably and/or inculpably, into some complicated “irregular” scenarios, so we must first seek to understand their situations before we are able to mercifully help them. 299Discerning how to integrate the “divorced and civilly remarried” into the community, without compromising the faith or causing scandal, takes effort and creativity. 300Couples, with the help of their priest, must also take responsibility for their actions, seek reconciliation, strive to be good examples, and avoid causing scandal.
301To be in an “irregular” situation does not necessarily mean the person is in a state of mortal sin. 302There are factors that can diminish or even nullify the culpability of objectively evil acts and the disordered nature of a situation. 303People must work to form their conscience according to the truth and to grow in their desire to follow God’s will as they are able.
304Practical reason and moral judgement become less precise and certain as a situation is considered in more particularly. 305Rather than condemn people based on general laws, pastors should seek to bring those people out of their disordered state regardless of their culpability. 306Fraternal charity and providing opportunities to do works of mercy will help people grow.
307We must propose to young people the full gift that marriage is meant to be. 308Accompanying the wayward in their weakness requires mercy and patience. 309In imitating Christ we will week to bring the Father’s mercy to all people. 310Bringing God’s mercy to others does not mean being lukewarm in your faith. 311Moral theology must consider God’s mercy, which is the fullness of His justice. 312Resolution requires that those in irregular situations sincerely seek a solution and that they be met with mercy and compassion.
Chap. 9 – The Spirituality of Marriage and the Family
313There is a unique spirituality born of family life.
314God is present in marital love. 315The essence of marital spirituality is in the deep family bonds of love in which God dwells. 316The acts of charity done in the family are key to its spirituality.
317Uniting their trials and suffering to the cross helps to sanctify all aspects of married life. 318Communal prayer in the family, which culminates in the family’s participation in the Sunday Eucharist, is essential.
319Families should daily renew the lifelong commitment to remain faithful. 320The individual relationship that each member of the family has with God must be prior to their love for each other. 321In the care that couples show each other is a concrete participation in the love and care God has for His people. 322This loving care shared by the family is a way to worship God and a means of spreading His grace to others. 323We must be present to our loved ones when they need us, just as Christ was present to those whom he encountered in his ministry. 324Family spirituality is defined both by the tender love within the family and the sharing of that love with those outside the family.
325No family is perfect, but God calls them all to grow toward perfection through the opportunities offered in their own situations.