Quotes from church leaders and observers on papal exhortation

This article appears in the Amoris Laetitia feature series. View the full series.

Washington — Following is a series of quotes from Catholic leaders and observers reacting April 8 to the issuance of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "'Amoris Laetitia" (The Joy of Love), on Love in the Family":

  • "'Amoris Laetitia' is a joyful invitation for families to live the works of mercy and to receive the gift of God's healing where there is sin and brokenness. As he has done time and again, Pope Francis challenges us to approach the weak with compassion, to 'enter into the reality of other people's lives and to know the power of tenderness.'" -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston.
  • "Personally, I was encouraged by what the pope has to say about preparing men and women for marriage and about our need to accompany couples, especially during those early years when they are just starting out on the path of their life together. I was also touched by our Holy Father's call for all of us in the church to reach out with compassion to wounded families and persons living in difficult situations." -- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
  • "With 'Amoris Laetitia' ('The Joy of Love'), Pope Francis has provided the church with an in-depth reflection on Christian marriage, the intricacies of relationships, and the struggles that people face in modern society. ... In the introduction of 'Amoris Laetitia,' Pope Francis advises everyone to carefully read through the document because of its length and sometimes complex passages on matters of great significance. While many commentators and pundits will make their interpretations known in the media in the coming days, the Holy Father's advice is sound. I will also follow this advice and will offer my own thoughts after careful reflection and consideration. -- Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver.
  • "It is very important to note that Pope Francis is writing to us during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Everyone is to be an agent of mercy and closeness wherever family life lacks peace and joy. Strong, loving families strengthen the individuals within them and our communities as a whole. The church must provide pastoral support for families in good times and bad, empowering them to witness that marriage, children and life-long faithful commitment are a beautiful and fulfilling way to live." -- Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh.
  • "The church feels the challenge of a changing culture and must reassess its efforts in helping those who, for example, are divorced and remarried to know that they are welcome. Sometimes what the church actually teaches and why it holds these teachings is not communicated as effectively as others' perceptions of who and what we are about. That is exactly why Pope Francis calls upon us to make a bold effort: so that all Catholics -- indeed all people of good will -- will see the effort that the church is making to be close to them, regardless of what their situation might be or how alienated from the church they may feel." -- Bishop Peter A. Libasci of Manchester, New Hampshire.
  • "There are no changes to canon law or church doctrine introduced in this document, as Pope Francis explains, 'If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases.' Rather, the Holy Father says, 'In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God's plan in all its grandeur." -- Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois.
  • "All of us at Priests for Life welcome the document issued today by Pope Francis called 'Amoris Laetitia,' which summarizes his teaching following the two worldwide synods of bishops held in the last two years on the topic of the family. We encourage all the clergy and laity to carefully read, study, discuss and apply this document, which repeats the church's teaching on life, marriage and family, and urges all of us to encourage one another with compassion and care as we strive to live that teaching." -- Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
  • "He (Pope Francis) demonstrates exquisite sensitivity to the way that poverty, housing problems, violence, drugs, migration, arranged marriages, abandonment and persecution affect the family. Indeed, part of his rationale for pastoral sensitivity toward the divorced and remarried is his recognition that financial pressures often lead to remarriage. Francis' compassion runs out when it comes to the kinds of marital problems associated with the wealthy. No compassionate caveats are offered for those using contraception or reproductive technology. Surrogacy is denounced in scathing terms and contraception (is) tied to greed and consumerism." -- Candida R. Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame.
  • "The Vatican offers seeds of hope for a church moving away from general and strict doctrinal rules to one of grace and growth. This challenging, and at times poetic document exhibits highs and lows, both championing pastoral discernment, the primacy of conscience, and even 'the women's movement,' but is riddled with an incomplete and painful understanding of feminism, reproductive health, gender, and sexual identity." -- Women's Ordination Worldwide.
  • "Voice of the Family wishes to express our serious concerns about certain elements of (the) apostolic exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia.' The laity have a grave duty, as laid out in canon law, to raise their concerns publicly for the good of the church. We consider that there are elements of 'Amoris Laetitia' that Catholics simply cannot accept. We make our criticisms with the greatest reverence for the papal office and out of a desire to assist the hierarchy in its proclamation of Catholic teaching on life, marriage and the family. As pro-life/pro-family, groups we have a duty to help protect families and their most vulnerable members." -- Maria Madise, manager, Voice of the Family.
  • "'Amoris Laetitia' offers a theologically compelling vision of marriage and family life for the church. ... He deals with divorce and cohabitation pastorally, building the case for a scriptural and theological formation of conscience. It's a document that will have an influence upon the church's theology of and pastoral practice for marriage for the next generation." -- Timothy O'Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy.

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