Pope announces year-long reflection on family, ‘Amoris Laetitia’

For Pope Francis, the family is key in the new evangelisation. Unless Christians live holiness in their daily lives - which begins in their families - the Church cannot inspire the world

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To focus attention on the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life – which makes up 99 per cent of the Church – Pope Francis has dedicated 2021 to a year-long reflection on Amoris Laetitia. Photo: CNS photo illustration, Mike Crupi

As the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” approaches, Pope Francis announced that the Catholic Church will dedicate more than a year to focusing on the family and conjugal love.

During his Sunday Angelus address Dec. 27, the pope commemorated the feast of the Holy Family and said that it served as a reminder “of the example of evangelizing with the family” as highlighted in his exhortation.

Beginning March 19, he said, the year of reflection on “Amoris Laetitia” will be an opportunity “to focus more closely on the contents of the document.”

“I invite everyone to take part in the initiatives that will be promoted during the year and that will be coordinated by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life,” he added. “Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St. Joseph, the devoted spouse and father.”

Pope Francis greets newly married couples during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican in this 2015 file photo. In 2016 the pope released a major document, “Amoris Laetitia,” which focused on love in the family. Photo: CNS, L’Osservatore Romano

The ‘Amoris Laetitia Family Year’

According to the dicastery’s website, the “Amoris Laetitia Family” year “aims to reach every family around the world through several spiritual, pastoral and cultural proposals that can be implemented within parishes, dioceses, universities, ecclesial movements and family associations.”

The dicastery said that the goals of the celebration include sharing the contents of the apostolic exhortation more widely, proclaiming the gift of the sacrament of marriage and enabling families to “become active agents of the family apostolate.”

The “Amoris Laetitia Family” year will include forums, symposiums, video projects and catechesis as well as providing resources for family spirituality, pastoral formation and marriage preparation.

In “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, the pope said marriage is not the “end of the road,” but ‘a life-long calling based on a firm and realistic decision to face all trials and difficult moments together.” Photo: CNS, Nancy Wiechec

Headed for the 2022 World Meeting of Families

The commemoration will conclude June 26, 2022, “on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families in Rome,” the dicastery said.

Pope Francis already had declared a year of St. Joseph, which began Dec. 8 and ends Dec. 8, 2021.

In his Angelus talk, the pope said that the Holy Family is a model in which “all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration.”

Holy See Press Office copies of a summary of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), are seen at the Vatican as the document was released. The exhortation contains the conclusions the pope reached from the 2014 and 2015 synods of bishops on the family. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

It begins with the Family

Through them, he said, “we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit; it must be founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope.”

Families can experience sincere communion when they live in prayer, when forgiveness prevails over discord and “when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will,” he added.

“I would like to say something to you: If you quarrel within the family, do not end the day without making peace,” the pope said. “And do you know why? Because cold war, day after day, is extremely dangerous. It does not help.”

Forgiveness

Pope Francis also reflected on the theme of forgiveness during his Angelus address on the feast of St Stephen on 26 December.

Recalling St Stephen’s martyrdom, the pope said that although it may seem that his death was in vain, among those who witnessed and consented to his stoning was St Paul, who eventually became “the greatest missionary in history.”

St Stephen’s example “was the seed” of St Paul’s conversion, he said. “This is the proof that loving actions change history: even the ones that are small, hidden, every day.”

Witnesses in everyday life

Christians, he added, can become witnesses of Christ through their everyday actions, “even just by fleeing the shadow of gossip” or refusing to speak ill of others.

“When an argument starts at home, instead of trying to win it, let’s try to diffuse it,” and forgive one another, Pope Francis said. Small efforts and gestures, he said, “change history because they open the door, they open the window to Jesus’s light.”

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