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The Joy of Love, Pope Francis between the ideal and the real


Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican on 14 October 2015. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

In speaking on the launch of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said that Pope Francis has spoken as a true pastor, who really knows the human heart.

Speaking on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Coleridge continued by saying the Pope is well aware of the pressures now facing marriage and the family.

“The Pope moves between the ideal and the real, offering the Church’s vision of marriage and the family but also dealing with the facts on the ground that can be messy,” the Brisbane Archbishop said.

In an article published in The Weekend Australian, Saturday, 9 April, Archbishop Coleridge writes that what Pope Francis was saying to the Catholic Church was that a synod wasn’t just a one-off event; it’s an ongoing journey, which is what the word synod means.

In The Joy of Love, Francis doesn’t claim to be the final word settling every controversial question. Nor does he claim to offer a comprehensive pastoral plan to be implemented around the planet. His claims are more modest, and for that reason more compelling. He wants this text to be another step on the way; not a final product but another part of the process,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.

Archbishop Coleridge, who attended the 2015 Synod, said the document "is full of contemplative vistas but also down-to-earth practical wisdom which could come only from long pastoral experience of spouses and their families. It moves constantly between the ideal and the real".

“At times, he seems to rub our noses in the facts of marriage and the family, even when the facts are unpleasant. Yet, out of the mess, he always seems able to make the title of his text, The Joy of Love, seem more than vapid dreaming or whistling in the dark in a world where joy and love can seem a mirage.”

The Joy of Love insists we have to deal always with the facts, however messy they may be; we have to be in touch with the reality of marriage and the family, Archbishop Coleridge said.

“To walk with people, whoever they are, means to enter into dialogue with them. That means we listen to people, whoever they may be and however far they may fall short of the ideal. For Francis, the ideal does matter; the vision must be kept clearly focused. But, if we speak only of it, then we can drift off into some abstract no-sphere that doesn’t breathe the air of reality.”

The text of Amoris Laetitia is available to download from the ACBC website:

Read the full article by Archbishop Coleridge published in The Weekend Australian (Saturday, 9 April 2016) by Clicking Here.