8. april 2016
The Chicago Catholic skriver:
Archbishop Cupich welcomed the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love),” April 8, saying the document might surprise some for its insistence on the need for mercy and compassion and its emphasis on the role of conscience.
The document is the pope’s reflection on the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which addressed many aspects of family life and included open, sometimes contentious discussions about whether some divorced and remarried Catholics could receive Communion.
The exhortation does not offer any new rules or norms. Rather, Pope Francis urges careful reflection on ministry to families and, especially greater consideration of how the church approaches working with those who do not fully live church teaching.
“By and large, the average Catholic is going to find that what the pope is saying here is very arresting and new and creative and imaginative,” Archbishop Cupich said. “He is saying things they haven’t heard before with regard to the church. For instance, individuals, in shaping their conscience, take responsibility, and nobody can come in and in some way try to replace that conscience. He talks about the need for families to be tolerant with each other in situations where people’s lives are not perfect so that we don’t separate ourselves and judge.”
“This is not about a reform of rules,” the archbishop continued. “This is about a reform of church.”
Archbishop Cupich said that he intends to study the document with lay and ordained advisers, and that the archdiocese will look at the ways it ministers to families, perhaps by extending marriage preparation into the first year of marriage or finding new ways to support parents as they welcome children.
Whatever the church does must be done with mercy, he said.
“The doctrine of the church has always been one of mercy and compassion and the pope is recovering that in much stronger and forceful way. It is a part of the doctrine of the church to reach out with compassion to people,” he said.
The archbishop acknowledged that some might rather have a clear set of rules to follow, something Pope Francis addressed as well.
“He knows that this call for a more compassionate pastoral outreach of accompaniment, discernment and integration, one marked by tenderness, will leave some perplexed,” the archbishop said, then quoted the document:
“‘I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,’ he notes. ‘But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.”
Archbishop Cupich rejected the idea that meeting people in the midst of the complexities of their lives means a “slippery slope” to a change in church teaching.
“It is not a slippery slope but a path forward for people who find themselves stuck.” The document calls on pastors to help people who can’t find that way now, he said.
“A healthy dose of criticism is in order for us pastors, in the way that we treat people and the way that we present the church’s teaching,” the archbishop told members of the media. “Too often, (the pope) says, we speak in a way that is far too abstract, presenting an almost artificial theological ideal of marriage far removed from the concrete situations and the practical possibilities of real families.”
Archbishop Cupich said the document calls on the church and its pastors to walk with people as they discern the best way forward and to seek to integrate them into the church.
“With profound respect for people, the church has to ‘make room’ for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amidst their limitations and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations,” the archbishop said. “We have been called, (PopeFrancis) reminds pastors, to form consciences, not to replace them.”
Priests must help people understand the teaching of the church and the guidelines of the bishops when it comes to divorce and remarriage, he said.
“It can no longer be said, according to Pope Francis, that all those living in an ‘irregular situation’ are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace,” Archbishop Cupich said.
“‘No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!’ the pope insists,” he said. “The goal of accompanying people is to help each person find ‘his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.’ He is not speaking here only of ‘the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.’”
Asked in what specific situations he would allow a divorced and remarried person to receive Communion, Archbishop Cupich refused to rule anyone out.
“I wouldn’t exclude anyone,” he said. “I would like our pastors to have discussion with all of those folks who are in these kinds of situations. … I know in my experience as a pastor, if you’ve seen a marriage then you’ve seen one marriage. There is no instance that can be replicated. Every situation has its variables.”
The document itself touches on many topics and challenges related to family life, from the training of future priests to sex education to the rights of children.
While insisting on an attitude of mercy and compassion, the pope at the same time “urges the church not to step away from proposing the full ideal of marriage” as the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children.
In the document, the pope says that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, must be “respected in his or her dignity” but makes clear that same-sex unions may not be treated as being “remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage.”
The archbishop said was he was impressed with pope’s crisp, accessible writing style, and the way he draws on varied literary and cultural sources to connect with his audience.
“He’s got an intuition about where people live their actual lives,” the archbishop said “He’s not living in a bubble.”