Why I’m not reading Amoris Laetitia…


I will read it.  From what I’ve read about it and the snippets I’ve seen, there are very beautiful, affirming, moving, and pastoral sections of it.

But it’s long. Very long.  My first instinct yesterday was to get to work early this morning and power through it, preparing for the inevitable questions and concerns that would arise from the people in the pew.  That’s my job, after all. And I felt like a prepared Director of Adult Formation would read the document asap.

But then I realized that rushing through the document just to say I had read it, just to have a few talking points or answers to questions, was exactly what I shouldn’t do.

The Pope himself said, “I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text.”

When faced with the longest magisterial text in history on one hand and a world of instant communication on the other… I decided to step back.  There are countless opinions out already. Every talking head and Catholic celebrity rushed to have their top ten points about the document, to frame their opinion of it, to have their say in the conversation.

I’m going to avoid the temptation to do the same. I’ll recommend what Bishop Barron had to say and I’ll go about my day, working on the talk I have to give next week.  Because after all, this apostolic exhortation isn’t going anywhere. And while the world will forget about it in about a week (look how many people are still talking about Laudato Si), the real point of the document is not to change things overnight, but to provide guidance in formation long term.

So instead of rushing through the text this morning, I’m going to go hunker down with Jesus of Nazareth and work on my task at hand: writing a talk on the Incarnation.

I will end with this- Just a little reminder that, despite everyone getting hyper about Church teaching changing or acquiescing to the culture, we must never, ever forget this:

Truth is black and white. It’s as black and white as the polka-dotted sweater I’m wearing today.  Nothing will ever change that. Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, and is therefore unchanging and eternal.

People are gray. As much as we’d like to live in a Western where the good guys wore white hats and the villains wore black, we live in a world where the great saints have sinned and the great sinners have capacity for conversion.

We also live in a culture that wants to say the exact opposite. Our modern culture wants to paint the Truth in a relativistic gray – “what’s right for you isn’t necessarily what’s right for me” and yet pigeon-hole people into camps of good and bad.  We label people and denigrate them, putting them in boxes based on a comment here or a personal view there. We crown people heroes when we agree with them, and unfairly vilify people we don’t like.  We can’t even have a decent debate or discussion these days without someone getting branded and put in a box, never to escape.

I fear a culture with their grays, blacks, and whites so mixed up will never be able to understand Amoris Laetitia.

I’ll be happy to share more thoughts when I read the document. But I’m going to be reading it in prayer and with reflection- not speeding through it so I can say something about it to say something about it.


  1. Listening to the talking heads of the Church (I avoid the regular media on days like today) I kept hearing the word “conscience.” THAT’S really the rub. What does THAT word mean to people? I fear that is where the real confusion will continue to be. For the typical American Catholic, I think it means following what FEELS right rather than what IS right. And we are great at rationalizing!

  2. When you do read it, could you post again whether or not you found in all those pages a simple, clear statement on the reception of communion by divorced and civilly remarried people, padded in diplomacy and compassion though it may be? Does he give a clear yes or no, or does he really leave it ambiguous, as the media is saying? Thanks!

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