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Fr Frank Pavone - Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis' Encouraging Roadmap for Families
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Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour. The Joy of Love recognizes women's feminine participation in the creation of life as a gift in a culture that has devalued pregnancy to a nightmare. Seeing each person's existence as -God's dream come true- is a healing antidote to the anti-life mentality that has infected our culture.
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STATEN ISLAND, NY (Catholic Online) - Following upon the worldwide Synods of bishops on the theme of the family over the last two years, Pope Francis has issued his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). The document is a beautifully written pro-life affirmation of the Church's wisdom. It is a reminder of her timeless instruction to families to live out their vocations but with a renewed focus to do so in love and mercy.
The Joy of Love recognizes women's feminine participation in the creation of life as a gift in a culture that has devalued pregnancy to a nightmare. Seeing each person's existence as "God's dream come true" is a healing antidote to the anti-life mentality that has infected our culture. In clear language, Pope Francis speaks of the great value of the embryo and his worth, starting at conception and regardless of the circumstances in which he or she was conceived.
"Every child growing within the mother's womb is part of the eternal loving plan of God the Father. Each child has a place in God's heart from all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator's eternal dream comes true. Let us pause to think of the great value of that embryo from the moment of conception. We need to see it with the eyes of God, who always looks beyond mere appearances." (n. 168)
Seeing the new human person with the eyes of God means acknowledging the privileged vocation of parents to cooperate in the creation of a new human life which is now entrusted to their care. Parents are not just urged to take responsibility for children. They are to take special care to never make children feel rejected, even if they come at inopportune times or if children are less than physically perfect.
In fact, advances in genetics, reproductive technology and prenatal diagnostics should never be used as a means for parents to play Lord and Master and decide the fate of unborn children. Some prenatal testing has been misused as a means to allow parents to discover if children in the womb carry disabilities for the purpose of selective abortion. Pope Francis reminds us that children are not disposable commodities and urges us to make the appropriate response.
"Scientific advances today allow us to know beforehand what color a child's hair will be or what illness they may one day suffer, because all somatic traits of the person are written in his or her genetic code already in embryonic stage.Expectant mothers need to ask God for the wisdom fully to know their children and to accept them as they are. Some parents feel that their child is not coming at the best time. They should ask the Lord to heal and strengthen them to accept their child fully and wholeheartedly. He or she is not an accessory or a solution to some personal need. A child is a human being of immense worth and may never be used for one's own benefit. So it matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations. ..We love our children because they are children". (n. 170)
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The attitude of a couple towards pregnancy impacts the entire trajectory of their marriage and family life. Those who are open and generous should have no regrets. To expectant mothers, the exhortation empowers them to keep their peace in a world that is often so hostile to pregnancy.
"With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of mother hood. . .Don't let fears, worries, others people's comments, or problems lessen your joy at being God's means of bringing new life into the world. Prepare yourself for the birth of your child. "(n. 171)
Finally, for those who cannot conceive and wish to do so, Pope Francis offers hope.
"Motherhood is not a solely biological reality, but is expressed in diverse ways. Adoption is a very generous way to become parents. I encourage those who cannot have children to expand their marital love to embrace those who lack a proper family situation.Adopting a child is an act of love, offering the gift of a family to someone who has none" (n. 170).
Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour.
Fr Frank Pavone is the National Director of Priests for Life.
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