How does the Church work with couples who are not married within the bounds of acceptable practice? The synod bishops’ final document is cited in this paragraph:
78. “The light of Christ enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:9; Gaudium et Spes, 22). Seeing things with the eyes of Christ inspires the Church’s pastoral care for the faithful who are living together, or are only married civilly, or are divorced and remarried. Following this divine pedagogy, the Church turns with love to those who participate in her life in an imperfect manner:
- she seeks the grace of conversion for them;
- she encourages them to do good,
- to take loving care of each other
- and to serve the community in which they live and work…
I find it illustrative to organize such statements into bullet-point lists. How does the Church seek grace? That might mean direct confrontation and voiced criticism. But the Church seems more interested in positive support for families. None of these latter aspects are out of place in the formation of traditional families. As a parish minister, I ask myself: Do I encourage virtue? Do I demonstrate loving care and urge others likewise? Do I offer opportunities to serve?
Some might counter that imperfect people offer a flawed witness in the greater community, but I see where the bishops are headed with this one. The Church’s mission is aligned with that of the Lord: we are going to seek out and serve the lost. Not the self-styled upright.
When a couple in an irregular union attains a noteworthy stability through a public bond – and is characterized by deep affection, responsibility towards the children and the ability to overcome trials – this can be seen as an opportunity, where possible, to lead them to celebrate the sacrament of Matrimony”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 53-54)
Seems to imply that not every couple should be urged to Marriage. Is this right?
For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.