The Discernment of “Irregular” Situations (Cf. Catechesis (24 June 2015))
296. The Synod addressed various situations of weakness or imperfection. Here I would like to reiterate something I sought to make clear to the whole Church, lest we take the wrong path: “There are two ways of thinking which recur throughout the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating. The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement… The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous”.(Homily at Mass Celebrated with the New Cardinals (15 February 2015))
Followed by the synod bishops in their final report:
Consequently, there is a need “to avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations” and “to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience distress because of their condition”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 51)
My chief takeaway is that charity and gentleness is not earned by outward, or even inner signs: contrition, abstinence, or whatever. As is true with divine grace, the Christian offers care and mercy freely, even to those who seem less deserving or undeserving.
Pope Francis is also right to criticize the “casting off” of people. That is an act proper to the role of Christ, and not something any human being is qualified to usurp.
For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.