Amoris Laetitia 297: Reaching Out, and Keeping Boundaries

amoris laetitia memeThe basic pastoral stance is that Catholics reach out to everyone:

297. It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing 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. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.

The problem is not a person who commits objective sin. That is everyone, even faithful Christians. The challenge occurs when someone accepts sin and presents it publicly as part of a virtuous life:

Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17). Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion.

Even ancient traditions, the early monastics come to mind, would include troubled members as part of a living community. Pope Francis counsels the same thing, citing the synod bishops:

Yet even for that person there can be some way of taking part in the life of community, whether in social service, prayer meetings or another way that his or her own initiative, together with the discernment of the parish priest, may suggest. As for the way of dealing with different “irregular” situations, the Synod Fathers reached a general consensus, which I support: “In considering a pastoral approach towards people who have contracted a civil marriage, who are divorced and remarried, or simply living together, the Church has the responsibility of helping them understand the divine pedagogy of grace in their lives and offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God’s plan for them”,(Relatio Synodi 2014, 25) something which is always possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 297: Reaching Out, and Keeping Boundaries

  1. FrMichael says:

    Well of course people can be condemned forever: those would be the souls in Hell. Granted the Church Herself cannot condemn people forever: they die and fall into the particular judgment of God Himself.

    Anyway, the most controversial elements of AL lie directly ahead!

  2. TJP says:

    Section 297 is a possible statement of formal heresy.

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