Amoris Laetitia 320: Healthy Autonomy

amoris laetitia memeWhat do you make of Pope Francis’s interpretation of healthy autonomy?

320. There comes a point where a couple’s love attains the height of its freedom and becomes the basis of a healthy autonomy. This happens when each spouse realizes that the other is not his or her own, but has a much more important master, the one Lord. No one but God can presume to take over the deepest and most personal core of the loved one; he alone can be the ultimate center of their life. At the same time, the principle of spiritual realism requires that one spouse not presume that the other can completely satisfy his or her needs. The spiritual journey of each – as Dietrich Bonhoeffer nicely put it – needs to help them to a certain “disillusionment” with regard to the other,(Cf. Gemeinsames Leben, Munich, 1973, p. 18. English: Life Together, New York, 1954, p. 27) to stop expecting from that person something which is proper to the love of God alone. This demands an interior divestment. The space which each of the spouses makes exclusively for their personal relationship with God not only helps heal the hurts of life in common, but also enables the spouses to find in the love of God the deepest source of meaning in their own lives. Each day we have to invoke the help of the Holy Spirit to make this interior freedom possible.

A few things …

Many couples experience or fear “drifting apart.” It takes some careful discernm,ent to ensure that the claim to autonomy isn’t an excuse for drifting.

Looking to one’s spouse to fulfill all needs: I’d say we’re looking across the board of all human experiences. Perhaps a better orientation is to be outward looking. In other words, how can I fulfill some of my partner’s needs and allow an independence to let the other search for additional support?

I noticed that phrase “interior divestment.” Reminds me of the Ignatian principle of detachment.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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