My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am pleased to share with you our Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love.
As you may remember, Pope Francis convened two Synods on the family. This document represents his reflections of those gatherings. Also recall, the Holy Father solicited the insights and experiences of all of the faithful with a questionnaire. In fact, those of other faiths were invited to respond to the questions found in the survey. Pope Francis clearly sought to cast his nets wide in gathering material for his discernment. If you recall too, our diocese participated in that process and in some small measure, we have played a role in Amoris Laetitia.
As with any Apostolic Exhortation, it will take time to “unpack” the insights and catechetical possibilities that lie within the document. Indeed Pope Francis says as much when he writes, “… I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text.” Amoris Laetitia P6
However, I will note the Holy Father draws greatly on the deep and fruitful wisdom of two of his predecessors, St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Within the footnotes you will also find references to previous Apostolic Exhortations and Church documents. Thus, the encyclical falls squarely in the hallowed tradition of the Church; by drawing on contemporary insights and experience, the discernments of the Magisterium, and first and foremost on Holy Scripture, Pope Francis reveals his respect for both tradition and the radicality of Christ’s message.
I will be calling our diocesan ministers and leaders and all the faithful of the diocese to ponder the messages found in Amoris Laetitia. In the coming months, as I meet with clerics, religious and parishioners, I will invite responses to the encyclical, as well as suggestions on putting into practice its wisdom. In fact, this stance of entering into dialogue with the text and then with each other is a hallmark of Pope Francis’ pastoral style.
It is a profound spiritual experience to contemplate our loved ones with the eyes of God and to see Christ in them. This demands a freedom and openness which enable us to appreciate their dignity. We can be fully present to others only by giving fully of ourselves and forgetting all else. Amoris Laetitia P 253
Finally, the Holy Father notes this Apostolic Exhortation complements the direction of this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Thus, we receive in its dissemination a welcome text to accompany our spiritual journey into the heart of our Lord’s abiding mercy and love.
Your Brother in Christ,
†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks
You will find the text of Amoris Laetitia on the Vatican website www.vatican.va
File (English Translation): INGLESE_TESTO.pdf