Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The Joy of Love
In the Fall of 2015 we marked Creation Time at Bridge St UC with sermon and study series' on Pope Francis' encyclical called Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. When the pope speaks the world tends to listen, or at least react and respond.
Francis is at it again, this time with a reflection on marriage, love, and family entitled Amoris Laetitia: The Joy of Love. I really do wish the Vatican would lose the Latin. Who uses Latin anymore? But I digress...
This is another important document because it opens the discussion about what families look like, and at least gives a glimmer of hope for those in relationships which don't fit a particular template. There seems to be room for grace here, although some Vatican watchers insist that the change is in the rhetoric, not the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church. Because the eucharist, or communion, is so central to Catholicism there is also consideration of who is welcome for the sacrament. Traditionally divorced Catholics have not received the eucharist.
Protestants might not be inclined to give this document much consideration, particularly those of us in liberal churches. We have come to different conclusions about divorce and remarriage, same-gender marriage, and the meaning of relationships outside of marriage. The United Church has been thoughtful in working through these issues, but I'm not sure anyone reads the documents we produced along the way. And of course marriage is not a sacrament in Protestant churches the way it is in Roman Catholicism.
I figure we should pay attention to Amoris Laetitia because we tend to be so vague in our theology of relationships and marriage despite our stated positions. I'm with Pope Francis in his encouragement to be less judgemental and rule-oriented about relationships.He says that the church must meet people where they are and stop speaking of "living in sin. At the same time I want to consider how can be support relationships if we don't take much more than a passive, "whatever" approach.
Here is an article on the top ten "take-aways" from the document http://americamagazine.org/issue/top-ten-takeaways-amoris-laetitia
Will I read Amoris Laetitia the way I worked my way through Laudato Si? I doubt it, but I will pay attention to the reflections of those who have. And I will ponder my convictions about relationships.