Wow, they didn’t rely on clichés. Major media scrambled today after Pope Francis pulled off a Friday surprise, releasing his eagerly awaited statement on the family. And they didn’t fall back on the tried-and-untrue "Who am I to judge?" and "Pope Francis broke with centuries of tradition, saying that …"
Well, most didn’t. More on that later.
The book-length, 256-page Amoris Laetitia makes for hefty weekend reading, and church officials are calling for careful consideration. As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said today:
Amoris Laetitia is unusual for its size – more than 250 pages – and the Holy Father himself cautions us to read it with patience and attention. This is sound guidance, especially in the scramble that always takes place to stamp a particular interpretation on important papal interventions. My own more developed thoughts will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we can be thankful for the Holy Father’s thoughts on an issue of real gravity. Nothing is more essential to any society than the health of marriage and the family.
In the letter, Francis strikes balance between law and grace, restating both church doctrine and an understanding of what contemporary families go through. In turn, media seem to take a sympathetic view of the document -- for now, at least.
Despite a tight deadline, the Washington Post produced an almost feature treatment:
He called for divorced and remarried Catholics to participate more fully in church life. But he closed the door on gay marriage. He quotes Jorge Luis Borges and Jesus Christ. There is an entire chapter on love.
But more than anything, Pope Francis’s long-awaited document on family life, released Friday by the Vatican, amounts to an exultation of traditional marriage while recognizing that life, in his own words, isn’t always “perfect.” Yet rather than judging, he commanded, the church should be a pillar of support.
WaPo sees an ambiguity in Francis' words on divorced and remarried Catholics. It says he maintains that some are living in an “objective situation of sin,” but " he seemed to suggest that such cases should be studied and ruled on one by one."