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Document on family develops doctrine, it doesn’t change it, says cardinal

Pope Francis’ document on the family reflects an “organic development” of Church teaching and doctrine, said Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, theologian and participant in both synods that dealt with the topic.

“There are true innovations, but no break” in tradition, the cardinal told reporters during a news conference at the Vatican on 8th April presenting the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

The document emphasises the need for greater reflection and discernment by priests and Catholic couples in so-called ‘irregular’ situations, as they look for ways they can participate more deeply in Church life, he said.

Proper discernment is nothing new, the cardinal told another reporter. It has always been the serious duty of the lay faithful and their priests or confessors. Everyone is responsible, he said, because “you cannot play with the sacraments, you cannot play with the conscience.”

Those in a broken marriage must honestly examine their conscience before God, he said, and reflect on their role in the marriage’s breakdown or whether it was canonically valid in the first place.

A married couple, both philosophy professors, spoke at the news conference about their impressions of the exhortation. Giuseppina De Simone said the pope’s tone and style made it feel like he was taking people “by the hand to discover the beauty of our families — imperfect, fragile, but extraordinary because they are supported in their daily journey by the love of the Lord who never tires, doesn’t renege, and makes everything new.”

She said the text is an invitation for people to step away from the noise, confusion and discouragements in the world, and to look, listen and truly appreciate “the treasure we have in our hands, the great good there is in the normalcy of our lives.”

So many problems and crises in families, she said, grow out of an inability to make time for the other and look at others with mercy and respect. Families and love are a “dynamic process” that require “struggle and rebirth, reinventing itself and always starting over,” she said.

Picture: Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn speaks during a news conference for the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), at the Vatican.

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OTHER NEWS

Far too many homeless people still not safely housed, say charities

"Far too many" homeless people are still on the streets, in shelters and hostels, despite the Government aiming to have all rough sleepers safely housed by last weekend. Last week the Government asked local authorities to do everything to "get everyone in" by the end...

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On the Friday before Holy Week, Pope Francis asked people to keep a long tradition of Catholic piety by focusing on "the suffering and sorrows of Our Lady." "Honour Our Lady and say, 'This is my mother,' because she is mother. This is the title that she received from...

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Top gardening influencer Ellen Mary reveals how families can reconnect with nature in their own garden. By Hannah Stephenson. If you’re lucky enough to have your own garden, there’s lots of ways you and your family could enjoy it – and connect with nature and benefit...

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