PopeFrancisEvangeliiGaudiumjoygospel

Pope Francis has issued an Apostolic Exhortation titled Evangelii Gaudium . The Pope presents the “Joy of the Gospel” in its wholeness, which has been the theme of his pontificate from the very beginning.  Among many other things, including our obligations to the poor and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political, and legal orders, the exhortation addresses the proper understanding of marriage—-explicitly rejecting the “emotional bond” conception of “marriage” that underwrites revisionist ideas such as no-fault divorce and same-sex unions—-and the obligation to defend the life of the child in the womb. Anyone who feared or hoped that Pope Francis intended to change (which would not be possible) or soft-pedal the Church’s teachings on these matters might want to note carefully what he says.

On marriage: “The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensable contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born ‘of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life.’”

On the sanctity of human life: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, ‘every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual.’”

The complete text of the exhortation in English translation has been posted on the Vatican website .

Articles by Robert P. George

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