Yet another article on Amoris laetitia but this one takes on the whole aspect of discernment that the document brings to the forefront in dealing with issues of “irregular” relationships. BTW, whenever PF uses that term in his writings, he always puts it in quote marks, as if to say he would like to get beyond this classification of relationships into “regular” and “irregular”. This article poses the difficult question of how to teach those who are to accompany the art of discernment. In other words, how do we form consciences? Good question…..reyanna
By Antonio Spadaro S.J. & Louis J. Cameli August 1-8, 2016 issue America Magazine on-line
The word discernment has a central, even critically important place in the development of “The Joy of Love,” Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family. In referring to discernment, Francis employs very strong language: “It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual’s actions correspond to a general law or rule because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being” (No. 304, our italics). Many failures to understand this important magisterial text arise precisely from an inability to understand what discernment is and to live it out. So to understand and appreciate the document, we need an accurate understanding of discernment—a word cited about 50 times in the document—and the serious challenge it poses for pastoral ministry.
“The Joy of Love” outlines a real and genuine “pastoral conversion”: “We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life. We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment than as a lifelong burden. We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (No. 37, our italics).
The great question, obviously, is this: How do we form consciences? And how do we form those who are called to and responsible for the formation of consciences?
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