Yes, Pope Francis’ highly anticipated post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, was released on Friday. As has become the norm, news outlets and social media have been buzzing with reactions, pre-reactions, reactions to the reactions, and on and on. All these are fed through the speaker’s preferred narrative and thus vary depending, to name the most sweeping divides, on whether we claim that this document changes nothing or that it changes everything, and on whether we view either of the above as a good thing or a bad thing.
Personally, I prefer to take what I think of as a more nuanced view, welcoming a new papal document as a development in continuity with the living Tradition. This forms a part of my own narrative that I read through, and I would be naïve to think it makes my reading perfectly unbiased. Lest I start to think I’m
the only one keeping my head, I’ve noticed a few people taking the refreshing approach of lifting up certain gems that they find particularly meaningful, without ideology or accusation, taking a moment to let their beauty speak for itself – which in a way is just what Pope Francis has a gift for doing with the rich wisdom of our faith.
I recall someone saying after the release of Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, that reading the document itself was like drinking liquid goodness and light, but as for all the chatter about the document … I don’t remember specifically how it was phrased, but the description was something less flattering. Amoris Laetitia, like any magisterial document, certainly demands a closer reading than the initial skim I’ve given it thus far, and I will need more time to say anything about it in depth. But my impression is that the same holds true as before: the document itself is the antidote to all the spins – including quite possibly my own.
Of course there will be analyses and discussions and disagreements, which is all in keeping with the Holy Father’s own intentions at the synod. But the least any of us can do to keep the discussions in a spirit of Christian charity is to lay down our arms and pause the breathless commentary long enough to read.