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May 27, 2016


The Apostolic exhortation of the Holy Father, Pope Francis on the Family and Christian marriage – Amoris Leatitia-  has been described as a call on the Church to approach the challenges facing the family and Catholic marriage in the context of the present day world without sacrificing the tenets and teachings of the Catholic faith.

This explanation was given by the Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Family at the Vatican, Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia during an interactive session with members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), when the Archbishop visited Nigeria, recently. The interactive session which took place at Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), was attended by about 50 members of the conference led by its President, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama.

In attendance were the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kasujja; John Cardinal Onaiyekan of Abuja Archdiocese; the Vice President of the Conference, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City; other Provincial Archbishops and members of the conference from most of the dioceses in the country.

In a 15 – page explanatory note on the exhortation written by the Holy Father as an aftermath of the two Synods of Bishops on the family held in Rome  in 2014 and 2015; Archbishop Paglia declared: “In his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has collected the fruits of a long ecclesial journey and has presented them authoritatively to the whole Catholic Church.” He added: “During a period of two years, the Pope asked the Church, in all its manifestations, and taking a ‘synodal’ approach, to devote full attention to the family”.

The resume of the Archbishop which dwelt on the significance of each chapter of the exhortation focused on several aspects of family life in relationship with the Church. These include: the synodal nature of the Papal document; warmth and closeness for families; movement toward a “family Church; the Family in the World and Contemporary Society; Fruitful Love and the Generations in Holy Matrimony and the Family; Pastoral Aspects and Marital and Family Spirituality.

The head of the Family Office at the Vatican noted among other things that the Holy Father’s exhortation emphasized the need for the Church to be in communion with the family; be more pro-active in relating to the family in the context of the present day realities without compromising the position and teachings of the Church in this respect and a call for a fully missionary endeavour that is always reaching out to families and achieving results.

Archbishop Paglia declared: “It is clear that a new ecclesial style is being called for, and this new style requires an understanding of the variety of situations that must be dealt with”. He continued: “The Pope is not calling for new abstract doctrine or new legal rules. In the exhortation, he recalls that while during the synods there was a variety of contributions from the participants, that variety has produced a many facet gem”

 He added: “In this new perspective, theologians have an incentive to undertake a renewed consideration of the family, and individual dioceses are tasked with taking responsibility for finding answers to the countless challenges that families are called on to face in the societies of which they are part.”

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