Raphael Gallagher CSsR
Theological and pastoral issues in the support of family life remain the same as before the recent Synod on the Family. Has the Synod made a difference in how we respond to the issues? This article suggests how the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) contributes to the ongoing debate about the family. Raphael Gallagher is an Irish Redemptorist and was an Invited Professor at the Alphonsian Academy, Rome, until 2015.
The magisterial significance of Amoris Laetitia
In the reception of Church documents, two issues emerge as important: the formal significance of the character of the document, and the implied meaning gleaned from the intention of the author. Both are needed to avoid an interpretative mistake. In assessing the reception of papal expressions of the magisterium (as outlined in Lumen Gentium (LG) 28) we look for the significance primarily from the text itself and, within that, understand the personal emphases of a particular pope. In the early reception of AL, there is a curious effort either to downgrade its importance (‘this is only the personal view of one pope, another pope can change it’) or idealise its importance (‘this changes everything, there is no going back’).