Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2016. Credit: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA.

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, 2016. Credit: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA.

Pope Francis’ highly anticipated post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the gifts and challenges of family life was published April 8.

Titled Amoris Laetitia, or The Joy of Love, the document was presented to journalists in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Signed March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, the release of the document was delayed in order to allow time for its translation into other languages.

The apostolic exhortation is the conclusion of a two-year synod process discussing both the beauty and challenges of family life today. Hosted at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015, these synods gathered hundreds of bishops from around the world.


Here are some of the most moving quotes from the document:

1. On the gaze of love:

“…where love is concerned, silence is always more eloquent than words. It is an encounter with a face, a ‘thou’, who reflect God’s own love and is man’s ‘best possession, a helper fit for him and a pillar of support’, in the words of the biblical sage (Sir 36:24).” (para. 12)

2. On the Word made flesh:

“The incarnation of the Word in a human family, in Nazareth, by its very newness changed the history of the world.” (para. 65)

3. On the sacrament of marriage:

“The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since ‘their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church. The married couple are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share through the sacrament.'” (para. 72)


4. On the Church as family:

“The Church is a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic churches.” (para. 87)

5. On children as part of God’s plan:

“Each child has a place in God’s heart from all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true.” (para. 168)

6. On the importance of women:

“For the grandeur of women includes all the rights derived from their inalienable human dignity but also from their feminine genius, which is essential to society. Their specifically feminine abilities – motherhood in particular – also grant duties, because womanhood also entails a specific mission in this world, a mission that society needs to protect and preserve for the good of all.” (para. 173)

7. On families not closing themselves off:

“Families should not see themselves as a refuge from society, but instead go forth from their homes in a spirit of solidarity with others. In this way, they become a hub for integrating persons into society and a point of contact between the public and private spheres.” (para. 181)

8. On hope:

“Hope is the leaven that, in those first years of engagement and marriage, makes it possible to look beyond arguments, conflicts and problems and to see things in a broader perspective. It harnesses our uncertainties and concerns so that growth can take place. Hope also bids us live fully in the present, giving our all to the life of the family, for the best way to prepare a solid future is to live well in the present.” (para. 219)

9. On the ordinary spirituality of the family:

“The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures. In that variety of gifts and encounters which deepen communion, God has his dwelling place.” (para. 315)

10. On the need for God as the central relationship:

“The space which each of the spouses makes exclusively for their personal relationship with God not only helps heal the hurts of life in common, but also enables the spouses to find in the love of God the deepest source of meaning in their own lives.” (para. 320)