Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, said the letter is a “beautiful and stirring reflection on love and the family” that challenges pastoral ministry to be more “missionary” and to engage with the “concrete reality” of parishioners’ lives.
He promised that the U.S. bishops “stand with families and seek to support those who are touched by poverty, trafficking, immigration challenges, domestic violence and pornography.”
“We also have room to grow and improve and we welcome the Pope’s encouragement of a renewed witness to the truth and beauty of marriage and a more tender closeness with couples and families who are experiencing real difficulties,” he commented.
Bishop Malone also stressed to CNA that the first step for bishops and pastors in implementing the advice presented in Amoris laetitia is to take time to read and truly understand it. “We cannot rush our interpretation of what we have here,” he emphasized. “We don’t want to be taking bits and piece of them without taking them in context.”
While it is too early to know what the full impact of the exhortation will be, Bishop Malone said that American bishops and pastors will likely seek ways to strengthen marriage preparation and support for married couples – both topics Pope Francis emphasizes in the letter. Archbishop Kurtz agreed with his colleague, telling CNA that improvements to marriage preparation and support of couples after marriage “will probably be the largest impact” within the United States.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who also participated in the synod meetings in Rome, welcomed the document as a gift both to the Church and to “everyone who wants to understand what God really intends for our true happiness.” The archbishop said in a statement that while he is going to “read his reflections slowly and carefully,” he was encouraged by the Pope’s emphasis on marriage preparation and support of couples in their first years of marriage.
“I was also touched by our Holy Father’s call for all of us in the Church to reach out with compassion to wounded families and persons living in difficult situations,” the Archbishop commented.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stressed that while the document “changes no Church teaching or discipline, it does stress the importance of pastoral sensitivity in dealing with the difficult situations many married couples today face.” Archbishop Chaput also participated in the Synod meetings in Rome, and hosted the World Meeting of Families in Sept. 2015 in Philadelphia.
Archbishop Chaput pointed to the letter’s large size – more than 250 pages – and praised the Holy Father’s advice to read Amoris laetitia carefully and slowly, promising further thoughts of his own as he finished reading the exhortation. Meanwhile, he thanked the Pope for his thoughts and analysis of the “unique witness” of Christian marriage. “Nothing is more essential to any society than the health of marriage and the family,” he concluded.