Amoris Laetitia

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From Antonio Autiero: Amoris Laetitia: a new way of doing moral theology?

The Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL), in addition to discussing issues concerning marriage and the family, addresses a series of fundamental matters regarding moral theology. Theologians ask: Does this document constitute a new way of doing moral theology? In a collective volume, a group of German moral theologians proposes an answer. The volume, edited by Stephan Goertz and Caroline Witting, will be published in late October or early November 2016 by the publisher Herder with the title: Amoris laetitia: Wendepunkt für die Moraltheologie?
With its ten contributions, the book argues that AL will stimulate anew the debate on issues that, in recent decades, especially since the encyclical Veritatis Splendor and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, appeared to be decided authoritatively by the Magisterium.
Since the mid-1990s, moral theology seems to have been taken out of the field of theological debates, although it had actively participated in the conciliar revision of Neoscholastic positions. With AL, we can affirm that a new era opens for moral theology, in which a more courageous reflection on fundamental questions can now be creatively addressed.

Although AL only mentions many relevant moral issues and presents them in a non-exhaustive way, AL shows that the moral theology of the Magisterium cannot be proposed without needed innovations.

The book aims at being a first contribution to a renewed dialogue on key issues in moral teaching and intends to tackle and analyze issues that are discussed in the Apostolic Exhortation.

The introductory part of the book offers a very exhaustive study, conducted by the two editors, on the genesis and the hermeneutics of AL, but also on its controversial reception.

In several of its chapters, the book addresses the relationship of moral laws and general principles with concrete life situations and circumstances. This is a well-known debate in moral theology that, already in the 1950s and 1960s, led to interesting developments on the foundation of moral norms and that emerges repeatedly in AL, also with reference to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.
In AL, the place and the role of conscience is also deepened in comparison with the approach articulated in the encyclical letter of John Paul II Veritatis Splendor. AL shows a different theological perspective, which is also reflected in its diverse approach in discussing issues in sexual ethics and that emphasizes the relationality between persons, substantiated by their love and responsible choices.
In examining the moral magisterium and its authority, which occupies an important place in AL, some of the authors in the volume ask whether we are not facing a new form of magisterial moral argumentation and teaching that are influenced by the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council and by the dynamic idea of synodality.

In examining the struggles on some couples that live in the so-called "Irregular situations," a concept of sin and personal responsibility of the subject seems to shape the theological reflection of AL with a focus on intrinsically evil actions, which in traditional moral teaching occupied a central place, mainly in sexual ethics. When one compares this approach to the situation lived by divorced and remarried couples, one can ask whether AL proposes anew the positions of the past years or whether it takes a step forward in pointing both to the needed attitudes in pastoral care and to the articulation of moral doctrine. To answer, the theological reflection turns to the graduality and mercy as central points of reference in the teaching of Pope Francis and in the argumentative system of AL.

Finally, the itinerant character of the people of God is a relevant ecclesiological category that guides the comprehension of the Apostolic Exhortation.

In conclusion, the volume highlights well the innovative value of the Church teaching on marriage and the family. At the same time, it does not hide the critical and fragile points of the Apostolic Exhortation. The authors also stress how AL is offered to the Church as an instrument for understanding changes in theological reflection and pastoral engagements and for encouraging further reflection on the issues addressed in the Apostolic Exhortation.

This book will appeal to scholars in moral theology, but, because of its accessible writing style and open approach, a wider audience of readers will enjoy reading it and will benefit from it.


Anthony Egan: essays from Jesuit Institute of South Africa
"Love always gives life" - A Mother's Reflection on Amoris Laetitia

From Michael Lawler and Todd Salzman:

From Alain Thomasett

Answering your request concerning Amoris laetitia, we have just published an edition of AL with commentaries, annotations, introductions, testimonies and a glossary (Lessius editions, Namur-Paris). This edition was directed under the responsibility of the council "Famille et société" of the French Bishop conference and the faculty of theology of Centre Sèvres-Facultés Jésuites de Paris. We had 15 theologians collaborators from various universities. I was member of the editorial team and coordinator of the project.

From Shaji George Kochuthara

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