All of us at Priests for Life welcome the document issued today by Pope Francis called "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), which summarizes his teaching following the two worldwide synods of bishops held in the last two years on the topic of the family.
We encourage all the clergy and laity to carefully read, study, discuss and apply this document, which repeats the Church's teaching on life, marriage and family, and urges all of us to encourage one another with compassion and care as we strive to live that teaching.
In regard to our own ministry in defense of the unborn, we thank the Holy Father for the beautiful words of this document about pregnancy and motherhood, in particular the following passage:
“Every child growing within the mother’s womb is part of the eternal loving plan of God the Father: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer1:5).
“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. Let us pause to think of the great value of that embryo from the moment of conception. We need to see it with the eyes of God, who always looks beyond mere appearances.” (n. 168)
He states in section 83, “Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the property of another human being.”
The Holy Father also encourages adoption, stating, “Adopting a child is an act of love, offering the gift of a family to someone who has none.” (N. 179)
Finally, since our director of African-American Outreach is Evangelist Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., we were happy to see Dr. King quoted in this document, in the section where the Pope encourages a love that faces up to all difficulties. Part of the quote from Dr. King reads, “And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls ‘the image of God,’ you begin to love him in spite of [everything]. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there.” (N. 118)
Priests for Life will continue to reflect and teach on this document in the days and months to come.
Father Frank Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life.