Washington cardinal calls on parishes to enact Pope Francis' 'Amoris Laetitia'

The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, is urging parishes in the D.C. area to implement Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), in a 58-page pastoral plan released on March 3.

(REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)Pope Francis wrote the apostolic doctrine "Amoris Laetitia" in 2016.

Wuerl preached his pastoral plan, which was titled "Sharing in the Joy of Love in Marriage and Family," during the Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Copies of it in English and Spanish were also distributed to 139 parishes around Washington and Maryland so that priests could read the document to those attending Masses, according to the Catholic News Service.

"Pope Francis's post-synodal apostolic exhortation ... is rich in teaching on marriage and love," Wuerl said in his plan's preface. "It also offers pastoral perspectives on how to live this beautiful message."

Wuerl's pastoral plan covers several sections that merge faith with contemporary culture, accompaniment and the importance of belonging to a parish. It has specific suggestions for pastors, parish officers and staff, as well as religious group members from the youth, women, couples and the elderly, in dealing with families in special circumstances, as in the cases of immigrants, military families, or single or divorced parents. Aside from evoking messages from "Amoris Laetitia," he also touched on the teachings of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in his pastoral plan.

The pope wrote "Amoris Laetitia" to urge church leaders to reach out and show compassion to families, especially those with unconventional, challenging and irregular marriages. He asked church ministers to teach and guide families to overcome the obstacles so that they might also witness Christ's love and mercy.

Though met with some criticisms that the pontiff had undermined the Church's long-established doctrines, some bishops from around the world have been holding seminars for priests to probe and understand the pope's message and teachings. Since the letter's publication, Germany and Argentina churches also adopted a more progressive action in implementing "Amoris Laetitia" by allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.