Pope Francis announced that on March 19, the Catholic Church would begin a special year dedicated to deepening pastoral outreach to families, based on his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.
1. When is this year being celebrated?
The Amoris Laetitia Family Year begins on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, because that is the day that Pope Francis signed his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia. The letter, which was on the theme of love in the family, was released about three weeks later. The year 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of Amoris laetitia’s publication.
Though it is being called a “year,” the Amoris laetitia celebration will actually last around 15 months, ending on June 26, 2022, with the 10th edition of the World Meeting of Families in Rome.
2. What is the year about?
Pope Francis has said “it will be a year of reflection on Amoris laetitia and it will be an opportunity to focus more closely on the contents of the document.”
Amoris laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) was written following two Synods of Bishops dedicated to the family. One of the longest documents in papal history, it consists of an introduction and nine chapters, reflecting on challenges to marriage and family life.
The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, is coordinating the Vatican’s initiatives for the special year.
Farrell said that the year had been organized because there are many couples and families around the world in crisis, experiencing poverty, or feeling alone, and they “need pastoral care, dedication.”
“Many families need to be helped to discover in the sufferings of life the place of Christ’s presence and of his merciful love,” he said. “This year, therefore, is an opportunity to reach out to families, to not make them feel alone in the face of difficulties, to walk with them, to listen to them and to undertake pastoral initiatives that help them to cultivate their daily love.”
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