An Evangelical’s Guide to ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ Pope Francis’s Letter on the Family

Joe Carter | April 12, 2016


On Friday, Pope Francis released the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), a lengthy letter (more than 60,000 words, 325 paragraphs, 256 pages, 391 footnotes) on the family. Here is a brief guide to the document for evangelicals:

Why should evangelicals care about a papal letter?

Any substantive document produced by a global religious leader addressed to the billion Catholics around the globe should be of interest to the evangelical community. But this letter is of particular concern because it helps shape Catholic thinking on the family, a project that affects not only the Roman Catholic Church but also the broader culture and other Christian traditions.

What is Amoris Laetitia?

Amoris Laetitia (Latin for “The Joy of Love”) is a letter from Pope Francis in the form of a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, a category of document used by popes to communicate the conclusions reached after consideration of the recommendations of a Synod of Bishops, an advisory body for the pontiff. This letter follows the Synods on the Family held in 2014 and 2015, which were asked to address the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

What is the letter about?

The letter examines the “actual…


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