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Post-Synodal Exhortation of the Holy Father Francis

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis gives both the believer and non-believer much to consider about the nature of marriage and the family within our culture and society.  I, like all of you, have only received the document this morning and have only begun to read the text with the attention it deserves. While it is a lengthy document, it is rich in meaning and will require a great deal of time, pondering, and prayer to fully open up the depth of the wisdom found within it.

What initially strikes me is that Pope Francis has woven a beautiful portrait of the Church’s vision for marriage and family life. He has also recognized that many people are living in relationships and situations in their lives that do not correspond to the traditional definition of a marriage or family.  Pope Francis responds to these situations with a pastor’s heart, giving latitude to pastors to work with all kinds of people in these complicated, difficult situations to integrate them further into the life of the Church, the Body of Christ. He also reminds us that we are all in need of lifelong conversion and growth in our lives and that we shouldn’t feel discouraged in our weakness or think we’re not part of the Church.

I encourage all to read this Exhortation with an open mind and heart, interpreting it within the fullness of the text and the Church’s teachings on these matters.

Amoris Laetitia Resources:
Complete Text
Vatican Press Release 

Joint statement on violence in our land

We write as two of Vermont’s faith leaders whose hearts are aching in response to the recent acts of violence filling news reports and social media networks this week.

We are grieved by the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota killed by police officers earlier this week and the deadly assault in Dallas last evening in which five Dallas police officers were killed and seven others wounded. Certainly, our hearts and prayers go out to those killed and injured in these violent incidents and to their families and the communities most directly involved.

We value the hard work and faithful commitment of those entrusted with public safety in communities throughout Vermont and beyond. Those who serve the public in dangerous situations are to be commended for their service. Violence directed against police officers in the line of duty has no place in our society.

At the same time, we deplore the sin of racism that so often manifests itself in acts of prejudice, discrimination and violence toward people of color in our country. This too has no place in our society. The disproportionate number of young black men incarcerated in our prisons, the often unevenly enforced laws that contribute to that reality and the all-too-numerous acts of verbal and physical violence directed toward persons of color disturb us greatly.

Respecting the dignity of every human being and understanding that we are part of one human family are foundational tenets of faith for us, and we lament the varied ways in which so many people fail to embrace those basic values and beliefs. Expressions of hatred and violence are too common in our world today, and the results are always damaging.

Clearly, there is investigative work to do in regard to these most recent events, and it is our hope that justice is swift, full and fair with respect to each. As Christians, we know that prayer is essential, and so we call upon our respective communities of faith and all people throughout Vermont to offer prayers this weekend for all who have died violent deaths this week, their families, friends and the communities where they live. Pray for an end to violence and for the courage to love without prejudice.

Prayer must also move us to action, and so we invite you to join with us in taking concrete action that might renew our covenant to honor and respect one another as members of one human family. We invite you to take steps that work to build a culture of peace to replace the culture of violence that has us firmly in its grasp. We are deeply concerned and yet ever hopeful.

Bishop Christopher Coyne, Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
Bishop Thomas Ely, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont
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