(Palm Beach Gardens, FL) April 8, 2016 – Echoing the words of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Diocese of Palm Beach released a welcoming and positive reaction today to the release of Pope Francis’ post-synodal* Apostolic Exhortation titled ‘The Joy of Love.” The Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach responded stating the pastoral value of the Apostolic Exhortation and highlighting the ministry programs of its Office of Marriage and Family Life which help build the family structure and help those hurting from separation and divorce.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach, called the document written by Pope Francis a “beautiful reflection on marriage and family life” and a needed tool for the complexities of family life. Stated Bishop Barbarito “The Exhortation is extremely important and necessary for our society today. It is a lengthy but very pastoral and readable document which must be, in the Pope’s words, carefully and slowly considered. It is a document of great pastoral insight which addresses the nature of marriage and family life as part of the divine plan and offers great support and accompaniment to those in difficult situations. It affirms the Church’s constant teaching in a manner that’s encouraging, supportive, understanding and welcoming.”
To the Divorced: You are Welcome in the Church
The Diocese of Palm Beach says it is aware that for some time there has been confusion among Catholics who are divorced or separated as to whether they are welcome in the Catholic Church or if they could receive the Sacrament of Communion, two topics mentioned in Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia. The Diocese of Palm Beach is focused on these concerns and has expanded and developed its ministry to those who are divorced and separated.
The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide
The diocese offers a program called The Catholic’s Divorce Survival Guide that is a peer-led ministry to men and women who have suffered from divorce. It is a divorce ministry that covers a variety of topics to help those suffering from divorce to find consolation in the Church.
Additionally, last year the Diocese of Palm Beach started offering periodic Annulment Information Nights in which the diocese’s invites those who have questions about annulments to come find truth about divorce, annulments and marriage in the Church. At these sessions, a Tribunal Judge provides clear and accurate on the annulment process including the changes recently made by Pope Francis. These special nights are held at different locations throughout the diocese’s five-county areas. The next Annulment Information Night will be April 26 at Saint Jude Catholic Church in Boca Raton from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Mount Carmel Banquet Hall.
If anyone is seeking information on these programs of healing, the Diocese of Palm Beach encourages them to call the Office of Marriage and Family Life at 561-775-9500 or visit this ministry’s web pages at www.diocesepb.org/familylife-marriage Details on upcoming informational nights are posted on the Events Calendar on the diocesan website at www.diocesepb.org/events
The Diocese of Palm Beach also encourages the faithful to read the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Letitia, to reflect upon the words of Pope Francis and how one can apply the Holy Father’s words in their own lives, families, Church and society.
In a press conference earlier today Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth stated the Apostolic Exhortation is “a rich reflection on the mission of the family and on how the Church can equip couples to embrace God’s vision for marriage and can offer healing for families who are struggling.”
On its website, the Diocese of Palm Beach has more information and links including the full text of responses from Bishop Barbarito and the USCCB, a link to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Letitia (The Joy of Love) and information the diocese’s programs.
*Background of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
The post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is the culmination of a synodal process called for by Pope Francis in 2013. The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops met in October 2014 on the theme “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” In October 2015, the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops built on the first synod by examining the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” Bishops, clergy, religious and lay people at both synods, together with Pope Francis, addressed a wide array of topics that concern marriage and family life today.
By: Dianne Lambert, Communications, Diocese of Palm Beach