BERLIN — As traditional family holiday celebrations were being celebrated last December, an official with the German bishops’ conference encouraged Catholic families to read Pope Francis’s exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”).
“The feast of the Holy Family, which this year falls uniquely on a Friday rather than a Sunday, moves the facets of the family in harmony with the Christmas festive season, especially in the focal point of thoughtfulness,” said Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, chairman of the bishops’ Commission for Marriage and Family.
The exhortation was released in April following the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family at the Vatican.
In his message to Germany’s 23.7 million Catholics, Koch emphasized his backing of Pope Francis’s work to support families in society.
“This year there is a simultaneous occasion to refer to the post-synodal writing Amoris Laetitia, which Pope Francis published about the love of the family during this year which is now approaching its end,” the archbishop said.
He cited passages from the pope’s exhortation as inspiration for families, including the following: “In the family it is necessary to use three words. I will repeat it. Three words: ‘May I?’ ‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry.’”
Koch said that anyone who reads the pope’s writings will benefit from them.
“Whoever takes the opportunity to read through Amoris Laetitia for the occasion of the feast of the Holy Family can take away something from it for themselves and their own family,” he said.
The archbishop described the pope’s document as worthwhile and urged families to put them into practice in the new year, noting that the bishops’ conference planned to do so as well.
Although Koch gave this address a year ago, his sentiments have not changed in the face of the controversy surrounding Amoris.
Crux staff contributed to this article.