24 August 2018
Dublin: Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti

Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Love’s Fragility

In his intervention, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia and President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, presented “an itinerary in some of Italy’s regions, drawing on the valuable work done by pastors who, often in close collaboration with the theological faculties of their territories, suggested concrete ways of implementing Amoris Laetitia.”

The text presented by the President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference on the last day of the Congress in Dublin is demanding and rich. The cardinal used the Gospel narrative of the Risen Lord’s encounter with the disciples of Emmaus to illustrate “the three verbs of Amoris Laetitia”.

“Accompanying means patiently and delicately walking together, side by side, as on the way towards Emmaus, without the presumption of having the recipe ready to offer. Those who accompany with wisdom know that they must initially measure their words, or even pretend to be ignorant  as Jesus did by acting as if he did not know or had not lived through the torments of the cross on his own flesh...

Discerning means, as Amoris Laetitia states, that “we have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”

Integrating means bringing someone from the periphery back to the center: today, we could imagine that the two disciples are a married couple that is experiencing lacerating pain because their marriage has failed.”

Cardinal Bassetti also presented the appreciated discussion, in different Italian ecclesiastical regions, about “drawing on the valuable work done by pastors who, often in close collaboration with the theological faculties in their territories, have suggested concrete ways of implementing Amoris Laetitia.” This is being done by the Bishops of Campania, Piedmont, Sicily, Roman Emilia, and Lombardy. A passionate aspect of his own pastoral experience was also included: “In my long years of pastoral service, I have, on several occasions, received the tears of those who were experiencing the failure of marriage and seeking to appease the deep suffering in their hearts by calling for the Church’s maternal embrace. What I clearly perceive is the desire that this pain may become fruitful and turn into the joy of birth: people full of gratitude and renewed by a greater adherence to the Gospel, both those who are accompanying and those who are accompanied. This is my whole-hearted wish for you.”