Sharron Coles from Wellington, who attended the Synod on the Family in Rome last year, said the Pope’s document, Amoris Laetitia — the Joy of Love, did not surprise her.
“I think pretty much everything in there, in some way or another, came up at the synod and was discussed at the synod,” she said, or else was in the final document.
A particular point of interest to her was contraception.
“On the one hand, he [Francis] reaffirms Humanae Vitae, but then later, of course [talks about] parents, married couples, experiencing or exercising responsible parenthood will take into accounts all sorts of factors and other discernment.”
She did not think the exhortation took anything away from what people would say is Church teaching, Mrs Coles said. “But I think the emphasis is on the approach to how we interpret it and how we emphasise love.”
She especially liked Chapter Four, which quoted St Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. “I think it’s quite a powerful comment on what Paul means and I think pretty much anybody . . . would take the teaching there as part of a good relationship and good, healthy, strong relationships so, for me, it’s wider than Church.”
Mrs Coles liked what Francis says about acknowledging the place of women and acknowledging that that both are made in the image of God.
“I think what I liked too is he talks about feminism, and I think somehow the Church has been afraid of feminism.” Yet feminism should be about respecting one another.
“I believe that we are made differently, but we should have equal rights and opportunities, and feminism is very firm on that.”
Another thing that stood out for her was the Pope talking about parental guidance and about not being obsessed with controlling children. “What Francis talks about is, it’s not helping children prepare and face challenges.”
All in all, Mrs Coles said, “I think there’s going to be a lot of debate, but I think it’s a good document”.