Bishop Statements

Read public letters and statements from the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle, as well as statements from the five bishops in Washington.

2024 Bishop Statements

Our Call to Serve Vulnerable Populations in Our Communities

January 18, 2024 - As followers of Jesus, how do we imitate his care for the poor? How do we invite the wider society to consider the most vulnerable in our midst?

Throughout his ministry, Jesus’ love of neighbor was visible, consistent, and unconditional.

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2023 Bishop Statements

Catholic Bishops Response to Manny Ellis Verdict

December 22, 2023 - Yesterday, a jury acquitted three police officers in the death of Manuel Ellis. We pray for healing and peace for our community and all those touched by this tragic event.

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Statement in Support of the Second Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

November 27, 2023 - In Nagasaki, Japan, on the 78th anniversary of its atomic bombing, we Catholic leaders formally created an enduring partnership to work on nuclear disarmament. Together, our four dioceses include the birthplace of nuclear weapons (the Archdiocese of Santa Fe), the most deployed nuclear weapons in the United States (the Archdiocese of Seattle...

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Letter from Archbishop Etienne regarding the results of the Partners in the Gospel Public Input Phase

November 16, 2023 - I am incredibly grateful for the input we received – and humbled by the engagement from the people of God. In all we received over 3,000 pages of feedback from more than 700 input session reports and 800 online responses.

English  |  En Espanol  |  Vietnamese

WSCC Statement on Immigration

September 21, 2023 - As we celebrate National Migration Week through September 24, the bishops of Washington state have issued the statement below.

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Partnership for a World Without Nuclear Weapons

August 9, 2023 - On the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we, the bishops of four Catholic arch/dioceses in areas impacted by nuclear weapons, declare that we will begin working together to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons.” 

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Statement to Protect the Clergy-Penitent Privilege

April 19 2023 - The Catholic bishops urge legislators to reincorporate the clergy-penitent privilege as they consider HB 5280. Confession, or the sacrament of reconciliation, is an act of worship and part of our Catholic liturgy. When a priest celebrates the sacrament of reconciliation, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who seeks lost sheep.

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Dispensation for Saint Patrick's Day 2023

FEBRUARY 20 2023 - Archbishop Etienne issues a decree that Friday March 17th, the Memorial of Saint Patrick, that all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Seattle, no matter where they may be, and all other Catholics present here in the archdiocese that day, are hereby dispensed from the obligation to abstain from meat. 

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2022 Bishop Statements

Caring for Creation and the Common Good in the Lower Snake River Region

NOVEMBER 3, 2022 - Pope Francis reminds us that through the greatness of creation we can become closer to God. Additionally, we are all called to be stewards of God’s creation and to come together to care for our common home. Collaboration on innovative, holistic, and sustainable solutions is a timely, moral
imperative that Catholics around the world are addressing through the Laudato Si’Action Platform. ...

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Statement on Nuclear Arms and Prayers for Peace

OCTOBER 7, 2022 - I am increasingly troubled by Russia’s war against Ukraine. The irresponsible threats by President Putin to use nuclear weapons are of grave concern. Nearly every day, there is another development that increases international tensions. To reinforce what could happen, this October marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war. ...

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A Call to Respect Life and Serve Families in Need

JUNE 24, 2022 -  Respecting the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death is a core tenet of our Catholic faith. This conviction compels us to seek justice and advocate for the vulnerable, the voiceless, and the afflicted. Upholding the dignity of every human person drives us to care for the poor, to welcome immigrants, to seek racial and social justice, and to oppose abortion. We commend the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and give individual states the opportunity to enact laws that respect life. We welcome this opportunity to reduce the number of abortions in the United States and build a culture of life. ...

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Archbishop Etienne Will Lift Mask Requirement

FEBRUARY 18, 2022 - Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Yesterday Governor Inslee lifted the mask mandate for the State of Washington effective March 21, 2022. On that date, masks will no longer be required in the Archdiocese of Seattle, but we will continue to uphold other COVID safety measures and welcome all people regardless of their mask preference.

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Archbishop Etienne's 2022 Annual Letter

JANUARY 26, 2022 - Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,  Happy New Year! As we begin 2022, I wanted to write to you about where we have been and where the Holy Spirit may be leading us as we walk together on our journey of faith.

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2021 Bishop Statements

Archbishop Etienne reinstates obligation to attend Mass and holy days of obligation

NOVEMBER 10, 2021 -  Despite the challenges and darkness of this pandemic, we continue to bring the light of Christ to others. ...  Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have celebrated tens of thousands of Masses with only a handful of cases of coronavirus spread... As such, the general obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation (including the Saturday/vigil Mass) is to be reinstated (CIC, can. 1247) during Advent on December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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Archbishop Etienne explains religious exemptions for vaccine mandate

SEPTEMBER 14- 2021 - Some people have recently associated my actions in relation to the COVID pandemic with those of the state. While the state’s guidance and declarations do have direct implications for us as Church and as an employer, I want to be clear — my actions are to protect life as a shepherd and pastor in the face of a worldwide pandemic that continues to take human life at an astonishing pace. We are not yet living in a post-pandemic world, and we must remain vigilant.

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Decree from Archbishop Etienne Implementing The Motu Proprio, Traditionis Custodes, in the Archdiocese of Seattle

SEPT 08, 2021 - To Our Brothers and Sisters of the Archdiocese of Seattle

The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, has issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970, effective immediately upon promulgation in L’Osservatore Romano

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Letter from Bishop Mueggenborg about his new appointment as Bishop of Reno

JULY 20, 2021 - Peace of Christ be with each of you. Today Pope Francis has appointed me Bishop of Reno, Nevada. These past four years in Western Washington have been such a blessed experience. Thank you for your welcome and reception of me as an Auxiliary Bishop in Western Washington. 

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Archdiocese of Seattle Bishops Express Sorrow for Native Americans

JULY 6, 2021 Seattle, Wash – Today we wish to address our Native American brothers and sisters. While we recognize that each individual tribe in our own archdiocese and across the continent has had a differing experience with the Catholic Church, we wish to acknowledge the real pain that our Native American brothers and sisters are feeling at this time.

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Seattle Bishops Speak Out Against Hatred

MARCH 22, 2021 - It is with heavy hearts that we offer this statement regarding the recent acts of violence and hatred against our Asian American brothers and sisters. The recent attacks, both nationally and locally in our own archdiocese, are indicative of a new era of hatred that must come to an end.  

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Vietnamese | Chinese

Statement about COVID-19 Vaccines

MARCH 9, 2021 -  In accordance with the instruction of the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the use of all current COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic are morally acceptable. It is not only important for one’s personal health, but it is also our responsibility to care for the common good of the broader community, and getting a vaccine is one way to do so. Whenever you are allowed to get the vaccine, please do so knowing that it is it morally acceptable to receive whichever vaccine is being offered.

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Statement about the tragedy at CCS/CHS headquarters

FEBRUARY 23, 2021 - Our Catholic community is deeply saddened by the tragic events that took place today at the headquarters of Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services. ...

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2020 Bishop Statements

WSCC, Charities, Catholic Health Care Support COVID-19 Vaccinations

DECEMBER 12, 2020 - The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) affirms that the recently announced COVID-19 vaccines are morally permissible. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) confirms the moral permissibility of the vaccines in this memorandum dated November 20, 2020 from the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. Together with the Catholic Health Care organizations and Catholic Charities of Washington state, we recommend the faithful get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves, loved ones, and the community. Washington state was the first in the country to ...

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Archbishop Paul D. Etienne address unity for this November election

NOVEMBER 3, 2020 - To All My Brothers and Sisters, Our nation faces challenges and difficulties beyond what we ever imagined. This moment in history gives us an opportunity to ask who we are and what future we want. Regardless of the outcome of this election, tomorrow we have a choice to make. I invite each one of us to defeat divisiveness with understanding, rancor with amicability, hatred with compassion, mistrust with greater willingness to listen. Let us ...

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Archbishop Etienne addresses the essential role of laity in the Church

OCTOBER 12, 2020 

Did you know the Holy Father has a special prayer intention each month? Each member of the Church is asked to pray for his intentions, especially at Mass each day. I thought it would be helpful to talk about the Holy Father’s intention for this month of October: That by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church. The Church has several “layers” — universal, national, diocesan, parish, household, individual — and people’s experiences and impressions can vary greatly. I’m glad to share with you that...

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Archdiocese of Seattle bishops welcome Supreme Court ruling on DACA

June 18, 2020 

To the people of God in Western Washington,

It is my great honor and privilege to serve as your archbishop. Over the past few
months, it has been inspiring to celebrate Mass at over 40 parish communities, to
witness the selfless determination of our Catholic educators, and to meet many of you
through countless conversations. These experiences have helped me understand our
many strengths, opportunities for growth, and unique realities here in ...

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Archbishop Etienne’s pastoral letter “The Work of Redemption: Eucharistic Belief and Practice in the Archdiocese of Seattle"

June 1, 2020 

The essential role of the laity in the Church
By Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, DD, STL

Did you know the Holy Father has a special prayer intention each month? Each member of the
Church is asked to pray for his intentions, especially at Mass each day. I thought it would be
helpful to talk about the Holy Father’s intention for this month of October:
That by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas ...

Read more | En Enspanol | Bằng tiếng việt | 한국어로

Archbishop Etienne announces a call to address racism in our hearts and community

May 29, 2020

The Catholic bishops of the United States recently issued a pastoral letter against
racism entitled Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love. In this instruction, we call for a conversion of hearts, minds and institutions to address the evils of racism that still exist in our country and communities. As we wrote in the ...

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Archbishop Etienne announces to honor Divine Mercy Sunday, all three bishops will be joining together in a Holy Hour of Adoration in a livestream event.

April 17, 2020

I wish you a blessed Easter Octave!
As many of you know, this coming Second Sunday of Easter was established by St. John Paul II as Divine Mercy Sunday. We celebrate the deep mercy of Christ and his revelation of it to St. Faustina Kowalsak in the 1930s.
To honor Divine Mercy Sunday, all three bishops will be joining together in a Holy Hour of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament while praying the Chaplet of ...

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Archbishop Etienne addresses COVID-19 "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order

March 24, 2020

Peace be with you and your families during this unprecedented time.
As your pastor, I want to assure you of my continued prayers for you, for the sick in our
community, for their families, for health care workers on the front line, and for leaders who are
diligently working to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
It is during difficult times like this that we must ...

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Archbishop Etienne announces pastoral and strategic planning efforts

February 22, 2020

To the people of God in Western Washington,
It is my great honor and privilege to serve as your archbishop. Over the past few
months, it has been inspiring to celebrate Mass at over 40 parish communities, to
witness the selfless determination of our Catholic educators, and to meet many of you
through countless conversations. These experiences have helped me understand our
many strengths, opportunities for growth, and unique realities here in the Archdiocese
of Seattle. Please be assured that you and your loved ones are...

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Archbishop Etienne addresses call for ‘lay-led’ review of abuse files

January 28, 2020

Many of you have seen this morning’s headlines and I want to share my thoughts with you. I have not yet officially reviewed the letter from the Heal Our Church group, which was delivered Friday afternoon when I was out. I wish they had given me the opportunity to review the letter and
enter into a real dialogue before going public, especially since I share some of this group’s concerns.

First, our commitment to victims of abuse and their families is paramount and must not be overlooked. We must continue to share...

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2019 Bishops’ Statements

Statement by the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle regarding recent shootings in California, Mississippi, Texas, and Ohio.

August 5, 2019

News of the tragic shootings in California, Mississippi, Texas and Ohio has
once again struck our nation to its core, as loved ones of all ages are suddenly and senselessly
ripped from their families. Many others suffer life-threatening injuries, and still countless more
are afraid and anxious. The violence must stop.
As disciples of Jesus, we live by the way of peace and reject all forms of violence, hate
and racism. This terrible spike in senseless acts of terror brings us to our knees, as we pray for
victims and their families, for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, and for those prone for
whatever reason to violent acts. May God bring peace and consolation to...

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Statement from the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle about the Sanctity of Life

August 27, 2019

- Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Fuller and to all those who suffer
chronic and or terminal illness. As Catholics, we always strive to be present to those who suffer and to those who are facing death. We have and will continue to accompany them, by providing compassionate care and
spiritual counsel. The pastoral, healing, and consolation ministries of the church always take place in the light of faith and hope in the resurrection.

The Associated Press story about Mr. Fuller is of great concern to the Archbishops because it may cause confusion among Catholics and others who share ...

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Updated statement from the Bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle about the Sanctity of Life

August 28, 2019

The Associated Press news story naturally leads the reader to assume certain things about the priest and his intentions. However, we are learning a very different reality was at work. We looked into this and can confirm that the priest who did the blessing did not know about Mr. Fuller’s intentions. The priest was a visiting priest who happened to be at St. Therese that particular Sunday when the pastor was celebrating Mass at his second parish. The blessing was done after Mass by the priest whose interest was to ...

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2018 Bishops’ Statements

Statement by the Archdiocese of Seattle regarding recent settlements of Abuse Cases.

December 11, 2018

The Archdiocese of Seattle reached settlements this month totaling $2.05 million for five cases involving allegations of sexual abuse by Edward Courtney, who was a member of the Christian Brothers religious order. One of the five cases involved allegations of sexual abuse by Gerard Kealy, who was also a member of the Christian Brothers religious order. Both worked within the Archdiocese in the 1970s and early 1980s. The alleged abuse occurred between 36 and 42 years ago. The Archdiocese attempts to arrive at fair and just settlements to assist the victims
with healing and to ...

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Satement of the Archdiocese of Seattle concerning the release of names of credibly accused Jesuit priests.

December 7, 2018

The Archdiocese of Seattle acknowledges that the list of Jesuit priests with credible
allegations of sexual abuse that was released today by the Jesuits West Province includes
numerous priests that served in and/or lived in Western Washington. There are a number of
Jesuit priests listed whose names are not found on the ...

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Statement of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, on Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.

August 17, 2018

With the recent allegations of sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore
McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and the release of a Grand Jury Report
involving several dioceses in Pennsylvania, the tragedy of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is once again brought to light. The sexual abuse of a minor is an intrinsic moral evil and a crime. Anyone responsible for such an act or for shielding those who do, including bishops and other Church leaders, must be held accountable for their actions. I join with other bishops from throughout Washington and the United States in expressing ...

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Statement by Archdiocese of Seattle regarding the settlement with Edward Courtney victim

March 14, 2018

The Archdiocese of Seattle reached a settlement agreement Jan. 29 with an individual who was sexually abused by Edward Courtney during the 1981-82 school year at Parkland Elementary School in the Franklin Pierce School District. Courtney, formerly a member of the Christian Brothers of Ireland, was a sixth-grade teacher at the school which has since closed. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said he hopes ...

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Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Washington State on Mandating Coverage of Abortions (HB 2409)

January 9, 2018

The Catholic Bishops of Washington strongly oppose HB
2409, a new bill that would mandate coverage of abortions in all health insurance
plans offered in the state. The measure would promote abortions while violating
the constitutionally-protected conscience rights of individuals, churches,
businesses and others. It is a most fundamental principle of our faith - the
inherent dignity of all human life from the moment of conception until natural
death - that leads us to reject policies that promote abortion. This same principle
also drives our care for the most vulnerable in our communities as well as our
opposition to the death penalty.
The Catholic Church stands together with those who would protect women’s
access to ...

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2017 Bishop Statements

Archbishop Sartain's statement on the death of Cardinal Law. Document includes a link to Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley's statement.

December 20, 2017

As we pray for the repose of the soul of the late Cardinal Bernard Law, who died on Dec. 20 at
the age of 86, we ask God’s blessings for his family and friends who grieve his loss. We also
recall the pain and trauma suffered by victims of clergy sexual abuse and take this occasion to
recommit ourselves to the protection of all children and vulnerable people in our care and extend
our ...

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Statement by the Catholic Bishops of Washington State - Thanksgiving Greeting on the 1st World Day of the Poor

November 17, 2017

As the people of the state of Washington prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we have many reasons to be thankful. We live in one of the most beautiful regions in the most prosperous nation in the world, and it is fitting that we give thanks for our abundant blessings.

As Christians and people of good will gather with family and friends during this national holiday, it is also an appropriate occasion to turn our gaze toward those who are experiencing poverty, hunger and homelessness. As Catholic Bishops serving every community in our state, we are especially ...

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Archbishop appoints Fr. Bradley R. Hagelin Vicar for Charities

April 10, 2017

Dear Brother Priests and Deacons, and Pastoral Coordinators,
I am happy to announce that, effective today, I have appointed Fr. Bradley R.
Hagelin Vicar for Charities. Fr. Hagelin will remain pastor of St. Luke Parish, Shoreline.
In preparation for ministry as Vicar for Charities, Fr. Hagelin has served on the
Boards of CCS and CHS for the past year, and has already been an effective and
respected contributor to the work of the Boards. In his capacity as Vicar, he will serve
as Chair of each Board.
As you know, the Vicar for Charities is a key leadership role on behalf of ...

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Archbishop appoints Fr. Bradley R. Hagelin Vicar for Charities

March 14, 2017

On behalf of the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Seattle, we express deep sorrow
and solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters following the vandalism of Temple De
Hirsch Sinai this past weekend. Our community stands with our neighbors who have been
subjected to such a senseless and hateful crime. Sadly, this local attack is among several recent
anti-Semitic actions in the United States. Such crimes must be ...

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Letter from the Archbishop offering continued support for all who have fled persecution, violence and poverty in order to build a better life for themselves and their families.

February 2, 2017

In recent days, following the Trump Administration’s Executive Order regarding immigrants and refugees, we have continued to hear a great deal of anxiety from members of our community — those who are directly affected by the order, those who want to join in the effort to address problems in our immigration system, and those who have legitimate concerns about the security of our country.

As Pope Francis constantly reminds us, we are called to live Christian charity and to protect and defend the dignity of every human person, especially the poor and most vulnerable. Immigrants and refugees are among the poorest and most vulnerable ...

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2016 Bishop Statements

Personal message from the bishops directed to immigrants among parishioners

December 8, 2016

The days and weeks that follow any election are often a period of uncertainty for
all. We know and understand the fear and anxiety many of you have been
experiencing. Be assured that your family, the Church, is with you and embraces you.
Our doctrine and mission remain the same. As Pope Francis reminds us constantly, we
are all called to live Christian Charity and to protect and defend the dignity of every
human being, especially the poor and most vulnerable...

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Who is my Neighbor - The Face of Poverty in Washington State A Pastoral letter from the Catholic Bishops of the State of Washington

November 17, 2016

Poverty has a face. It is more than an issue to be discussed or a problem to be solved. Poverty has a human face.

It is the face of Linda, who, while out of work and raising her family, often did not know how she would provide the next meal for her children. At times she put food coloring in the children’s eggs, just to make mealtime less monotonous. ...

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Statement by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain on the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love / El Gozo del Amor)

April 8, 2016

I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for the teaching and pastoral care he has provided the
Church and all people in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). The depth and breadth of this teaching on love in the family, which follows the recent Synod on the Family, is extensive, and I urge all Catholics and everyone to heed the pope’s suggestion and to study the document in the weeks and months ahead. In the opening lines of this love letter to families, the pope states that ...

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