The Heart of Amoris Laetitia


The Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, signed by Pope Francis on March 19, 2016 – the feast of St Joseph – presents the conclusions of a two-year journey by the Synods of Bishops on the pastoral challenges of families in the context of the new evangelization.

News items about Amoris Laetitia generally focused on the integration of divorced and remarried Catholics, ignoring the many different challenges faced by families in different parts of the world. However, these challenges are given ample consideration in Amoris Laetitia – so much so that the Pope apologises for the “inevitable length” of the document, which runs to 325 points.

Pope Francis offers a guide to reading the document: “I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text. The greatest benefit, for families themselves and for those engaged in the family apostolate, will come if each part is read patiently and carefully, or if attention is paid to the parts dealing with their specific needs. It is likely, for example, that married couples will be more concerned with Chapters Four and Five, and pastoral ministers with Chapter Six, while everyone should feel challenged by Chapter Eight” (no. 7).

For the Pope, the heart of Amoris Laetitia is the “two central chapters dedicated to love” (Chapters Four and Five). Pope Francis explains that we need to encourage “the growth, strengthening and deepening of conjugal and family love” in order to “encourage a path of fidelity and mutual self-giving” (no. 89).

Among the words which occur most frequently in the document are family, love, life, children and marriage. The words most frequently used, and the number of occurrences, are set out in the following table.


Words contained in the footnotes of Amoris Laetitia were not included. From the main text of the document, only nouns were counted, not adjectives or adverbs.

The word cloud below shows the most-used words in proportion to the number of times they occur in the document.


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