“Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For ‘cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle … needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied’” (AL 3, citing his closing address to the 2015 Ordinary Synod).
This becomes a constant theme of the Exhortation: that the experiences, challenges, expectations and insights of various cultures and regions will suggest differing strategies for addressing the needs of family life. Throughout the document, the pope highlights the experiences of various parts of the world, clearly demonstrating that there is no one-size-fits-all approach that can or should be taken in meeting challenges that families face.
Since the challenges faced by today’s families are so diverse and varied around the world, it is important the Church’s responses to them be tailored appropriately and accordingly. “Different communities will have to devise more practical and effective initiatives that respect both the Church’s teaching and local problems and needs” (AL 199). The pope also recalls the recommendation of the Synod fathers that there is “the need for ‘a more adequate formation … of priests, deacons, men and women religious, catechists and other pastoral workers’ because during the worldwide consultation which took place surrounding the Synods, “it became clear that ordained ministers often lack the training needed to deal with the complex problems currently facing families. The experience of the broad oriental tradition [i.e., the Eastern Catholic Churches] of a married clergy could also be drawn upon.
“If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable in all cases.”
Specifically regarding the question of divorce and civil remarriage, the Holy Father highlights the responsibility of local pastors to approach each case in its own context, and that such persons “need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal.”
“The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care that would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the body of Christ but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it. They are baptized, they are brothers and sisters; the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts gifts and talents for the good of all. … Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always, who takes care of them with affection and encourages them along the path of life and the Gospel” (AL 299).