Pastoral discernment, imagination and ekphrases in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia

Rozeznanie duszpasterskie, ekfrazy i wyobraźnia w adhortacji apostolskiej Amoris laetitia

Treść artykułu: Pobierz | Czytaj

Strona: 141 - 162

Publikacja w numerze: 37 (2017) nr 1

Autor: Anna Abram


This paper examines the notion of “pastoral discernment” in the post-synodal exhortation Amoris laetitia. It attempts to find out what Pope Francis means by his frequently used term “discernment” and how he sees the role of discernment in the lives of individuals as well as an ecclesial practice. This practice, which takes place in prayer, aims at reading signs, symbols, emotions, thoughts; it seeks to acquire an insight or a set of insights into the specific situation of the discerning person. To illuminate further the practice of discernment, three moral theological works, by William Spohn, James Gustafson and Edward Vacek, will be briefly explored. The article examines the language and ekphrases (verbal images) and argues that Pope Francis in this document reclaims imagination as an important tool for pastoral discernment. The main discussion touches upon the relationship between moral norms and regulations on the one hand and the human reality that is seldom black and white and cannot be adequately captured by legalistic approaches. Attention will be drawn to Pope Francis’ endorsement of the principle of graduality and qualities of mercy, gazing, attentiveness and “patient realism” as well as to the possibility of the discerning Church model, which is best captured in such images as “field hospital”, “shelter”, and “family”.