Pope Francis announces year dedicated to the family

  • Written by Catholic News Agency
  • Published in International
A Nativity scene serves as the backdrop for Pope Francis’ December 16 general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. On December 27, the feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis announced a special year of the family beginning March 19. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media A Nativity scene serves as the backdrop for Pope Francis’ December 16 general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. On December 27, the feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis announced a special year of the family beginning March 19. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media

VATICAN CITY – On the feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis announced a special year dedicated to the family.

In his Angelus address December 27, the pope noted that March 19, 2021, would mark five years since the signing of his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), following synods on the family in 2014 and 2015.

“Today’s feast reminds us of the example of evangelizing with the family, proposing to us once again the ideal of conjugal and family love,” Pope Francis said. The special year of the family will be a time to reflect on Amoris laetitia and “an opportunity to focus more closely on the contents of the document,” he said. “These reflections will be made available to ecclesial communities and families, to accompany them on their journey.”

The pope’s announcement follows his proclamation of a year dedicated to St. Joseph, which began December 8 and will conclude on December 8, 2021.

Pope Francis invited everyone to take part in the spiritual, pastoral, and cultural initiatives from the Vatican that will be promoted during the special year of the family, which will begin on March 19, 2021, and end on June 26, 2022, with the celebration of the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome.

“Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St. Joseph, the devoted spouse and father,” the pope said.

A news release from the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said the year will be officially known as the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family.”

Pope Francis released Amoris laetitia on April 8, 2016, though it was signed on March 19 that year. One of the longest documents in papal history, it consists of an introduction and nine chapters, reflecting on challenges to marriage and family life.

“The pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic church and has shown the importance of community ties between families, which make the Church an authentic ‘family of families,’” the news release stated.

“Through the spiritual, pastoral, and cultural initiatives planned in the Year ‘Amoris Laetitia Family,’ Pope Francis intends to address all ecclesial communities throughout the world, exhorting each person to be a witness of family love,” the release continued.

The dicastery announced the creation of a new website, www.amorislaetitia.va, which will be presented in five languages — English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian — and updated during the special year.

Among the initiatives announced are a forum entitled, “Where are we with Amoris laetitia? Strategies for implementing the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis,” scheduled for June 9-12, 2021. Participants will include the heads of offices for family pastoral ministry of the world’s bishops’ conferences, as well as members of international movements and family associations.

In addition, a monthly video project will include Pope Francis explaining the chapters of the apostolic exhortation and families giving witness by sharing some aspects of their daily lives, the release said.

The dicastery said the new website aims to help spread “the Christian message on the family in light of the challenges of our time” as well as promote deeper understanding of Amoris Laetitia and invite episcopal conferences, dioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements, associations and families “to devote themselves enthusiastically to the pastoral care of the family by implementing Amoris laetitia.”