Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) is a deep and important document.

It comes at a critical time, when the meaning of marriage, family and human love is confused and disputed in our society. So I welcome this document as a gift to the Church but also to everyone who wants to understand what God really intends for our true happiness as men and women.

Pope Francis writes beautifully, as a wise pastor, about the meaning of married love, the joys of motherhood and fatherhood, and the gift of children. He is realistic in considering the challenges we face in our society but he is confident in God’s grace and guidance. He reminds us again and again that strong marriages and loving families are at the heart of God’s plan for our lives and the health of our society.

The pope has asked us to read his reflections slowly and carefully and I am going to continue to do that.

Personally, I was encouraged by what the pope has to say about preparing men and women for marriage and about our need to accompany couples, especially during those early years when they are just starting out on the path of their life together. I was also touched by our Holy Father’s call for all of us in the Church to reach out with compassion to wounded families and persons living in difficult situations.

In the days and weeks ahead, I pray that all of us will reflect on our Holy Father’s words and continue to look for ways to speak to the hearts of the men and women of our time. We need to inspire people to see marriage and family as God’s way for their lives, and to call them to this adventure in life-long love that grows deeper through the sharing of joys and trials and the bringing of new life into the world.

We all have a lot to learn from Amoris Laetitia.