After months of hopeful anticipation “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) was released at 6:00 a.m. EDT (Noon in Rome) today (April 8th) by the Vatican. As Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service (CNS) writes, “The exhortation was Pope Francis’ reflection on the discussion, debate and suggestions raised during the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops on the family.”

Pope Francis (image courtesy of:

Pope Francis (image courtesy of:

As was expected, bishops, clergy, and laity all interpreted support for their own viewpoints (traditional or progressive) in the massive document. Cathy Lynn Grossman of the Religion News Service (RNS) writes, “It brought joy to conservative Christians who feared Francis would tamper with dogma, but less love from liberals who had hoped for a change in practices, not simply in tone.”

However, as Michael J. O’Loughlin writes in a special post to Crux, individuals should read and draw their own conclusions, “While reaction to the document was swift, especially on social media where activists of all stripes tried to spin the document to fit particular agendas, the pope’s top U.S. adviser urged Catholics to take time reading the document, echoing a plea the pope himself made in the text.”

This sentiment was echoed by Peter Smith of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette –

Almost from the start of his 263-page landmark document on the family, Pope Francis makes two things clear: Read it carefully, and don’t look for hard-and-fast answers, neither in this document nor in the messiness of real life. In fact, two similar-sounding words come to mind in reading his ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (‘Joy of Love’), released Friday as an ‘apostolic exhortation,’ a type of papal document that is not a definitive doctrinal statement but essentially is a call to action.

Anthony Faiola and Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post and Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times offer excellent articles that both explain and analyze Amoris Laetitia. The mainstream, religious, and Catholic media were all prepared – for the most part – for the document’s release.

One notable gaffe came from HuffPost Religion in taking exceptional liberties and distorting the document’s contents with their headline: “Pope Francis Relaxes Church Rules On Divorce.” The headline was for the Reuters story, whose headline was: “Pope seeks compassion for divorced couples.” The story from Reuters was inline with their headline rather than the one HuffPost Religion used.

Jim Davis‘ critique of the media’s coverage for getReligion was positive, “Taken together, the articles still show the strength of an ailing yet vigorous mainstream media, doing what they do best: hustling to inform us of breaking news. And I’m glad some of them still have religion specialists whose skills and knowledge parse such stories for their significance. We’ll see in coming days whether they can also enrich the follow-up stories.” This is just another case where full-time dedicated religion journalists make all the difference in terms of accuracy, tone, and analysis.