VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Difficulties in embracing “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, probably are tied to difficulties in accepting its new attitude and approach to providing pastoral care, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“‘Amoris Laetitia’ flowed from a new paradigm that Pope Francis is pursuing with wisdom, with prudence and with patience,” the Vatican secretary of state said in an interview with Vatican News Jan. 11.

“Probably the difficulties that arose and still exist in the church, beyond some points of view on the content, are due to precisely this change in attitude that the pope is asking of us — a change in paradigm, inherent in the text, that is asked of us, this new spirit, this new approach,” he said.


“So, clearly, every change always entails difficulties, but these difficulties are to be prepared for and are to be faced with dedication in order to find responses that may become opportunities for further growth, greater study,” he said.

As Vatican secretary of state, the Italian cardinal is Pope Francis’ top aide both for internal church matters as well as for relations with governments and international organizations. He also serves on the nine-member Council of Cardinals that advises the pope on church governance and the reform of the Roman Curia.

When asked about the ongoing reform of the Curia, Cardinal Parolin said the process of change again has less to do with external, “structural” changes and more to do with an internal call for “conversion.”

Reform is not just a series of new laws, rules and appointments as much as it is about the kind of “deep spirit that must animate every reform of the Curia,” he said.

Every Christian’s life must be a life of conversion, he said, and Curia members, too, should always be removing “those shadows that may hinder this commitment and this mission” of the church so that they may “become a real help to the pope in proclaiming the Gospel, for witnessing the Gospel, for evangelizing today’s world.”

What’s most innovative in the pope’s new approach, Cardinal Parolin said, can be seen in how the church is reaching out to youth in preparation for this year’s Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

The approach, which emphasizes personal responsibility over a more paternalistic style, he said, is similar to what John F. Kennedy’s said at his inaugural address in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” but applying it to what young people can do for the church.

“The pope and the church ask young people what they can do for the church, what contribution they can make to the Gospel, to spreading the Gospel today,” he said.