"It’s what we expect everyone to do all the time, and if a law is being widely disobeyed, for us that’s a crisis – we either want to repeal the law or launch a crackdown, but we can’t have people making exceptions on the fly. For Mediterranean cultures, which still shape the thought-world of the Vatican to a significant degree, law is instead more akin to an ideal. It describes a moral aspiration, but realistically it’s understood that many people much of the time will fall short. (If you don’t believe it, come to Italy sometime and watch how the locals approach traffic laws!)"
Writes John L. Allen Jr. — the editor of Crux, which covers the Vatican — explaining how to think about "Amoris Laetitia," the Pope's new exhortation. The Pope didn't change any law, but he encouraged more flexibility applying it.
By the way, I don't agree with Allen that Americans are hot to strictly enforce all the law on the books. And I wish there were more pressure to repeal (and to avoid enacting) the laws we're not willing to enforce, but it seems that a lot of us like aspirational junk cluttering the statute books and making us skittish people uneasy and tempting corrupt officials to selectively prosecute. Just look at Colorado's open commerce in marijuana and the federal Controlled Substances Act. Why isn't that bothering people more? And look at the uproar among pro-lifers when Donald Trump said that if abortions were criminalized the women that have them should encounter some kind of punishment.