Its introduction and nine chapters comprise 325 numbered paragraphs. Quotations are drawn from earlier popes, documents of the Second Vatican Council and regional bishops' conferences, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.. It includes what is thought to be the first reference to a film in a papal document, Babette's Feast (1987), along with references to works by Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Antonin Sertillanges, Gabriel Marcel, and Mario Benedetti.
The Joy of Love has an Introduction and 9 Chapters:
Francis begins by noting a division of opinion during the synods: "The debates carried on in the media, in certain publications and even among the Church’s ministers, range from an immoderate desire for total change without sufficient reflection or grounding, to an attitude that would solve everything by applying general rules or deriving undue conclusions from particular theological considerations." He did not propose to resolve those differences by imposing unity: "Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth..." (paragraph 3)
He warns the reader that the document addresses many issues in many different ways and therefore says: "I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text." He asks the reader to consider the text "patiently and carefully". (paragraph 7) Another called it a rich reflection and a response to criticism of the 2015 synod's report, which opened with sociological concerns rather than Scripture.
CHAPTER ONE: In the Light of the Word
CHAPTER TWO: The Experiences and Challenges of Families
CHAPTER THREE: Looking to Jesus, The Vocation of the Family
CHAPTER FOUR: Love in Marriage
CHAPTER FIVE: Love Made Fruitful
CHAPTER SIX: Some Pastoral Perspectives
CHAPTER SEVEN: Towards a Better Education of Children
CHAPTER EIGHT: Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness
CHAPTER NINE: The Spirituality of Marriage and the Family