From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):
The church, as a reconciled and reconciling community, cannot forget that at the source of her gift and mission of reconciliation is the initiative, full of compassionate love and mercy, of that God who is love41 and who out of love created human beings;42 and he created them so that they might live in friendship with him and in communion with one another.
God is faithful to his eternal plan even when man, under the impulse of the evil one43 and carried away by his own pride, abuses the freedom given to him in order to love and generously seek what is good, and refuses to obey his Lord and Father. God is faithful even when man, instead of responding with love to God’s love, opposes him and treats him like a rival, deluding himself and relying on his own power, with the resulting break of relationship with the one who created him. In spite of this transgression on man’s part, God remains faithful in love. It is certainly true that the story of the Garden of Eden makes us think about the tragic consequences of rejecting the Father, which becomes evident in man’s inner disorder and in the breakdown of harmony between man and woman, brother and brother.44 Also significant is the gospel parable of the two brothers who, in different ways, distance themselves from their father and cause a rift between them. Refusal of God’s fatherly love and of his loving gifts is always at the root of humanity’s divisions.
But we know that God, “rich in mercy,”45 like the father in the parable, does not close his heart to any of his children. He waits for them, looks for them, goes to meet them at the place where the refusal of communion imprisons them in isolation and division. He calls them to gather about his table in the joy of the feast of forgiveness and reconciliation.
41 Cf 1 Jn 4:8.
42 Cf Wis 11:23-26; Gn 1:27; Ps 8:4-8.
43 Cf Wis 2:24.
44 Cf Gn 3:12f; 4:1-16.
45 Cf Eph 2:4.
— Reconciliatio et Pænitentia 10