Francis: “What I ask you is to read the presentation of the document made by Cardinal Schonborn.” Okay, Your Holiness, we’ll do that.

16_04_18_schoenborn_01Pope Francis told journalists during the airplane presser on his return to Rome from Lesbos that to understand the controversial bit in Amoris laetitia Infamous Footnote 351 we should have recourse to Card. Schönborn’s address at the presentation of the Post-Synodal Exhortation on 8 April.  A journalist asked the Pope if the document changed anything for divorced and remarried couples (who currently may not receive Communion).

The pope said (listen to the video):

I can say, yes.  Period. But that would be too simple/small an answer.  I recommend to you that you all read the presentation which Cardinal Schönborn gave, who is a great theologian. He was the secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, [Ummm… no, he wasn’t.  He was member, but never an official of the Congregation. He was a member of the ITC and was the editor for the CCC, but he was not in the CDF as an official.] and he knows the doctrine of the faith well. In that presentation, your question will be answered.

He said (emphasis mine):

I recommend to you that you all read the presentation which Cardinal Schönborn gave, …. In that presentation, your question will be answered.

Okay, Your Holiness.  You ask.  I hear.  That’s what I am going to do.

Let’s make sure that others can read it, since it is that important.

For the exact words of the Cardinal, the video of the presentation is archived at for 8 April.  It is also on YouTube (embedded below).

Schönborn begins at about… 00:27:00.  Fr. Lombardi notes that the translations handed out to journalists were not official, were just working translations.  I assume Schönborn wrote it in German, but I don’t know that.  It was delivered in Italian, which I think we have to take as the official version.  He makes some informal remarks at the beginning and then get’s into his prepared text.  NB: Along the way Schönborn departs from his text and makes remarks aside.

Here is the English (working translation – over  3100 words in English!).  I won’t try to insert all of his asides, but I capture the sense of a couple in red:

The evening of 13 March 2013, the first words of the newly-elected Pope Francis to the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and throughout the world were: “Buona sera” – “Good evening”. The language and style of Pope Francis’ new text are as simple as this greeting. The Exhortation is not quite as brief as this simple salutation, but is similarly close to reality. In these 200 pages Pope Francis speaks about “love in the family”, and does so in such a concrete and simple way, with words that warm the heart like that good evening of 13 March 2013. This is his style, and it is his hope that aspects of life are spoken about in the most concrete way possible, especially with regard to the family, one of the most elementary realities of life.
It must be said that the documents of the Church often do not belong to one of the most accessible literary genres. This text of the Pope’s is readable, and those who are not dissuaded by its length will find joy in its concreteness and realism. Pope Francis speaks about families with a clarity that is not easy to find in the magisterial documents of the Church.
Before entering into the text itself I would like to say, in a very personal way, why I read it with joy, gratitude and always with strong emotion. In the ecclesial discourse on marriage and the family there is often a tendency, perhaps unconscious, to discuss these realities of life on the basis of two separate tracks. On the one hand there are marriages and families that are “regular”, that correspond to the rules, where everything is “fine” and “in order”, and then there are the “irregular” situations that represent a problem. Already the very term “irregular” suggests that such a distinction can be made very clearly.
Those, therefore, who find themselves on the side of the “irregular” families, must live with the fact that the “regular” families are on the other side. I am personally aware of how difficult that is for those who come from a “patchwork” family, due to the situation of my own family. The discourse of the Church in this regard may cause harm and can give the sensation of exclusion.
Pope Francis’ Exhortation is guided by the phrase “It is a matter of reaching out to everyone” (AL 297) as this is a fundamental understanding of the Gospel: we are all in need of mercy! “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone” (John 8, 7). We are all, regardless of the marriage or family situation in which we find ourselves, are journeying. Even a marriage in which everything is “going well” is journeying. It must grow, learn, and overcome new phases. It knows sin and failure, and needs reconciliation and new beginnings, even in old age (cf. AL 297).
Pope Francis has succeeded in speaking about all situations without cataloguing them, without categorising, with that outlook of fundamental benevolence that is associated with the heart of God, with the eyes of Jesus that exclude no-one (cf. AL 297), that welcome all and grant the “joy of the Gospel” to all. This is why reading Amoris Laetitia is so comforting. No-one must feel condemned, no-one is scorned. In this climate of welcome, the discourse on the Christian vision of marriage and the family becomes an invitation, an encouragement, to the joy of love in which we can believe and which excludes no-one, truly and sincerely no-one. For me Amoris Laetitia is, first and foremost, a “linguistic event”, as was Evangelii gaudium. Something has changed in ecclesial discourse. This change of language was already perceptible during the Synod process. Between the two Synods of October 2014 and October 2015, it may clearly be seen how the tone became richer in esteem, as if the different situations in life had simply been accepted, without being immediately judged or condemned. In Amoris Laetitia this tone of language continues. Before this there is obviously not only a linguistic choice, but rather a profound respect when faced with every person who is never firstly a “problematic case” in a “category”, but rather a unique person, with his story and his journey with and towards God. In Evangelii gaudium Pope Francis said that we must take of our shoes before the sacred ground of others (EG 36). This fundamental attitude runs throughout the Exhortation. And it is also provides the most profound reason for the other two key words, to discern and to accompany. These words apply not only to the so-called “irregular situation” (Pope Francis underlines this “so-called”) but rather for all people, for every marriage and for every family. Indeed, we are all journeying and we are all in need of “discernment” and “accompaniment”.
My great joy as a result of this document resides in the fact that it coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between “regular” and “irregular”, and subjects everyone to the common call of the Gospel, according to the words of St. Paul: “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all” (Rom. 11, 32).
This pervasive principle of “inclusion” clearly troubles some people. Does this not favour relativism? Does the frequently evoked mercy not become permissiveness” Does there no longer exist the clarity of limits that must not be exceeded, situations that must objectively be defined as irregular or sinful? Does this Exhortation favour a certain laxity, a sense that “anything goes”? Is Jesus’ mercy not instead often severe and demanding?
To clarify thus: Pope Francis leaves no doubt regarding his intentions or our task:
“As Christians, we can hardly stop advocating marriage simply to avoid countering contemporary sensibilities, or out of a desire to be fashionable or a sense of helplessness in the face of human and moral failings. We would be depriving the world of values that we can and must offer. It is true that there is no sense in simply decrying present-day evils, as if this could change things. Nor it is helpful to try to impose rules by sheer authority. What we need is a more responsible and generous effort to present the reasons and motivations for choosing marriage and the family, and in this way to help men and women better to respond to the grace that God offers them.” (AL 35).
Pope Francis is convinced that the Christian vision of marriage and the family also has an unchanged force of attraction. But it demands “a healthy dose of self-criticism”: “We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation” (AL 36). “We have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite” (AL 36).
I would like to relate here an experience of last October’s Synod: as far as I know, two of the thirteen “circuli minores” started their work by first hearing an account from each participant of his own family situation. It soon emerged that almost all the bishops or other participants in the “circulus minor” had encountered, in their families, the themes, concerns and “irregularities” that we, in the Synod, have discussed in a rather too abstract way. Pope Francis invites us to speak about our own families “as they are”. And here the magnificent aspect of the Synod journey and of its continuation with Pope Francis: this sober realism of families “as they are” does not take us far at all from the ideal! On the contrary, Pope Francis succeeds, in the work of both Synods, to offer a positive outlook to families, profoundly rich in hope. But this encouraging outlook on families requires that “pastoral conversion” we find in Evangelii gaudium. The following text from Amoris Laetitia outlines this “pastoral conversion”:
“We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life. We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfilment than as a lifelong burden. We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (AL 37).
Pope Francis speaks of a profound trust in the hearts and the nostalgia of men. He expresses this very well in his reflection on education. Here we perceive the influence of the great Jesuit tradition in education in personal responsibility. He refers to two contrary dangers: “laissez-faire” and the obsession with controlling and dominating everything. On the one hand it is true that “Families cannot help but be places of support, guidance and direction, Vigilance is always necessary and neglect is never beneficial” (AL 260).
But vigilance can also become excessive: “Obsession, however, is not education. We cannot control every situation that a child may experience. … If parents are obsessed with always knowing where their children are and controlling all their movements, they will seek only to dominate space. But this is no way to educate, strengthen and prepare their children to face challenges. What is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy” (AL 261). I consider this thought on education very enlightening in connection with the pastoral practice of the Church. Indeed, precisely in this sense Pope Francis often returns to the issue of trust in the conscience of the faithful: “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (AL 37). The great question, obviously, is this: how do we form consciences? How do we arrive at what is the key concept of all this great document, the key to correctly understanding Pope Francis’ intentions: “personal discernment”, especially in difficult and complex situations? “Discernment” is a central concept in Ignatian exercises. Indeed, these must help to discern the will of God in the concrete situations of life. It is discernment that grants a person a mature character, and the Christian path should be of help in reaching this personal maturity: not forming automatons, externally conditioned and remote-controlled, but people who have matured in their friendship with Christ. Only when this personal “discernment” is mature is it also possible to arrive at “pastoral discernment”; which is important especially in “those situations that fall short of what the Lord demands of us” (AL 6). The eighth chapter refers to this “pastoral discernment”, a chapter likely to be of great interest not only to ecclesial public opinion, but also to the media.
I should however mention that Pope Francis has described Chapters 4 and 5 as central, not only in terms of their position but also their content. “we cannot encourage a path of fidelity and mutual self-giving without encouraging the growth, strengthening and deepening of conjugal and family love” (AL 89). These two central chapters of Amoris Laetitia will probably be skipped by many people keen to arrive at the so-called “hot potatoes”, the critical points. As a pedagogic expert, Pope Francis knows well that nothing attracts and motivates as strongly as the positive experience of love. “Speaking of love” (AL 89) . this clearly brings great joy to Pope Francis, and he speaks about love with great vivacity, comprehensibility and empathy. The fourth chapter is a broad-ranging comment on the “Hymn to charity” in the thirteenth chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians. I recommend meditation on these pages to all. They encourage belief in love (cf. John 4, 16) and trust in its strength. It is here that growth, another key word in Amoris Laetitia, finds its main location: in no other place does it manifest itself so clearly, but it can also turn cold. I can only invite you to read and enjoy this wonderful chapter. I think it is important to indicate one aspect: Pope Francis speaks here, with rare clarity, of the role of the passions, passions, emotion, eros and sexuality in married and family life. It is not by chance that Pope Francis reconnects here with St. Thomas Aquinas, who attributes an important role to the passions, while modern society, often puritanical, has discredited or neglected them.
It is here that the title of the Pope’s exhortation finds its fullest expression: “Amoris Laetitia!” Here we understand how it is possible to “discover the dignity and beauty of marriage” (AL 205). But here it is made painfully visible how much harm wounds to love can cause, and how lacerating the experience of a failed relationship can be. Therefore it is unsurprising that it is largely the eighth chapter that has attracted attention and interest. Indeed, the question of how the Church treats these wounds, of how she treats the failure of love, has become for many a test question to understand whether the Church is truly the place where God’s Mercy can be experienced.
This chapter owes much to the intense work of the two Synods, to the extensive discussions in the arenas of public and ecclesial opinion. Here the fruitfulness of Pope Francis’ method is shown. He expressly wished for an open discussion on the pastoral accompaniment of complex situations, and has been able to fully base this on the two texts that the two Synods presented to him to show the possibility of “accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness” (AL 291).
Pope Francis explicitly makes his own the declarations that both Synods presented to him: “the Synod Fathers reached a general consensus, which I support” (AL 297). With regard to those who are divorced and civilly remarried, he states: “I am in agreement with the many Synod Fathers who observed that … the logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care. … Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church, but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always…” (AL 299).
But what does this mean in practice? Many rightly ask this question. The definitive answers are found in Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 300. These answers certainly offer material for further discussions, but they also provide an important clarification and an indication of the path to follow. “If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations … it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases”. Many expected such rules, and they will be disappointed. What is possible? The Pope says clearly: “What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases”.
How this personal and pastoral discernment can and should be is the theme of the entire section of Amoris Laetitia constituted of paragraphs 300-312. In the 2015 Synod, in the Appendix to the statements by the Circulus germanicus an Itinerarium of discernment, of the examination of conscience that Pope Francis has made his own.
“What we are speaking of is a process of accompaniment and discernment which “guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God”. But Pope Francis also recalls that “this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church”.
Pope Francis mentions two erroneous positions. One is that of excessive rigour: “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings” (AL 205). On the other hand, the Church must certainly never “desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur” (AL 207).
Naturally this poses the question: what does the Pope say in relation to access to the sacraments for people who live in “irregular” situations? Pope Benedict had already said that “easy recipes” do not exist (AL 298, note 333). Pope Francis reiterates the need to discern carefully the situation, in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio (84) (AL 298). “Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God” (AL 205). He also reminds us of an important phrase from Evangelii gaudium, 44: “A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties” (AL 304). [S. inserted what he thinks is a key to read AL: experience of the poor, in their lives they experience the small steps on the way to virtue which can be larger than the successors of those more comfortable … He notes that Francis has a lot of experience with the poor.]  In the sense of this “via caritatis” (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) devethat the help of the sacraments may also be given “in certain cases”. [He also departed here, to point out that 351 adds something.  In the text of AL we read that people in “irregular” situations must receive the help of the Church, and the Infamous Note adds “sacraments”.]  But for this purpose he does not offer us case studies or recipes, but instead simply reminds us of two of his famous phrases: “I want to remind priests that the confessional should not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (EG 44), and the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (EG 47).
Is it an excessive challenge for pastors, for spiritual guides and for communities if the “discernment of situations” is not regulated more precisely? Pope Francis acknowledges this concern: “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion” (AL 308). However, he challenges this, remarking that “We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel” (AL 311).
Pope Francis trusts in the “joy of love”. Love is able to find the way. It is the compass that shows us the road. It is both the goal and the path itself, because God is love and love is from God. Nothing is more demanding than love. It cannot be obtained cheaply. Therefore, no-one should be afraid that Pope Francis invites us, with Amoris Laetitia, to take too easy a path. The road is not an easy one, but it is full of joy!

[00532-EN.02] [Original text: Italian – working translation]

16_04_18_schoenborn_03In the text for the presentation – that’s what the Pope asked us to check – the Cardinal does not talk about development of doctrine.  There is no mention of novelties or new things.  He doesn’t mention Newman.  None of this is in the text as passed out before the presentation, nor in his actual delivery (watch the video).

Did the Pope also mean “Schönborn’s presentation and all his Q&A answers!”?  I don’t know.  But he didn’t say “Listen to what Schönborn says about Amoris laetitia.”  He said read the presentation of Amoris laetitia.

So, what did Schönborn really say in the Q&A about development?

Here is the audio.  In the video go to 1:48:30 ff.:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. frahobbit says:

    First they relaxed the rules about mixed marriages, now they eliminate the rules to calm the problems which were caused by mixed marriages. I’m using mixed as a catch-all name.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    The presentation is clear and does not contradict doctrine….Q and A, different, obviously.


  3. Janol says:

    I find the presentation muddled both in its thinking and syntax.

    The Cardinal rejoices in the fact that the “document” “coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’…”
    Overcoming distinctions is more than a change of language.

    Towards the end he says “We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance.”
    Who does that? There is only condition the Lord and His Church asks: sincere repentance, the readiness to change.

  4. Nicolas Bellord says:

    Sorry father but this is vitally important. Are you saying that there are two different presentations:
    a. A text handed out prior to the presentation.
    b. The oral presentation and Questions and Answers ??

    And that the two differ in some way?

    To my mind the presentation is a + b and Pope Francis has indorsed all of it.
    The key sentence is:

    ‘In the sense of this “via caritatis” (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given “in certain cases”.’ So really he is just referring back to AL but making it clear that ‘sacraments’ in the plural can be given in certain circumstances. In this game of ping-pong ambiguity still remains but it is just that bit closer to a heretical position.

    I am just mightily confused and despondent; just what is going on? Please may we have your view.
    It might be claimed that doctrine is not being altered. However if the discipline related to the doctrine effectively contradicts the doctrine then that is an attempt to say the doctrine is other than what it is. Doctrine is the teaching of the Church; are we seriously pretending that Pope Francis is not trying to teach us?

  5. HeatherPA says:

    I am so tired of ambiguity and confusion. I feel as frustrated as I do with politics in America.

    I will just continue to refer to and readmy Catechism and stop reading anything from Pope Francis. He will be in my daily prayers as is my Catholic duty, but this kind of stuff is robbing my peace and reading the utter confusion that surrounds nearly every thing this Pope utters is not something I am willing to lose my peace over.

  6. albizzi says:

    So far as I know, until now the catholic people who divorced with the aim to marry again another man/woman could not marry again in a religious catholic marriage, but only in a civil one, unless their former marriage had been nullified beforehand by a Vatican’s Court.
    However everybody knows that the people living together in a civil union are considered by the RCC as if they were not married, and therefore are forbidden to be given the Eucharist.
    Then how can the Pope authorize a few among these people to take communion unless their former marriage has been nullified and them having married their new partner in a catholic religious marriage?
    If I am not mistaken regarding the Pope’s intentions, why then to restrict the Eucharist only to a few specific cases (which ones?) of divorced remarried couples and not extend it to the people living in civil unions or even to those engaged in concubinage?

  7. Chrisc says:

    This is a rich ‘linguistic event’ that results in ‘coherently overcom(ing) that artificial, superficial, clear division between “regular” and “irregular”, and subjects everyone to the common call of the Gospel’

    If regular and irregular marriages are but artificial divisions that distance us from the reality that all are called to be accompanied – then it follows that treating them differently, on the basis of this division, is but an artificial construct. So Francis can say that people that commit mortal sin shouldn’t receive communion, but he is unwilling to say that because you cohabitate, that makes you irregular, therefore you can’t recieve. It is categorization that limits the mercy and love of God, that erects channels for God’s grace, that are the problems. Hence we need to have a language event a radical change where we no longer think in a way that someone is disqualified from the sacraments.

    There is some truth in this, of course, often people make errors in their facile convenient groupings that are used to beat people over the head rather than accompany them in a personal manner: like when they call out all the doctors of the law, or moral theologians (which are basically the same thing), or canon lawyers, etc.

    But in a bigger less personal note. Just because people abuse categories doesn’t mean they aren’t there, even if they get a little sloppy with it. In doctrinal theology, there are not actually two capacities in God called the will, though we often speak of God’s passive vs God’s active will. This is a construct that is limited in its applicability (because its not ultimately the case that there are two wills, but it is really helpful to think of it in this way so we don’t end up as Calvinists); but it works with our meager intellects to lead us to the truth. So, too, regular and irregular marriages – this is a supremely helpful distinction, not because its perfect and the two are radically separated where some God loves and some he doesn’t, but because in our limited human capacities we need to know what the requirements of marriage in the church are – not as a limiting construct, but a lasting form of accompaniment. I think Francis fundamentally misunderstands law – he sees it as a human construct rather than an extension of God’s providential care for his people. Instead of impersonal, the law is far more personal – its not dependent upon having some lovely sit-downs with your parish priest- its God speaking to the Church in the same way always…through the same language event ….. the Word becoming flesh.

  8. yatzer says:

    I don’t understand the explanation or the original. It sounds to me like words upon words in an attempt to speak vaguely enough that everyone will believe the situation is satisfactory. That makes me very sad coming from those who are supposed to be our top leadership.

  9. frbolin says:

    Interesting how the invocation of Newman in the Q&A (at Fr Z.’s noted 1:48:30 and beyond) plays out in taking development in a new and different direction. It seems to me that the development of doctrine, as laid out, really focused on a deepening of doctrine, a greater understanding, not a moving in a different or disparate direction.

    For those who are looking for an easy-to-understand analogy regarding the development of doctrine, seminarian Joe Heschmeyer, currently studying in Rome, did a nice little piece on it back in 2012. I was in the Anglican Ordinariate’s first formation class at the time, and found it quite helpful both for my own understanding of the development of doctrine and for helping to explain it to others.

  10. Cdl Schoenborn does use the word ‘change’, when he says ‘Amoris Laetitia is, first and foremost, a “linguistic event”[…]. Something has changed in ecclesial discourse.

    If that is the sense of the Footnote’s ‘we can no longer simply say …’, as if saying ‘the usual language is inadequate’, … Well, we can still ask — inquire, as it were — of an authority certainly competent — the CDF, perhaps, formerly known as… — whether there is concrete newly proposed language somewhere (because we still have to say what we’ve ostensibly been saying clumsily) and whether the new proposal is compatible, eodem sensu eademque sententia, with Church doctrine.

    And, perhaps of interest, if I understand correctly, the assigned vocation of Second Vatican Ec. C. was specifically to construct new accessible language expressing the same meaning and the same judgment of the Church’s doctrine.

  11. Kathy C says:

    I don’t pretend to have any special theological knowledge. Is adultery still a sin? Or does taking the Eucharist while in a state of sin no longer profane the Eucharist? What effect does it have on confession? I feel like the logic, the foundation, is being ripped apart and what is left will not make any sense. The logic is what has drawn me to the church. Yes, I’m despondent too.

  12. Tradster says:

    The entire Exhortation can be summarized in a single sentence: The Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell) are now The Three Last Things (Death, Mercy, Heaven).

  13. Absit invidia says:

    What is the Vatican’s overriding message under this pontificate? We get statements concerning homosexuals that say “who am I to judge?” Then we hear that Catholics who are striving to please God and accept all the children He wants to send them and practice the Church’s teachings of avoiding contraception – that those Catholics are “breeding like rabbits.”

    This is getting surreal. Very very surreal.

  14. Aquinas Gal says:

    I’m with Heather–a long time ago I stopped reading anything from Pope Francis except what I really had to (I did read AL in full).
    But–what in the world does “linguistic event” mean? I don’t get that at all. Does that mean that all good Catholics are now supposed to speak like Pope Francis?
    I’m troubled by what the talk about “all are journeying” means–sure, we’re all on the road to God, hopefully, but there’s a big difference between a couple in a valid sacramental marriage and someone who is living in adultery.

    Between the synods “it may clearly be seen how the tone became richer in esteem, as if the different situations in life had simply been accepted, without being immediately judged or condemned.” That’s what I’m afraid of, that the different situations have simply been accepted and no one is being called to conversion from a sinful situation. It seems like Jesus is asleep in the boat, but I trust he’s still there and will get us through this storm.

  15. CharlesG says:

    To me, the clear intention of AL Footnote 351 and Cardinal Schoenborn’s explanation of it as a “development of doctrine” means that St. John Paul II’s bright line rule in Familiaris Consortio 64 and Catechism 1650 about not receiving sacramental absolution or taking communion when in a state of objective sin without purpose of amendment is reversed, at least in some cases, when a priest finds lack of culpability based on mitigating factors, which apparently include the belief of a malformed conscience that the sex in the “irregular” situation is not a sin. To my mind, reversal is not a “development of doctrine”, which per Newman I understand as an organic development and fleshing out of detailed implications, not a reversal. One question I have is, assuming AL is a reversal of doctrine, and it appears that many bishops are adopting this view, is whether St. John Paul II’s bright line rule is mere “ordinary magisterium”, which while requiring religious submission of will and intellect, is reformable by future popes or councils, or is it a teaching that is “ordinary and universal magisterium” — i.e., something always and everywhere believed in the Church up to now. If the latter, then the general concept at least, if not any particular verbal formula of it, is possibly infallible and irreformable and requires the assent of faith. Anyways, I will leave it to my betters in the Church hierarchy to thrash this out. I will say, however, that when I became a Catholic, I signed on to the teachings of the Catechism, which St. John Paul II told us was a “sure norm” for the doctrine of the faith, and did not sign up to agree to a new religion with every passing pope. Being rather upset about this whole issue, I spent some time before the Tabernacle yesterday and resolved that I would follow Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catechism, and would do my best not to think about the Pope, or at least not try to let thoughts of him impact my spiritual life and devotion to Our Lord, which unfortunately has been the case in the past year or so.

  16. Peter in Canberra says:

    it is enough to make one consider becoming an Anglican …

  17. Jonathan82 says:

    The more Francis talks, the more sedeprivationism makes sense.

  18. TNCath says:

    This may be the most ridiculous example of doublespeak I have ever read in my life. Again, in the words of Archbishop Chaput, “Confusion is of the devil.” Hmmmmmmmm.

  19. Manducat in the hat says:

    This from the same cardinal who three weeks prior errantly announced that the kidnapped priest had been crucified by ISIS on Good Friday and whose only source on that “news” seemed to be internet rumor.

    Is it unreasonable to believe that the man has a tendency to speak on topics for which he lacks sufficient depth?

  20. WesleyD says:

    Amoris laetitia is long, hence the need to focus on certain parts. Cardinal Schönborn’s comments during the presentation of AL do just that.

    But Cardinal Schönborn’s comments are themselves quite long. Fortunately, the Vatican website presents some useful excerpts from them. The brief excerpts include this gem:

    “Naturally this poses the question: what does the Pope say in relation to access to the sacraments for people who live in ‘irregular’ situations?”, continued the cardinal. “Pope Francis reiterates the need to discern carefully the situation in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio. ‘Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God’.

    Now, if you take the “black and white” out of context, you might think this is endorsing moral relativism. But the Cardinal makes it clear that you must read AL “in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio“. As long as we all read AL this way, the infamous Footnote 351 can do no harm!

  21. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Comments about comments about comments about comments about footnotes.

    Bergoglio’s standing order to priests in Buenos Aires was to give Communion to everyone, no questions asked, in a diocese where only about 10% of “couples” are married.

    All appearances of concern to preserve the tradition regarding marriage and the scandalous reception of Communion are nothing but pretense. The world’s bishops know what they are perfectly at liberty to do from this day forward. You think adulterers and gay couples are not ALREADY being given Communion, cheerfully, in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, etc.?

  22. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    “The language and style of Pope Francis’ new text are as simple as this greeting.”

    What utter nonsense.

  23. jfk03 says:

    The cardinal is verbose and his statement lacks clarity. He is a company man. By contrast, the words of the Lord on marriage are direct and to the point.

  24. Toan says:

    1. Pope Francis said he didn’t remember footnote 351 and that it must have been a quote from his encyclical.

    2. Pope Francis says Cdl Schonborn’s statement is good.

    3. Cdl Schonborn’s statement mentions footnote 351 as being significant regarding access to sacraments for the divorced and civilly remarried.

    Given the three facts above, I suspect Pope Francis is exhausted and, therefore, passing off his doctrinal role to people he thinks are reliable without examining their work carefully. He apparently didn’t realize footnote 351 existed (a ghost writer’s work?), and then he apparently didn’t realize that Cdl Schonborn mentioned footnote 351 in his intervention. It strikes me as exhaustion-induced carelessness–trusting without verifying. And anyway, has anyone thought Pope Francis had much patience for things like checking over hundreds of footnotes?

    Anyway, God is in charge and even Cdl Schonborn said AL is in keeping with Familiaris Consortio, so…I see the whole thing as a continuation of the status quo: Those who ignore FC will continue to do so while those who abide by it also won’t change. Meanwhile the biological solution will keep chugging along.

  25. albizzi says:

    You are right, but this is only Card. Schonborn’s private opinion.
    Right now many bishops and priests are eager to read the infamous footnote 351 without keeping in mind Familiaris Consortio.
    Since nowhere are listed the specific cases where FN351 must apply, some among them are ready applying it with mercy to ALL cases.

  26. Janol says:

    Upthread when I wrote, I should have put in quotes the word “overcoming” — :

    “The Cardinal rejoices in the fact that the “document” “coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’…”
    Overcoming distinctions is more than a change of language.

    One doesn’t seek to “overcome” distinctions unless one seeks to abandon rational thinking.
    Today on CNA there were excepts of what Cardinal Timothy Collins of Toronto has said regarding the coming legalization of assisted suicide in Canada which is pertinent here since in the current discussion a “regular” union means a sacramental marriage and an “irregular” union refers to those unions which kill the supernatural life of the soul:

    “That’s not called dying. The word for that is ‘killing’. To not know the difference between dying and killing is astonishing.”

    He warned against euphemisms that are “comfortable and pleasant and sweet, but which do not describe what is happening.”

    “When we are ashamed, troubled, by what we are doing, I think we always leave the light of clear language. We don’t want the light to shine upon what we are doing.”

  27. DonL says:

    Cascades of verbiage aside, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the footnote 351 appears to be the key issue. I must ask therefore, is this but the opportunity to leave the question of “what is a sin” to a pastor and a sinner’s “conscience” alone, as opposed to dealing with one’s personable culpability for irrefutably defined sin?
    Yes, Jesus gave them (his apostles and successors) the power to forgive sin, but He never gave either us (via conscience) or the apostles, the power to redefine what, in fact, is sin! That inarguably was the prime issue in Eden—all men are banned from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (i.e. the right to define what sin is)
    Help me out here, please.

  28. juergensen says:

    “For God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33), ergo, all this confusion cannot be of God.

  29. jarthurcrank says:

    FrBolin: I appreciated your sermon yesterday when you pointed out that AL should be read in continuity with the teaching of the church as opposed to a rupture with the same. It was the right thing to say at that point in time. The “interesting” thing to see is whether individual dioceses and episcopal conferences will read AL in the same way.

  30. jarthurcrank says:

    FYI: FrBolin, I am not the real J Arthur in our milieu – – this is an old handle of mine from long before the real J Arthur came on the scene.

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    Okay, could someone give me a definition of, “irregular,” that does not contain pre-existing sin? Where is irregular defined? Without a definition, the statement (footnote 351) is unanchored. It belongs to the realm of imagination. So, has doctrine become a matter of the imagination? That seems to be the development of doctrine. Does irregular mean what you want it to? Has it ever been used in a Church document, before? If not, then how can the doctrine develop when nothing precedes it?

    The Chicken

  32. The Masked Chicken says:

    Does the document actually include any realistic solutions to the problems of marriage? Pope Francis seems to be concerned with such things as the lack of children being conceived in marriages in Europe and the like, but where does it propose anything like Gen. Patton’s orders to clean up the Third Army?

    We know the causes of the the current malaise in marriages that lead to divorce and remarriage. It is no secret that the relaxation of morality after Vatican II caused this, in many cases. Yet, this document seems to propose a, “hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-him,” approach to cleaning up the mess. It was a false notion of mercy that got us into this mess and adding more false mercy won’t get us out of it. Looking at marriages after they fail should not have been the emphasis of the Synod. Steps to clean up marriage commitments so marriages do not fail (so we don’t have to be put in the awkward position to defend them) should have been the focus. Let’s admit that we failed and do something. It would be a real act of humility to do that. This latest document seems to be a form of posturing – defending the sad results of the Church’s actions, instead of trying to correct the damage.

    Where are the concrete solutions? I know what would clean up this mess, but it would take mercy of a radically different type than being presented in this document. Patton cleaned up an army. We are the Church Militant, but our battlefield generals seem to be unwilling to do the same. An army may need a battlefield hospital, but it doesn’t fight the war from the battlefield hospital. Perhaps, the generals ought to consider where they are standing on the battlefield?

    The Chicken

  33. PostCatholic says:

    “This text of the Pope’s is readable, and those who are not dissuaded by its length will find joy in its concreteness and realism.”

    A papal pronouncement of concrete realism? I’m sure Leibniz is chuffed in the afterlife, and Kellogg thinks this is the best of all possible worlds.

  34. Pingback: Percutiam Pastorem, et Dispergentur Oves | A Lesser Peace

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