Pope Francis seems to approve Card. Schönborn’s explanation of #AmorisLaetitia

I am waiting for the whole, official transcript of the airplane presser granted by Pope Francis on the way back to Rome from Lesbos. But, in absence of a transcript, here is the video. Ipsissimis verbis

Meanwhile, Crux 2.0 has this.  Skip past the rubbish about Bernie Sanders… blah blah blah:

Amoris Laetitia

Two of the nine questions Francis answered in 30 minutes were about his apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. One journalist asked the pope point-blank if the document changed anything for divorced and remarried couples, who currently can’t receive Communion.

The pope said “Yes, and that’s it.” [! – see my update, below.]

“I could leave it there, but this would be a simplistic answer. What I ask you is to read the presentation of the document made by Cardinal [Christoph] Schonborn.”  [That sounds like an endoresment of what Schönborn said.  Right?]

A second journalist asked Francis about [infamous] footnote 351 of the document, which, for many, is where Francis actually opened the door for divorced and remarried Catholics to access Communion, asking why the pontiff put such an important point in a footnote.

“When I called for the first synod, most in the media were worried about this issue, and I, who am not a saint, got frustrated and then sad,” he said. “Why is it that the media who focus on this don’t see that this is not the big issue?”  [I think it could actually be a big issue. I don’t think that answered the question.  But he seems irritated.  Gosh!  Who would ever be irritated by newsies?]


Pause here and breathe deeply.  Going on…


He listed what he believes those real issues are.

“Why is it that they don’t see that the family, around the world, is in crisis?” he said. “That despite the family being the foundation of society, the youth today doesn’t want to get married? That the birth rates in Europe make you want to cry?”  [Yes, Your Holiness.  I agree.  However, does the solution depend on clarity, a clarion call?  Or does it depend on ambiguity?]

Se we are back to square one.

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation is still only what it is, but now Pope Francis says that Schönborn got it right.

Time to digest.

Moderation queue is ON.


The pope really 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.

Note that that “Punto… Period… Full stop” isn’t delivered in the way that a tyrant such as a liberal democrat pol like Pres. Obama would use it, to cut off and end discussion. It not as sharp as that in delivery, though in a transcript it might seem severely dismissive. You can tell he doesn’t like talking about it, but he is not slamming the door.

This doesn’t change all that much from the Crux version, but it more accurate.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. RAve says:

    Having read

    Cardinal Schonborn’s Intervention at Presentation of Amoris Laetitia
    [Original text: Italian – working translation]

    I conclude that the cardinal never actually reaches any conclusion. He presents a pleasant chat touching on some truths and some pastoral concerns, but regarding the divorced-and-remarried he offers a muddled nothing-burger of what seems like the rewarmed meatloaf of 1970’s post-conciliar pastoral creativity.

  2. torch621 says:

    The snowfall of souls into Hell now becomes a blizzard. I am more convinced that the 100th anniversary of Fatima will bring the punishment promised by Our Lady of Akita. Time to prepare for death.

  3. Praynfast says:

    Woah, woah, woah. Did Pope Francis flat out lie in Amoris Laetitia, then? He wrote about his intention in Amoris Laetitia no. 4: “For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.”

    But wait, in the above interview, Pope Francis says that there indeed was a change made…which means the intentions laid out in no. 4 of Amoris Laetitia would be, well, a blatant lie, right? In the interview, he said, “Yes, [Amoris Laetitia changes something for divorced and remarried couples, who currently can’t receive Communion] and that’s it [no more continued reflection, dialogue, etc.].”

    Then, to confirm that the Pope indeed intended to change something [THE CATECHISM ON SEXUAL ETHICS] with Amoris Laetitia, he says, “I could leave it there, but this would be a simplistic answer. What I ask you is to read the presentation of the document made by Cardinal [Christoph] Schonborn.” [Yes, Fr. Z., that is not only an endorsement but it is implied that Cardinal Schondborn’s interpretation of the document is Pope Francis’ interpretation].

    And what was Cardinal Schondborn’s interpretation of Amoris Laetitia? HE CALLED IT A “GREAT CATECHESIS”!!!!! See: (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/cardinal-schnborn-praises-amoris-laetitia-stance-on-gay-marriage-23074/)



    Are there mitigating circumstances for lying to 1.2 billion people? Just wondering.

  4. Mike says:

    If the footnote means access the Confession why does it say “sacraments”? Moreover, if means only Confession, then if it doesn’t include a resolve to live as brother and sister, we have absolution without intention to amend one’s life.

    We’re where we were on 4/8, I think.

  5. St. Irenaeus says:

    But Schoenborn’s words refer back to AL and praise it for its “clarity”, while Schoenborn’s words aren’t all that clear either. It’s a vicious circle of ambiguity.

  6. catholicgauze says:

    Good news, right? The cardinal defended JPII’s position


    At the press conference to mark the publication of Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Schönborn was asked twice whether the Pope intended to break with John Paul’s Familiaris Consortio. That document said that remarried people should not be allowed access to communion unless they live “in complete continence”.

    The key passage comes in paragraph 84 of the document. A journalist asked: “Has anything in the entirety of those paragraphs changed? Does everything still stand as is?”

    “I don’t see why there should be a change,” said Cardinal Schönborn.

    “The Pope is not innovating,” the cardinal said. “There are no novelties in this document. But the cautious pastoral care tradition can help here.”

    There had been speculation that Pope Francis would teach in contradiction to Familiaris Consortio. But the cardinal said that Amoris Laetitia was a development in continuty with Pope John Paul II’s teaching.

  7. Thomistica says:

    Not to worry. Fr. Lombardi will clarify the situation.

  8. Chrisc says:

    So the pope can change doctrine whenever it suits him? This I think is finally something significant. Everything Francis has said elsewhere is problematic or factually erroneous (what is the greatest commandment?) but this is an error in the basic understanding of the faith and what it involves in the role of the pope, maybe the bishops, and maybe always down even to priests – that the change in praxis a) necessarily involves changing the doctrine or b) is the changing of the doctrine.

    Neither of these are sound options. The first answer is an erroneous usurpation of the role of Peter to define what he wants by way of pastoral innovation. It reeks of a papal positivism that does not even know the boundaries of canon or the moral law.

    The second option is worse, I think, though it might be more sound. If option B is true….then the Vatican II project is necessarily a sham and a contrivance that radically changed the church and grafted to the world rather than merely opening the windows to it. If to change praxis is to change doctrine, then there must be an open fight over any new promulgation from Rome or the diocese….we need to reject the reforms made in canon law by the pope…but also need to reject stupid programs that the bishop’s conference chooses to adopt, and even down to where the new pastor wants to put the baptismal font. Well….that really will be hagan lio! And a diabolical one at that.

  9. Tom Piatak says:

    If the Pope is indeed adopting Cardinal Schonborn’s interpretation, what I want to know is this: why should any Catholic give any more deference to Amoris Laetitia than Cardinal Kasper gave to Familiaris Consortio?

  10. Benedict Joseph says:

    At the very beginning of “Amoris laetitia” we read, “…As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and this is an inspiration to the Church” make you want to cry?”
    Today we hear, “Why is it that they don’t see that the family, around the world, is in crisis?” he said. “That despite the family being the foundation of society, the youth today doesn’t want to get married? That the birth rates in Europe make you want to cry?”
    Am I alone in perceiving a conflict between “Amoris laetitia” and the Holy Father’s articulated perception today? With no intention to nit-pick, is this not the sort of dissonance symptomatic of the ecclesiastical chaos we endure today? Is not the confection of “Amoris laetitia” a participation in the cultural double speak at root of the degeneration it was supposedly to address? Does it not provide cover and accommodation to vice rather than an “exhortation” to follow Christ on the path to interior freedom – salvation – redemption?
    Simply and kindly put, the pontificate of virile fortitude, of “fides et ratio,” has been supplanted by conflicted diagnostics and a poorly rationalized, misguided prescription for our base instincts. If there was a substitute for the Cross our Lord surely would have made it known. One could wish to hear “Who am I to provide it?”
    This, today, will not do.

  11. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    This and your previous post suggest that His Holiness is finally coming to see the the MSM are not his friends . . .

  12. Bender says:

    So the impression is left in the Crux story that the Pope said, “yes, the teaching is changed.” And if the Pope did actually say that, of course it would engender all sorts of controversy.

    Now we have a transcript from CNA which shows a significantly different answer —

    Frank Rocca (Wall Street Journal): . . . . Some sustain that nothing has changed with respect to the discipline that regulates access to the sacraments for the divorced and remarried, that the Law, the pastoral praxis and obviously the doctrine remain the same. Others sustain that much has changed and that there are new openings and possibilities. For a Catholic who wants to know: are there new, concrete possibilities that didn’t exist before the publication of the exhortation or not?

    Pope Francis: I can say yes, many. But it would be an answer that is too small. I recommend that you read the presentation of Cardinal Schonborn, who is a great theologian. He was the secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and he knows the doctrine of the faith well. In that presentation, your question will find an answer.

    Jean-Marie Guenois (Le Figaro): I had the same question, but it’s a complementary question because you wrote this famous ‘Amoris Laetitia’ on the problems of the divorced and remarried (footnote 351). Why put something so important in a little note? Did you foresee the opposition or did you mean to say that this point isn’t that important?

    Pope Francis: One of the recent popes, speaking of the Council, said that there were two councils: the Second Vatican Council in the Basilica of St. Peter, and the other, the council of the media. [That would be Pope Benedict who said that.] When I convoked the first synod, the great concern of the majority of the media was communion for the divorced and remarried, and, since I am not a saint, this bothered me, and then made me sad. Because, thinking of those media who said, this, this and that, do you not realize that that is not the important problem? . . . I don’t remember the footnote, but for sure if it’s something general in a footnote it’s because I spoke about it, I think, in ‘Evangelii Gaudium.’

    These answers, together with the Pope’s remarks on the flight back from Mexico, present a much different picture.

  13. baseballmom says:

    Clarity would be such a blessing… Were it to happen I might start believing in the “God of Surprises!”

  14. Anthony says:

    Round and round we go… where we stop nobody knows…

  15. billy15 says:

    So I don’t know much at all about Cardinal Schonborn; I may have heard his name in passing once. Is there a transcript anywhere of his comments at this presentation? From what I’ve gleaned from your source above, Father, and others I’ve found, he doesn’t seem to be advocating for any change in doctrine. I found this article from CNA on the presntation where the Cardinal said the following:

    Pope Francis’ discussion of accompaniment for the divorced-and-remarried focused on a discernment made in conjunction with one’s pastor, and Cardinal Schönborn affirmed that “there is a danger, of course,” of couples not being led properly in such discernment.

    “But, this danger exists always, since the beginning of the Church, because shepherds can lead or mislead,” he reflected. “They can be too harsh, or too compromising. But this is the art he is speaking about: the art of accompanying people. That’s the proper capacity for a Good Shepherd.”

    So it looks like the Cardinal recognizes what we’ve all been saying, and what I’ve read here on your blog Father; that certain priests (and perhaps even deacons and bishops) will take the Holy Father’s words out of context and will try to get around established doctrine. Some shepherds are going to mislead the flock, unfortunately.

    But then there’s some other statements by the Cardinal where I wish he would’ve been more clear, and I’m not sure if these comments come from the presentation that the Holy Father was speaking of. It appears they may come from a day after that presentation, but I’m not quite sure after reading the article:

    “[The cardinal] also reiterated the document’s position that not all is black and white and that Holy Communion for remarried divorcees is one of these. “It’s a difficult discernment,” he said.
    “We all know many priests”, he said, who admit remarried divorcees to Holy Communion “without discussing or asking, and that’s a fact.” He added that it is “difficult to handle for the bishop,” and said he was “very happy” that the Pope in the document takes up the controversial approach he has adopted in Vienna.

    “This involves what he called “five attentions” made to remarried divorcees: a series of five questions the priest must ask to see how merciful and correctly they have behaved before, it can be inferred, they are able to receive Holy Communion. They include how they treat the children of their first marriages, how they treated their abandoned spouse, and how they dealt with unresolved hatred. With this approach, the sacraments “come into another light,” he said. “It’s about the way of conversion.”


    But it IS all black and white, right? I read “remaining in the Truth of Christ”, and it’s obvious that this is a doctrine that cannot be changed. I’m not doubting the Cardinal’s fidelity to Church teaching, as I’ve seen nothing suggesting the contrary thus far (again, I know not much about him), but what other light is he specifically talking about? In what way is it not a “black and white issue” that those validly married to another person while living with another should not present themselves for Holy Communion?

    I will take the Cardinals words at face value nonetheless and trust him when he says that doctrine has not been changed. I just wish there was a bit more clarity on all this from our shepherds…

  16. The holy Father’s views on marriage seem quite childish. He talks about “finding true happiness,” and a “dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment.” If anyone is setting unrealistic ideals, it is Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia. Marriage is a lot of things, including, to some extent, these, but it is very misleading to contrast this vision with the “lifelong burden” he sets in opposition (a favorite rhetorical device of his) i.e. marriage before he got it all sorted out. Marriage is hard, sometimes unpleasant (as growth often is), yet also sacred. More “rewarding” than a place to “find true happiness,” which sounds more like Disney than Holy Scripture. (Of course, the Bear only has 40 years of marriage to draw upon.)

  17. Gabriel Syme says:

    Its absurd that Francis is directing people to what Schonborn says about the document.

    Instead of telling people to listen to third parties, he himself should say what it means.

    Its his document and he should take ownership of it.

  18. StMichael71 says:

    Everyone needs to talk a big breather on this one. I really think people are just getting worked up and buying into a certain narrative about Amoris Laetitia which comes from those desperate to see change in our doctrine surrounding divorce. NOTHING in Amoris Laetitia implies any such change, at all, in the least. Criticism of nuance or emphasis or ambiguity is beside the point, because neither nuance nor emphasis nor ambiguity is authoritative teaching. So we have to look at the only concrete and direct statements which could “overturn” prior magisterial teaching. The only I can think of being construed this way is Footnote 351, but this is, in reality, entirely benign. Familiaris Consortio acknowledged cases, for example, where the (civilly divorced and) remarried (without annulment of prior valid bond), living as brother and sister, could take advantage of both Penance and the Eucharist. Francis never specifically qualifies that the people who can receive the sacraments are those in active sexual relations with their new partners, etc. Read straightforwardly, 351 echoes n0. 84 of Familiaris Consortio. You have to MISread or read INTO the document to find some contrary meaning. If anything, Amoris Laetitia is a VICTORY for the conservative voices at the Synod, as none of the objectionable language about internal forum solutions or homosexual marriages went into the exhortation. The language about pastoral charity and accompaniment is perfectly acceptable for the staunchest manualist, and we make ourselves look silly to deny it.

    Now, as for the Pope’s interview, it seems to me the Pope did not grasp the controversy over fn. 351. Which leads me to think, even more obviously, that the Pope does NOT see this as an endorsement of the controversial Kasperite position. If he really were sneaky and Jesuitical, he would highlight the change explicitly and make claims about how it fit with Catholic doctrine to allow people living in adultery to receive communion. Otherwise, nobody would accept it. But if he just seems not to “get” that anyone would read that interpretation into the footnote, it seems to me he did not intend it.

    It is also not clear to me that he understood the question about change in praxis. To be honest, I don’t think the question was very well stated. It is obvious from the context of Amoris Laetitia, even if you think that Pope Francis is a big fat liar, that he couches what he says as avoiding any change in doctrine surrounding Eucharist or indissolubility. For him to say straightforwardly that it was a change in doctrine would be silly, even if he was as devious as people seem to imply. Rather, I think he meant that there were “new possibilities” for practice. And his reference to Schoenborn is telling. Schoenborn makes no claim in his intervention about giving Eucharistic communion to the civilly remarried, so that is not what Francis is talking about. He says that we cannot give strict rules for every case a priori – which seems to me true. You might disagree on what YOU thought should have been the content of the document, or the emphases made, but it is false, pernicious, and playing directly into the hands of those who support the Kasperite position to spin this document as authorizing adultery. It does no such thing. Even if it did claim those things, let’s be honest, no theologian in their right mind would think a footnote in an apostolic exhortation could overturn established Church teaching on this matter.

  19. SimonR says:

    I can’t cope with this and I am really really exhausted with all this and angry too.

    I’m going from confusion to confusion about the exhortation. All we are left with is more questions, no answers, some vague and ambiguous statements.

    We have been talking ad nauseum about the exhortation and now we have to add this latest interview to it. What did the Pope mean? What do his words mean? It is exhausting!!!

    It is a distraction from the real purpose of our lives which is to worship and adore God.

    Peter is supposed to confirm us in our faith, not confuse us!!!!!

  20. rmichaelj says:

    Discussed AL with my local parish (NO) priest today. Asked if he knew about some of the issues in it and if he or the Bishop had any helpful plan to sort out the confusion. He conveyed he had not read the entire document, had not gotten any communication from the bishop, and seemed surprised that there was any controversy about it. He thought that it just stated we were to be more compassionate to people dealing with homosexuality and divorce. Thought that the Pope did not say (or even imply) that people in adulterous second marriages should receive communion.

    He was not aware of “the footnote” and I got the impression at first that he thought I was overreacting, but after discussing he seemed to become concerned and promised he would study on it.

    Ultimately I think this battle will be fought in the trenches down to the Parish level. I would encourage that everyone politely and compassionately put forward their concerns about AL to their parish priests. With enough feedback this might strengthen the resolve of some bishops to counteract the mass confusion likely to result.

  21. Traductora says:

    Gabriel, I commented something the other day about the fact that it is widely known that Francis didn’t write this document (it was written by Fernandez and Spadaro) and Fr Z said yes, but it’s over his name, so he owns it.

    Fr Z was right. I think one of Francis’ techniques all along has been to throw it off to “misinterpretation” or misstatements by underlings (which, significantly, he never corrected).

    I don’t know which reporter on the plane (who will never be invited back!) asked him this question but it obviously angered him and after his initial answer, he threw it off to the vague and intimidated Schonborn..

  22. Tom Piatak says:

    According to this article, Cardinal Schonborn said that footnote 351 represented a “development of doctrine” from Familiaris Consortio: http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/pope-francis-exhortation-family-organic-development-doctrine

  23. arga says:

    I agree with Gabriel Syme. It is incredible that when asked to explain a point, he refers vaguely to something someone else said about what he said! This is the pope, answering a question about his own document. An obvious inference: he actually didn’t write the document. Schoebrun et al. did. That is why he couldn’t answer the question. Is the Church in trouble or what?
    By the way I learned a lot reading all these comments. Thank you to all.

  24. tufty says:

    I honestly can not understand the seeming confusion about this document. The Pope made his intentions clear before, during, and after the Synod. There is really zero ambiguity about this document. He states most clearly that the letter of the law should be overlooked in order that couples in certain circumstances, which in the past have been labeled adulterous, not just by the Church but by Christ Himself, can receive the sacraments, including Holy Eucharist. I know this may be hard for some people to accept or believe, that the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church would say this in writing, but there it is. When asked in a press conference if that is what he meant, he said “yes.” Okay. Those are the facts. Let’s not keep going over and over the same material.
    The question now is: what is everyone going to do about it? What are we as Roman Catholics supposed to DO about this? Parsing and parsing the obvious trying to make it go away hasn’t worked in 50 years. It isn’t going to work now. What are we supposed to DO about it? What does the Clergy intend to DO about it? I think sometimes the strategy is just to talk it to death until everyone just forgets about it. Then we move on until the next swing of the wrecking ball.

  25. CatholicMD says:

    “I don’t remember the footnote”. Seriously? This demonstrates that trying to parse the Pope’s words closely is an effort in futility. I was skeptical about Cdl. Burke’s take that EG and AL were not magisterial documents, however if the Holy Father doesn’t even remember the footnote it can hardly be said that he intended to change the Church’s perennial sacramental discipline by it.

  26. “Why is it that the media who focus on this don’t see that this [communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics] is not the big issue?”

    “Why is it that they don’t see that the family, around the world, is in crisis?” he said. “That despite the family being the foundation of society, the youth today doesn’t want to get married? That the birth rates in Europe make you want to cry?”

    This actually sounds much like my suggestion here. From these comments I almost get the sense that the Pope feels that those who are divorced and civilly remarried are more or less “water over the dam,” so to speak, and with only so many battles that one can fight at once, he is looking towards the current (and perhaps more important) battle of getting people to marry in the first place, with a larger view towards increasing the numbers of practicing Catholics in order to prepare to raise an army (either spiritual or military, possibly both) ready to fight for the survival of what is left of Western civilization.

    As I have commented, in twenty years the problem of communion for the divorced and civilly remarried will go away on its own if people aren’t bothering to get married in the first place. For that matter, as others have noted, in most cases, if someone really wants to go to Mass and receive Communion, albeit sacrilegiously, no one is demanding marriage bona fides at the church doors of any parish I have ever visited. I am starting to see the image of the judge telling the lawyer who keeps pounding away at the same question, “move on, counsel!”

  27. papist says:

    Here’s the translation from The Catholic World Report:

    “Reporter: Others sustain that much has changed and that there are new openings and possibilities. For a Catholic who wants to know: are there new, concrete possibilities that didn’t exist before the publication of the exhortation or not?

    Pope Francis: I can say yes, many. But it would be an answer that is too small. I recommend that you read the presentation of Cardinal Schonborn, who is a great theologian. He was the secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and he knows the doctrine of the faith well. In that presentation, your question will find an answer.”

    So according to the Holy Father, yes, there are many concrete new possibilities. But what exactly are these new possibilities? He points us to Cardinal Schonborn’s presentation for the answer. But according to the Cardinal in this said presentation he said:

    “‘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”.” [https://zenit.org/articles/cardinal-schonborns-intervention-at-presentation-of-amoris-laetitia/]

    Very clever, or should I say Jesuitical? On the one hand it seems like Pope Francis doesn’t want to come off as unmerciful, hence his refusal to answer the question clearly; but, on the other hand, he is apparently aware that this is a matter of divine law (see his other interview). So what do? Give a vague answer that “yes, there are many new possibilities… see what Cardinal Schonborn”, and if you manage to take a look at what the Cardinal actually says, he says that there are no rules changed, and that what’s possible is simply a renewed encouragement.

  28. Bthompson says:

    What I need a desperately want from the Pope is some inkling of clarity for the priests who will be executing his directives in real life situations. I read AL hoping for an insight or a suggestion or something new that could help me better support the families to which I minister. In the end, I still don’t know what in the world the Pope wants me to do or do differently!?

    I am 150% bought in to the need for mercy as the primary lens of pastoral ministry. I am not stoning adulterers in Confession, nor beating people over the head who already are committed to changing their lives. I love to be patient but also frank and challenging with the “frequent flyers” who despise their habits of sin and want nothing more to escape the cycle of failure.

    We encourage the civilly married to marry “for real”/sacramentally. We help our people to present the best and most honest cases for the nullity of prior unions. We do literally everything we can to call those not living in accord with God’s design to reconsider their path. We all desperately want couples in “irregular” situations to correct their problems. What more can we do, but haven’t done?

  29. Lavrans says:

    I wish His Holiness would have answered the question without referring to Cardinal Schonborn, but I may have been spoiled by the run of theologian popes we have had in the recent past. I would rather have him refer to Cardinal Muller, who is the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. I would really like to read his opinion on the matter, and it seems like that would be his job. If I’m mistaken, please correct me.

    Secondly, after dealing with all of this exhortation hoopla, I am embarrassed to admit that this thought crossed my mind…”This is what happens when celibate men try to talk about marriage, sex, and family life.” I know that is a stereotypical thing to say, Father Z, but it is difficult not to think it. I read the Bear’s comment above, and it seems to convey a similar mindset as I have now. Holy celibate ordained men of the Church….teach the constant truth about marriage and family life like you always have, in simple and clear terms, and celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony for us. Other than that, perhaps talk about something else?

  30. greenlight says:

    What SimonR said. So, so tired of all this.

  31. newportson says:

    In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer notes, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” Come Holy Spirit, we need your presence!

  32. St. Irenaeus says:

    Here’s a link to Schoenborn’s introduction of the document: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2016/04/08/0241/00531.html#ens

  33. TNCath says:

    None of this is particularly surprising.
    Now matter how much we parse Amoris Laetitia to try to figure out what the Pope “really said,” it doesn’t take a theologian or even the mainstream media to figure out what he wants to say.

    The bottom line is this: even though the Pope didn’t “change doctrine,” we know where his sympathies lie. He doesn’t care who goes to Holy Communion. He as much admitted this in his airplane press conference. This document is a “wink, wink, nod, nod” as an open door for anyone who is divorced and remarrried, living a “gay” lifestyle, or living in any kind of spiritual estrangement from the Church to go ahead and receive the Sacraments, and anyone who thinks otherwise, is in denial as to what this man is ultimately up to. I say this because I’ve been in denial for a long time. After reading this document and listening to the Pope’s commentary, I don’t know how you could say otherwise.

    He chooses his words very carefully. He is purposefully ambiguous n lest he get trapped into being labeled as deviating from orthodoxy at best and promoting heresy at worst, which only propagates confusion. And as Archbishop Chaput said, “Confusion is of the devil,” which only begs the question…I never thought I’d say these things about a pope, but I’ve come to the point where I can no longer abide this man, but, who am I to judge? I’m just a Catholic who has tried to live my life according to her teachings. Now I’m being told that my conscience supersedes the doctrines I was taught? If that is the case, then nothing I’ve been taught really matters. It’s only what I think that is important. Yeah, right.

  34. thomas tucker says:

    @SimonR: I couldn’t agree more. I’m done with this.

  35. JabbaPapa says:

    Here is Cardinal Schönborn in the original French. (with audio)


    Nothing in there really shocks me, except hopefully the last ever “language event” comment from the Synod Fathers, given that his reading of the Exhortation is pretty much identical to mine.

    He makes even clearer than the Pope that any penitential path towards Absolution and Communion should likely be a lengthy and arduous one, not just some rubber stamp “catholic divorce” job.

    He explicitly mentions the Pope Emeritus and Pope Saint John Paul II as the Pope’s primary influences, with Humanae Vitae.

  36. VexillaRegis says:

    I concur with SimonR (16 apr 5:35). My head is spinning. Are we supposed to feel bad for not understanding what the Pope means?

  37. pelerin says:

    Could the answer ‘Yes and that’s it’ refer to the latter part of the question ‘who currently cannot receive Communion’ ie a confirmation of this rather than the former part of ‘Has AL changed anything for divorced and remarried couples?’ Unfortunately by being all in one sentence the former is implied.

  38. Cornelius says:

    Frankly, speaking as a sheep, I don’t hear the voice of my shepherd in AL or in these absurd plane interviews, where ambiguity is piled on ambiguity, so I’m not even listening anymore.

  39. The Astronomer says:

    Confusion reigns…discouragement increases…and so does sadness.

  40. zama202 says:

    I am playing it safe from now on.

    I am just looking for Catholic spiritual and moral direction from the Traditional Orders and Traditional Monasteries – or from diocesan priests who celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.


  41. Markus says:

    The actions of this pontificate kind of reminds me of some actions of some current national governments.

    Lost your citizenship because of divorce? No problem. We have a new program (and simplified forms) for you to regain your citizenship if you remarry. And the new process is cheaper and faster. Just go to your local district office (diocese) and apply.

    Not receiving your entitlements? Even though it is against the government’s laws and constitution to receive them? No problem. We have introduced, by executive fiat, an interpretation that may help. The loophole may be in the footnotes. While the law is being debated in court (theological conferences), it is our interpretation that there could exist a current exemption. Or we just turn the other way regarding the law. Just go to your local entitlement office (parish) and talk to the local representative (pastor). He may be able to help you get your “deserved” benefits immediately. You may be able to receive your “benefits” while this issue goes through the legal process.
    Just a simple view from the pew.

  42. juergensen says:

    Since “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33), who then is the author of all this confusion?

  43. Moro says:

    When Francis was first talking about the synod and the issue of divorce, I predicted confusion, division, and bitterness. And boy have my fears been confirmed. Nothing good has come from this. The divisions in the Church have become more entrenched. I cannot for the life of me understand why he would dive into such a ruckus. He is at best, an inept leader and should resign for the good of the church. We will be suffering the consequences of this for decades if not longer.

    ¡Hagan lio! he said, well mission accomplished. Before someone chides me for criticizing the pope I have to ask, “Who are you to judge?”

  44. Sonshine135 says:

    It seems to me then that what the Pope is saying is that on a case by case basis, some divorced and remarried couples can indeed receive communion. This means that people who are in an state of perpetual mortal sin can receive Holy Communion on a case by case basis. Though it also appears that the Pope is doing everything in his power to not come right out and say it. Now that the barn door has been cracked open, expect every manner of horse to come charging through.

  45. Doctrine has not changed. That much is clear to me. Besides what others have said, I discovered that AL links the Trinity to the family at least eight times, as well as outlining how certain natural rights of children can only be fulfilled when marriage is lifelong and between one man and one woman (AL 172). If the family is redefined, then this will undermine those other things, it seems to me.

    And it is not just a stalemate: I go even further than that. AL is an opportunity for liberal Catholics to reexamine their presuppositions about marriage, children, the family. male/female, and to bring them into alignment with historic Church teaching. After all, Pope Francis was the man for the job they hoped to accomplish. And the best they got was a footnote that he doesn’t even remember.

    Doctrine has not changed. So what is going on? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture. Remember these words?

    “Make a mess, but then also help to tidy it up. A mess which gives us a free heart, a mess which gives us solidarity, a mess which gives us hope.”

    That is from his closing remarks in South America in 2015:


    Is he making a mess that he will help to tidy up? And what is the point of the mess? To give us a free heart, solidarity and hope. After reading large portions of AL, my heart feels more free to love those in “irregular” situations (I have several in my family) and I feel more solidarity to liberal Catholics than I did before (I attend a parish where the leadership is pretty liberal).

    I dislike using the paradigm of “win/lose” in this context, but lacking something better… I honestly believe that conservatives won in AL.

  46. Peter Stuart says:

    I am a cradle Catholic with SSA (never mind a certain liberal clerical contributor to these comboxes who puts that term in scare quotes). Several years ago I reverted after the consequences of my bad choices pulled the rug out from under me.

    I got back on my feet just long enough to buy into the idea that the Church really believes what it’s supposed to have been teaching all along. Now the Pope pulls the rug out again.

    Maybe I just need to spend the rest of my life on my knees, I don’t know. I do know I’m sick and tired of being played for a fool by the Church.

  47. JKnott says:

    I was pondering a purely hypothetical question. Actually a few questions!
    If AL had been released under total anonymity (impossible I know but..) would it have received an Imprimatur as it currently is?
    Then, it seemed to follow, that since there is considerable question and confusion as to the clarity of the expectations , why has the CDF let it go without trying to reign in the confusing parts?
    Could this fall under a Carl Rogers type of “non directive therapy”?
    With the exception of some of the Vat II docs has there ever been a papal document with such ambiguity before? I don’t know but many here probably would.

  48. Traductora says:

    We all know the identity of the author of confusion (aka, Satan).

    Just in passing, Cdl Muller has not been heard from, to my knowledge. Supposedly his office sent Francis some 40 pages of corrections and observations. I doubt that Francis and his gang accepted a single one of them, or if they did on the surface, they subsequently added the footnotes to make clear their intention.

    I think some of the Curia and cardinals probably have asked Francis about some of these statements – and that was why he was so angered by a couple of the reporters’ questions.

    I know we (laity and priests and probably even a lot of bishops) feel abandoned, but I think there is perhaps something going on behind the silence of the faithful cardinals. Remember that one is supposed to confront the sinner personally and then take it to the community if he will not repent. So we shall have to see how this plays out. I don’t think, after his emboldened public statements and attacks on orthodox Catholics and now even on anybody who questions his magnificence, that it will be long now. Pray that we’re up to it.

  49. xsosdid says:

    Deliberate ambiguity is apostasy

  50. Rich says:

    This even seems like some sort of tacit concession to the fact that Amoris Laetitia needs some sort of help outside of itself with regards to its interpretation.

  51. dochm13 says:

    Everyone is focusing on fn351, which indeed a smoking gun, but there is another:

    301. “For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised. The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is (sic) can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.”

    See those air quotes around “irregular”? That’s what writers do when they believe the phrase in question is inherently fallacious. Like Catholics referring to so-called “gay” marriage. So +Francis is mocking the very notion that there is anything irregular about these relationships.

    Then comes a real show stopper. After 232 pages of set-up, +Francis attempts to abrogate the dogma of Immutability.

    “Hence it is (sic) can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

    Got that? “Can no longer be said.” What was true in the past is no longer true. That’s why He is the God of surprises. Surprisingly, He now loves moral relativism, situational ethics, divorce and adultery. Well, He might not LOVE them, but He knows there is certainly GOOD contained within them, and He wants us to discover that GOOD, and to stop being so mean.

    Someone at the Vatican must be super busy collecting every extant copy of the CCC and whiting out paragraph 2384, with those mean words about “public and permanent adultery”:

    2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery: If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.

  52. Dspauldi says:

    I am tired of trying to guess, interpret, make sense of, and understand what Pope Francis is saying.

    One of the great joys of being Catholic is that we don’t have to be theologians to know what to do. I am not one and, at 46, have not the time to become one. It is enough to read Scripture, participate in the sacraments, pray, and lead my family to do the same. I have not the time, nor the inclination to make sense of the ravings of yet another European Bishop who thinks becoming Anglican will “save” the Church.

    I will not read this 286 page treatise whose author doesn’t know what it means. I will not explore its meaning or the meaning of the Synod or any other vehicle for “modernizing” the Church. I just be Catholic and ignore this papacy and I will lay dimes to donuts that I’ll be happier for it.

    Pope Francis will meet Jesus soon enough and I’ll let the Big Man decide if this pope was a good or bad steward.

  53. tufty says:

    To Papist.

    You have manipulated the quote by adding bold in order to come to an erroneous conclusion.
    The rest of the sentence is essential to arrive at the correct conclusion.

    “What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases”.” [https://zenit.org/articles/cardinal-schonborns-intervention-at-presentation-of-amoris-laetitia/]

    Why would you stop at encouragement? The point is to encourage “pastoral discernment of particular cases.” That is the message. Pastoral discernment of particular cases. When the Pope says there is no black and white, when the Pope talks about exceptions and particular cases determining the morality of an act, when the Pope implies that there are no absolute standards which apply to everyone at all times, he is in conflict with the doctrinal and moral code of the Church which has existed since Christ. This is called SITUATION ETHICS. Many prior Popes have solemnly condemned SITUATION ETHICS. Jesus Christ Himself stated that when a man divorces his wife and takes another he commits adultery. Adultery is an intrinsically disordered act which is a grave offense against the law of God and mortally sinful in ALL cases. If a person were to receive Communion without confessing, he would be guilty of sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament, also a mortal sin.
    There are no exceptions in particular circumstances. There is black and white. There are absolutes. The Pope is not able to change the immutable moral law. This is what he is attempting to do.
    I’m not sure if everyone really understands what the issue is here, but that is it. There is absolute Truth which is applicable in all circumstances and admits absolutely no exceptions. This is the case here. The Pope is attempting to obfuscate that fact.

  54. pfhawkins says:

    The relevant portion of the official transcript is… misleading. One Peter Five went through the trouble of subtitling part of the video with an accurate translation:

    [I saw that.  Ho hum. Nothing new there. We had that here a while back, it seems to me. Not the subtitle, but what the Pope said. BTW I hope he isn’t going down the alluring road of “exclusive”, too, like another site.   Every thing’s exclusive!  That would be a disappointing. That said, as an Italian speaker, I can hear how someone – at first – might take the muffled audio to be “molto” rather than “punto”.  I didn’t, but I can hear how it could have happened.  Anyway, what the Pope really said is on the video, namely:

    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, Holiness, he wasn’t ever Secretary of the CDF.  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.  That’s what the Pope really said.  And, note well, that that “punto” isn’t as severe a doorslam as it would be were a democrat pol like POTUS to have used it.  Francis doesn’t like this topic, but it wasn’t like “ENOUGH!”]

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