ASK FATHER: Could the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issue a binding interpretation of #AmorisLaetitia

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

As a recent convert and a lawyer (but definitely not a canon lawyer), in view of Pope Francis’ recent endorsement of the broad view of AL, can the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issue a binding interpretation of AL.

Sure.  The Congregation can do this.  We have the famous case of the explanation of Ordinatio sacerdotalis.

However, just as in the case of Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the Holy Father would have to sign off on such a document and order its publication.

Even were the CDF to draft such a thing (itself hard to do without the knowledge of the Pope), is it likely that Francis would approve it?

When it comes to documents, Francis holds all the cards.  Congregations are merely extensions of his own office.  He delegates his authority to group A his task about subject A, to B his task about B, etc.

Some sharing options...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, The Drill and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to ASK FATHER: Could the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issue a binding interpretation of #AmorisLaetitia

  1. Geoffrey says:

    What is the proper recourse? Write a letter? Pray that cardinals and bishops band together and express their concerns? I do not think this has ever happened before…

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    We are asking about whether the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should issue a binding interpretation of one footnote in Amoris Laetitia, which is problematic if and only if one were to insist on interpreting it in a heterodox manner.

    Meanwhile, none of the following have “changed” :

    Catechism of the Catholic Church : 1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”160 the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

    2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

    Can. 1085 §1. A person bound by the bond of a prior marriage, even if it was not consummated, invalidly attempts marriage.

    §2. Even if the prior marriage is invalid or dissolved for any reason, it is not on that account permitted to contract another before the nullity or dissolution of the prior marriage is established legitimately and certainly.

    Can. 1096 §1. For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.

    Can. 1101 §1. The internal consent of the mind is presumed to conform to the words and signs used in celebrating the marriage.

    §2. If, however, either or both of the parties by a positive act of the will exclude marriage itself, some essential element of marriage, or some essential property of marriage, the party contracts invalidly.

    Can. 1107 Even if a marriage was entered into invalidly by reason of an impediment or a defect of form, the consent given is presumed to persist until its revocation is established.

  3. allenmurphy says:

    Speculation about an invalid conclave based on collusion of some Cardinals. If we believe a pope cannot err when speaking definitively in matters of faith and morals ( ex cathedra or ordinary magisterium), is it possible Francis is not the Vicar of Christ? Could Benedict be retaining the office?

  4. ldunne says:

    I would say: no . . . at least, not without the “common” assent of the Pope.

    The CDF does participate in the ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff (as per its own Donum Veritatis, no. 18), but it does not supersede or replace it. But, I think, it’s a question about whether on its own it make binding interpretations of Papal statements.

    This is a dangerous matter for some “Conservatives” who seem to want to use the CDF as an “end-run” around a Pope they truly find it hard to like.

  5. ldunne says:

    I meant: ” . . . it COULD make . . . ” above.

  6. PhilipNeri says:

    allenmurphy, if collusion invalidates a conclave then we are in real trouble, starting pretty much from the first conclave in the 12th c. Francis is the Pope.

    I noted on Facebook that CathProgs don’t need the Pope’s permission to do what they want to do. They just do it. Faithful Catholics follow the rules and always will (to the best of their ability). A “binding interpretation” from the CDF or the Pope or anyone else won’t make any difference to the CathProgs. They will do what they always do: create loopholes, spin ambiguity, claim pastoral need, and basically just whatever they *feel* like doing.

    If I had a dime for every time one of my studium profs read a Vatican document in a way that completely undermined its intent. . .I’d have a much larger library.

    It has always been thus.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP (Order of Pessimists)

  7. TWF says:

    Allen: the Pope hasn’t exercised infallibility. The Pope only personally exercises the Church’s infallibility when defining doctrine definitely ex cathedra. This is exceedingly rare. Yes the Ordinary Magisterium is infallible – but this doesn’t necessarily mean the ordinary magisterium of one pope – it means the consistent teaching of the ENTIRE college of bishops, United to the Bishop of Rome, in every time and place, is infallible.

  8. Joe in Canada says:

    I would prefer not. Leave it unspecified by the Holy Father, and pray.

  9. robtbrown says:

    TWF says:

    Allen: the Pope hasn’t exercised infallibility. The Pope only personally exercises the Church’s infallibility when defining doctrine definitely ex cathedra. This is exceedingly rare. Yes the Ordinary Magisterium is infallible – but this doesn’t necessarily mean the ordinary magisterium of one pope – it means the consistent teaching of the ENTIRE college of bishops, United to the Bishop of Rome, in every time 

    The ex cathedra infallibility of the pope is not limited to definitions (cf Vat I and Vat II).

  10. JabbaPapa says:

    The Pope has not exercised infallibility in this matter because no phrases to indicate infallibility, such as “all the Faithful must believe” and so on, have been used.

  11. Precentrix says:

    @Fr Philip Neri

    “I’d have a much larger library…”

    First laugh I’ve had all day!

  12. Three_Kings says:

    The Holy Father is infallible with regards to faith and morals when speaking ex cathedra, and like all bishops, when teaching from the Ordinary AND Universal Magisterium. Him merely teaching from his ordinary magisterium requires only religious asent from the faithful but does not require divine faith.