Official LATIN version of ‘Amoris laetitia’ promulgated in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis

17_06_27_AAS_AmorisAt the beginning of the sad and confusing controversy that has surrounded the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, with its objectively ambiguous statements that have pitted bishops’ conference against conference, diocese against diocese, parish against parish, family against family, I suggested that, since the true, official version of documents is to be found in the Acta Apostolica Sedis, the Exhortation could be tidied up and made clear. Latin, along with being the Church’s official language, is great for clarity.

Edit the document and fix it for the official Latin version, I opined.  BAMMO!  Controversy concluded, the Four Cardinals get their answers to their dubia, some of the chaos subsides, things settle down.

Alas… or rather Heu!

I see now that Amoris laetitia is finally out in the Acta in the April 2016 issue (no no… they’re not behind at all… no no, who says it’s the age of modern communications?).


“But Father! But Father!”, some of you eager church-shredding beavers are barking, “What about the wonderful ‘Footnote 351’, the most wonderfulest footnote ehvur in the history of all pastóreal footnotes?  We love ‘Footnote 351’ because it undermines the mean institutional ‘church’ and sings a new faith community into being born of the spirit of THE Council which YOU HATE!”

Yes, the Latin version has the infamous Footnote 351:

351 Quibusdam in casibus esse etiam potest subsidium Sacramentorum. Quapropter, « sacerdotibus memoramus confessionale esse non debere aulam tormenti, sed locum Dominicae misericordiae » (Adhort. Ap. Evangelii gaudium [24 Novembris 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). Dicimus pariter Eucharistiam « non esse praemium perfectorum, sed debilium munificum remedium et alimoniam » (ibid., 47: 1039).

What the vernacular unofficial (English) version said:

Alas, the LATIN was not the original language of composition… a fact which in the history of facts was never more obvious.

How many problems could be avoided were Latin still the language of composition?  Now, de facto, the official version in the Acta is a translation.  But, de iure, with its promulgation it is now the official version to which all other versions must adhere.

Every vernacular version is now out of date.

This is a problem for scholarship, of course.  The problem is that virtually everyone now refers to the vernacular versions that were issued at the time of the press conferences for documents.  Months later the LATIN is issued in the AAS and THAT becomes the official version!  Who goes back and double checks to see if there were changes? If the Latin provides a different nuance?

QUAERITUR: Was His Holiness the Pope waiting for the definitive Latin to be promulgated in the AAS before making his response to the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia?  

If I were still in Rome and around the Press Office, I’d ask that question of the Papal Spokesman.

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    The Latin text is also on the Vatican website:

    I must admit I am surprised. It had seemed that Apostolic Exhortations would not appear in Latin (i.e., Evangelii Gaudium, and some others…).

  2. Back pew sitter says:

    It is good and necessary to have the authoritative Latin text, but I don’t see how this casts much light on the issue. Or am I missing something?

    Yes, obviously this footnote has been interpreted as teaching that the divorced and ‘remarried’ can receive Holy Communion while continuing to live as though they are married. But one can also regard that as a ridiculous and ‘impossible’ interpretation (as does Cardinal Mueller – and so do I).

    I don’t think AL teaches heresy. It’s flaw (apparently deliberate) lies in the ambiguity which allows conflicting interpretations. Yes, the Pope must clarify AL as the Cardinals have requested. I just don’t see how this Latin text moves anything forward.

  3. JabbaPapa says:


    I see that what and who “the footnote” refers to is : Itaque, Pastor sibi placere non potest, leges morales solummodo imponens iis, qui in “irregularibus” condicionibus versantur, quasi si petrae
    sint quae in vitam personarum iaciantur.

    “those who have put themselves in “irregular” relationships”, condicio meaning marriage or sexual relationship in this context.

    Rather than “those living in “irregular” situations” or “coloro che vivono in situazioni “irregolari” “.

    So the Latin is anyway more specific and precise than the original vagueness of “irregular” situations.

  4. Father Bartoloma says:

    Oh yeah. The “aula tormenti”. That was the classroom I was in at the Greg.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  5. Aegidius says:

    Dear Father, please help me with this: What exactly is the difference between the vernacular version and the (translated) original in Latin? Probably both my English and my Latin understanding does not get the shades of meaning that are necessary here.

  6. ChesterFrank says:

    and I wonder if segments of the Latin version will be translated and dissected in typical WDTPRS fashion. I also wonder how a version in the Popes native tongue would translate.

  7. ASPM Sem says:

    Father, what would your “What Does the Exhortation Really Say?” slavishly literal translation be?

  8. ChesterFrank says:

    Ha! That’s precisely what I want to know.

  9. Mike says:

    One’s credulity can only be stretched so far, whether in Latin or any other tongue. Mine snapped back around the issuance of the global warmism encyclical.

  10. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The Latin language being so rich, the translator must have meant something by using “alimoniam” for “nourishment” in a footnote discussing divorce.

  11. Eliane says:

    To whoever wrote and/or translated ‘Amoris laetitia’ I would like to offer thanks for correcting the widespread misconceptions that confessionals are torture chambers and Holy Communion a prize for the perfect. I would also like honor such such person with the title of Master of the Obvious.

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    “I don’t think AL teaches heresy.”

    What’s the line between teaching heresy and merely encouraging heretical practices?

  13. Back pew sitter says:

    Henry Edwards, I see you are quoting me.

    I think AL is a toxic document. It has led to grave error which imperils souls. I would be delighted for it to be recalled and consigned to the dustbin of ecclesiastical history. [That’s not going to happen.]

    There seems little doubt too that the error is consistent with the intention of Pope Bergoglio. However, where does AL actually teach – clearly and precisely – something that goes against the Catholic faith? It doesn’t. The exhortation and its author may merit criticism and censure – but in my view a charge that AL actually teaches heresy is not sustainable.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    “I would be delighted for it to be recalled and consigned to the dustbin of ecclesiastical history.”

    I would just be happy for AL to be treated like any other post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Sad, but in this case… AL is treated like the 5th Gospel, where other brilliant and beautiful post-synodal apostolic exhortations have been largely forgotten about, at least by comparison.

  15. iprimap says:

    I am not a great Latinist like many here (since my vocation is in being an engineer at “Neutrons ‘R Us”), but I did my own translation of footnote 351 and whether the footnote is translated literally as I did or in a paraphrased fashion as the English from the Vatican did, I don’t think much of a difference is made:

    Latin for Footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia

    Quibusdam in casibus esse etiam potest subsidium Sacramentorum.

    Quapropter, «sacerdotibus memoramus confessionale esse non debere aulam tormenti, sed locum Dominicae misericordiae».

    Dicimus pariter Eucharistiam «non esse praemium perfectorum, sed debilium munificum remedium et alimoniam»

    Literal Translation

    And also [besides, furthermore, in addition] the help [relief, reinforcement] of the Sacraments is able to be in certain cases [chances, fortunes, accidents, emergencies, calamities, plights, fates].

    Wherefore we remind [mention to] the priests that the confessional ought not to be a hall [church, temple, palace, castle, inner court] of torment [windlass, rack, tension, pressure, torture], but a place of the Lord’s mercy [pity, sympathy, compassion, pathos].

    We say equally [together] that the Eucharist is not a prize [reward, gift, recompense] of the perfect [completed, excellent], but a munificent [bountiful, liberal] remedy [cure, medicine] and food [nourishment, nurture] of the weak [feeble, frail, crippled, disabled, wanting, deprived].

    Vatican’s Translation

    In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments.

    Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy”

    I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”.

    Thank God I got sober 30+ years ago when at Confession the priest (who was my sponsor’s sponsor in a 12 step program) didn’t hold back but said, “If you don’t stop fornicating with prostitutes, then you’ll drink or drug again and be in worse condition than you are now, assuming the drink or drug doesn’t kill you first.”

  16. JabbaPapa says:

    iprimap, the footnote itself is far less theologically questionable than whom it’s claimed by sundry rad-liberals to refer to — the footnote states that the Sacraments are good and that they can provide healing. Indisputable. The issue is — to whom exactly does the footnote refer ?


  18. PatriciusOenus says:

    iprimap, You are absolutely correct in your translation of “praemium perfectorum, sed debilium”. The Vatican translator surely intended to write “praemium perfectis, sed debilibus” (cf. Cic. Mur. 4.8). But we need to cut these translators some slack; what a thankless job they have!

  19. KateD says:

    I stumbled upon this today and feel it’s apropos…

    “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” Hebrews 13:10

    …especially in light of the surrounding context regarding marriage and strange teachings.

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