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Amoris Laetitia: The Fog Thickens

November 20, 2017
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller and Cardinal Raymond Burke pictured at a Pontifical High Mass in St. Peter’s basilica to mark the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Sept. 16, 2017. (Edward Pentin photo)

On November 14, one year to the day since the publication of the dubia, Cardinal Burke was interviewed by National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin.

One year has passed since the publication of the dubia, five questions about Amoris Laetitiasubmitted to Pope Francis by Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller, together with Cardinals Meisner and Caffara, both recently deceased.

The Cardinal affirmed in the November 14th interview that confusion surrounding the proper interpretation of Amoris Laetitia has made the situation of the Church “ever more urgent,” and is “continually worsening.”

Amoris Laetitia Not an Expression of the Magisterium

With reference to Amoris Laetitia, he said that “by their very nature, affirmations that lack…clarity cannot be qualified expressions of the magisterium.” He pointed out also that those who hold that Church discipline has changed with regard to reception of the Eucharist by those in an objective state of sin “contradict each other when it comes to explaining the reasons and the consequences.” He surmises that “the goal of the interpreters is to arrive, in whatever way, at a change in discipline, while the reasons they adduce to this end are of no importance, nor do they show any concern about how much they put into danger essential matters of the deposit of faith.”

Attack on the Nature of Morality and the Sacraments

Cardinal Burke speaks of two pernicious consequences of this situation: firstly “a paradigm shift regarding the Church’s entire moral practice,” in which moral norms become relative and subjective consciences are given primacy in matters of morals.

The second effect of the cloud of confusion surrounding Amoris Laetitia is, according to Cardinal Burke, an erosion of “the sense of the ecclesial sacramental practice.” “The decisive criterion for admission to the sacraments has always been the coherence of a person’s way of life with the teachings of Jesus.” If the criterion becomes an absence of subjective culpability, “one would endanger the very regula fidei, the rule of faith, which the sacraments proclaim and actuate not only by words, but also by visible gestures.”

Another Plea for Clarity

“One year after rendering public the dubia,” Cardinal Burke told Mr. Pentin in conclusion:

I again turn to the Holy Father and to the whole Church, emphasizing how urgent it is that… the Pope should confirm his brothers in the faith with a clear expression of the teaching regarding both Christian morality and the meaning of the Church’s sacramental practice.”

USCCB to Develop Pastoral Plan Based on Amoris Laetita

On November 14, 2017, LifeSite News reported that Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, NY, of the US bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, was asked by a member of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property whether Amoris Laetitia allows Catholics living in adultery to receive Communion.

“That’s not an answer I’m going to provide for you,” was the Bishop’s response. “It’s not in my provenance [sic] to respond to that question right here.”

On the same day, the USCCB voted 223 to 12, with three abstentions, to develop a formal “Renewed Pastoral Plan for Marriage and Family Life Ministry and Advocacy” in light of Amoris Laetitia.

A Referendum on Pope Francis?

Another event at the US bishops’ meeting was portrayed by some media groups, including news service Crux, as a referendum on Pope Francis’ popularity: the election of a new head for the bishops’ committee on pro-life issues. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City was chosen over Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was a favorite of progressives for the role and, according to Christopher White, writing for Crux on November 14, “considered a protégé of Francis.”

However, bishops on both sides denied there was any question of acting for or against Pope Francis. The Catholic Herald reported that the editor of the Catholic News Agency, JD Flynn, tweeted after the vote:

CNA has talked with bishops who emphasize this is not a referendum on Francis. Bishops voting for both candidates told me it was only about trying to discern the best fit.”

While conservative Catholics have been celebrating Archbishop Naumann’s election, commentator Phil Lawler at has pointed out that the main reason for celebration is not that Archbishop Naumann will make any dramatic changes for the better (although his stance on pro-life issues has been historically conservative), but rather that the pro-life committee has been spared Cardinal Blase Cupich, who would undoubtedly have made radical changes for the worse. In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, Cardinal Cupich articulated his position on abortion, writing that it is a problem on the same level as poverty, unemployment and other social justice issues.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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