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Quick Hits: Will Amoris Laetitia make a difference? Why Vatileaks trial is not a press-freedom case

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 04, 2016

  • As we await the publication of the apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the question everyone is asking is whether or not Pope Francis will make some provision for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Vatican-watcher John Allen takes an unusual approach to that question, arguing that for practical purposes, this might not make much difference in the lives of ordinary Catholics. Among the relatively few divorced/remarried Catholics who attend church regularly, Allen observes, many (perhaps even most?) are already receiving Communion, with the tacit consent of their pastors. But that’s only part of the story. If the Pope gives the green light to a practice that is now illicit, pastors who have been ignoring the rules will once again be vindicated, while priests who have been following the Church’s established discipline will be left looking backward—again. The net result will be encouragement for priests to ignore the rules and do what they want. That would be a very dangerous development for the faithful Catholic laity, for whom the rules are the only protection against the whims of their clergy.

  • In an interview with the same John Allen, New York’s Cardinal Dolan argues that divorce will not be the key issue in the apostolic exhortation. Questioned about a possible change on that issue, however, the cardinal mentions: “Of course, there’s a conservative approach to the internal forum solution that most conservative canonists and theologians have defended forever.” There is? I can’t say I’m familiar with it. Of course I’m not an expert. But I don’t think King Henry VIII was familiar with that solution, either, and he had excellent canonical advice from his chancellors, Cardinal Wolsey and St. Thomas More.

  • And here’s something else I hadn’t been told: Until I read this column by Vatican-watcher Andrea Gagliarducci, I was not aware that the two Italian Journalists who are defendants in the “Vatileaks II” trial were not simply passive recipients of leaked documents. According to testimony heard by the Vatican tribunal, the journalists were given passwords that enabled them to pilfer documents from Vatican computers. So this isn’t a freedom-of-the-press case, Gagliarducci concludes. As the Vatican has said all along, the defendants are being charged with stealing documents, which is universally recognized as a crime.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Apr. 06, 2016 3:57 PM ET USA

    "Might not make much difference"? Any change that somehow allows access to Holy Communion for persons in an objective state of Mortal Sin is one heck of a difference. In fact it is an incomprehensible scandal and would destroy the whole structure of morals. It can't happen. And even in some form of 'reformable' or retractable teaching it would do grave harm to the Church and to all the people who have observed the present understanding. Don't go there even in speculation - it is death.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Apr. 06, 2016 1:44 PM ET USA

    IF The Pope changes anything that substantively modifies or further simplifies the treatment of divorced/remarried/offending/offended persons in the matter of the permanence of Marriage or access to Holy Communion or toleration of same, it will cause grave moral harm, dismay, deep hurt, a scandal and a true challenge to Faith of persons, however many or few, who observed what is, in fact, an immutable understanding of Faith and morals. Please God, no new loopholes for poor Henry VIII