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Italian cardinal: Pope has no power to change teaching on marriage

March 24, 2014

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of said that the discussion of marriage at the Synod of Bishops should be guided by the teachings of Blessed John Paul II, and that the Church cannot alter her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, in an interview last week with an Italian publication.

Cardinal Caffara told Il Foglio that in the current debate within the Church about marriage, not enough attention is being paid to the work of Pope John Paul II, whose “theology of the body” laid out a comprehensive vision of the Christian understanding of marriage. That vision is badly needed in society today, he said. “We are moving toward some sort of framework, be it ethical or juridical, that relegates marriage and the family to a sphere of purely private emotions, entirely divorced from civic and social life,” he observed.

The Italian prelate argued that when the Christian perspective is put forth energetically, people readily understand and accept it. But not enough preachers make that effort, he said.

Cardinal Caffara remarked that calls for change in the Church’s teaching about marriage do not reflect a worldwide consensus. He observed, for instance, that while Catholics the German-speaking world may demand change, those in Africa strongly support the current teaching. Regarding suggestions that the Church should accept second marriages, he said: “So the first marriage, is it dissolved? But all the popes have always taught that the Pope has no authority over this. The Pope does not have the power to dissolve a valid and consummated marriage.”


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