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Italian cardinal: ‘only a blind man’ denies confusion over Amoris Laetita

January 16, 2017

An Italian cardinal has argued that “only a blind man could deny that there’s great confusion, uncertainty, and insecurity in the Church” because of Amoris Laetitia.

Cardinal Carlo Caffara, the retired Archbishop of Bologna, spoke out strongly in an interview with the Italian daily Il Foglio. Cardinal Caffara—one of the four cardinals who submitted dubia to Pope Francis asking for clarification of the papal document—said that the confusion involves “extremely serious questions for the life of the Church and the eternal salvation of the faithful.”

“In recent months, on some very fundamental questions regarding the sacraments, such as marriage, confession and the Eucharist, and the Christian life in general,” the Italian prelate said. He observed that diocesan bishops have contradictory interpretations of the Pope’s document, and announced radically different policies.

“There is only one way to get to the bottom” of the confusion, Cardinal Caffara reasoned: “to ask the author of the text.” It was for that reason that he joined in submitting the dubia, he said. He decried as “false and calumnious” the charge that the dubia have caused divisions within the Church. “The division that already exists in the Church is the cause, not the effect,” of the plea for papal clarification, he said.

Cardinal Caffara also rejected the argument that a new policy, allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, would represent a development of doctrine. “There is no evolution where there is contradiction,” he said, and the proposed development contradicts previous Church teaching.

The cardinal dismissed the claim that the ‘Kasper proposal’ represents an emphasis on pastoral practice rather than theological doctrine. “

To conceive a pastoral practice not founded and rooted in doctrine means founding and rooting pastoral practice on inclination,” he said. “A Church that pays little attention to doctrine is not a more pastoral Church, but a more ignorant Church.”

 
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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jan. 18, 2017 10:32 AM ET USA

    Hartwood01 speaks of an ossified institution. This is evident, but not in the way he intends it. St. JPII and Benedict XVI both worked tirelessly to overcome the ossification of the first half of the 20th century. But more importantly, these popes, recognizing the new rigidity imposed on the Church in the West by the "spirit of Vatican II," implemented reforms that would bring the Church back to her original moorings in Christ. Among their greatest reforms were the liturgical and the doctrinal.

  • Posted by: claude-ccc2991 - Jan. 17, 2017 4:39 AM ET USA

    The way we can tell whether the Holy Spirit is moving through Pope Francis or not is the principle of continuity with Sacred Tradition. If a new teaching cannot be extended from the old, or contradicts it, then it violates the principle, which cannot be the Holy Spirit. Amoris violates established teaching -- adultery, conscience, the connection between moral principle and the morality of a human act -- and so Francis is not being moved by the Holy Spirit, at least on those particular matters.

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Jan. 17, 2017 12:30 AM ET USA

    Anyone who suggests that truth is not immutable is not receptive but at war with the Holy Spirit. Truth is sourced only in God, not ourselves. We can only respond in honest acceptance of truth or dishonest sophistry.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jan. 16, 2017 7:40 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis is trying to pry open the windows on an ossified institution to allow the Spirit to move freely among the faithful. Resistance is expected.

  • Posted by: WBSM - Jan. 16, 2017 7:19 PM ET USA

    Confusion is by the Maltese and Argentine bishops and others who attribute to AL things that are contrary to the Gospel. It is confusing when prelates disregard the words of the Gospel. The Pope hasn't done that. I am not sure it was wise to make the dubia public. Perhaps a little more patience would have been more prudent. Card. Müller spoke right. AL can be only interpreted in the light of previous magisterial teaching (and, of course, in accordance with the Gospel). Period.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jan. 16, 2017 6:50 PM ET USA

    This is exactly right, and it goes right to the nature of the family, the covenant between Jesus and the Church, and the eternal welfare we all aspire to for all humanity. This is the road the Anglicans trod to their detriment back in the nineteenth century.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Jan. 16, 2017 5:59 PM ET USA

    More courageous--and true--statements from members of the Church's heirarchy are what we need ... along with their acknowledgment and acceptance by Pope Francis. There is no evolution where there is contradiction, and we should move far away from the threat of becoming a more ignorant Church, as described by these wise words.

  • Posted by: ALC - Jan. 16, 2017 5:39 PM ET USA

    He's right that the confusion exists because of the document, not because of the dubia. If the Pope allows individual bishops to make their own determinations contrary to previous Church teaching, he is creating a division that is very dangerous and schismatic.