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Vatican launch for cardinal’s book defending German/Maltese bishops’ reading of Amoris Laetitia

February 14, 2017

The Vatican press has published a short book by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio arguing that Amoris Laetitia allows for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some cases.

Cardinal Coccopalmerio is the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts: the top Vatican body for the interpretation of canon law. His position, and the fact that his book is published by the Vatican press, indicate that the work is intended as a semi-official response to questions about the proper interpretation of the papal document.

That impression was strengthened by the announcement of a February 14 press conference at the Vatican to introduce the book. However, in an unexpected development, Cardinal Coccopalmerio failed to appear for the press conference, leaving a theology professor and an Italian journalist to introduce the work. His office later offered the explanation that the cardinal had a scheduling conflict.

In the 40-page book, entitled The Eighth Chapter of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Coccopalmerio says that Amoris Laetitia expresses “with absolute clarity all the elements of the doctrine on marriage in full consistency and fidelity to the traditional teachings of the Church.”

Nevertheless the cardinal argues that Catholics who are divorced and remarried may receive the Eucharist under two conditions: that they “wish to change this situation, but cannot realize their desire.” He argues that in some cases, insisting on sexual continence in a second union could threaten the union and the welfare of children. In such cases, the cardinal says, the individual may “be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.”

Although his official Vatican role enables him to speak with authority about canonical issues, Cardinal Coccopalmerio says that he wrote the book to discuss the “rich doctrinal and pastoral message” of Amoris Laetitia. His intepretation of the document conflicts directly with that of the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who has said that Amoris Laetitia does not change the Church’s traditional teaching that divorced and remarried Catholics can receive the Eucharist only if they make the commitment to live as brother and sister.

Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s argument matches that of the German bishops (among others), who have pushed for a change in the Church’s teaching. During the October 2014 meeting of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Coccopalmerio had sided with the German bishops in supporting the “Kasper proposal.”

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Feb. 15, 2017 5:52 AM ET USA

    I'm so sorry, but I've finally reached the place where anything coming out of Francis' Vatican is ignored. I think I will just have to suffer through this Pontificate. Jesus asked if on His return would the Son of Man find any faith on earth. I've come to view this Pontificate as a test.

  • Posted by: Travelling - Feb. 15, 2017 3:17 AM ET USA

    Utter rubbish. The Cardinal is speaking nonsense.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Feb. 15, 2017 12:51 AM ET USA

    This is a joke, right?

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Feb. 14, 2017 10:53 PM ET USA

    Here we go again with anything goes crowd. How often does this battle have to be fought? Cardinal Muller has it right. The Dubai questions still deserve an answer from the Pope if his pride isn't too hurt.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Feb. 14, 2017 9:47 PM ET USA

    "Amoris Laetitia" simply doesn't provide "absolute clarity," and we don't need any more "semi-official responses." We need one unambiguous public response, and that from the Holy Father. Not curial cardinals, newspaper editors, presidents of bishops' conferences, recipients of private letters, or anybody else. Just the pope.

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Feb. 14, 2017 9:04 PM ET USA

    We are left speechless as the Church seems to split further and further apart. It is not only the Church that is apparently adrift, but whole classes of people as well that find correct morals in our Church. That influence for good that was the very heart of society is being tossed to the wind, to be replaced by man made morality. We seem to have assumed to ourselves the knowledge of good and evil. And yet, adultery is adultery. We can not change what Our Lord established.

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 14, 2017 7:54 PM ET USA

    "Card. Coccopalmerio says that Amoris Laetitia expresses 'with absolute clarity all the elements of the doctrine on marriage in full consistency and fidelity to the traditional teachings of the Church.'" If that is - in all honesty - the case, then why does anyone need Amoris Laetitia at all? If Amoris adds nothing and changes nothing of the traditional teachings of the doctrine of the Church, then the said teachings are sufficiently extensive and perfectly clear already. What's really going on?