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Archbishop Chaput answers criticism on view of Amoris Laetitia

November 17, 2016

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has reacted strongly to criticism by Cardinal-designate Kevin Farrell about his implementation of Amoris Laetitia.

In an interview with the Catholic News Service, Archbishop Chaput rebutted the notion that he had been hasty in issuing guidelines for the implementation of the papal document in his own archdiocese. Asked why he had issued those guidelines, he replied: “Because both the final Synod document and Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia encouraged local bishops to do so.” He continued:

Actually you ask a a rather odd question. It’s more sensible to ask: Why would a bishop delay interpreting and applying Amoris Laetitia for the benefit of his people? On a matter as vital as sacramental marriage, hesitation and ambiguity are neither wise nor charitable.

Archbishop Chaput also disagreed with the complaint of Cardinal-designate Farrell—the prefect of the new Vatican dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life—that his guidelines had failed to take into account the special circumstances and difficulties that some married couples may face. He responded:

I wonder if Cardinal-designate Farrell actually read and understood the Philadelphia guidelines he seems to be questioning. The guidelines have a clear emphasis on mercy and compassion. This makes sense because individual circumstances are often complex. Life is messy. But mercy and compassion cannot be separated from truth and remain legitimate virtues. The Church cannot contradict or circumvent Scripture and her own magisterium without invalidating her mission. This should be obvious. The words of Jesus himself are very direct and radical on the matter of divorce.

In answer to the Vatican official’s suggestion that the US bishops’ conference should discuss a nationwide policy on implementation of Amoris Laetitia, Archbishop Chaput—who chairs a committee formed for that task—said that the panel had already solicited suggestions from bishops around the country and presented a report to the leadership of the episcopal conference.

Archbishop Chaput voiced some dismay, however, that Archbishop Farrell had suggested that individual diocesan bishops should not issue their own guidelines. The national episcopal conference has no authority over a diocesan bishop, he pointed out. He went on: “As a former resident bishop, the cardinal-designate surely knows this, which makes his comments all the more puzzling in the light of our commitment to fraternal collegiality.”

The full text of Archbishop Chaput’s interview with Catholic News Service was immediately made public by the Philadelphia archdiocese.


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Show 16 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 19, 2016 2:11 PM ET USA

    I strongly disagree with Cincinnatus. I just carefully read A. Chaput's pastoral guidelines. Nowhere in these guidelines can I find inconsistency and confusion. On the contrary, every sentence is in line with time-tested pastoral guidance in matters of human sexuality. Equally importantly, nowhere is there inconsistency or confusion with _the letter_ of Amoris laetitia. The guidelines are concise, precise, and timely examples of pastoral compassion and truth. What does "ambiguous drafting" mean?

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Nov. 18, 2016 9:56 PM ET USA

    If Benedict XVI had remained Pope and done nothing more than sit quietly in the Papal gardens for the last three years, the Church would be healthier — or at least, less confused — than it has become under Pope Francis.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Nov. 18, 2016 4:21 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis wanted it "messy", and that's how he's getting it. What a shame.

  • Posted by: unum - Nov. 18, 2016 12:02 PM ET USA

    Sounds like a rocky start for a Cardinal-designate! Christ calls the clergy to work together in His Church for the benefit of the faithful. It's hard to see the benefit in the Cardinal-designate's remarks.

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Nov. 18, 2016 9:58 AM ET USA

    We will need our faithful bishops more and more in the coming days...I pray for them daily, Archbishop Chaput especially.

  • Posted by: jimr451 - Nov. 18, 2016 7:38 AM ET USA

    Great rebuttal by Archbishop Chaput. He's my bishop, and I've noticed his comments always reflect a great deal of thought and prayer on the topic at hand. In this case he is trying to bring clarity where great confusion has been introduced, and for myself, I'm glad he's not backing down.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 18, 2016 6:04 AM ET USA

    "The Church cannot contradict or circumvent Scripture and her own magisterium without invalidating her mission. This should be obvious." The Pope has the duty to reaffirm the brethren; as this controversy grows and hostility becomes more open and even more bitter. The pope has been called upon to confirm established teaching. As time goes by and those proposing something novel "dig in" things will get no easier for anyone. This is a big problem that should be put to rest by Pope Francis.

  • Posted by: Cincinnatus - Nov. 18, 2016 12:45 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Chaput has over-reacted and has personalized his disagreement with Cardinal-Designate Farrell in a manner that ill-befits a shepherd of souls. As a substantive matter, the Philadelphia Guidelines are inconsistent and confusing, largely because of their ambiguous drafting, and perhaps that is why the Cardinal-Desiignate suggested the might have benefitted from wider consultation.

  • Posted by: Louise01 - Nov. 17, 2016 11:40 PM ET USA

    Hurray for Archbishop Chaput!

  • Posted by: WNS3234 - Nov. 17, 2016 11:15 PM ET USA

    I wonder if the Antiochian and Alexandrian theologians of the 4th & 5th centuries and the Patriarchs and bishops at Nicaea I to Nicea II would find the disputations about Amoris Laetitia vaguely familiar. THIS is already ugly and the social redefinitions of marriage and family life, human sexuality, right/wrong seem to be the new Arianism infecting Catholicism complete with battling bishops. The problems Leo XIII confronted in Arcanum look to have leached into pastoral care as the new norm.

  • Posted by: johnmaria6985 - Nov. 17, 2016 10:19 PM ET USA

    May the Lord bless Archnbishop Chaput and raise up others with the courage to stand strong.

  • Posted by: FredC - Nov. 17, 2016 9:27 PM ET USA

    Thank you, Archbishop Chaput.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Nov. 17, 2016 8:12 PM ET USA

    Now there is a real shot across the bow! I with Archbishop Chaput.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Nov. 17, 2016 7:52 PM ET USA

    Perhaps Pope Francis could clarify, as four Cardinals recently asked him to do.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Nov. 17, 2016 7:02 PM ET USA

    God bless him for fighting back against the Alinsky spirit that has made its way into even the highest levels.

  • Posted by: Scott W - Nov. 17, 2016 6:53 PM ET USA

    One of these two men is receiving much greater prestige than the other in this life. Difficult not to imagine that one man seeks prestige as the world gives prestige.