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Papal ghostwriter apparently copied his own work into Amoris Laetitia

January 16, 2017

Sections of Amoris Laetitia are copied from an essay written more than 20 years ago by a close associate of Pope Francis, a Catholic University professor has revealed.

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Writing in Crux, Michael Pakaluk shows that a footnote in the controversial Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, and other passages from the papal document, are drawn almost verbatim from an article published in 1995 by Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez. Since the Argentine archbishop is known to be an adviser to the Pope, and is believed to have drafted the encyclical Laudato Si’, it seems most likely that Archbishop Fernandez also helped to draft Amoris Laetitia, and incorporated some of his own previous work into the document.

The use of material from an earlier essay raises new questions about the papal document, Pakaluk observes. Are the passages in question the teaching of the magisterium, or the thoughts of Archbishop Fernandez? Has the archbishop deliberately exploited his position to give his ideas—which were controversial at the time of their first appearance, and contain at least one grossly inaccurate quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas—the stamp of papal approval? And has Archbishop Fernandez needlessly embarrassed the Pontiff by using his own words. As Pakaluk observes, “In secular contexts, a ghostwriter who exposed the author he was serving to charges of plagiarism would be dismissed as reckless.”


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jan. 16, 2017 9:34 PM ET USA

    Will the buck stop there?

  • Posted by: Sed contra - Jan. 16, 2017 6:14 PM ET USA

    Most papal documents have ghostwriters. However, when the Pope issues a document in his own name (e.g., "Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia of the Holy Father Francis," the actual title page of the document in question), it becomes HIS teaching. The most one could claim is that he issued the document without having read or (worse still) having understood what he issued. But in this case, there's no getting around the fact that the Pope owns this text, proh dolor!