Cardinals Address Amoris Laetitia; CDF Prefect Says Church’s Teaching has not Changed

MRM Analysis: We are grateful to our friends at Catholic World News for this thoughful summary of comments on Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. They provide a very valuable service for coverage and analysis of Church news.

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in an address to seminarians that Pope Francis has not changed the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by those who have remarried outside the Church.

Referring to the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Cardinal Müller said that “if Amoris Laetitia wanted to overturn such a deep-rooted and important discipline, it would have expressed this precisely and given reasons for it.”

The document’s 351st footnote, he added, does not refer to Holy Communion for divorced Catholics who have entered into a subsequent civil marriage.

“Without going into details, it is enough to point out that this footnote refers to objective situations of sin in general, not to the specific case of civilly remarried divorcees,” he said. “The situation of the latter has peculiar features which distinguishes it from other situations … The standard of FC [Familiaris Consortio] 84 and SC [Sacramentum Caritatis] 29 and their application in all cases is still valid.”

Cardinals Donald Wuerl of Washington and Vincent Nichols of Westminster have also addressed the exhortation recently.

In a speech at the Catholic University of America, Cardinal Wuerl lamented the effects of the catechetical breakdown of the 1970s and 1980s.

“There’s a sense in which one can see in this exhortation a renewal, a renewal to recognize our Catholic identity, our connectedness to the Church and how our ministry is validated precisely in our participation in and our adherence to the articulated Magisterium of the Church,” he said, according a National Catholic Register report.

“Clearly the Church distinguishes between someone who is struggling with accepting and living elements of the faith and those who simply demand that the Church change her teaching,” he added, according to the National Catholic Reporter. “Increasingly we hear voices demanding that the Church change her teaching on human sexuality, marriage and family or be branded as practicing discrimination.”

In a pastoral letter on Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that Pope Francis “presents afresh the clear teaching of the Church about marriage and reminds us persistently of the truth of the endless mercy of God for each one of us.”

He added:

At this point, it is so important not to reduce this great exhortation to being simply about whether people who have been divorced and remarried can go forward to receive Holy Communion. The quest is much wider.

It is a quest for every person to understand much more deeply their situation before God. When we hide nothing from the Lord, when we reflect carefully in prayer, when we open our hearts to the wonder of God’s plan for our happiness, we begin to sense the call of our conscience, that inner core and sanctuary where God’s voice echoes within us.

Here we are led both to a painful admission of our past failings and to a careful consideration of what the next step in our journey might be. Such considerations, which the Holy Father speaks of as discernment, are always best carried out in thoughtful dialogue with an experienced guide, usually a priest. I thank God that this great exhortation has come to us during the Year of Mercy when so many people are turning again to Confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That is a good place and a good time to start this discernment, accompanied by a priest.