For Francis, the right interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia” is not that of the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, but that of the Austrian cardinal. Here, for the first time, is his complete text
by Sandro Magister
ROME, May 30, 2016 – The prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith is still the same, German cardinal Gerhard L. Müller.
Who diligently continues to carry out his task, most recently with the monumental address he gave in Oviedo on May 4 for a correct understanding of “Amoris Laetitia,” in harmony with the previous magisterium of the Church on the family:
But it is increasingly evident that for Pope Francis, it is not Müller but another cardinal who is the teacher of doctrine authorized to shed light on the post-synodal exhortation: Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
On May 19, in meeting at the Vatican with the two cardinals and three bishops who make up the presidency of the Latin American episcopal conference, when asked about “Amoris Laetitia” Francis responded as follows, according to the website of the CELAM:
“The pope responds that the heart of the exhortation is chapter 4: love in family life, founded on chapter 13 of the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. While the most difficult to read is chapter 8. Some, the pope say, have let themselves get trapped by this chapter. The Holy Father is fully aware of the criticisms of some, including cardinals, who have been unable to understand the evangelical meaning of his statements. And he says that the best guide for understanding this chapter is the presentation of it made by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, a great theologian, member of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, highly expert in the doctrine of the Church.”
Already on April 16, questioned by the journalists on the return flight to Rome from the island of Lesbos, Francis had indicated Schönborn as the right interpreter of the document, recommending that his presentation be read and rewarding him on the spot with flattering titles, even mistakenly promoting him to former “secretary” of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
But then Müller gave his talk in Oviedo, with the intention of bringing clarity to the carousel of contrasting interpretations and applications of “Amoris Laetitia” that had already gained a foothold. But for the pope, that talk of his wasn’t worth a thing. Just as it wasn’t worth a thing for “L’Osservatore Romano,” which completely ignored it.
For Francis, in fact, the only one that still applies is the interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia” made by Schönborn at the official presentation of the document, in the Vatican press office on April 8, the day of its publication.
But then this presentation must finally be read in its entirety. In its written text and in the extemporaneous additions made by the cardinal. Just as the questions and answers that followed the press conference must also be read.
Further below all of this is completely and faithfully transcribed for the first time, on the basis of the video recording made by the Vatican Television Centre:
It will be seen that, toward the end of the presentation, Cardinal Schönborn indicates free “discernment” of individual cases as the way to admit the divorced and remarried to communion.
And further on, in responding to a question from Francis Rocca of the Wall Street Journal, he outlines one of these cases, asserting that John Paul II and Benedict XVI had hypothesized it.
In this regard he refers to paragraph 84 of the 1981 “Familiaris Consortio,” where in effect pope Karol Wojtyla speaks of “those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.”
So then, Schönborn asserts that “neither Pope John Paul nor Pope Benedict explicitly brought into question” the admission of such to the sacraments, which “was already a longstanding practice.”
And further on, responding to Diane Montagna of Aleteia, he returns to insisting on how in “Familiaris Consortio” that was already “implicit” which Pope Francis now “is saying clearly, explicitly” in the wake “of the organic development of doctrine.”
In reality, neither John Paul II nor Benedict XVI ever admitted the divorced and remarried to communion, not even “implicitly,” unless in the second union – kept in place “for serious reasons such as, for example, the children’s upbringing” – they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence.”
In order to get confirmation of this it is enough to reread in its entirety – and not in cherry-picked phrases – precisely that paragraph 84 of “Familiaris Consortio” which Schönborn advances in support of the innovations of “Amoris Laetitia.”
Just as it is also helpful to reread what Joseph Ratzinger wrote on the same question, as cardinal and as pope:
For this reason, further below, after the presentation and subsequent question-and-answer of Cardinal Schönborn with the journalists, there is also reproduced as a necessary element of comparison paragraph 84 of the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” of John Paul II.
Followed by a Thomistic theologian’s critique of the improper way in which “Amoris Laetitia” cites Saint Thomas Aquinas.
And to finish, a judgment from Cardinal Carlo Caffarra – who participated in both synods at the direct invitation of Francis, but is also one of the thirteen cardinals who signed the letter to the pope against the dangers of rigging of the assembly – on the “objective lack of clarity” of chapter eight of “Amoris Laetitia” and therefore on the duty to interpret it “in continuity with the preceding magisterium.”