Vatican Radio confirms Pope’s leaked letter on Amoris Laetitia as authentic

Vatican Radio confirms Pope’s leaked letter on Amoris Laetitia as authentic

John-Henry Westen

September 12, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – On Friday LifeSiteNews published leaked documents showing for the first time the Pope’s own opinion on the matter of Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics who do not qualify for annulment. The letter set off an explosion of comments since many held that the Pope did not agree with the thesis of Cardinal Walter Kasper which was that in certain cases Holy Communion could be administered for such couples. Many comments suggested that the letter could not be authentic.

Now, however, Vatican Radio has itself reported the letter as authentic, including specifically in its most controversial aspects – that of allowing communion to divorced and remarried Catholics in some cases and that there is “no other interpretation” other than that.

Says the Vatican Radio report: “Pope Francis has written a letter to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region of Argentina, praising them for their document which spells out ways in which priests should apply the teachings of his apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’.”

The Vatican Radio report relates, as LifeSite reported Friday, that in the letter Pope Francis responded “to a document by the bishops entitled ‘Basic criteria for the application of chapter 8 of ‘Amoris Laetitia.’”

“That chapter focuses on the need to support and integrate divorcees into the life of the Church, specifying that ‘in certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments,’” says the Vatican Radio report. “Expressing his appreciation for the ‘pastoral charity’ contained in the bishops’ document, Pope Francis insists ‘there are no other interpretations’ of the apostolic exhortation which he wrote at the conclusion of the two synods on the family in 2014 and 2015.”

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16 comments on “Vatican Radio confirms Pope’s leaked letter on Amoris Laetitia as authentic

  1. Not heretical: Pope Francis’ approval of the Argentine bishops’ policy on invalid marriages

    [If not heretical (hæretica), then what? Erronea (erroneous), hæresi proxima (next to heresy), errori proxima (next to error), temeratia (rash), sapiens hæresim, errorem (smacking of heresy or error), suspecta de hæresi (suspected of heresy), or just plain errore (error)?]

    By Dr. Jeff Mirus | Sep 13, 2016

    According to news reports, Pope Francis has commended the bishops of Argentina for recognizing that Amoris Laetitia permits Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics in some cases, without benefit of annulment. The result is that some Catholics are now saying that Pope Francis has crossed the line from doctrinal fuzziness to material heresy. But this is not at all the case.

    It is not incompatible with the Church’s doctrinal teaching on either marriage or Communion to argue that, under some circumstances, persons involved in invalid marriages ought to be admitted to Communion. It is very possible to question the prudence of such a practice, as one consequence could be to weaken the Catholic understanding of and commitment to marriage in the minds of the faithful. But that remains a prudential question, which means legitimate disagreement about the best course is possible.

    I have repeatedly made the point that the rules governing reception of Communion are disciplinary, not doctrinal. It is impossible to prove that advocacy of any disciplinary approach indicates heresy in the mind of the advocate. At the same time, of course, Church discipline obviously should be designed to strengthen faith and promote spiritual growth, and the discipline in question is clearly tied very closely to the Catholic doctrinal understanding of both marriage and Communion.

    At the time of the first Synod on the Family, I suggested a scenario in which the sin of remaining in an invalid marriage could be venial. If that were the case, it could be spiritually advantageous to receive Communion. When Amoris Laetitia was issued, I also suggested a specific case that might lead to the same conclusion, though I think the case I offer below is a better illustration of the point. Readers who wish to consult the two earlier articles will find them here:

    1. Does the Kasper Proposal make Pope Francis a heretic? Invalid marriages and mortal sin (October 28, 2014)

    2. The Controversy at the Heart of Amoris Laetitia (April 11, 2016)

    The main factor in discerning such cases is that mortal sin requires not only grave matter (which clearly exists in invalid marriages) but also two personal conditions. The sinner must (a) Be aware that the moral breach is very serious; and (b) Commit the sin with full consent of the will. In the absence of these conditions, sins which involve objectively grave matter are venial. Hence they do not render the reception of Communion spiritually dangerous (cf., 1 Cor 11:27).

    A likely particular case

    Very briefly, then, I would argue that the following is the most likely scenario in which the presumption that only venial sin is involved may be reasonably justified:

    1. An invalidly married couple has had children together, who are still at home.

    2. Either the man or the woman recognizes the sinfulness of the “marriage”, regrets having entered into it, and desires now to do what is right (which in this case would be for the parents to live as brother and sister while still caring for their children as mother and father in the same household).

    3. The other party refuses to live as brother and sister.

    4. The other party says he (or she) will leave the family if sexual relations are refused.

    5. Hence the man or woman in question continues sexual relations, in effect under duress, to ensure that his or her children are not deprived of one parent.

    Now, even if we argue that the morally correct course is to separate from the unrepentant spouse and trust in God, it is easy to see that—at the very least—this would be hard to discern and, even if discerned, there would be tremendous fear of depriving one’s children of a family setting which includes both their mother and their father.

    In this case, the continuing sins involved in the irregular union on the part of the repentant spouse would seem to be venial—on the grounds that full consent of the will to the moral evil of continued sexual relations is lacking. The sins would be rendered venial by either a very real confusion about the best course or the compulsion inherent in the particular situation, or both.


    What all this means, again, is that the decision to admit someone in this situation to Communion is purely prudential. The key question is: Which is more important, the potential scandal which could weaken the commitment of others to the Church’s teaching on marriage, or the need for the (venial) sinner (caught in a no-win situation) to be spiritually nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ?

    A final point worth mentioning is that the Church’s prudential judgment about this matter can legitimately change with cultural conditions. For example, in a culture which generally respects the permanence of marriage, the potential scandal might be far greater than in a culture which generally denies the permanence of marriage (in which case it may be difficult to erode that concept any further).

    I have not yet seen the full text of the Pope’s letter. But the key point is that this remains a question of Church discipline—not doctrine—on which good Catholics can disagree. Neither position implies an erroneous understanding of the Church’s teaching on faith or morals.

    • Droppings from a male cow comes to mind.

      2. Either the man or the woman recognizes the sinfulness of the “marriage” …

      Mortal sin, Jeff. Adultery is the old-fashioned word for it, Jeff.

      5. Hence the man or woman in question continues sexual relations, in effect under duress, to ensure that his or her children are not deprived of one parent.

      And thereby “mortal” is demoted to “venial” sin, Jeff? Good grief! He wasn’t under duress to consummate the fake marriage in the first place, right? He can’t shed the guilt for that while remaining in it, right? Oh, and what about his kids with his real wife who are deprived of one parent? Why do kids from the second “marriage” (bastards) rank higher than legit kids? It’s all backwards, Jeff. You and Francis got it all wrong.

      Jeff, are you being forced to offer your pinch of incense to Aphrodite? Why did the martyrs choose death rather than give in? Wouldn’t it have been only venial? Give me a break, Jeff.

    • [Hat-tip to Canon212]

      May I demur re Mirus this once?

      Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.
      September 13, 2016

      Pretty much everything Dr. Jeff Mirus writes is worth reading, but his latest column, correctly defending Pope Francis against charges of heresy based on his endorsement of the Buenos Aires Directive, overstates the argument in one small, technical regard and, I think, misses a larger, more important point in another. I basically agree with everything Mirus wrote, except as follows.

      1. Mirus writes: “It is impossible to prove that advocacy of any disciplinary approach indicates heresy in the mind of the advocate.” That is not correct. A classic example pointed to a man whose refusal to abide by disciplinary norms such as genuflecting before the tabernacle might show a wordless, but clearly heretical, denial of the Real Presence. This is a small, technical point, perhaps, but it reminds us all to be wary of universal assertions. My second concern is larger.

      2. Most of Mirus’ column is spent trying to show how the objectively grave sin of remarriage after divorce (with all necessary caveats & conditions included) might in a specific case be rendered subjectively venial at least for one partner. As holy Communion may be (and perhaps even should be, assuming sorrow for sin, CCC 1393) taken by one in venial sin, Mirus argues that some divorced-and-remarried Catholics should feel free to approach for holy Communion. Now, everything Mirus says so far is at least arguably, and much of it is actually, true.

      But it misses the crucial point: One’s approaching for holy Communion is a matter of personal conscience chiefly guided by Canon 916 (which Mirus does not cite, but would have cited had he adverted to it); but distribution of Communion by a minister is a matter of objective status chiefly under Canon 915, which Mirus does not cite, but should have considered.

      As has been explained many times, in certain cases ministers of holy Communion are bound not by the would-be recipient’s assessment of conscience, but by the demands of canon law responding to one’s external, objective status. Long story made short, Catholics who have entered marriages subsequent to mere divorce are objectively disqualified from being given holy Communion (CCC 1650, 2384), whatever might be their subjectively reduced culpability for their state. This is a crucial point: two canons (and the values behind two canons) come into play every time a minister and recipient meet over the Host. Yes, Amoris seems to miss this point and the Buenos Aires Directive clearly misses it. Still.

      To be sure, more goes into these cases than what I just outlined, but this should suffice to show that, even if Mirus’ theory of venial sin for some divorced-and-remarried Catholics is correct, it does not answer the question about their being admitted to holy Communion.

      • For those who are outraged: Even Pope Francis does not know the proper interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.

        [Dr. Jeff resorts to contortions to make his point, which is dubious at best and absurd at worst]


        By Dr. Jeff Mirus | Sep 14, 2016

        Okay, so here’s a gift to all those who were indignant with yesterday’s defense of Pope Francis against the charge of heresy. The gift is this: Pope Francis, writing privately, is not a definitive interpreter of how the Church is to understand his Magisterial statements.

        The Argentinian bishops have recently issued a document guiding their dioceses in ministering to divorced Catholics who have remarried without benefit of an annulment. Their document actually follows Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia very closely. Like Chapter 8, it is in nearly all respects an outstanding consideration of the problem. However, the bishops went one step farther than the apostolic exhortation. They elevated an obscure footnote about access to the “sacraments” into a statement that reception of the “Eucharist” can be appropriate in some cases.

        In a letter to the Argentinian bishops, Pope Francis praised their accomplishment, writing that “there are no other interpretations” possible of Amoris Laetitia.

        I’ve already made it clear that I believe it is within the authority of the Pope to change the discipline governing Communion in such circumstances. But, with many of my critics, I also believe that the state of the Church in the twenty-first century is such that this approach will inevitably occasion widespread abuses which are likely to make matters even worse than they are now.

        Here is the key point

        The important point today is that no pope is protected from error when, in private correspondence, he explains the proper interpretation of any Magisterial document, including those he has issued himself. Quite apart from the fact that disciplinary measures do not enjoy the protection of the Holy Spirit (which means that even popes can implement unfortunate pastoral policies), no light is shed on Magisterial teachings by the private remarks of a pope about what he meant to say at the time.

        History provides striking examples of how the particular wording that ultimately made it into a Magisterial document actually admits of interpretations other than what the pope or council apparently had in mind, or other than what everybody presumed at the time. For example, many statements which surround the doctrine extra ecclesiam nulla salus have this character. On careful study, the continuing Magisterium of the Church has found that they do not actually require the conclusions which were very likely in the minds of the popes or councils that issued them, and which were widely thought proper at the time. When it comes to assessing a Magisterial teaching, the Church is guided by the actual text only—in conjunction with Scripture and all other relevant Magisterial statements—and not by a pope’s personal statement about what he “meant”. Such private utterances are unprotected by the Holy Spirit; therefore, they are totally irrelevant.

        In fact, the text of Amoris Laetitia does not demand the interpretation that, in some cases, the divorced and remarried may be admitted to Communion without an annulment. So even if this were not a disciplinary matter but a matter of Faith, it is by no means established in this document. Again, there is a very brief footnote that refers to “sacraments” generally, and that’s as close as it comes. Some have assumed that the focus of that footnote is the sacrament of Penance, which is consistent with the long-standing practice of the Church, and with the current Code of Canon Law. We may find that, in the future, the Magisterium will side with this pope’s critics.

        All I am saying is that, for those who oppose this change in discipline, the related doctrinal questions remain unsettled. Future popes and future generations of Catholics will make of Amoris Laetitia, not what Pope Francis says he was trying to do, but only what the text itself demands—which does not include admission to Communion for those who are divorced and remarried, without benefit of annulment.

        • Jeff, Peters straightened you out on giving Communion. It’s no. But you two are both wrong about the possibility of venial sin. Only an extraordinary circumstance that renders the person’s decision to enter the 2nd “marriage” null can result in something less than mortal sin. There must be coercion, e.g. shotgun-style, or amnesia like frequently happens in soap operas. These conditions are not part of this discussion.

          Bill and Jane get married in the Church and have kids. Jane divorces Bill and leaves. Bill gets attached to Sue, eventually gets physical, and eventually gets a JP wedding. That’s mortal sin. They have kids, too. Bill gets contrition, but Sue won’t abide with an empty bed. So Bill toughs it out, satisfying Sue’s appetite, for the sake of the kids.

          Jeff says Bill’s fault is now venial. He couldn’t be more wrong. Bill’s first duty is to break with Sue. He cannot stay there, period. (If it takes a few weeks to hunt down a trailer, a roommate – male – , whatever, that’s what Wojtyla’s celibacy thing is for.) His equally big duty is to raise his legit kids to the best of his ability. Further, he has to care for his new kids. There is a way to do all this without sin, but sleeping with Sue isn’t one of them.


          Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., distinguished professor at Georgetown University for nearly 50 years, writing on the exhortation in Catholic World Report

          It would be difficult to know what else to call this section but an exercise in sophisticated casuistry. Every effort is made to excuse or understand how one who is in such a situation is not really responsible for it. There was ignorance, or passion, or confusion. We are admonished not to judge anyone. … the prime interest is in mercy and compassion. God already forgives everything and so should we. The intellectual precision that the Holy Father uses to excuse or lessen guilt is cause for some reflection. The law cannot change but the “gradual” leading up to understanding this failure to observe the law takes time and patience.

          But when we add it all up, it often seems that the effect of this approach is to lead us to conclude that no “sin” has ever occurred. Everything has an excusing cause. If this conclusion is correct, we really have no need for mercy, which has no meaning apart from actual sin and its free recognition. One goes away from this approach not being sorry for his sins but relieved in realizing that he has never really sinned at all. Therefore, there is no pressing need to concern oneself too much with these situations.

          One wonders sometimes, in reflecting on this innovative approach, whether Christ himself or Paul really meant anything by their often blunt judgments and admonitions on our deeds. If love and mercy are so understood as to make us see that nothing really wrong occurred, how are we to read a passage like the following: “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him avoids condemnation, but whoever does not believe is already condemned for not believing in the name of God’s only son” (John 3:17-18). We can find many such frank passages in the Scripture.

          In 1 Thessalonians, we read: “We beg you, brothers, to respect those whose task it is to exercise authority in the Lord and admonish you…” (5:12). The principal question that one is left with in reading this wide-ranging document is: who is admonishing whom and for what?

        • The gift is this: Pope Francis, writing privately, is not a definitive interpreter of how the Church is to understand his Magisterial statements.

          Jeff, do you mean that
          1) Francis’ off-the-cuff “no other interpretation” isn’t definitive? That’s true.

          2) Francis doesn’t know what he intended to write in AL?

          I suspect you mean no. 2, because such thinking is central to the neocat and modernist epistemology, namely, the popes of the past didn’t fully understand what they were saying and therefore the interpretation isn’t clear until JPII (or Benedict) tells us. But the method isn’t working with Francis, is it?

          • Would Dr. Jeff’s statement …

            The gift is this: Pope Francis, writing privately, is not a definitive interpreter of how the Church is to understand his Magisterial statements.

            … apply to his own writings on understanding Magisterial statements?

  2. Father Mulcahy, S.J.: It’s not heresy to ask “who am I to judge?” either.
    Of course, splitting hairs on unnatural unions takes more practice and requires a surgeon’s eye.
    But a second marriage does involve ontological factors which do relate to doctrine….

    Batman: The main point is that the Pope’s progressive and South American style of modernism and Situation Ethics diverges from Catholic tradition enough that no lay Catholic can be compelled to assent to it as a matter of faith.

    Robin: I was going to ask you about that, Batman.

    Batman: How’s your Latin homework at Fordham Prep coming, Robin? Keeping up with all of that Cicero translation, the Aquinas treatises, and the proper case endings of third declension Latin nouns?

    Robin: It’s coming, Batman. I guess this means you want me to recite the third declension case endings for rectitūdō again?

  3. “I have not yet seen the full text of the Pope’s letter. But the key point is that this remains a question of Church discipline—not doctrine—on which good Catholics can disagree. Neither position implies an erroneous understanding of the Church’s teaching on faith or morals.”

    This is the same mistake that attempts to legitimize the Novus Ordo Missae. The problem with this reasoning is that both the norms that govern the celebration of Holy Mass in the Latin Roman Rite and the practice of non-admission to Holy Communion of unrepentant sinners (with objectively grave matter) directly involve a Sacrament, and the Sacraments are matters of faith. Especially the Holy Eucharist is pre-eminently a matter of faith.

    The difference is that the Tridentine Mass has been codified by a Conciliar decree and a papal bull. While the practice of non admitting the divorced and remarried outside the Church is a constant practice of the church, which has been confirmed by a recent pope, Benedict XVI.

    So, it seems evident, that whenever you’re dealing with a matter of faith (not merely disciplinary) and a definitive teaching (either solemnly defined or constant practice), then any contradiction of that teaching necessarily implies at least material heresy. It should be noted that while the Novus Ordo does not directly contradict normative teaching on the Eucharist, it is seriously deficient in its presentation of Catholic doctrine.

    • I’d go further, Anthony.

      The NO is a man-made, “banal” (cf. Cd. Ratzinger!) and schismatic act. It is NOT what the Church does, but rather what revolutionaries do.

      While a Consecration “can” (and I believe does) occur under very strict circumstances, the entire NO “liturgy” is illicit.

      Repeat: The. Entire. NO. Liturgy.

      We’re talking about the most fundamental ontological elements of Sacramental Theology.

      The best that can be said of the disaster is that the Church has always recognized the validity of the sacraments provided by the Orthodox, even though they are in open schism to this day.

  4. Jesus’s Wife Claims Revealed as ‘Whopping Fraud’
    by Thomas D. Williams, ex-Maciel cult priest, ex-priest

    The Harvard Professor who confidently proclaimed to the world she possessed evidence that suggested Jesus may have had a wife has now been outed as a second-rate academic who allowed herself to be duped by a con man.

    WHAT IF?

    Vatican radio confirms Francis sent thank-you note to “second-rate academic” Karen L. King

    Williams: It’s a brilliant theory that could shed new light on our understanding of marriage.

    Mirus: It wouldn’t have been a sin if Our Lord took one, two, or ten wives.

  5. Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Well, of course, at Fordham in the old days Father Gannon never would have allowed this, but under the new rules of Bergoglio, if Jesus and Mary Magdalen got divorced and remarried, Peter could give them Communion under certain pastoral circumstances….Mind you, this is only theoretical along the slippery slope of modernist Situation Ethics, because Jesus was celibate. Of course, we did have a very progressive novice director at Wernersville for a while who had read a little too much Teilhard and Rahner who thought that….

  6. Fr. Z is still wondering …

    Did Pope Francis really write that letter?

    Posted on 12 September 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    … as well as making excuses for it. See more at

  7. Father Mulcahy, S.J.:…that Freud would eventually replace Paul VI and Humanae Vitae. Of course, neo-Gnostics sometimes make accurate predictions. Like Jeane Dixon’s forecast of the JFK assassination. If Father Miceli had lived longer I’m sure that he would have expanded The Gods of Atheism to elucidate modern neo-Gnosticism in more detail and analysis…

    Robin: Sigmund Freud?

    Batman: The Viennese psychoanalyst who hypothesized unusual sexual theories.

    Robin: Holy libido, Batman!

    Batman: Precisely, Robin. Has your Latin teacher at Fordham Prep, by any chance, introduced you to the poems of Horace or Catullus yet?

    Robin: We may be translating some passages from Suetonius next week.

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