US Bishops’ president: Amoris Laetitia doesn’t change doctrine, but we must grasp ‘rightful use of the internal forum’

US Bishops’ president: Amoris Laetitia doesn’t change doctrine, but we must grasp ‘rightful use of the internal forum’

[USCCCP lame-duck prez’s swan song on walking a tightrope regarding Amoris Laetitia]

Claire Chretien

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Although Pope Francis has said “very clearly” he has no desire to “make any canonical changes or any new doctrine” related to Amoris Laetitia, “we do need to school ourselves a little more in the rightful use of the internal forum,” outgoing U.S. Bishops’ Conference president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said on Monday.

“The first thing is, let’s not get ahead of things,” Kurtz said in response to a question from LifeSiteNews about whether the USCCB’s implementation of Amoris Laetitia will continue what Pope St. John Paul II taught in Familiaris Consortio. “We are in the process of receiving an apostolic exhortation and we’re very grateful for that. It pains me a little bit that I worry that people haven’t done what our Holy Father said [which] is read first chapter[s] four and five. That we haven’t unpacked it. He himself has said very clearly, ‘please read with patience and with care. Don’t rush through this.’ So I’m gonna heed his advice.”

In Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II wrote that unless a divorced and “remarried” couple live abstinently, they may not be admitted to Holy Communion because it would be sacrilegious and could scandalize the faithful. The “internal forum” refers to a case-by-case approach to the question, usually undertaken by a priest and the couple.

There have been a variety of responses to Amoris Laetitia, with progressive prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper saying it has changed the Church’s sacramental practice to allow Communion for those who are “remarried” and have not had their previous unions declared null by the Church, and with some bishops, including Americans, saying the Church’s sacramental practice remains in place.

In a letter the Vatican confirmed as authentic, Pope Francis wrote to Argentinian bishops expressing his support for their guidelines on the exhortation, which allowed Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried in some circumstances.

Today, four cardinals released a letter they wrote to Pope Francis asking for clarification on Amoris Laetitia. After the pontiff refused to respond, the cardinals went public with their concerns.

The USCCB, at the request of the Vatican, studied how the exhortation is being implemented across the country. Its study recommended the USCCB develop resources on “best practices based on Amoris Laetitia,” particularly “further resources on the application [of] aspects … such as those treating the internal forum and reception of the sacraments with regard to persons in irregular marital situations” and “advice on how confessors can assist persons in irregular marital relationships.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. bishops will elect a new president, who will serve a three-year term. The meeting today touched on a variety of issues related to immigration, healing a nation divided after the presidential election, religious liberty, race relations, pro-life issues, and the latest Lepanto Institute report on the activities of Catholic Relief Services.

* * *

Get AQ Email Updates

Leave a Reply