Cardinal Caffara on Amoris Laetitia: “Only the blind can deny that there is great confusion in the Church”

January 14, 2017

Original Article

By Andrew Parrish

ROME (Matthew Matzuzzi / Il Foglio) – The archbishop emeritus of Bologna and one of the four cardinal signers of the “dubia” statement, Cardinal Caffara, commented today on the continuing Amoris Laetitia controversy in an interview with the Italian Il Foglio.

“A Church with little attention to doctrine is not a more pastoral Church, just a more ignorant Church,” he declares, as part one of a two-pronged argument against the direction which seems to have been taken by the senior Vatican hierarchy. Despite his firm stance, the Cardinal is at particular pains to refute the idea that the four cardinals are deliberately acting to divide the Church.

“The division among pastors is the cause of the letter that we sent to Francis. Not its effect,” he says. Not only a cardinal, but a noted moral theologian and a former colleague of Pope St. John Paul II, he declares that “there is for us cardinals the grave duty of advising the Pope in governing the Church. It is a duty and duties are obligations.” In this Cd. Caffara upholds the explicit statement of the dubia document, and echoes the public position of both Cd. Burke and Cd. Brandmuller.

“Only the blind can deny that there is great confusion in the Church,” he notes, explaining that “to put together a pastoral practice which is not founded and rooted in doctrine means to anchor pastoral practice on arbitrariness.” With reference to this point, Caffara addresses arguments such as that of Cd. Christoph Schonborn, who claims that allowing access to Communion for the divorced and remarried is an example of “evolution of doctrine”.

“There is no evolution, where there is no contradiction,” he boldly asserts. The problem “is to see if the famous paragraphs 300-305 of Amoris Laetitia, and the famous footnote #351, are or are not in contradiction with the previous magisterium of the Popes who have faced the same issue. According to many bishops, it is in contradiction. According to many other bishops, it is not a contradiction but a development. And that’s why we asked for a response from the Pope.”

The crux of the dispute is explained by the Cardinal as follows:

“Can the minister of the Eucharist (usually a priest) give the Eucharist to a person living as husband and wife with a woman or man who is not his wife or her husband, and who does not intend to live in continence? There are only two answers: Yes or No. No one calls into question that Familiaris Consortio, Sacramentum Caritatis, the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church respond to the above question: No. This No is valid while the faithful does not propose to abandon the status of cohabitation. Does Amoris Laetitia teach that, given certain specific circumstances and while undertaking a journey, the faithful may approach the Eucharist without commitment to continence? There are bishops who have the impression that this is so. As a simple matter of logic, then [the document] should also teach that adultery is not in and of itself evil. It is not relevant to plead ignorance or a mistake about the indissolubility of marriage, facts which are unfortunately widespread. These things have an interpretive value, not one of policy. They should be used as methods to discern the eligibility of actions already completed, but they cannot be the principle for actions which have yet to be taken. The priest has the duty to enlighten the ignorant and correct the errant.”

The other fundamental point of the dubia presented to the Pope, which is the theoretical basis of the more immediate problem explained above by the Cardinal, concerns the question of the existence of intrinsically evil acts. This problem, the Cardinal holds, has beenclearly answered in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor.

“One of the fundamental teachings of the document,” said the Cardinal, “is that there are acts which, for themselves and in themselves, regardless of the circumstances in which they are made and the proposed scope of the agent, can be classified as dishonest. He adds that denying this fact can lead to denying the logic of martyrdom (cf. Nn. 90-94). Not only would there be no reason to die for faith if the circumstances made apostasy blameless, but the underlying spirit, in which it is better to suffer anything than execute a particular act, is rendered senseless. This therefore raises the question, just as controversial in Amoris Laetitia, of conscience.

As the Cardinal demonstrates: “There is a passage of Amoris Laetitia, at No. 303, which is not clear; it seems – I repeat: it seems – to admit the possibility that there is a true judgment of conscience (not invincible from error; this has always been accepted by the Church) in contradiction with what the Church teaches with regards to the deposit of divine Revelation. It seems. And so we put the question to the Pope.” Finally, Cardinal Caffara adds a sobering warning: “Do not ever say to someone: ‘Always follow your conscience’, without always and immediately adding: ‘Love and seek the truth about the good.’ They would put the weapon most destructive of his humanity into his hands.”  

This is a rough translation of excerpts of the original article. Emphasis original.

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One comment on “Cardinal Caffara on Amoris Laetitia: “Only the blind can deny that there is great confusion in the Church”

  1. ” Despite his firm stance, the Cardinal is at particular pains to refute the idea that the four cardinals are deliberately acting to divide the Church.”

    Eminence, we all know who is “deliberately acting to divide the Church” and it is not those who have steadfastly defended doctrine and dogma since Vatican II. Doctrine does not evolve when it is firmly based on Scripture and words of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That so-called :Princes of the Church would claim that it does shows that Evil in the form of the “smoke of Satan” has, in fact, invaded the Church. Indeed, one wonders if it has invaded the papacy itself. May Almighty God have mercy on us.

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