The Vatican appears to be coming to a boil these days: the pace of strange and alarming announcements from Rome has increased ever since the release of Amoris Laetitia in April of last year. It is easy to lose sight of the overall trend of a news story as individual headlines are released; Pewsitter is releasing the below report, which is a timeline of most directly Vatican-related events since April 2016, in the belief that it clearly demonstrates the unusual nature of these continuing developments. This timeline will be periodically updated with new material.
We encourage other journalists to use this timeline as a resource and encourage the submission of any announcements we may have missed in the comments box below or via email.
April 2016: Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” an apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, is released.
July 12th, 2016: In a Motu Proprio statement, the Vatican financial accountability office is stripped of much of its power of oversight. The move is criticized as counterproductive in the ongoing effort to reform Vatican finances.
July 28th, 2016: In his remarks to those gathered for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, the Pope called on Poland to “open its borders to refugees” and declared that “religion has nothing to do with war.”
September 5th, 2016: An Argentinian blogger leaks the contents of a private letter sent by the Pope to the bishops of Buenos Aires, in which Pope Francis approves their take on Amoris Laetitia’s already-controversial Chapter 8: “There is no other interpretation.” The Buenos Aires bishops have approved communion for the divorced and remarried. The Vatican later confirms that this document is legitimate.
September 19th, 2016: The four cardinals privately send their “dubia” statement to the Pope.
October 4th, 2016: During trip to Republic of Georgia, Pope says it is a “very grave sin against ecumenism” for Catholics to try and convert the Orthodox.
October 6th, 2016: Theme for the 2018 Synod announced: Young people, faith and vocational discernment.
October 19th, 2016: Pope calls proselytism “poison” in meeting with Lutheran visitors. “It is not licit that you convince them of your faith,” he declares.
October 24th, 2016: Pope Francis praises the German theologian Bernhard Haering, a prominent dissenter from Humanae Vitae, saying that he found a way to “help moral theology to flourish again.”
October 25th, 2016: Pope is photographed in the Vatican with a chocolate statue of Martin Luther, while receiving an ecumenical delegation from Sweden. In this meeting, the Pope claims that “lukewarmness” is when Catholics “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”
October 27th, 2016: Pope opens the JPII Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family academic year himself, after announcing that Cardinal Sarah would not give the opening speech as planned.
October 31st, 2016: Pope Francis arrives in Malmo, Sweden, and “heaps praise” on Luther and the Reformation.
On this day the joint declaration is published, which says we must “cast off historical disagreements” and “transform our memory of the past.” Lutheran-Catholic intercommunion is explicitly declared to be the goal of dialogue.