Cardinal Cupich launches Amoris Laetitia seminars for US bishops

Cardinal Cupich launches Amoris Laetitia seminars for US bishops


[The indoctrination of AmChurch in the “new morality” of Amoris Laetitia continues; organized, conducted and funded by liberals, “Catholic” and secular! – AQ moderator Tom]

.- The Archbishop of Chicago has invited some U.S. bishops to a series of conferences on the 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The seminars will be held at three Catholic colleges later this month.

According to a letter obtained by Catholic News Agency, the meetings, dubbed “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” are designed to offer a “tailor-made program that goes from why Amoris Laetitia provides New Momentum for Moral Formation and Pastoral Practice to how to provide formative pastoral programs.”

“The aim is to gather fifteen to twenty Bishops to have a conversation with the aid of theologians on the related topics,” the letter said.

The letter, written by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, explains that the conferences are modeled after a seminar of bishops and theologians discussing Amoris Laetitia held at Boston College in October 2017.

“The seminar treated the full document giving particular focus to its reception in the multi-cultural and diverse environment that characterizes the Church in the United States,” Cardinal Cupich wrote.

“Both the bishops and the theologians universally agreed that our two-day seminar was an exercise in synodality, a walking together in which the Church both taught and listened. In fact, in keeping with the counsel of Pope Francis at the start of the 2014 synod, the Boston College participants spoke with candor and boldness, parrhesia, but they also listened with humility,” the letter explained.

The letter said that Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery on Laity, Family and Life, encouraged and endorsed the upcoming conferences, which will be held at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, and Santa Clara University.

The upcoming seminars come in the wake of a speech given by Cardinal Cupich Feb. 9, at the Von Hügel Institute, at St. Edmund College, in Cambridge, England.

In that speech, Cardinal Cupich said that “Pope Francis is convinced of the need for a new ministerial approach to families as he looks at the challenges facing families in today’s world.”

He added that “some people misinterpret and misunderstand Amoris simply because they fail or refuse to take into account the present reality in all its complexity.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Archbishop Wilton Gregory are scheduled to speak at the upcoming Boston College seminar. Cardinals Joseph Tobin and Blase Cupich will present at the University of Notre Dame. Bishops Steven Biegler and Robert McElroy will present at Santa Clara University, according to the invitation.

Several theologians and a canon lawyer will also present at the upcoming seminars.

Among the theologians is Dr. Kate Ward, a professor at Marquette University. From 2012-2015, Ward was a national board member of Call to Action, a group that has called for the ordination of women to the priesthoodexpressed support for same-sex marriage, and said that the Church should re-evaluate its “position” on the use of artificial birth control.

From 2006-2009, Ward served as a national board member of Call to Action Next Generation, a youth affiliate of the organization. She chaired that board from 2008-2009.

In 2006, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then-prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, wrote that Call to Action’s activities “are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint. Thus to be a Member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic faith.”

Also scheduled to present is Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a theologian at Manhattan College.

Imperatori-Lee was also a presenter at the October seminar at Boston College. At that seminar, she criticized the Church’s “infantilization of the laity,” saying that “lay people are infantilized by a logic…where pastors serve as gatekeepers, offering permission for sacraments, rather than as counselors who accompany laypersons on their sacramental journeys.”

In a 2015 interview with the podcast Daily Theology, Imperatori-Lee described the late theologian and University of Notre Dame professor Fr. Richard McBrien as a mentor. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “McBrien advocated the ordination of women priests, an end to mandatory celibacy for priests, moral approval of artificial birth control, and decentralization of power in the church.”

In a 2016 essay in the magazine America, she wrote “any claim that there are only two kinds of humans, male and female, is simplistic.”

Msgr. Jack Alesandro, a canon lawyer from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, also presented at the Boston College seminar, and will present at the upcoming conferences.

At the 2017 seminar, Alesandro said that Amoris Laetitia “as a whole supports the idea that as time passes, sacramental marriages become more sacramental and therefore more indissoluble.”

Alesandro also said that Amoris Laetitia suggests new thresholds for the validity of consent to sacramental marriage. The document suggests “a superior capacity and resolve of the will is required of those entering sacramental marriage than of those entering a non-sacramental union,” he said.

He said the exhortation “is challenging judges in a tribunal process to discover whether both spouses, including the man, were at the time of the wedding truly capable at the time of tenderness in the sense described by the pope, the tenderness of a mother cradling her infant.”

“Spouses must be capable of entering a lifelong adventure, and able to renew it constantly if they are to exchange consent validly. It requires that they be friends on the journey. While they do not start out whole and complete, we know that, they must at least be able to grow into this vocation. If they’re incapable of that growth, or they’re really not committed to it, I don’t think they’re validly married, at least, not the Christian marriage.”

“Canon lawyers may find it difficult to get their juridical mind around love, if their thinking has become overly legal, which is another way of saying ‘secularized,’” he said.

According to the invitation, “there will be other theologians who will be invited to participate at one or more of the days.”

During his Feb. 9 speech, Cardinal Cupich said that Pope Francis has introduced a set of “hermeneutical principles” – principles of theological interpretation – that “force a paradigm shift” in the Church’s work with families.

Among the aspects of such a paradigm shift, Cupich said, is “rejecting an authoritarian or paternalistic way of dealing with people that lays down the law, that pretends to have all the answers, or easy answers to complex problems, that suggests that general rules will seamlessly bring immediate clarity or that the teachings of our tradition can preemptively be applied to the particular challenges confronting couples and families.”

Cupich further discussed the importance of discernment in conscience. The “voice of conscience—the voice of God…could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal, while nevertheless calling a person ‘to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized,’” he said, commenting on an excerpt from Amoris Laetitia.

The cardinal said that a pastoral, not “merely doctrinal,” approach is needed in work with families, because “the conscience based Christian moral life does not focus primarily on the automatic application of universal precepts. Rather, it is continually immersed in the concrete situations which give vital context to our moral choices.”

The result of such a pastoral approach, Cupich said, “is not relativism, or an arbitrary application of the doctrinal law, but an authentic receptivity to God’s self-revelation in the concrete realities of family life and to the work of the Holy Spirit in the consciences of the faithful.”

Further, the cardinal said, “doctrinal development is about remaining open to the invitation to see our moral teachings on marriage and family life through the lens of God’s omnipotent mercy.”

“Doctrine can develop as a result of the Church’s merciful accompaniment of families because God has chosen the family as a privileged place to reveal all that the God of mercy is doing in our time,” he added.

The cardinal concluded by saying that a failure to approach questions related to marriage and family life with a “holistic approach” has “led some critics to misinterpret and misunderstand Amoris. Instead of actually attending to the present reality of people’s lives today in all of its complexity, they limit their scope to an idealistic understanding of marriage and family.”

The letter inviting bishops to the upcoming conferences explained that transportation costs would be covered by “foundation grants.”

The Boston College event was sponsored by the Jesuit Institute, the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Cushman Foundation, Healey Foundation, and Henry Luce Foundation.

According to its tax forms, the Cushman Foundation provided the Archdiocese of Chicago a $12,300 grant in 2015 to fund periti, or theological experts, to the Synod of Bishops on the Family, in which then-Archbishop Blase Cupich participated.

The Henry Luce foundation has given at least $600,000 in grants to Commonweal Magazine since 2005, it has also given grants to a number of Catholic universities and theology programs. In 2007, it gave a $25,000 grant to the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, according to grant listings on the foundation website. It also gave a one-time $9,500 grant in 2015 to the Archdiocese of Chicago “to support communications during the Ordinary Synod of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The foundation’s website says it “seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.”

The Luce Foundation’s Theology program gives grants to “advance understanding of religion and theology.”

“Particular attention is given to work that rethinks what theology is and reimagines its contemporary significance; to research that creatively examines received assumptions about religion, secularity, and public culture; and to projects located at the intersections of theological inquiry and the multidisciplinary study of religion,” the foundation’s website says.

Sources told CNA that the USCCB is not involved in the New Momentum Conferences.

The Archdiocese of Chicago did not respond to questions before deadline.

Get AQ Email Updates

7 comments on “Cardinal Cupich launches Amoris Laetitia seminars for US bishops

  1. [Follow-up from LifeSiteNews’ report of the topic]
    Dorothy Cummings McLean – Wed Feb 14, 2018
    Dozens of U.S. bishops sign up for Amoris Laetitia seminars at dissident Catholic colleges
    * * *
    Dr. Peter Kwasniewski of Wyoming Catholic College told LifeSiteNews that the Cardinal is perpetrating theological errors condemned by Saint Pope John Paul II.
    “Cupich’s conference is an astonishing example of the very errors in moral theology that John Paul II definitively condemned in Veritatis Splendor,” he said. “[It is] combined with a slippery rhetoric of papal ultramontanism designed to limit, if not eliminate, any objections to the subversion of the Magisterium’s hitherto unambitious witness to moral absolutes and intrinsically evil actions.”
    Kwasniewski stated that Cupich’s interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is “nothing short of a revolution” against church teaching:
    “His perspective is nothing short of a revolution in doctrine that paves the way for the suppression of Humanae Vitae, Donum Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, and many other documents through which the Church has courageously resisted the dictatorship of relativism and the elevation of ‘pastoral’ to a panacea that voids the necessity for repentance, conversation, and adherence to the divine law. “
    Dr. Joseph Shaw, spokesman of those who signed the Filial Correction, told LifeSiteNews that discussions of Amoris Laetitia that assume a cohabiting divorced-and-civilly remarried couple is not in mortal sin is missing the point of the document.
    “The question which needs answering, the question Amoris Laetitia set itself to address, was how to employ personal priestly guidance and the sacraments to bring families and individuals back to friendship with God,” he said. “Sadly, too many discussions supposedly inspired by Amoris start from the assumption that there is no pastoral problem in the first place: there is no mortal sin, no lifestyle incompatible with the Gospels, and therefore no real need for ‘accompaniment’ or sacramental grace.”

  2. Those Cupich seminars: Why now?
    The answer is political, rather than doctrinal.
    February 16, 2018 – Christopher R. Altieri
    The Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cardinal Cupich, made headlines earlier this week when he announced a series of theological seminars on the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris laetitia. Featuring competent theologians – most of them young, several of them women, almost all of them on record as pushing the doctrinal envelope – the seminars are organized for small groups of 15-20 bishops of the United States, whom Cupich has invited to participate.
    The lengthy talk that Cardinal Cupich gave recently to the Von Hügel Institute of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, provides the backdrop to the series, which is an outgrowth of a two-day gathering on Amoris late last year at Boston College. The Cardinal’s speech at St. Edmund’s was chock-full of buzzwords and technical theological jargon, peppered with references to Pope Francis’ own writings and statements on various hot-button issues.
    The speech itself garnered broad attention in the Catholic press. The doctrinally challenging and even problematic portions of Cardinal Cupich’s remarks have received extensive treatment. The question few are asking is: why? Why this? Why now?
    The answer is political, rather than doctrinal.
    The seminar series bypasses the usual USCCB organs and procedures for such things. That, in itself and on its own, is frankly no cause for great concern. Willingness and ability to circumvent entrenched and increasingly unresponsive bureaucracy in order to get things done is, in the main, something of which the Catholic Church at every level arguably has greater need, even if such modus procedendi does have its downside. In the present case, it is nothing about which anyone needs to be worried. It does, however, suggest an answer to the questions, “Why this?” and “Why now?”
    In November of last year, the USCCB preferred Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City over Cardinal Cupich for the leadership of the Bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities. Widely treated in the news analysis as a referendum of sorts on Pope Francis’ approach to pro-life advocacy, a few commentators – most notably John Allen at Crux – saw the election as at least in part a sign of the bishops’ reticence to work with Cupich.
    If that’s the case, then this series of little get-togethers may well be the result of Cardinal Cupich’s decision to take his ball and go – not home, but – to the next pitch over, to play a new and different game.
    It is highly unlikely that the seminars will come to much theologically. For one thing, the speakers’ list is far too homogenous in its intellectual outlook and orientation to generate any really fruitful discussion or debate. For another, the lines in the sand over Amoris are already drawn. Finally, even if the seminars do end up creating a sort of unified camp for the promotion of participants’ broadly agreed view of Amoris Laetitia, the movement is almost certainly destined quickly to lose whatever momentum it gets from the first push, unless it is able to garner the institutional support needed to sustain it. Given the circumstances, that, too, is highly unlikely.

    • Comment by Fr Peter Morello
      FEBRUARY 17, 2018
      The best response I have to “why now” is related to what is transpiring in Pinerolo Italy. Marco Tosatti reported the Pinerolo Diocese issued a statement on Amoris Laetitia that says “The marriage thus continues to be indissoluble [indissolubile] but not unbreakable [infrangibile].” Pinerolo approves a position on marriage that parallel’s that of presenter for the Cupich Seminar canon lawyer Msgr Jack Alesandro. Alesandro criticizes the legalism of canon law practice. He capsulizes the Seminar’s theme elicited he says from Amoris that sacramental marriage is realized when the continued maturity of the spouses feelings reach the level of mutual loving commitment. All marriages are soluble at any time and persons can remarry and receive communion if their first marriage didn’t reach that point of a loving mature commitment. Here I quote an excerpt from my response to someone. “You’ve been marvelously faithful. Your husband abandoned you approx 1998. Pope John Paul II was aware of the heresies already practiced in the Church and wrote Consortio Familiaris. The priest who told your husband back then that if he “felt there was no longer ‘love’ in the marriage then it was not a marriage, and he was committing adultery by remaining in it” was stating the exact bizarre heresy now openly promoted by presenter Msgr Jack Alesandro for the Seminar now under way on Amoris Laetitia. Many will apparently be misled and many souls may be lost believing their vows were invalid. We know the promises exchanged before Christ were a commitment to love Him and each other that is sacramental and indissoluble.

      • The references (especially in Italian) in the above comment by Fr. Peter Morello about the remarks in the Pinerolo, Italy, diocese and by the Cupich seminar canonist Msgr. Jack Alesandro that marriages remain “indissoluble [indissolubile]” but not “unbreakable [infrangibile]” remind me that Bl. Pope Pius IX used to make jokes based on word-play – some self-deprecating. One such was about his underwriting the travel and living expenses at the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) of poor bishops especially from distant countries. He quipped in Italian something such as “I do not know if I will emerge from the Council fallible or infallible, but I will emerge bankrupt [‘fallito’ in Italian].”

  3. Cupich, v. (as in, “to cupich an unwitting catechumen”). Slang, entering American vernacular principally in theological news and opinion outlets, after a failed Peron fanatic from Buenos Aires was elected pope in 2013, whereupon Blaise Cupich was made cardinal archbishop of Chicago. The term refers principally to rhetorical excesses which conflict with traditional Catholic doctrine, two of the Ten Commandments and logic of a level recognized among 2nd graders. The gerundic and infinitive forms are found in essays, especially after 2015, which frequently refer to the cardinal as a mixture of American attorney Johnny Cochran, Martin Luther and Dr. Phil.

  4. I confess I do worry about taking cheap potshots at Revoluionary media faves, like Cupich. Not because sarcasm is necessarily sinful, per se, but because as much as some bozo (using that term in a non-specific, impersonal sense) who cops a red hat based on his obsequious progressive blathering and who drives me batty is presumably validly ordained and consecrated, thus automatically entitled to elevated and reverent respect.
    So, if I have sinned against charity and reverence, my excuse is that the greater charity is owed God and the greater reverence is owed His Commandments. If a learned moral theologian out there sees this and would care to comment, it would be appreciated. Thank you.
    Ref. Fr. Felix Sarda y Sylvany’s “Liberalism Is A Sin” (online) ch. 21 on polemics.

Leave a Reply