Pope Francis

Did the Pope Change Doctrine with Amoris Laetitia?

by Steve Ray on February 24, 2017

I AM A LAWYER, NOT A MIND-READER
February 23, 2017
By Canon Lawyer Ed Peters,

Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ echoing of claims that Amoris laetitia changed no doctrines occasioned a question for me: Am I the only (or among the few) Amoris critics who agrees with Amoris defenders that Pope Francis made no doctrinal changes in Amoris?

I do not think that Francis changed any doctrines in Amoris (or even purported to change any doctrines—assuming a pope could have changed doctrines this way, which I would dispute) and thus I regard the kind of correctives routinely offered by Nichols, et al., as superfluous. But I’ll go a step further: I do not think that Francis changed any disciplines in Amoris (or even purported to change any disciplines—assuming a pope could have changed disciplines this way, which I would also dispute, though less vigorously than above). In short, I hold that the few who claim Francis changed doctrine via Amoris, and the many who claim that he changed disciplines therein, are wrong.

That said, though, I still regard Amoris (or at least its eighth chapter) as seriously flawed, not because of doctrinal changes it never attempted and not because of disciplinary changes it never effected, but because of the ambiguity and incompleteness with which it discusses certain key, doctrinal and/or disciplinary factors that go into making real world, concrete, Yes-you-can or No-you-can’t decisions regarding Penance and holy Communion. All of this I have discussed many, many times.

As for why the pope (assuming my characterization of his document is correct) chose to write ambiguously and/or incompletely about these factors, I do not know. I am a lawyer reading texts, not a mind-reader divining motives, and the lawyer in me has concluded that: (1) no doctrines are changed in Amoris; (2) no disciplinary norms are changed in Amoris; but (3) several factors vital to considering requests for and administration of sacraments are ambiguously and/or incompletely presented in Amoris.

Even this much, though, prompts some additional conclusions, including:

(1) all of the canons governing sacramental administration, notably Canon 915, remain in full force;

(2) the Maltese, the Germans, and Cdl. Coccopalmerio (but, I say again, not the Argentinians, not quite) go well beyond what the pope actually wrote in Amoris, though some of his phrasings in Amoris frustrates one’s appealing to it as a corrective; and,

(3) bishops such as Chaput and the Western Canadians can also invoke Amoris to justify their sacramental polices even though their policies are the polar opposite of those being pushed by the Maltese et al.

That is why I say that Amoris, a papal document so framed that it really can be plausibly invoked by diametrically opposed schools of sacramental practice, is itself what’s flawed and is itself what must be addressed.

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Canon Lawyer Ed Peters writes,

“Among the fault lines revealed by the ecclesiastical earthquakes erupting after Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, we can see, I suggest, how some high-ranking ecclesiastics seem inadequately to understand the differences between “sexual relations” and “conjugal relations”. Most any man and any woman can have sexual relations, of course, but only spouses can have conjugal relations. While […]

For the whole article, click here.

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E443D836-B72A-4509-B1CC-FDB59BC444ED-18180-0000189232277B2F_tmpCanon Lawyer Ed Peters writes (excerpts),

“[Regarding] some excerpts translated from Francesco Cdl. Coccopalmerio’s new, short book on Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia. If the excerpts I read are accurate, the President of the Pontifical Council of Legislative Texts (the body charged with issuing binding interpretations of ecclesiastical legal texts, notably the Code of Canon Law), comes down squarely on the side of the Maltese and Germans in holding that Catholics living in open contradiction to Church teaching on the permanence of marriage and in disregard of Church teaching that marriage is the only proper setting for sexual intercourse, may and should, after “an appropriate period of discernment”, be admitted to the sacraments of Reconciliation and holy Communion….

…. A few weeks ago, Cdl Muller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave an interview that upheld the traditional practice of withholding holy Communion from divorced-and-remarried Catholics. Now, Cdl Coccopalmeria has published a booklet in which he apparently says that, subject only to the toothless requirement of ‘discerning their situation’, such Catholics may and should be admitted to holy Communion. In other words, the Church’s arguably two highest-ranking cardinals in the areas of canonical interpretation and the protection of doctrine and morals are in public, plain, and diametric opposition with each other concerning a crucial canonico-sacramental practice.

This division cannot stand.”

for the whole article, visit In the Light of the Law.

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Vatican to Release Stamp Honoring Martin Luther

January 19, 2017

January 18, 2017 (Catholic World News) The Vatican will issue a stamp to honor Martin Luther this year, marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The Vatican regularly issues stamps to mark special occasions and to honor individuals. In the past, stamps have been issued to honor non-Catholics, but never to honor a non-Catholic […]

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The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 15, 2017

Dr. Ed Peters, Canon Lawyer wrote two days ago about the Maltese Disaster. The excellent article on The Catholic Thing Here is his latest entitled “The Maltese Directive (allowing divorced and remarried easy access to Communion) Makes Answering the “Dubia” Urgent When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that […]

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Follow up by Dr. Ed Peter’s: “The Maltese directive makes answering the ‘dubia’ urgent

January 1, 2017

The Maltese Disaster, by Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters as I reported yesterday. Here is his follow up related to the dubia and the Pope. January 15, 2017 When highly placed Italian prelates declare that “only a blind man cannot see” that confusion is the ecclesiastical order of the day, and that such confusion has as its […]

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Denzinger Timeline of the Controversy over Communion for the Divorced and ‘Remarried’ in Adultery and Pope Francis

December 27, 2016

This is an amazing resource compiled by Andrew Guernsey. It provides all the source material on the subject of Communion for Divorced and civilly “remarried.” It starts with the Old Testament and then the New Testament before moving historically through the Fathers, Popes, Councils and more. A thorough resource for all the source documents upon […]

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Excellent EWTN World Over interview With Cardinal Burke on the Pope’s Encyclical

December 16, 2016

Let me speak my mind clearly. I support Cardinal Burke and the others 100%. God bless them!

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A Canonical Primer on Popes and Heresy

December 16, 2016

No one in a position of ecclesial responsibility—not the Four Cardinals posing dubia, not Grisez & Finnis cautioning about misuses, and not the 45 Catholics appealing to the College, among others—has, despite the bizarre accusations made about some of them, accused Pope Francis of being a heretic or of teaching heresy. While many are concerned […]

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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Petition to the Holy Father for Clarification. I Signed Today with over 800,000 other Catholics

December 4, 2016

I received and signed this petition today… On the eve of the Ordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome in October 2015, we delivered to the Holy See a “Filial Petition to His Holiness on the Future of the Family” signed by 879,451 persons, including eight cardinals and 203 archbishops and bishops, asking for […]

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The Dangerous Road of Papal Silence

December 3, 2016

From The Catholic Thing, a brilliant daily article. Fr. Mark Pilon notes that the pope’s refusal to answer four cardinals dubia about Amoris Laetitia is splintering the faith. It’s not schism.Yet. The letter of the four Cardinals to Pope Francis, and the decision to go public with this document certainly constitute a stunning affair in […]

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Confrontation: Cardinal Burke on Amoris Laetitia Dubia: ‘Tremendous Division’ Warrants Action

November 16, 2016

Posted by Edward Pentin on Tuesday Nov 15th, 2016 at 11:25 AM In an exclusive Register interview, he elaborates about why four cardinals were impelled to seek clarity about the papal exhortation’s controversial elements. Article main image Four cardinals asked Pope Francis five dubia questions, or “doubts,” about the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy […]

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Four cardinals make public plea to Pope to clarify Amoris Laetitia

November 14, 2016

Four cardinals have made public a message to Pope Francis in which they plead for clarification of Amoris Laetitia, pointing to tensions between the papal document and traditional Catholic teachings on marriage. The four cardinals sent their request for clarification to Pope Francis on September 19. They have received no reply. The prelates explain that […]

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Are Christians and Muslims Equally Violent? Pope Francis’ Answer was Painfully Shallow and Evasive

August 11, 2016

An excerpt from Catholic World Report written by Carl Olsen “The Pope and Fundamentalism” “…This is apparently how Pope Francis understands fundamentalism as well, based on remarks made on several occasions, most recently in his presser on the flight back to the Vatican from his time at World Youth Day in Krakow. As is often […]

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ISIS Disagrees with the Pope and his Comments on Islam

August 4, 2016

BY STEVE SKOJEC ON AUGUST 2, 2016 “In the most recent issue of Dabiq, the propaganda magazine of the Islamic State, ISIS criticizes Pope Francis for his naïveté in clinging to the conviction that Muslims want peace and that acts of Islamic terror are economically motivated. “This is a divinely-warranted war between the Muslim nation […]

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