Beautiful, Moving, and Divisive

Attention TCT readers in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania: On Tuesday April 12, 2016 Robert Royal will deliver the Third Annual Archbishop John J. Myers Lecture on Law, Society and Faith at Seton Hall University in Orange, NJ. Dr. Royal’s talk, “The Grand Tradition of Faith and Reason,” will begin at 5:00 P.M. in Jubilee Hall Auditorium. All are welcome and admission is free, however guests are encouraged to R.S.V.P. online or via email to Gloria Aroneo: or (973) 275-2808.

First, the positives. As there were in the Final Report of the 2015 Synod, there are many beautiful passages in the pope’s new Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) testifying to: God’s original plan for man and woman; love and marriage; children, siblings, parents, grandparents; the bond between the generations; and the crucial importance of all this to the future – and the sheer survival – of the Church and society. Oh, and not least, the “tenderness” of God, which should be reproduced in our homes.

There are also quite a few unambiguous affirmations of Catholic principles related to the subject:

  • openness to life (i.e., no contraception) in every marital act;

  • the right to life, and the right – and duty – of healthcare workers not to participate in abortion, euthanasia, and other anti-life medical procedures;

  • denial that “homosexual unions [are] in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (though persons with same-sex attraction should be ministered to);

  • the need of children for both a mother and a father, and to be born of their own parents (even if sometimes with special needs), not via reproductive technologies that dominate human life or make children mere players in their parent’s life plans;

  • the right of parents to control the education of their children and to receive assistance from the community in doing so.

And much more, even extensive quotations from St. John Paul (notably absent from the Synod text) and Benedict XVI.

Also, like the Synod Report, but at much greater length, Pope Francis lays out the many ways in which people need to be “accompanied” – one of his favored terms – during courtship, the wedding, and the first years of marriage, indeed, throughout their married lives. During the Synod, some of the most interesting presentations came from lay people involved in precisely these sorts of things.

Francis points to their necessity in our time, as never before, because young people around the world often come to marriage now with false or unrealistic expectations created by modern media. And given the poor to non-existent formation they get at home or in parishes these days, he urges parents, teachers, catechists, pastors to recognize how much they need to do before young people get anywhere near the altar in a culture like ours, which puts enormous economic, moral, and social obstacles in their way.

This leads to some lengthy and, at times, quite moving pages on how married persons have to learn to live in true love with partners who are imperfect, and maybe even deeply flawed, as we all are, by sin and our personal histories. There is, he says, a kind of dynamic growth all during married life. It’s unusual to find this kind of advice-to-the-lovelorn material and even a kind of folksy pastoral shrewdness in an official document by a pope. But it’s clear that Francis intends readers to linger over these pages and seriously contemplate how they may reduce tensions within families and the incidence – still rising around the globe – of marital breakdowns.

However, in a first, necessarily quick reading (we’ll have to return to it when time permits calmer reflection), problems begin to crop up amidst all these efforts at understanding and reconciliation. To begin with, what used to be the quite ordinary process of getting married and raising a family, often – very often – is presented in the text as an “ideal,” or some “perfect” arrangement that people will, inevitably, fall short of.

Amoris - 1

The falling short, it’s true, is very common now. You get the impression that it’s because it’s so common that Pope Francis has been seeking Communion for divorced/remarrieds in some circumstances (ever since he invited Cardinal Kasper to present the case).

This is not driven primarily by Scriptural and theological reasons. Indeed, the pope seems almost to think that mercy short circuits what have been regarded as the grounds for Catholic teaching on marriage: “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.” The image here is clearly intended to suggest that dutifully following traditional teaching is akin to stoning the woman taken in adultery. As if our Lord’s own words on indissolubility – and his warnings that divorce/remarriage is adultery (not mere “imperfection” or “irregularity”), were somehow nullified by mercy. (Lk. 16:18; Mt. 19:9; Mk 10:11, 1 Cor. 7:10, etc.)

Amoris Laetitia hopes to resolve the situations of many in the modern world, but is far more likely only to add further fuel to the holocaust. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that once Communion can be taken by the divorced/remarried in some circumstances, it will soon be assumed licit by all. And – why not? – by people in gay relationships, who probably have an equally good claim to mitigating circumstances.

The pope spends many pages explaining how culpability and circumstances may qualify absolute moral principles without compromising the fullness of truth. (No thoughtful person has ever denied this, of course.) He even quotes Aquinas in this context – who is not exactly a poster boy for the kind of “pastoral” change the pope is suggesting. Expect protests from the Thomists.


But despite much candid talk on many matters, he seems hesitant to put the “pastoral” change too clearly. The only place where sacramental change is mentioned as such is in a footnote. And even then the formulation is odd:

351. In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

Which makes you want to ask: where, exactly, is the confessional currently being used as a torture chamber? And where is it taught that the Eucharist is only for the perfect? When you set up straw men like this, it’s usually because it’s easier than making a real argument.

It’s impossible to know for sure, but many priests in the developed world have probably been using the “internal forum” in the Confessional for a long time, precisely in the way Francis is suggesting, to allow people in “irregular” circumstances to receive Communion. It doesn’t seem to have done much for marriage and family, or the Church. And making it a public practice now would surely bring something besides mercy and tenderness.

Here’s a hypothetical that may soon be a test case: suppose that, taking cues from the overall tendency of Amoris Laetitia, the German bishops follow their avowed inclinations and allow Communion for the divorced and remarried. The Polish bishops, adamantly orthodox and finding nothing in the text that explicitly requires changing millennia-old teaching, choose instead to read it as only encouraging greater pastoral counseling with the ultimate goal of leading people to change their lives and follow Christ’s words on marriage.

Both readings may be possible, but the consequences, in this instance and others, are impossible. On one side of a border between two countries, Communion for the divorced and remarried would now become a sign of a new outpouring of God’s mercy and forgiveness. On the other side, giving Communion to someone in “irregular” circumstances remains infidelity to Christ’s words and, potentially, a sacrilege. In concrete terms, around the globe, what looms ahead is chaos and conflict, not Catholicity. A new Iron Curtain may descend between Western Catholicism and the Church in the rest of the world – to say nothing of civil wars within “developed” countries.

When he was embroiled in controversies that eventually led him to the Catholic Church, the great Cardinal Newman warned his Anglican brothers and sisters about mere verbal solutions to concrete differences in faith and morals: “There are no two opinions so contrary to each other, but some form of words may be found vague enough to comprehend them both.” And added: “If the Church is to be vigorous and influential, it must be decided and plain-spoken in its doctrine. . . .To attempt comprehensions of opinion. . .is to mistake arrangements of words, which have no existence except on paper for. . .realities.” We know where that led for Anglicans.

For all his claims to the contrary in these many pages, Francis seems more interested in bringing people comfort than full conversion to what Christ clearly taught on marriage. Newman had seen that too: “Those who make comfort the great subject of their preaching seem to mistake the end of their ministry. Holiness is the great end. There must be a struggle and a trial here. Comfort is a cordial, but no one drinks cordials from morning to night.”


NOTE: It is suggested that commenters read especially Chapters 3 & 4 of the Apostolic Exhortation to best grasp the pope’s arguments. The text of the whole document may be accessed by clicking here.

Robert Royal

Robert Royal

Dr. Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, published by Ignatius Press. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, is now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

  • Tanyi Tanyi

    Well, let us thank God that the damage did not go too far as to explicitly refute doctrine and the words of Christ. The Germans can go ahead with what they want. It will not make any change in the Church in Germany, that is heading towards a no-returning winter!

  • Dominic

    Not to gainsay Cardinal Newman, but I’d rather, “no one HEALTHY (or insert your preferred) drinks cordials from morning to night.”

    I spend lots of time in Church basements with people who do and did.

    Thanks, Bob, many of us deeply value both your insights and quite importantly the timeliness of your reporting. This will at least give me a framework to hear and begin to digest what’s sure to be a massive mountain of reaction. Much of it bad and ill intended.

  • Elijah fan

    Comfort vs. Holiness distinction at the end…wins the gold medal. But this comfort thing began long ago in other forms with the two previous Popes…excessive leniency to priest sex abusers via therapy; and excessive leniency to death row inmates based on claims about modern penology equalling secure prisons. Brazil and Mexico are the two largest Catholic populations. They have very escapable prisons, no executions, and murder rates over twenty times that of East Asia which has also many poor but has death penalties.

  • DaveJ

    More folly from Francis. This too shall pass…

    • Diane

      Will It!

    • Chris in Maryland

      Amen Dave…may it be rejected, and then corrected, and buried with every one of the St. Galen’s Mafia who ran the papal electioneering campaign.

  • PCB

    Merely another Papal exhortation with all the clarity and authority of a yield sign on the Autobahn?

  • Manfred

    Bravo, Robert! I appreciate your addressing AL on the day it was released with such accuracy and clear comment.. The citations from Newman were spot on.
    Another site revealed that Francis cites Matin Luthef King and Erich Fromm.This pope is not a fully-formed Catholic himself. He resembles nothing so much as a leaf in a hurricane. The West went through the First World War, the Great Depression, and World War II, all within twenty-five years,
    and marriage did not need to be changed then. The lack of perfection? “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” “Because of your lukewarmness, I will begin to vomit you out of my mouth.”
    Perhaps some cultures don’t lend themselves to Catholic praxis.

  • Kim Bo

    ” ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is a quietly revolutionary document,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit who is editor at large for America magazine. “It restores the role of personal conscience and reminds pastors to meet people where they are. It will be a great encouragement especially to divorced and remarried Catholics and anyone who feels they have been unwelcome in the church. The message is: Welcome.”

    I agree with Martin. Furthermore when the document speaks of irregular unions, that could include not only adulterers, but heterosexuals cohabitating, homosexual couples, and polygamous groupings. Woe to the future priest who withholds communion from any of the aforementioned.

    The church of Vatican 2 continues its slow and gradual descent.

    • dbrown8

      I appreciate your style. Well done. I’m very familiar with Martin and his quasi heretical views. Maybe he can move to Germany.

  • I don’t know who said it but the only thing in the middle of the road is road kill. More post-Concilliar vagueness, and trying to appease both sides of this unfortunate debate. His solution is nothing more than situation ethics from early 20th Century, dressed up as “mercy”. St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11 mean nothing now.

    • dbrown8

      Well said.

    • Romulus

      “Road kill” is a terribly judgmental way to speak of animal parts that are simply in an irregular situation, in that they fall short of the ideal of being perfectly alive. Have you considered dialogue?

      • Shaune Scott

        Thanks! I needed that chuckle!

    • Vivas

      Such would be incorrect on all counts. And St. Thomas would not even agree with your saying of the only thing in the middle of the Road is road kill. St. Thomas was quite fond of the middle way. In medio stat virtus.

      In Christ ~ a different tertiary

  • Quo Vadis

    So a weak attempt to “split the baby” on divorced Catholics ? I suppose it could have been much worse ! It will be up to the local Bishops, unfortunately in some cases, to provide clear instructions to his priests on the way forward with the divorced. This is will only cause problems and confusion as people move from one place to another and especially for their children who should be taught the proper Doctrine.

    The media has already said that Francis has allowed communion for divorced Catholics. Here we go again !

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Your assessment Dr Royal is correct. What you say in the hypothetical is what will inevitably occur. Schism. Where I may disagree is not in the authenticity of teaching in Amoris Laetitia but in the seeming authentic force of the latter divisive suggestions. Where Francis speaks in defense of doctrine as you first lay out is doctrine that must be adhered to intellectually and in practice. What Francis says ambiguously, without definitive character, is mere suggestion, absolutely not meeting the requirements of doctrine, which is clarity, and definitive admonition that we must adhere to. We can and must dismiss the suggestions that priests be merciful in pastoral care in such manner that Francis appeals to us, which cunningly suggests that suspending adherence to doctrine in practice does not abrogate Apostolic Tradition on the Eucharist. Sadly and ominously many clergy already leaning there are going to run with this. Amoris Laetitia is the line of demarcation between practice of the faith and salvation, and repudiation of the faith and damnation.

    • Bobo Fett

      Afraid schism may be well upon us. It just isn’t visibly led or geographic in any official way. Every week we sit through irreverent Masses with priests who act like they run a country club. We church shop and scour our towns and drive great distances to find devout priests in real churches with devout Masses and hearty sermons. It is so sad I can’t dwell on it.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Bobo there are still bishops who are and will remain faithful to the true faith, the Apostolic Tradition. Brad Miner’s advice is correct, ignore the falsehood and carry on. And there are priests who will continue to feed Christ’s lambs the Truth. This Sunday’s Gospel is Christ’s admonition to Peter to feed His Sheep, feed His Lambs. They are His beloved faithful. There are some who will mitigate the seriousness of what Amoris suggests, because it issues from a pontiff. That is a serious mistake. Our Lord wants us to feed His Lambs with good food, the truth of our faith, not the suggested poison contained in Amoris Laetitia. That I will do this Sunday as will other clergy who we can be assured will remain faithful to Christ and not the misleading words even if tragically issue from a pontiff. Remember the suggestions are not official teaching, they are simply erroneous, damaging opinion. Even a pope can be in error when he gives opinion. Stand fast in your faith and Christ will bless and strengthen you.

        • kathleen

          Thank you, Fr. Morello. I will remember your advice and pass it on to my friends and prayer partners when given the opportunity.

        • Vince Whirlwind

          And what you write? I’d call it also “erroneous, damaging opinion”.

          Did you even read the entire text? You make vague suppositions, seeing what you want to see, instead of what is there.

          “Irregular situations” are not same sex, so-called marriages.

          Lumen Gentium #25 Father.

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            I know something of your background Vince and I understand your objection to what I say, the truth of which cannot be repudiated. My appeal to you is remain faithful to the Apostolic Tradition and the true faith. Many I fear will be lost in following the wrong path due to what Pope Francis says in one place clearly repudiating Church teaching, and in others suggesting a reversal in moral doctrine. Eternal salvation is more important than temporary satisfaction.

      • Patti Day

        No schism, just silence or at most mealy-mouthed explanations about what Francis is really saying and how the media is misinterpreting it.

      • Kay

        Amen, amen! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I see this all around me and I hear, with my own ears, priests (Yes, more than one) tell me that people can gripe all they want about the way the parish is run (country club dream chasing) because the bishop can’t get rid of them – he can only “move” them to another parish. So sad!

    • Rusty

      While Christ gave the Apostles (and through to our priests) the ability to bind and loose, the forgiveness of sins that is Mercy still requires the sinner to “go and sin no more”, doesn’t it?

      If the pastoral response to “non-ideal” situations (?) is to counsel anything but regularization of the situation, how can the penitent approach the Holy Eucharist without further endangering their souls? Presumably, the pastoral approach will require proper explanation of the seriousness of the sinful actions/situation, and offer an avenue that will allow the penitent to live without a continuing mortal sin.

      While culpability can obviously be mitigated by an objective review of the circumstances, unless there is a serious and irresistible form of coercion, I fail to see how a penitent choosing to continue with an objectively sinful situation can possibly be considered consistent with their subsisting in a state of grace. I suppose a person may resort to prostitution if the alternative is starvation or death, but in the long run it would be expected they would pursue alternative ways to support themselves. I also note the great examples from the bible (Abraham and Christ) where God asked of them the most difficult response to God’s will rather than their own wills.

      Perhaps circumstances can indeed render mortal sins venial, but it isn’t merciful to lie to people about the state of their souls.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.


  • Aquinas allowed brothels. I have been told many times by Thomists that a strict application of moral law to immoral people is unjust.

    Myself, I would rather see the ideal as the norm, and mercy limited to the Sacrament of Mercy- the confessional. Anything less is scandal.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      The distinction Theodore that Saint Thomas Aquinas made regarding immoral practices including prostitution was between civil law and moral law. St Thomas Aquinas absolutely and formidably upheld the necessity to practice the faith in order to be saved, whereas civil law could permit due to the human condition, social cohesion some immoral behavior, but not morally affirm that behavior. This Pontiff’s assertion to the contrary and those who follow him is complete dishonest interpretation of the Angelic Doctor.

  • Gisèle A. Demers

    This is going to be like birth control in Paul VI Humanae vitae…Allow loop holes and sin will become the approved norm. It is an absolute mockery of the indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage and of God’s six commandment: Though shalt not commit adultery.

  • Alicia123

    “….what looms ahead is chaos and conflict..” It’s going to be horrible. Today is a very, very sad day for our beloved Church. I’m speechless. How could he do it .?

  • RickWI

    We need a movement to “make the Catholic Church great again.”

    • Ray Schultz

      The Catholic Church WAS great until this pope ruined it

      • lwhite

        Actually, go back 50 years.

    • Karen Hall

      I’d settle for making it Catholic again.

      • RickWI

        You deserve a steak dinner for that comment. Bravo!

  • Diane

    So, now what do faithful Catholics do? We cannot go against the teachings of Christ!

    • Brad Miner

      Since no specific changes are contained in the pope’s exhortation, we go on as before.

      • Diane

        Can the remarrieds and those living in homosexual unions or heterosexuals living together receive the Holy Eucharist? If so, a lot has changed!

    • Karen Hall

      Apparently we can, depending on where we live.

  • Ray Schultz

    How very non-denominational and feel good of him. He may fill the pews, but he is destroying the Church.

    • lwhite

      Destroying souls.

  • Joe_NS

    Pharisaism, unembarrassed and quite accomplished, but prolix Pharisaism nonetheless.

  • Cheryl Jefferies

    Few will do as Robert Royal has done and note the statements about both Life and homosexuality. Most will focus on the part about “conscience,” while either ignoring or even not knowing about the differences and causes of a “well-formed conscience” vs. a “poorly-formed conscience.” My concern is that we’ve often been consumed by the destructive mantra of the 1960s…”I’m o.k. You’re o.k.” Which basically means…anything goes…which should be the motto of those who succumb to secular moral relativism. All I can do myself at this point is express my genuine concern, take a deep breath, sigh, pray, pray, pray…and, trust God.

  • Bobo Fett

    This article is what is so excellent about this website. You get the strong feeling you’re getting the plain truth with solid context.

  • dbrown8

    Just as I hope America can survive Obama, I hope and pray the Church can survive this pope.

    • The Church will survive. America? Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

  • Diane

    So, now I just heard from a morning radio program that the Pope is allowing same sex marriage. See how things will be broadened in the view of others. So, just as predicted, the year of mercy is the year of allowing sinfulness as normal. I am truly upset and disgusted! I will be going to an underground Catholic Church.

  • Veritas

    It would seem to me that Francis is more pointing out reality, and how to handle it than taking on a new design for the church.
    For the German bishops to take such a stand (I haven’t read the document, but from the 3 opinions I have seen) would be an overreach, since individual circumstances are important in matters of sin.
    There are several instances I have encountered where a person is divorced by a spouse who simply abandoned them and either disappeared or remained convinced that the church teachings on marriage were never to be applied to them. Yet, the local tribunal refuses to see a situation of nullify. This is the opposite extreme. Possibly an overreach as well.
    Francis is pointing out that life is not so straight forward among the sheep and to take this into consideration.
    Does an abandoned woman in poverty with her children have the same culpability to adultery as a person who walks away out of convenience and indifference, and then remarries?
    Schism? If our church is from God, it will not be so easily destroyed, as pointed out in our first reading today.

    Comfort vs holiness is a straw man in itself; it is much more fruitful to instruct the ignorant and correct sinners when we first comfort the afflicted, visit the sick and feed the hungry. If comfort is the only aim the church has fallen short, but it also falls short if we only admonish sinners. Francis is asking for the church, all of us, to do all of the works of mercy, not just those that we like best.

    • Hypatia

      It works the other way too. I encountered a case of a Catholic couple married (by a priest) together for 30 years with 5 children. They even had a ceremony renewing their wedding vows. The wife followed her husband to various army postings.
      Then he decided he wished to
      marry another woman. Since the new honey was Catholic he got an annulment–something about his psychology when he got married all those years ago. This demonstrated to all and sundry that, if they can declare the original wedding invalid on some psychological grounds, it doesn’t matter that a marriage certainly developed/occurred through the years. (BTW I am a psychiatrist; if you want to you can find some imperfection in every decision/promise a human being makes. Very little we do is totally un ambivalent. Also, the brain may not be totally myelinated/mature before age 25. So anyone marrying before that could have grounds for annulment.)
      Under the present regime this man can go to Communion and is a member in good standing.(The wife, who had been a practicing Catholic left the Church after this.) I wonder if the Pope’s analysis would be more accurate than this legalistic slight of hand. Likely he would call the husband to repent, rather than say there was no marriage inthe first place.

      • Veritas

        In an age and culture in which marriage can mean anything, literally, for a legal property right agreement to an arrangement of convenience, to convenant to a sacrement, how are young people in the church expected to understand this? Marriage prep is better than 25 years ago but this indoctrination of culture should not be easily dismissed.
        Spoke to a 22 year old who attended pretty orthodox catholic school and high school, and was told that 80% or more of their former classmates would divorce if a spouse was unfaithful. Don’t try to tell me they understand indissolubilty.

  • James

    This morning out here in the west, before the sun had risen, we already heard from the bubbling blond on the news that all the divorced and remarried who want to receive communion need do is “ask the priest.”
    The medium is the message.
    This is a catastrophe, and there is no use employing our fifty year old well-honed
    techniques to make the spectrum of nanny-speak, fraudulence, sloppy thinking,
    disingenuous notions, plain mendacity, pandering, et al., from whatever clerical source jive with Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterium. We do this out of a loyalty that has its source in faith and love, but also desperation. We are being sorely disserved.
    Confessional torture chambers? Where did that come from? Clueless.
    The torture right now is witnessing the Roman Catholic Church, being ravaged by those who profess to be its pastors, its guardians.
    God reward you, Robert Royal. Yours will bandage me enough for this day, the day Drudge headlines: “The Age of Individual Conscience” and “Pope urges acceptance of
    gays, divorced…

  • Rene

    Disaster from Pope Confusion. With typical ambiguity, he is giving some legitimacy to a rupture between doctrine and pastoral practice. He does not change doctrine, because the Holy Spirit would not allow it, and Francis knows he cannot change doctrine. But by giving some legitimacy to this rupture, he gives the impression that doctrine is irrelevant to practice, if doctrine appears to collide with his idea of mercy. The “Spirit of Vatican II” (the hermeneutic of rupture) in interpreting Vatican II brought disaster to the Church. Amoris Laetitia is not likely to bring revival to either the Catholic Church or the Christian family, but rather more disaster. Why? Because the usual suspects, (and there are legion among the clergy, the religious and the laity), will interpret this apostolic exhortation using the hermeneutic of (false) mercy to follow pastoral practices that do not agree with doctrine, and Rome will be silent under Pope Francis’ leadership. Since we all know that actions speak louder than words, these pastoral practices will eventually lead many to believe that Catholic doctrine is irrelevant if it collides with their ideas of what is being nice. A caveat to the reader. My comments are not based on my readings of the apostolic exhortation, but on the analysis above. And I trust Dr. Royal’s analysis more than I trust Pope Francis’ ambiguous words. May God (the author of Catholic doctrine) have mercy on Pope Francis and the Church he is misleading regarding the crucial importance of Catholic doctrine for the guidance of pastoral practices. Will a great chastisement be long in coming?

    • kathleen

      Your comments are incisive and helpful. And a good addendum to Dr. Royal’s commentary. Keep praying and trusting in Jesus. It’s His Church and He has not abandoned us. Stay true to the Faith and leave the rest to God. We know He is in charge. And, most important now, pray, pray for our Holy Father for God’s will in all that he does. We must keep up our prayers for Pope Francis, for all members of the clergy, especially those in leadership positions. They have an enormous responsibility and will answer to God, as we all will. Lastly, we need to pray for ourselves and our loved ones that we will stay faithful and remain on the narrow road. The broad road is very inviting, but it leads to destruction.

  • Ray Schultz

    I honestly don’t believe I can be a part of the Catholic Church anymore. His words led me to the biggest crisis of faith I have ever had. He is trying very hard to lead the church to the gates of hell and I simply can not follow him

    • James

      There is no other place to go. Let us gather by Our Lord and pray. He was abandoned and that is where we will find Him, sharing our abandonment. Don’t absent yourself from His companionship in the sacraments. Stay close to the Lord. You are not alone.

    • Rene

      Don’t leave. I left the Church after VII and after 30 years I came back. Remember Peter’s words Christ is the truth, where can you go? The Church has had bad popes and has survived. God is in control. This too shall pass. God is testing our faith.

    • Alicia123

      Yes Ray, you can stay because it is the Catholic Church of Jesus. It isn’t the Catholic Church of Pope Francis !
      Popes come and go, but Jesus, His teachings, and His church remain.
      Our faith is in Jesus who gave us the true doctrine, not a pope who is giving us a salad bar where you can pick and choose and then add on top your favorite dressing.
      St. Catherine of Sienna didn’t leave, she stayed, prayed and fought for the church.
      Stay, pray, and trust that the Holy Spirit will fix it once and for all.
      Join Cardenal Burke’s worlwide Rosary Warrior Crusade in his Operation Storm Heaven.
      God bless you.

      • Gitanjali Sudhir

        Whom to follow? Pope Francis and JESUS or Robert Royal and Francis?
        I think I want that Robert to establish a New Catholic Church and I would like to enroll myself in it as its First Member…

        • steve5656546346

          Wow! Just wow!

          Each new Pope does not redefine the Church. This Encyclical concerns a subject about which the Church has been clear from the beginning, and which was reinforced very clearly by St. Pope JPII: Rome has spoken. No about of verbose ambiguity changes that.

      • Susy

        Excellent advice, Alicia.

      • kathleen

        I have joined Cardinal Burke’s Rosary Warrior Crusade and have spread the word. Prayer and fasting… We will stay true to the Church and her teachings and continue to pray for our Pope and all of our priests, especially our bishops who have an awesome and responsible task of leading the faithful in all truth and faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

        • Alexandra

          Amen, amen! My brother and I have joined it as well. Laudem gloriae.

    • lwhite

      He is an apostate. Do not place your trust in man. Trust God who has not abandoned His true flock but given us a needed chastisement. He will never abandon the Catholic who remains faithful to the true teachings of the Church and perseveres to the end.

    • VeilOfTiers

      There are good priests out there. Find one. I am fortunate to know one. They need our support. Please don’t leave the Church!

    • Chris in Maryland

      Ray…for the sake of goodness, don’t say that…but say rather that you will resist and reject and correct such errors. One failing Pope is surely not the end of the Church…if so…we wouldn’t be here as Catholics.

    • Margarett Cahill Zavodny

      That’s why we have to put our faith in God first. We know that Christ established His Church on earth. All the bad Popes and antiPopes have not managed to destroy it. We know that the fullness of Truth lies in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

  • Michael Dowd

    On balance issuing this document was not a good idea. The good parts will be ignored, the bad parts divisive with the result that the Church’s credibility will suffer continued loss. And, of course, few will read it leaving interpretation mostly to the secular media who will interpret it in the most liberal of ways.

    • PCB

      This is also my biggest fear.

    • Fred

      Of course. And I highly doubt that is an accident.

  • TJM

    This papacy reminds me of an old sales technique: throw a lot of crap at the wall and see what sticks. Then adjust to the feedback. We’ve seen innumerable statements and interviews released from this pope with startling and vague pronouncements. He seems to want to incite such firestorms (toss a grenade out and see what happens) and then watch as the storm rages, then throw a bucket or two of water afterward. The so-called Year of Mercy is not even a thinly veiled attempt at shattering 2000 years of Church teachings grounded in Christ. Can a pope be impeached? Meanwhile Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and nary a word of condemnation and exhortation by the pope to the major nations to bring these wars to a halt (and Russia has demonstrated that it can be done). Better to have remained silent! The Church is not unlike a baseball team…most always master the fundamentals first! This pope has abandoned the fundamentals.

  • Fidei Defensor

    Francis needs to go. We must all pray for the See of Peter to be Sede Vacante very soon.

    • Alexandra

      We should pray for the holy Will of God to be done, always and everywhere.

  • Jill

    Is Pope Francis worse than King Saul? David repented of even clipping the robe of the Lord’s anointed. We ought not sound like Abishai. Trust God and be loyal to Him.

    • PCB

      This latest has left me feeling quite disillusioned and you are good to offer a voice of calm and hope, Jill.

  • Steven Hotho

    Serious Catholics are going to have to ask themselves some very serious questions. Has the Pope entered into apostasy and, if so, what does it portend for the universal Church and what does it portend for me as a member of that Church? How does one follow mammon and Christ at the same time?

    • Jon

      Of what specific apostasy or of what established heresy would you accuse him for our consideration?

    • mrteachersir

      The Pope is, at worst, guilty of the same sin as Pope Honorius: failing to teach the Truth and allowing error to be proclaimed on the same footing as Truth. He has not committed any apostasy or overt heresy…

      • Fred

        As of now, I agree with you. But I feel strongly that the Pope would be denying doctrine and changing it in the direction of secular culture if he thought he could without severe disruptions in the Church. So I believe he is doing the next best thing (from his point of view), undermining it slowly by making deliberately obscure statements that allow him to be perceived as changing doctrine, in effect for all practical purposes doing so, while being vague enough to plausibly deny that is what he is doing to those who would object.

        • mrteachersir

          I think two more likely scenarios, given what I have seen and heard from the Holy Father: 1) he is truly unsure of the solution, and would like to uphold the Dogma of Marital Indissolubility, but is unsure how its consequences (divorced and civilly remarried couples being in adulterous relationships and therefore de facto out of a state of grace), matches with his understanding of Divine Mercy; 2) that he, like the Second Vatican Council, doesn’t want to be the one to make an absolute decision on such a “contentious” issue, and is kicking the can down the road. I’m not quite sure that Pope Francis has truly accepted the role of the Bishop of Rome in that regard…

    • Vivas


      Serious Catholics will have to ask themselves rather to receive the Document of the Successor of Peter as what it is – a Document of the Successor of Peter.

      • Steven Hotho

        Yep, one can do that. I would prefer, however, to stay with the teachings of the predecessor of Peter.

        • Vivas

          There is no predecessor of Peter.

          • Steven Hotho

            His name was Jesus Christ

          • Vivas

            Peter was not the successor of Jesus Christ -he was given authority and office by Jesus Christ. He was not his successor. And Jesus Christ- IS -not was. And he still has his name.

            Peter had no predecessor but rather successors. Pope Francis currently holds the keys given by Christ Jesus the Lord.

  • lwhite

    Yet another Modernist masterpiece. Not surprising at all. The Revolution against Christ and His true followers continues unabated. The revolutionaries won’t be satisfied until the last remnant of the true faith isn’t first compromised and then forgotten. They will “accompany” the unrepentent sinner and the enemies of Christ, right down into the bowels of Hell.

    Diabolical and ugly.

    • Beautiful, Moving, and Divisive Diabolical and ugly.
      Thank you for correcting Dr. Royal’s heading.

  • After what you claim is a “necessarily quick” first reading, you say at the end of your article that the Pope “seems more interested in bringing people comfort than full conversion to what Christ really taught on marriage.” Wow! Robert, do you think that the word “seems” is a sufficient qualifier to keep people from making rash judgment regarding the Successor of Saint Peter? I don’t think you would have published something like this before the days of the Internet. Why don’t you take the time to listen respectfully to the Vicar of Christ before you make such a sweeping (and unjust) statement about his motivations? Are you responding to the needs of the Gospel or to the rush for media comment? Perhaps you should give this some more thought (and prayer) and clarify your rhetoric. I know you praised much of the document, but you need to comment more carefully about the pastoral issues and the Pope’s motivations (if you truly believe it is your duty to assess them and that you can do so with justice). I hope to see a careful revision of this article or an update. Please understand, Robert, that I offer these comments with the respect and affection of a colleague. God bless you.

    • Romulus

      John, please. We don’t do judgmentalism any more. People can believe whatever they want. Quid est veritas?

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      If a colleague feels compelled in conscience to separate doctrinal truth from suggested error for the benefit of his constituents on the most vital issue we face, salvation, to lead them in the right direction, should he, unlike Saint Thomas More for sake of colleagiality follow the advice of a colleague in the other direction?

      • Vivas

        I think Saint Thomas More would not agree with your use here of his name and example here…he would not find it fitting nor apt.

        • tmirus

          Yes, and it doesn’t relate at all to what John was saying.

        • Bobo Fett

          The citing of Thomas More is absolutely precise here. More might use the kind of silence that speaks so loudly everyone in the realm knew what he thought.

          As an earlier commenter said, if only Francis were the pope in the time of Henry Vlll. Then we wouldn’t have lost England, and it would only have been at the cost of first spouses and their children.

    • accelerator

      This sort of mindset is what enabled Vatican II. Thank the Lord we have the internet and an informed laity to save us from our own clergy.

  • Howard Kainz

    Welcome to the ongoing schism between “conscience” and “following rules,” which began with the dissent from Humanae Vitae.

  • Chris in Maryland

    Someone wrote that this paper is longer than the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke combined.

    Which stirs this thought: “Ye multiplieth words, without understanding.”

    May it be corrected by the faithful, erased from the history of the Church, and buried with every one of the St. Galen’s Mafia.

  • michael ortiz

    Heard this morning on Diane Rehm’s talk show on NPR–The RCC is now making adjustments so to stay “relevant” to the changing modern world.


  • Dave Fladlien

    I’d love to comment, but I haven’t read even key parts of the actual document yet. But I’m really curious how many of the commentors here actually have —

    • steve5656546346

      Most of us have a stark choice: read the ocean of words coming from the Vatican almost daily–along with all the arguments, excuses, and evasions about their confusion–or read Church documents that have stood the test of time and are clear and concise.

      Less words; more clarity.

    • James

      While your point has credence, it is moot given the reality that despite widespread literacy, issues requiring some cognitive skills are a bridge too far for most of the inhabitants of the planet. Theological capacity and context, once available on a certain level to children and adolescents by virtue of credible, comprehensive catechesis, is virtually nonexistent among adults. Why would any “pastor,” let alone this “pastoral” pope have his personal theologian Victor Manuel Fernandez (consecrated bishop two months after the election of Pope Francis and author of “Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing” ) produce more than two hundred pages on a sacrament that has been the cause of martyrs and well examined over centuries, and particularly well reflected upon over the last fifty years by far wiser and holier men than he.
      A simple and brief post-synodal exhortation to take up adult, Christian responsibility in the face of the sacrament of Matrimony, along with a useful, credible and comprehensive instruction to priests on how to effect this in their parishes is what is required. Apparently that is a bridge too far for these intellectuals, and in place of that, we have more poetics camouflaging the crack in the wall to “do what you feel is right according to your conscience.”
      The local news, Drudge and the tickertape at the bottom of your screen are
      all doing a spectacular job of regurgitating the condensed “wisdom” of AMORIS LAETITIA for the uncatechized masses. Keep your eyes peeled, your ears open, you will find out what the exhortation conveys. And “that” is what matters. You don’t need to read it. Our pastors in Rome know full well how this works. It was employed all through the Vatican council. Let the media hijack the document, interpret if for the groundlings, hands of the
      theologians and prelates are clean, desired “new” teaching is conveyed and
      assimilated. “But we did our best. We didn’t do anything wrong. It was all
      despite our best efforts.”
      It is happening, and the desired effect is careening down into the abyss.

      • Andrew

        As a doctor I saw a non-Catholic patient who was seeing a married man going through a nasty divorce with his wife. I asked her to think about what God is saying to her in light of her injuries which occurred and were actually getting worse while seeing this man. She was a very strict Bible believing Christian and there were passages in her Church services which reminded her of the Lord’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. Subsequently, the relationship has cooled and she is having second thoughts. Conscience is not whim or caprice but an honest look at my life in regards to the teaching of Our Lord to be a true follower of Him and not just one who shows “lip-service” which the Prophets of the OT and Our Lord condemned.

  • George Sim Johnston

    As Robert Royal points out, where exactly is the Confessional being used as a torture chamber? I am careful in my choice of confessors, but friends report to me that priests in the Confessional no longer regard non-attendance at Sunday Mass and most sexual irregularities as sinful. One priest refused to give absolution for an act which the Church has always defined as sinful, and confessor and penitent got into a debate on the subject. Another priest told his penitent to attend Sunday Mass “only when you feel like it” and that a weekday Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation. I never hear stories (which one did in the old days) of a Jansenist confessor coming down hard on the poor penitent.

    • Romulus

      Straw Man seems to be the pope’s default rhetorical mode. It indicates intellectual flab and sloth. It is tiresome

    • Dave Fladlien

      I know you live in a different part of the country from me, Sim, but I feel literally obligated to say that, even though I live in a pretty liberal location (Northern California, the liberal half of a liberal state), I have *never* heard the kinds of things you cite from any priest. In the parishes I’ve been in the last 40 years, I’ve always heard the opposite, and do still today.

      What I do not hear, and I find this offensive, is sermons indicating clearly that it is a grave and deadly sin to vote for liberal democrats who would promote abortion, insist on Christians violating their consciences, and practically end free enterprise and freedom of speech. That’s where the key church deficiencies are where I live.

  • Vivas

    Robert I think your reading of the document needs to be revisited. It is too much influenced it seems by all the discussions running up to the document.

  • data_file_7

    Commonweal’s headline is “What Is Francis Saying with ‘Amoris Laetitia’?”

    Says a lot, I think, that you even need to ask the question, much less make it the title of the article.

  • Charles Adams

    I do not read or hear about the lost sheep, you are forgiven and sin no more and you throw the first stone. When a person sins there is a reason and each reason is different. Read about the army Lutheran chaplain at the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials. He stated If Christian cannot forgive our graves would be empty ghosts. Forgiveness is basic Chistian

  • Gus

    I am quite disappointed in your analysis of Amoris Laetitia, Dr. Royal, and in many of the comments here that your quick analysis has fomented. In the entire 264-page document, yes, there are some paragraphs that can probably be ‘taken out of context’ (and probably already have been by the secular media) to say the Pope says it’s OK for divorced people to receive Communion. That is not what Amoris Laetitia says. Only two paragraphs in Chapter 3 (78 and 79) might even be thought to be somewhat problematic. Chapter 4 was a beautiful analysis of what Love in Marriage (the title of the chapter) should be, so I’m not sure what problem you had with this chapter. Chapter 8, “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness” is the most difficult chapter to digest. I do have my own thoughts on this chapter and I hope you will take some time tomorrow to offer up a more genuine analysis of Amoris Laetitia.

    • Alexandra

      I had similar thoughts as I read AL, thus I shall read it other times and pray about it.

  • J.E. Rendini

    What I find difficult to understand is how parish priests are going to find the time to go through the process of discernment the Holy Father describes with all the “penitents(?)” living in “irregular(?)” marriages? Lack of time and available confessors is going to lead to the application of bright-line rules or no rules at all.

    • givelifeachance2

      Doubly or quadrupally so if the “pastor” is heterosex-disadvantaged (the oxymoronic “homosex priest”). This might launch a new light bulb joke – how many homosex priests does it take to accompany an irregular couple?

  • Jim the Scott

    >But despite much candid talk on many matters, he seems hesitant to put the “pastoral” change too clearly. The only place where sacramental change is mentioned as such is in a footnote. And even then the formulation is odd:

    Since it is not clear then it doesn’t exist. Since if the Pope wishes to change discipline he needs to be clear. Paul VI was clear about wither or not we would continue to use the St Pius V Mass and St John Paul II and Benedict XVI clearly reversed him to some degree and a future proverbial Pope Pius XIII could do so.

    But after reading the nutters claim this document “contradicts the Catholic Faith” from the radical pseudo Trad crowd your more balanced critique is quite refreshing.

  • steve5656546346

    Excellent article!

  • WesleyD

    Mr. Royal, thank you for your helpful analysis of this document — both the good and the bad. One question: You mention that Amoris laetitia restates the traditional doctrine on “openness to life (i.e., no contraception) in every marital act”. Can you clarify where this is mentioned in the document? Many media outlets are claiming that contraception isn’t mentioned at all in the document.

    • RobertRoyal

      Cf. Section 80 in particular – the word contraception is not used , but no atholic would misunderstand this: “love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning,86 even when for various reasons it may not always in fact beget a new life.” Also cf. 82 and other references to Humanae Vitae

      • WesleyD


  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    This morning the Drudge Report headlined (loudly) “Age of ‘Individual Conscience'”. With that, the document has been thoroughly interpreted for 97% of the word’s population (including worldly Catholics).

    In view of that, in the end (practically – or is that pastorally) the document does not confirm the teaching of the Church as much as it confirms “the way we live now”.

  • Questioner @ large

    What a waste of lives and the loss of England. If only Pope Francis had been Pope, Henry VIII and Anne Boylyn would have been happily entrenched as king and queen. Also, poor Queen Catherine would have gotten the same treatment from Pope Francis’ Church hat first wives and families will be getting now.

  • Athelstane

    “For all his claims to the contrary in these many pages, Francis seems more interested in bringing people comfort than full conversion to what Christ clearly taught on marriage.”

    It’s very hard for me to escape this conclusion as well, I’m afraid.

    • Sheila

      Marriage is meant to school us in being unselfish, giving, life bearing, etc etc. Anything else is not of God and mortally wounds the soul. Pope St JP II nailed it with Theology of the Body. Dear Pope St JPII please intercede for our culture and our country to turn back to God and learn to live a holy and unselfish life as intended.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    In response to criticism that Robert Royal’s assessment [including my own] is specious Dr Royal correctly believes Pope Francis’ footnote #351 of Saint Thomas Aquinas is questionable. Francis sets up an argument for accommodation of irregular unions including homosexual unions. Pope Frances refers to Aquinas in 1a2ae 94, Art 4 as showing that the more we examine details of implementation of a moral principle, here natural law, the more we find irregularities that render the principle irrelevant or inconclusive. Aquinas is actually examining instances of justice such as the necessity to return another’s property. “The greater the number of conditions the greater ways in which the principle may fail” Aquinas. For example, if I borrowed a weapon from someone who now wants to murder someone else with it, I am not obliged to return it. Aquinas says that while the essence of justice never changes, under certain conditions its application can differ. The complete fabrication on the part of Francis is that he is referring to irregular unions, some of which are intrinsically evil, homosexual unions, or adulterous unions. Those acts are evil by nature. No conditions can rectify them. This is not ambiguous. Francis is in absolute error, and in contradiction to the faith. Francis adds therefore “A pastor cannot feel it enough to apply moral laws to those living in irregular situations” (Amoris Laetitia, Ch eight, #305, p 236).

    • Vivas

      Arguments for homosexual unions? The Pope Francis is not making any such argument….

      I would also suggest rethink other aspects of what you have said…

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Vivas it seems you gave me an upvote. The thesis of the section titled Rules and Discernment in Amoris questions the application of settled doctrine using Aquinas’ premise that natural law principles in some instances become inconclusive due to conditions. Aquinas gives justice in returning belongings as an example. Another example is Do not steal. In some conditions secretly taking from the excess of others in an emergency is not stealing, such as taking fruit from an orchard if you are starved for nourishment. Pope Francis uses that argument in reference to irregular unions, which include homosexual unions and divorced and remarried. The principles that apply here are unconditional because these irregular unions are evil by nature. Francis clearly makes the argument that the moral principles that define such unions as evil by nature are inconclusive, using Aquinas’ reasoning out of context. Therefore, the pastor is urged to instead assess the person’s status with God, suggesting communion and “not throw stones at them,” meaning those moral principles. Now being pastoral, loving, helpful spiritually is valid and an entirely different matter.

      • Diane

        He most certainly is! What do you think irregular unions are composed of?

    • Alexandra

      Fr. Morello, I didn’t read homosexual unions in “irregular” situations.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Alexandra Homosexual unions are implied in irregular unions. Page 232 section 301 Mitigating Factors in Pastoral Discernment: Pope Francis says “It can no longer be said all those living in an ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin.” If this pertains only to divorced and remarried it does not specify that. If Francis omitted specification it implies “all” living in irregular unions. He uses the word “situation” in place of union further leaving the understanding of “all persons” open to mean persons involved in any irregular relationship. Amoris Laetitia is like someone presenting you with a beautiful, fragrant bouquet of flowers but hidden within is a Black Mamba.

        • Sheila

          Yes. I was drawn to that word “situation” and wondered what it really meant. It felt kind of like Pope Francis left a door open. Black Mamba sounds scary!

          • TerryC

            It is easy to pick a case where this is true. If a married couple exists where one person was previously married whether, but an annulment was not sought is the couple living in an irregular situation? Yes. Are they living in mortal sin? That is not determinable. Why? because the validity of the first marriage has not been determined. Now the valdity of a marriage that has not been examined for validity has always been assumed to be valid, so it has always been the assumption that the second marriage must not be valid because of that assumption. However if the assumption is wrong and the first marriage is actually invalid then the “irregular” situation does not embody a mortal sin, because one cannot not sin without sinning.
            Of course the resolution of this situation is to petition for a ruling on the first marriage, which would remove any ambiguity of the status of the second (truely first) marriage.
            In no case would these conditions obtain for any other “irregular” situation. Unfortunately Dr. Morello is right. The number of “Irregular” situations where the people are living in mortal sin probably vastly outnumber the ones where they are not and the document does not make this clear. It’s ambiguity will be used to justify not pastorally dealing with the sinful situations. The way to pastorally dealing with them is of course to condemn them (the situations) while trying to lead the individuals in the situations to doing the right thing, whatever that means for the specific situation. Sometimes that will be seeking annulments, sometimes realizing that there are no pain free consequences and deciding to practice continence for the good the children of the second, non-valid marriage or even divorce to be free of the second non-valid marriage civilly and back in a state of grace.

        • Alexandra

          Thank you Father Morello. Yes, you are right. I didn’t notice this in my first reading of AL: I guess I was so touched by the fragrant bouquet that missed the thorns in it, ouch!

          Actually in paragraph 297 he is more clear :

          297. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!
          Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves”.

          Pope Francis also doesn’t believe in eternal damnation.

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            Appreciate your bringing this out in 297 Alexandra.

    • Hypatia

      Well, that might be begging the question.

      In the case of homosexuality,
      “intrinsically disordered” is not necessarily the same thing as “intrinsically evil.”

      What evidence we have points out that in some cases the “disorder” is in the person’s hypothalamus, either from genetics or intrauterine hormonal environment. This is not changeable/treatable at this stage of medical technology. It is a given.

      The question of evil becomes involved when we look at what the individual with this “disorder” does with it. Since whatever he does is unnatural, he is in a dilemma. It is unnatural from the point of view of his brain ( which subsumes attraction, love, emotional compatibility) for him to marry a woman–and cruel too. It is unnatural from the point of view of the structure of genitals to
      marry someone of the same sex. It is unnatural for the vast majority of humans to remain unpaired and celibate; those who have tried to–without having the vocation–report that lack of sex is the least of their problems (at least after age 40). Loneliness is the issue, that is the lack of a helpmeet for “the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and in adversity.” So whatever they do will have something disordered about it. As is so often true in life, they must choose the least harmful option. That is the way, in my view, to do good and avoid the evil you speak of.

      The sense of the faithful is going toward monogamous same sex civil marriage. The 2014 Pew polls state 77% of self identified Catholics say homosexuality is acceptable 65% support same sex marriage. One could say that these are cultural/cafeteria Catholics, but they broke it down to weekly Mass goers and found that 60% of those considered homosexuality acceptable and 45% supported same sex marriage. That last figure is particularly telling.

      Of 18 to 29 year old Catholics (unfortunately not broken down by frequency of Mass attendance) 85% say homosexuality is acceptable; 75% support same sex marriage.

      Maybe the laity knows something the Catholic clergy is just beginning to figure out.

      • DaveJ

        Maybe truth isn’t found in polls. As I recall there was a poll and the laity chose Barabbas.

      • Fr. Peter Morello

        I have empathy for your apparent conflict with Church teaching. Disorder is intrinsic evil in the case of homosexual relations because the order in disorder refers to the order of nature as ordained by God. It reflects the eternal law. There is, it is true many reasons why persons have this disorder. Frequently a homosexual may not have consciously willed to be such. For most it is elective. Somewhere in their lives perhaps from the earliest they move in the direction of same sex attraction. And as you argue in many instances that elective behavior, the choice is mitigated due to social and psychological conditions. In your case, if I am correct in saying so that it is a personal issue, it way well be due to some of the physical reasons that a person has little control over in the attraction to their own sex. Consensus within the Church on homosexuality is not the measure nor the rule of what God has taught us and what we are called to believe. My strong counsel is go to confession when necessary and do your best to remain faithful.

      • Hypatia, the human genome project found no gay gene. Supposition that causation may be hormonal storms or disorder in the hypothalamus is speculation with little scientific support. Same sex attraction is a developmental misstep. When addressed early it is very often corrected. However, a culture that supports, even encourages a disordered sexuality effectively consigns many more to the disorder. The “sense of the faithful” is nothing other than a massive marketing campaign to which a generation of the faithful have been subjected. Now, we penalize and marginalize those who, rationally, will not submit to the falsity of LBGT creeds.

        Imagine that we had created a Rickets Rights campaign for children born with Rickets, rather than find the true cause. We would have a generation of people unable to walk straight, and we would protect their right to walk in that uncomfortable waddling gait, unable to run well or dance or ski…we might encourage children with strong bones to imitate the waddling gait of The child with Rickets, we might have Rickets. Pride Day.

        But we discovered that Rickets is caused by lack of vitamin D. The study of cause of same-sex attraction is politicized now, because LBGT advocates do not want to find a solution, they prefer the industry that has been built up to advance their goals, rather than to solve the mystery of the cause and resolve it so that far fewer people need ever suffer with the disorder.

        These comments are not meant to disparage the struggle of anyone, or any families who struggle with same-sex attraction. The hope and. Prayer is for a society that is courageous enough to acknowledge that the condition should be addressed with science and spiritual support, not held hostage to a political juggernaut.

  • Beautiful, Moving, and Divisive
    In Catena Aurea, St. John Chrysostom wrote It is proper to the devil to mix falsehood with truth.
    This is the fault with our world today, expecially the western world, and very common in America, the picking and choosing. Surely one would not eat poisoned food just because there is only a little amount of poison in it? And there is a lot that is misleasding and erroneous in this document.

  • catnet83

    This reminds me of what Mother Angelica lamented over the Liberal Church of America: “You open little cracks here and there; and before we know it, we all fall into these holes.” We need her fearless and faithful voice more than ever.

    It is diabolical that the Vicar of Christ is willfully opening cracks on the Temple door allowing the smoke of Satan fill the Sanctuary. Lord, have mercy on us! Our Lady of Fatima, St. Michael, and St. Joseph, pray for us!

  • aguest

    Just finished reading it in its entirety–I wanted to form my own opinions before reading others.

    I am not necessarily referring to the conclusions nor stating an opinion on the substantive messages in the document, but “Beautiful”–no way! There is nothing beautiful nor scholarly about the style or composition of this document.

    For example, this is either just poorly worded, an attack on scholars and bioethicists, or, maybe that’s the way the Church operates in Argentina–for I cannot recall an instance wherein a Priest didn’t stress grace:
    “We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life.”
    Or maybe he’s stuck in the 1950’s–when those like my Aunt, whom was told after nearly being beaten to death by her husband, to go home to him? Further, most of the document is, of course, touching on moral and/or bioethical issues!

    And it wasn’t surprising to see this: “Nor can we overlook the social degeneration brought about by sin, as, for example, when human beings tyrannize nature, selfishly and even brutally ravaging it. This leads to the desertification of the earth (cf. Gen 3:17-19) and those social and economic imbalances denounced by the prophets, beginning with Elijah (cf. 1 Kg 21) and culminating in Jesus’ own words against injustice” (Hence the Bernie invite?)

    I was happy to see he upheld Catholic Bioethicists’ positions here:
    “So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the “property” of another human being. The family protects human life in all its stages, including its last. …

    …So it matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations. …

    …yet in our own day, we cannot overlook the use of surrogate mothers and “the exploitation and commercialization of the female body in the current media culture”.42” [IMHO, should have been more emphasis placed on surrogacy, egg harvesting, etc. over “media culture.”]

  • Diane

    Yes or No! Can remarrieds or those in active homosexual unions or heterosexuals living together receive the Holy Eucharist as though not in mortal sin? Tell it like it is, just the truth, stop the confusion. If so, then to me, the Doctrines have changed. We can’t pretend by calling it something else, like Mercy.

    • TomD

      ” Can remarrieds or those in active homosexual unions or heterosexuals living together receive the Holy Eucharist as though not in mortal sin?”

      Maybe yes. Maybe no.

      The relativists have won this round. I hate being a cynic, but it would appear that a personal, perhaps idiosyncratic, sense of mercy, ultimately decides. Or maybe it doesn’t. The issue just hangs there ambiguously . . . make a seemingly definitive pronouncement in one place, plant the seeds against it in another . . . and let them coexist. The relativists have won this round.

      I find it interesting that certain members of the US Supreme Court have often planted the seed for reinterpreting the meaning of the Constitution, not in the text of a decision, but in a footnote. Interestingly, this post-synodal apostolic exhortation seems to be following the same approach.

    • Sheila

      I agree tell the Truth like it is. We all can choose who we want to follow -God or man. God gives us spiritual gifts, including extreme Mercy when we offer up our sufferings freely through and with Him, no matter what those sufferings are. God never changes and never will. He’s reliable like that. Thank You God. It’s very simple isn’t it?

    • Bobo Fett

      We are consumed by false mercy and false compassion in this age. It is crowding out all other virtues.

      • tomk

        Put another way, if “sin” can be reasoned out of existence (by always finding a “valid” excuse for it), then why is “mercy” needed at all?

  • JPaul

    Mr. Royal, what a terrific assessment on just a quick read. I am not a Thomist (yet) nor have I read the entire document, yet I skimmed it enough to see the abundance of ambiguity. My concern was in 297, He wrote an emphatic statement that negates the reason for Christianity (more importantly, Catholicism): If the Gospel’s logic does not contain the eternal condemnation of anyone, why would we need to seek salvation and become a disciple of the Church? I am certain Pope Francis did not mean that, but the logic of the Gospel is to seek salvation from eternal damnation. Am I being too hard? Is the translation to blame?

  • Alexandra

    Thank you, Dr. Royal. The lack of clarity in some passages is not a surprise coming from pope Francis. However there are very beautiful passages, and I also had the feeling that the pope was trying to bring healing to families and to find ways to bring people to know the love and mercy of God. I will read this document more times, I will pray and reflect on it.

  • Fred Martinez

    If Pope Francis is making it possible to allow Holy Communion to those in intrinsically evil homosexual or adulterous unions as Fr Morello says or the Polish Church and German Church can disallow or allow the intrinsically evil as Mr Royal says then Morello is right when he states Francis is in “contradiction to the faith ”

    If these statements are true then all Catholics must pray and beg Pope Benedict and the bishops to correct Pope Francis as Paul corrected Peter.

    But, when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face. Galatians 2:11

  • Morton

    This is the result that the conclave of 2013 has wrought. The cardinals elected Cardinal Bergoglio knowing that he was from a religious order which has been in recent decades going it’s own way. None of what is happening should be a surprise to anyone. With this windy apostolic exhortation, we can safely put one in the win column for the Kasper camp, the same Cardinal Kasper who Pope Francis publicly praised for his book on Mercy at his first public appearance as Pope.

  • Matthew Kilburn

    There is probably not a single drop of ink wrong with what Francis actually *wrote*. But are we really supposed to believe that your everyday Catholic has the theological comprehension, much less the emotional impartiality and level-headedness, to properly and independently “form their conscious” on these kinds of questions which, in the situations most focused on, can often be simplified as “should I continue a romantic/sexual relationship with this person to whom I am highly attracted”?

    The Pope sees the current approach as impractical, but it looks to me as if he has proposed a “solution” which has not a single hope of carrying out his ideal once it is actually implemented in the pews. No later than this Sunday, I am sure we will see people who say “Well the Pope has said its up to me to determine what is acceptable and not, and I don’t view it as a sin to (engage in a homosexual relationship/get divorced and remarried/use contraception)”

  • accelerator

    The thing is a hot mess and scandalous. Beautiful passages? Maybe if you are a college girl. Scandalous passages… Plenty, unless you are willing to dreamily tie previous doctrine into daisy chains. These post conciliar pontiffs are slowly emasculating Catholicism into some sort of communal Episcopalian Mother Earth thing with bad liturgics and World Federation of Planets- longings. Respect for something that disrespects the clear teaching of Jesus is not good, and the new document does not respect New Testament morality. It sounds much more like Values Clarification.

  • Rich Davis

    pray for the Church and that this man leaves the papacy as soon as possible

  • Vince Whirlwind

    So, how is the crow? Do any of you need salt and pepper?

    Pope Francis is an awesome Holy Father. God Bless Pope Francis and all his Jesuit brothers.

    Many of the commenters at this site need to review their past postings….and maybe go to Reconciliation. Then of course, reread and study again Lumen Gentium, section 25.


    • rick

      Crow? Because of a few convoluted footnotes, a couple of colorful slurs about “judgmentalism” and an appeal for clerical compassion? Please. At my first RCIA class I was taught that our parish was a church unto itself and could decide to have women priests. Over the years I’ve heard homilies extolling Cardinal Martini and his statement that the Church is 200 years out of date, distilling wisdom from John Lennon’s song Imagine and quoting Pablo Neruda’s blasphemous poem “Bread.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve restrained myself from putting my hands over my children’s ears. The Church has been in crisis for at least the 10 years I’ve been in it. Francis’ latest tome hasn’t changed much that I can see. I feel fortunate that the Church’s teachings remain intact, and deeply blessed that Humanae Vitae and the writings on sexuality of John Paul II have miraculously shined through the morally dark era in which we find ourselves. I’ll be obedient to those inspired teachings, which Francis hasn’t shown the fortitude to attack, at least not in any forthright or coherent way.

    • Bobo Fett

      Spilt ink binds no one. We have in fact an obligation to disobey that which implies contradiction, and/or that which contradicts Dominical utterances, which carry far greater weight than the latest document ever will.

    • Chris in Maryland

      Francis and head-of-marketing Cdl. Kasper have the Pharisee position in the argument with Jesus about marriage.

  • geoffrobinson

    “Both readings may be possible”

    Isn’t that how Rome has generally operated since Vatican II? Praise past doctrines, councils, etc. and use verbiage that can be read differently by liberals and conservatives.

    “If the Church is to be vigorous and influential, it must be decided and plain-spoken in its doctrine. . . .To attempt comprehensions of opinion. . .is to mistake arrangements of words, which have no existence except on paper for. . .realities.”

    As a Protestant (conservative evangelical btw), it seems a lot of converts to Catholicism like to have certainty. Rome, at least according to the apologists, offers certainty. I’d argue that it is a false certainty, but for now, I’d focus on something else. It’s not the end of the world to have different opinions on how to deal with an issue. It’s an issue only if you absolutely must have everything nailed down with absolute certainty.

    The other legitimate question I have is what would a Roman Catholic ideally want a remarried Catholic to do? Divorce their new spouse? Is their second marriage not considered a real marriage? I can understand if you feel entering into the marriage was sinful, but is it not a real marriage? Jesus said to the woman at the well that she was married 5 times (if memory serves), not that she appeared to be married 5 times.

    • John Leach

      She was married to 5 husbands 4 of them dead

      • Fr. Peter Morello

        She must have been quite a woman! Joking aside there is no evidence in that Gospel that they died. Christ’s admonishment meant to draw her to belief, was couched with the understanding that she was promiscuous in her presumed marriages, in other words they were not marriages but affairs.

    • kathleen

      Didn’t Jesus tell the woman that the man she was living with was not her husband? Do these 2nd, 3rd, or 4th marriages now become “irregular relationships” according to the modern Church? When it comes down to it, it’s all about the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Do we now put St. Paul’s teaching aside regarding the Blessed Sacrament because it’s a hard saying, and, therefore, too difficult to accept in this upside down world we live in today? Must the Church change its teachings to adapt to the modern world? What did Jesus say about the narrow road and few there are who find it? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He hasn’t changed – we have – more’s the pity.

    • Fr. Peter Morello

      It is a real marriage Geoff but not a sacramental marriage because the indissoluble bond of the first was wrongly broken, “Let no man break what God has brought together.” I’ve had parishioners divorced remarried who were exemplary Catholics, loyal and helpful. They did not receive communion. Everyone in the parish understood and loved them. The couple also understood that if I gave them permission to receive the example to the community would damage their faith, and the rationale for their commitment to their own marriages. Some Div Rem parishioners promised they would abstain from relations and i permitted them to receive. I explained all of this to the parish and it went well.

      • Veritas

        As a parishioner and follower of Christ, isn’t it most appropriate to assume the best of people in their private lives and leave it to ministers to sort out the details? ( On the occasion that we find out directly, we should point out an error if we have the type of relationship that requires)

        We do not know what is truly going on in people’s lives, it is not our place to assume the worst.
        In my little experience, it is as likely (or more likely) that unmarried couples are sexually active than those that are married.

        This is a private matter left, not to the gossip of the parish, but the confessional and private discussion.

        I am in agreement with the teachings of the church on this, but working people towards holiness seems to me a process like the 12 step program and we should help not condemn. That is what I read in all of this

        • Fr. Peter Morello

          If I’m reading you correctly, I’m not sure I explained the policy to parishioners on occasion since they require teaching. And I still inform parishioners from the pulpit of options they often are not aware of. Breach of privacy was never an issue. There was never reference to any person.

    • TerryC

      Ideally a Roman Catholic would not want a sacramentallly married Catholic to remarry without an annulment. Of course if an annulment was not possible, because the first marriage was deemed valid then ideally the Catholic would not remarry.
      That someone who is Catholic would enter into a marriage without an annulment is a sign that the person is already ignoring Catholic teaching. They have already rejected the teachings of God and are in sin. So we are talking about reconciliation with the Church. For a Catholic that means putting away sin and going to confession.
      Let’s be clear here the answer is simple. The execution, not so much. Yes the second marriage is sinful. Scripture tells us “Thou shall not commit adultery.” and “What God has joined together let no man sunder.”
      If the first marriage is a valid marriage no human actions can break the marriage apart. That means that the second marriage is not a valid marriage so that any sexual act within that marriage is a mortal sin. It is not a real marriage and does not convey the benefits of a real marriage, i.e. conjugal relations.
      Jesus told the woman the man she was with was not her husband. Assuming she was married to him, just as to the three before him, then it would mean she was married five times just as some moderns are married five times, but not really married more than once.

    • I hope someone with expertise will respond to your questions, these are the sorts of questions many people have at this point. I can offer a non-expert reply to question about certainty. Yes, certainty is necessary. I am the Flannery O’Connor camp, ” if it is a symbol, to hell with it.” The question of Communion and Marriage is a question of the truth of-the certainty of –the sacraments. Either it is a sacrament or it is not.

      A sacramental marriage is not a mere legal contract. Jesus Himself said no man could sunder it. It has certainty in the eyes of God. Christians believe in the certainty of baptism, Catholics believe baptism is an indelible “mark” on the soul. If you change your mind, decide you don’t want to be a Christian you may renounce the Christian life but in the eyes of God, that is, as a certainty, you are still baptized. If you return to your Christian faith a decade later no new baptism is required. Even if you were initiated into some non-Christian sect, your original baptism is still certain. You cannot renounce a sacrament because it has an effect on your soul, a certain ( particular) effect, and a certain( sure) effect. So does the sacrament of marriage. The bond created in a sacramental marriage is not undone by a subsequent legal/civil marriage to another.

      • geoffrobinson

        //Jesus Himself said no man could sunder it.//

        I think technically Jesus said “let no man sunder it”, not that it couldn’t be sundered. Otherwise, we have to avoid the fact that God via Moses actually allowed for divorces. Granted, for hardness of their hearts. But it was allowed. So they could, according to God, be sundered.

  • Fred Martinez

    Fr Schall SJ, one of Pope Francis’ Jesuit brothers, here at The Catholic Thing said that the great Catholic theologians Robert Bellarmine and Robert Suarez “considered a de facto possibility of an heretical Pope. They granted that the Church would have to depose him if he did not self-declare his heresy.” (On Heretical Popes, James V Schall, SJ, November 11, 2014)

  • Dave Fladlien

    Please see the link to the left on this page, to Robert Royal’s second article about this Apostolic Exhortation (“A Tale of Two Papal Documents”). It’s a very good article. My comments take that article into account, but I post the comments here because they are intended for these readers.

    I think this is a very good article, one that points up a lot of the issues and dangers. I think too that it makes it very clear that Cardinal Schonborn was hitting at many key points all rolled into one by saying that simple, rigid application of principles doesn’t necessarily take sufficient notice of the uniqueness of each case, nor does it notice the extenuating circumstances which may prevail.

    I’ll offer as my own example of extenuating circumstances the situation wherein a person is divorced and civilly remarried, and (to make it easy to see the point) I’ll assume that this person has children by his or her second “marriage”. Now the rigid application of the “rules” says this person has to leave the second “spouse” and children, and either go back to the first spouse, or simply live alone. Yet hopefully anyone can see that there are financial and psychological reasons (maybe especially in the case of children) why that is not only impractical, but clearly immoral as well. The law of God can’t require that we abandon our legitimate obligation to a person to whom we have made serious commitments, especially where those persons are children we brought into the world.

    There are many (I’ve learned from past experience) on TCT who will point out that there is an option put for by St. John Paul II which allows those people in my example to live together provided they refrain from sex (live as “brother and sister”). I think this is a courageous effort by St. John Paul to deal with a situation that he clearly seems to have recognized: that it isn’t always obvious what to do, and that one may not be morally able to just walk away from the “sinful” situation. But as much as I respect the courage of St. John Paul in recognizing the problem and trying to deal effectively with it, I can’t agree that merely avoiding sex, while living with one member of the opposite sex in every other way as if married when actually married to another, makes that situation no longer adulterous. It isn’t just sex that makes the relationship adulterous, remember adultery in the heart? It’s the relationship itself which is adulterous.

    Everyone who knows me knows that I am no fan of Pope Francis. But in this case I do think that he, and maybe especially Cardinal Schonborn, do have a valid point, and that point does require consideration. St. John Paul II got us started on the consideration, but I think we have to look at it further. There is such a thing as the lesser evil, and sometimes the best we can do is choose it. The Church needs to fully recognize that fact. I think Pope Francis and Cardinal Schonborn are trying to do just that.

    • Chris C.

      The “option” put forth by St. John Paul II was more than a “courageous effort”, rather it was a clear recognition that the only definitive way, for a couple in a putative marriage unsanctioned by Christ’s Church to receive the sacraments was to abstain from those intimate acts suitable only for sacramental marriage.

      To the extent the words of Pope Francis can be construed to nullify JP2’s teaching in Familiaris Consortio, serious confusion is all but certain to follow.

      • Stephen David Joseph

        Chris, I may have written too much here and obscured my meaning thereby. What I was trying to say comes down to two things:

        1) There is a real and serious problem in some cases where there really is no “right thing” to do;

        2) While St. John Paul had the courage to recognize this when no one else ever (officially) has, I find it at best difficult to say that living in a totally adulterous situation stops being adulterous simply by refraining from sex while in every other way living as married when actually married to someone else.

        So to me the bottom line is that we need a better solution. I think that Pope Francis, with whom I differ on far more than I concur if one counts only currently “controversial topics”, is trying to pursue that “better solution”, as I think is Cardinal Schonborn, who part of me was hoping would have been the new Pope when Benedict resigned. As an aside, I don’t like any of their attitudes on economics, though. So, just as I suspect Robert Royal is trying to be objective when I frankly doubt that he wants to be (and I give him credit for that effort), I too am trying to be objective about a Pope I basically dislike.

        • Chris C.

          It’s debatable whether there is no right thing, since Catholic teaching is based on the words of Christ our Lord. It may not be convenient or popular, but that hardly shows it isn’t right. And it isn’t as if the Church hasn’t been quite proactive on this matter. Marriage tribunals exist so that the validity of the first putative marriage can be examined. What largely made this so problematic is that in some nations, Germany for one, the bishops dragged their feet on establishing the tribunals, so that many cases that could or should have been looked at, were not.

          And, as in medicine, rule #1, “do no harm”. Many are understandably concerned that the principles underlying the communion for irregular unions; the “internal forum” and “conscience”, will be freely used for frankly just about any matter of moral consequence. Why won’t one be able to cite the exact same principles of discernment with regard to premarital relations, contraception, or abortion or any other difficult moral issue one can think of? I’m certain that was not the Pope’s intent, but will that be an expected result? And while this document anticipates careful counseling between priest and the couple, how many will simply forego that step and assert primacy of conscience in support of their decision regarding communion?

          Maybe when I see this in operation I’ll see it differently. But we are already in a time when few even bother to regularly go to confession before communion, and in which a “sense of sin” accompanied by a true examination of a well formed conscience, has largely been replaced by considerations of “social justice”. Therefore for now, I’m a bit dubious.

  • Post for the benefit of those who say Kasper’s Francis’ Proposal is absent in Amoris Laetitia.
    And what does the Vatican say the Pope says in Amoris Laetitia regarding access to the sacraments for people who live in ‘irregular’ situations?

    “Naturally this poses the question: what does the Pope say in relation to access to the sacraments for people who live in ‘irregular’ situations?”, continued the cardinal. “Pope Francis reiterates the need to discern carefully the situation in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio. ‘Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God’. … In the sense of this ‘via caritatis’, the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note that the help of the sacraments may also be given in ‘certain cases’. But for this purpose he does not offer us case studies or recipes, but instead simply reminds us of two of his famous phrases: ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional should not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy’ and the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak'”. – Cf. Presentation of the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia: the logic of pastoral mercy, 08.04.2016 | Summary of Bulletin, Holy See Press Office (My emphasis)

    • Morton

      I agree.
      And what is more, “Neuhaus’ law” will soon come into play; “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

      As Francis Beckwith explains the law “If the requirement to embrace orthodoxy becomes optional, however, it follows that it is wrong for a church to require that its members believe that there are right and wrong beliefs. Consequently, “when orthodoxy is optional,” as Fr. Neuhaus put it, “it is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false.”
      I’m waiting to here what the cardinals and bishops who opposed Cardinal Kasper will say: I can’t imagine they’ll sit on their hands.

      • It is no longer the divorced + civilly re-married but also all people who live in ‘irregular’ situations.

  • Liberty

    *sigh* For a moment I thought you were actually going to talk about single people and how this writing (and the synod) completely ignored us. What a pity. You mentioned how Pope Francis talked about young people and marriage and an ideal. The reality is that there are more of us single Catholics over 30 than ever before and we are almost entirely forgotten. We are not the “young” people being mentioned. We don’t seem to exist to him, other than to be helpers to others. How is the church going to help us find spouses when it won’t even acknowledge we exist and our situation is very different from 25 year olds looking for spouses? We are past the ideal but we still want to find someone who is Catholic.

    Yet, this seems to exclude us completely. Yes, most of us belong to a family, which we grew up in, but we need to be included in this whole love because we are often now on our own. It isn’t hard to change the words to include everyone in the Church. We are all here to do the same things, share Christ’s love and grow into saints.

    • samton909

      Oh, stop whining. When did people adopt this attitude that the church was supposed to run around solving all your problems? You are an adult. Take care of yourself. The church isn’t your Mommy.

      “Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for the church. “

      • Ladasha Smithson

        Wow how uncharitable! If we could do everything on our own we wouldn’t need the Church, parishes or even Jesus now would we?

        • Alexandra

          He is not being uncharitable. Read his other posts.

    • Alexandra

      We are all included, we are part of the Church. Don’t be anxious, we are to pray for the will of God to be done in all of us, we do not grow alone, but with others. We are all branches of the same vine.BTW, I am 27 and single until when God wills differently……….if He ever wills it differently. And I am very fine with that 🙂

    • Scott Thomas

      Single people living chastely? Who are they? They should get with the program and start cohabiting the way so many others do. It’s now officially okay.

  • FrCurtis Cunningham Mc

    Slippery slope thinking, Mr. Royal.

  • James

    It has been reported for quite some time that the primary composer of this document is Pope Francis’ personal friend and theologian Victor Manuel Fernandez (consecrated bishop two months after the election of Pope Francis and author of “Heal Me with Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing.”) Of course a legion of individuals made their contribution – the CDF offered a critique of forty pages to a document that is reported to be 250 pages. The draft submitted to the CDF must have been quite the eye opener.
    If the core impulse of the document is to articulate clearly and concisely the Magisterium of the Church it would seem to require a shorter analysis by the CDF. If the core impulse of the document is to uphold the Magisterium of the Church it might be more productive of concrete pastoral approaches to assist pastors besides that pesky little suggestion in the footnotes.
    This is simply another manipulative ruse and it is unpalatable. To think they believe us unable to see behind this is at least condescending. The individuals involved in these peculiar ecclesiastical ploys are disrespectful of the adults they say they wish to pastor, do an incredible disservice to themselves, and most importantly profane the sacred. It will not do. It is tiresome and debasing. And they wonder why things are as they are.

    • Vince

      James, how wonderfully put. Great insight! “Thank you. Thank you.” 🙂

    • Ed

      I grew up 1/2 block from Catholic School. Everyone I knew was Catholic. On the corner was a Butcher Shop owned by a nice old man. He was short, heavy, had beard stubble and a half smoked – half eaten cigar in his mouth
      As a PRE-TEEN I often visited him just to talk and we used to talk about a lot of subjects.
      Back then (1950’s ) I thought he was talking about Boloney. Sometimes I still do.

      • James

        What a wonderful story! Thank you.
        I use to hang out in the shoe repair shop in those days, and just watch. It smelled so good! I still love the smell of shoe polish

    • Chris in Maryland

      Spot on.

      Let us recall when Kasper started the marketing campaign in 2014 (at Fordham – no surprise – the Jesuit U. whose Chairman of Theology Dept has SSA and was recently “married” to his male lover in an Episcopal Church).

      Kasper stated, as I believe Pope F has stated, that those who disagree with them are like the Pharisees.

      Why did Kasper et al say such divisive things in 2014 when Kasper launched the campaign?

      Because Kasper and the St. Galens Mafia (who – as we were told by their spokesman Cdl. Daaneels of Belgium – campaigned for Cdl. Bergoglio’s election) know that when they were asserting their new position on marriage, they were taking the Pharisee position in the argument with Jesus, who declared marriage indissoluble.

      So let us take courage and remember that when we are challenged to defend the truth – that AL, and Cdl. Kasper, and the St. Galens Mafia, and the current pontiff, are arguing in favor of the Pharisees.

      • James

        You have spotlighted the St. Galens Mafia more than once, and you are one of the few that do, much to my surprise. It is a noxious piece of evidence as to the characters we are enduring. The audacity of Danneels to proclaim their nefarious collusion so proudly and boldly bespeaks the ill will of that coven.

  • Fr. Peter Morello

    Discernment is discussed here by respondents and in Amoris as a subject focused assessment by a priest, who is asked to employ his perception, reasoning whether persons living in irregular relationships should receive the Holy Eucharist. What is lost in the discussion is discernment of God’s will. That has been clearly given to us by the Divine Word in the Gospels. Marriage, that is consummated sacramental marriage is indissoluble. The Apostolic Tradition has affirmed this for 2000 years until the present controversy. Words like rigid, lax, merciful, slippery slope are to use a Latin term non ad rem. The truth is at issue not adjectives. Anyone who believes that after 2000 years and innumerable documents, exhortations, pontifical pronouncements that the Church has upheld, that we have suddenly entered an aurora, a New Age of spiritual discernment and mercy that changes practice, practice that does not change a unique moral principle that is imbedded in that practice have taken themselves on a path of absurdity [see Marlin next article] and contradiction to the Christ we pretend to obey and worship. As heartfelt as Card Schonborn’s life experience is, and how beautifully appealing Pope Francis’ words are, sentiment is not the issue here. It is the will of God.

    • Thomas Sharpe

      Rather disappointing where the “pastoral” approach to contraception use among the faithful has led, both in the further breakdown in family and the faith. Are we incorrect to expect even more?

      • Fr. Peter Morello

        Unfortunately Thomas that is the trend. The best we can do, which in fact Our Lord wants us to do is remain faithful, pray for the Church and continue to witness to your faith in Christ. Whatever transpires God is most pleased in that response to the times.

        • Diane

          But, how do we continue in a Church that no longer upholds the teachings of Jesus Christ in the strictest sense. If the laity sits back and allows changes to be made over and over again, then, it is no longer the One True Church that Jesus Christ established and it would be sinful to stay. To cause so much confusion, I believe, is not the ideal that Jesus taught. Bishop Sheen said that it would be up to the laity to demand that the Church remain the Church of Jesus Christ, not of Bishops and priests of Popes who want to change it.

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            Diane Christ promised He would remain with us until the end of time on this earth. There will always be a Catholic Church faithful to Christ despite the current darkness. There are many of us including bishops [Wall, Tobin, Morlino], cardinals {Burke, Pell, Muller, Scheider] that will remain steadfast and hold the fort. Our task despite all the ambiguity which now seems will increase because of Amoris Laetitia and support it is receiving around the world, is stay and witness to Christ. The Pope is already granting autonomy to bishops conferences even if only tacitly. This will add to the debacle. If this is the end time the faithful will be given special grace to stand fast in the faith. This website is a Godsend for us. Personally I believe we have passed the threshold for what I feared. Many will fall away from practice of the true faith. My thinking is Benedict XVI will soon speak openly about the dilemma. If someone as credentialed and down to earth as Dr Royal envisions real possibility of schism we can put credence in that terrible possibility. Keep your focus on the Star of David, the Morning Star who is Christ Our Lord. In the end the Lion of Judah will conquer.

          • Brian Dougherty

            Maybe, I am wrong and to be quite honest I have not read the whole exhortation as yet, but this is the fifth article on it that I have read and all are interpreting it a little differently. All seem to agree that there is no change to faith or doctrine. All see the Pope’s words slightly differently. I would like to believe that Francis is reminding us to hate the sin and not the sinner, especially with the throwing stones reference. Christ Himself asked that he who is without sin cast the first stone. Therefor none of us, Francis included, can throw a stone. We are all sinners and as we are reminded daily at the Holy Mass, Christ came to call sinners. It is easy to preach to the faithful but those with “irregular” lives often do not come to church and someone has to go to them. Who will go to them, is it I, is it you, or is this the Pope’s way of hopefully having the fallen away Catholics know that this is not the closed door to gay, divorced, remarried of the earlier church. But instead a new way to evangelize to them, come talk to us, call us, we will answer. Progressive does not always mean change to liberal ways, sometimes it means changing how you accomplish your goals. We are all called to go forth and spread the Good News of the Gospel, those I have read several times over and still have not found anywhere that Christ excluded sinners from anything.

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            Most of us if not all are quite willing to show great love and mercy to all divorced and remarried, lesbians, homosexuals, all in irregular “situations.” Pope Francis and others are promoting a blanket forgiveness construed as merciful that is neither merciful nor forgiving because they omit the absolute need for their recognition of what offends God, and conform their lives to Christ. Christ came into the world and was crucified for all of us that we might repent and receive His merciful love. He did not come into the world to be crucified to accommodate the world. We do them a disservice, leading them into the pit of spiritual darkness and eternal death by affirming their choices. As a hosp chaplain I made my faith known and showed compassion to all. I received affection from a lesbian nurse because she knew I loved her despite her objectionable behavior. There was no affirmation of her sexual preference but love for her person. That’s what people understand as real love, and not ingratiating oneself for sake of their approval. People see through that like glass.

          • samton909

            Father, I think you are just wrong. Read chapter eight. I think it is made pretty clear that those in irregular situations need to conform their behavior to the church’s teaching. Period. They are not given a blanket excuse for their sins.

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            We have different conscientious perceptions of the same subject matter.

          • Chris in Maryland

            Let us remember – that in the Arian Heresy – the Heretics were in the majority – and that the faithful Bishops (like Athanasius) were often put in exile, and faithful clergy and laity – were in the minority.

            But faithfulness prevailed.

            And per Mother Teresa: our job is not to be “successful” – our job is to be only to be faithful.

          • Judy Silhan

            Fr. Morello, I too fear we have passed the threshold for what I saw coming, the Year of Mercy being used to accept sinful acts in the name of mercy, which is not what Christ taught. I believe that before the debacle of the Synods took place, the Year of Mercy was announced as a prelude to what has happened, and I pray for Pope Francis in doing so.
            Fr. Morello, thanks for reaffirming that we, the faithful, will be given special grace to stand fast during the end time, if in fact this turns out to be the plan our Lord has. One of my fears is that many more people will leave the faith, not join the Catholic faith, due to all of the confusion and the fact that Christ’s teachings on sin can be dismissed in the name of mercy. As you said, I will keep my focus on Christ, knowing that He is in control, knows what is going on, and in the end He triumphs.

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            As I said elsewhere Judy we are a Band of Brothers and Sisters. We are in the trenches for Christ and the salvation of those being mislead.

          • Diane

            I know that we must stay with the Catholic Church and the teachings of Jesus Christ, but does it stay the Catholic Church, as it should be, under the guidance of this Pope? How should the laity approach this, is my question? Are we to be silent and accept, or are we to oppose it? If we do nothing, that is acceptance, isn’t it?

          • Fr. Peter Morello

            Diane you are correctly outspoken in your views and by doing that witness to the truth of our faith. There will be prelates who will lead and exhort regarding the right path. Ignore the heretics. You are doing fine.

        • Stephen David Joseph

          Thanks Father. This is one of the very few positive comments I’ve seen on this page

        • Thomas Sharpe

          Thanks Father for your kind words and encouragement.

      • Stephen David Joseph

        To everyone, not just Thomas and Diane but certainly to them, I would say that we are responsible to God. No church can ever tell us to do evil, nor can it tell us to ignore a properly-formed conscience. The church is here to guide and help us, it is not a substitute for us taking individual responsibility for our lives and for the influence we exert on others.

        If we live as if we will answer directly to God, and make the serious effort to determine and do what is right thereby, we will be fine.

    • Vince

      Father, “Thank you. Thank you!” …to undo the “pope’s” praise of the Kasper proposal, which contradicts divine revelation under the guise of “mercy.”

    • MSDOTT

      Father, hope you don’t mind. I am gathering quotes for my letters to orthodox Cardinals, and plan to quote some of your comments verbatim. This one is utterly beautiful, utterly orthodox, so well-put, and so needed.

      • Fr. Peter Morello

        That’s fine.

    • samton909

      Pope Francis, in AL:

      “Naturally, if someone flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the
      Christian ideal, or wants to impose something other than what the Church teaches, he or she can in no way presume to teach or preach to others; this is a case of something which separates from the community (cf. Mt 18:17). Such a person needs to listen once more to the Gospel message and its call to conversion”

      “As for the way of dealing with different “irregular” situations, the Synod Fathers reached a general consensus, which I support: “In considering a pastoral approach towards people who have contracted a civil marriage, who are divorced and remarried, or simply living together, the Church has the responsibility of helping them understand the divine pedagogy of grace in their lives and offering them assistance so they can reach the fullness of God’s plan for them””

      “priests have the duty to “accompany [the divorced and remarried] in helping them to understand their situation according to the teaching
      of the Church
      and the guidelines of the bishop”.

  • Rep

    you obviously did not read the document….the pope was consistent with the catechism of the catholic church…
    The pope says that those living in irregular union may receive communion provided there are MITIGATING factors such as economic pressure, social pressure etc….
    This is consistent in the teachings of the Catholic church on MORTAL sin…..
    Next is the Pope’s desire to create an INTERNAL forum where those people in irregular union who wants access in the sacrament would be committed to have counseling and dialogue with a priest on a regular basis in order to help them to gradually remove all the irregularities and obstacles with the goal of helping the person have a life consistent with the teachings of the Gospel and have full conversion…..

    • samton909

      You obviously did not read the document. The Pope did NOT say that people who were in irregular situations could receive communion if therr were mitigating circumstances. he said the mitigating circumstances merely reduced their culpability for sin. But they are still sinners.

      He said that because their culpability was lower, they could be led back into the church by a rigorous process of discernment, during which they would gradually grow to understand exactly why what they are doing is a sin and why they have to get away from that sin. The problem is today so many have no idea what they are doing is wrong, and is a sin.

      Once they have corrected themselves, then they can be admitted to communion.

      The Pope NEVER says that those in irregular situations can receive communion. True to his slippery style, there is the infamous footnote 351 which says that maybe sacraments can be involved in their discernment process, but then immediately speaks of CONFESSION. Then, oddly he quotes himself saying that the Eucharist is a medicine for the weak, which is a very lousy idea theologically. If that is true, then Hitler is the one most eligible to take communion.

      But he NEVER says that those in irregular situations can now go to communion.

      • Diane

        If your interpretation is true, then, there is no reason for the Exhortation document. The Church has always allowed remarrieds and active homosexuals to attend Mass and always gave them the opportunity to become whole with the Church if they gave up their lifestyles, confessed and said they would sin no more. They would be allowed to then receive the Holy Eucharist. So, I think that you are missing something in this document.

    • Alexandra

      Read carefully the paragraph 297.

  • Vince

    Bravo, Mr. Royal. You beautifully articulate the dangers looming in the aftermath of this “apostolic” exhortation. I love your example of the possibility of opposite interpretations, e.g., by the German and Polish bishops… and sharing the quotes from Newman – priceless!

  • elarga

    The decentralization of doctrine is precisely the move made by the Anglican apostates, with results that for them have been catastrophic. It is such an obvious possibility that one is forced to wonder whether that isn’t the intention of the pontiff — to divide and to ultimately destroy.

    • Chris in Maryland

      While I don’t like the current pontificate, I hope that he is just misguided, and not deliberately deconstructing.
      But I am less concerned with his motivations, than with his actions, which are damaging – despite his motivations.

  • Morton

    Cardinal Kasper has won.
    The deck was stacked from the get-go, the stacking done by Bergoglio.
    Contraception has not been an issue for the reception of communion since the clerics revolted against Paul VI, divorce and subsequent cohabitation is no longer either, thanks to a revolt at a higher level.
    Roman Catholics have become latter-day Anglicans.

    • Chris in Maryland

      No – he is going to lose. He is arguing the Pharisee position against Jesus.

      We are going to commit ourselves to opposing him, and AL, and all proponents of AL, until they and it are corrected and conformed to Revelation.

      • Morton

        Alright, well let me put it this way, with AL Cardinal Kasper has won this round.
        I don’t expect to hear anything for a few days at least but I want to hear what Cardinals Sarah, Pell, and Burke will have to say. I see that Cardinal Napier has started tweeting, maybe he’ll have something to say. I’m expecting division, cardinal vs. cardinal, bishop vs. bishop. AL basically invites it.

        • MSDOTT

          I read in a comment on one of the blogs that I frequent, that if Cardinals receive a large amount of letters from the faithful on a particular subject, they are duty-bound to respond. I am not talking about a petition here, but letters from individual Catholics. I hope we can organize ourselves this way.

          I am planning( as time permits- but soon) to go through the orthodox books that were published before the two Synods, (Remaining in the Truth of Christ, Christ’s new Homeland: Africa, etc), look for the names and addresses of these cardinals who contributed to the book, and write a letter to each of them, asking them to step up to the plate, and oppose the heretical aspects of AL.

          I also plan to publish — as a comment – these cardinals’ names and addresses on all the blogs whose commenters are committed to insisting that AL “be corrected and conformed to Revelation” as Chris in Maryland so aptly puts it. I hope these commenters will also write to the Cardinals.

          I hope that ‘The Catholic Thing’ will publish my future comment which will contain the list of cardinals and I truly hope and pray that these cardinals (princes of the Church) will step up to the plate. This is an extremely serious situation. The Holy Father has put an incredible amount of souls in danger by, instead of being a compass, leading them to safety, acts as a weathervane, pointing to the culture of the times. This compass/weathervane analogy is from the latest Denzinger-Bergoglio’s website- the one written by anonymous priests, who compare what Pope Francis says to what the Church has always taught.

          The analogy to AL of a bit of poison in an otherwise beautiful cake/food also works for me. I would never allow someone to eat that cake, or food. Neither should the cardinals. The Holy Father should never have written this, and he stands accountable. I will continue to pray for him and his conversion.

        • Chris in Maryland

          Yes…but sometimes the fight is necessary…and this is it.

  • Thomas Johnson

    Holy Father asks us to read the document slowly and carefully. I really read nothing contrary to the CCC in it. I hear in the text a call for catechesis renewal on all subjects “family”. I’m a convert – 6 years now – I have been beat up in the confessional on two occasions so I do pray that priests listen to Pope Francis. Newman lived in a quite different time than our own. His was a fully christian culture with fully christian values – even bad actors knew the score. Today, here, we are post-christian. We are chaos. We need careful, deliberate teaching at the parish level to learn again, in love and patience, what it means to be Catholic – to be found in Jesus Christ.

    • standtall909

      BINGO!! Catechesis is what has been missing in action for the last 50 years now. Either bad teaching or even no teaching at all! How many of us have heard in our Parishes from our Pastors what Christ in His Church really expects from us? Where has the challenge been to live our faith in the fullness of Christ? I have heard only once in 50 years a homily on true marriage, and that same sex marriage or unions was disordered, only to hear in a few weeks from the Pastor that he was ‘insensitive and wrong in his message, totally out of line’, with a complete mea culpa!!! It was HEARTBREAKING!!!!!

  • macay

    Regarding marriage and divorce:
    The real stone thrown at Catholic’s lives are the words “Till death do us part….”
    My husband and I have remained committed and faithful to each other for over thirty years because we believe this Church teaching.So it turns out now we really didn’t have to? We just needed a merciful pastor to accompany us in following our personal conscience instead of Christ’s words?
    Sadly,this part of the exhortation can’t help but be interpreted as a modern day “free pass” for anyone in their present or future marriage.

    • standtall909

      You are correct macay, and I fear it will lead many into error.

  • Rt Neary

    Looking forward to celebrating the 53rd anniversary of the 3-strand knot,tied in our marital union, God was and is the most important of the chords. The Eucharist is the sustenance, but the consecration at Mass has been a powerful soul-lifting moment,as well, especially after He called home one of the beautiful offsprings of this God-filled union. Our faith goes beyond the sustenance, and is exemplified in how we live it after leaving the church doors behind us. This document does not seem to change anything, but only sustains what has unraveled in our lives for over a half century.

  • Diane

    The best result would have been: Nothing changes in Doctrines or in practice. The Catholic Church remains the One, Holy and Apostolic Church that was instituted by Jesus Christ and His teachings, along with the Ten Commandments will be upheld for time and eternity. One sentence, not 264 pages of confusion and ambiguity. To bend to liberalism is not mercy, it is sinful.

    • standtall909

      And, Diane, I would say the complete ‘opposite’ of mercy. It is not at all merciful to lead people into the jaws of death, eh? Actually it is quite the opposite of ‘love and mercy’.

  • Chris in Maryland

    I recommend that everyone who cares about the truth of Familaris Consortio, and is concerned about the divisiveness pointed out by Robert Royal – go to the blog of Fr. John Hunwicke (Fr. Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment) – and read what he wrote this morning about the press conference launching AL.

    Hunwicke, a Catholic convert, scholar of Greek and Latin, and priest in the Ordinariate in England, is keenly perceptive, and shows how a question from a young woman at the “presser” put an arrow right on the target against AL.

  • Alicia123

    Cardinal Schonborn, when presenting the exhortation talked of the “organic development of doctrine ” What ?
    Is this something like the Catholic Church becoming Supreme Court justices reading in the “penumbra” of the “living constitution” ? Will we get new, brilliant theologians who will explain to us poor, stupid, ignorant Catholics what’s in the ‘penumbra’ of the organic developing doctrine.?
    He also said the document was a
    ” linguistic event “. He wasn’t kidding !
    Now there are no adults with free will who made a choice, and willingly chose to turn their backs on God and accept they should be held accountable for their choices. No, no!
    Now, we have ‘adults’ who somehow ‘find’ themselves (I wonder how they got there ) in ‘ irregular ‘ (not sinful) situations, and because for a long time they showed fidelity to this ‘irregular’ , different situation, they are full of grace. Besides, maybe they never really understood and grasped the inherent beauty of the doctrine ( this is actually one of the excuses ) , so they aren’t really that guilty !!!
    Will Cardinal Schonborn, the Pope &Co. publish a new Cathechism that says on the cover – For Now and depending on the ongoing organic development of the doctrine.
    Linguistic event indeed ! Talk of euphemisms – irregular for adultery, like ‘dignified death ‘ for assisted suicide.
    Am I being too harsh? Where is my mercy ? Sorry, but I feel we’re really being asked for ‘pseudo-mercy’ as the Polish bishop said.
    I’m sooooo tired of all this. Are we Don Quijotes fighting windmills ?
    Where will this all end ?

    • Fr. Peter Morello

      Alicia what great insight of the drift from the spiritual gift of faith to rationalism.

    • Doctrine can and does develop

      It may however be further asked, whether the Christian Revelation does not receive increment through the development of doctrine. During the last half of the nineteenth century the question of doctrinal development was widely debated. Owing to Guenther’s erroneous teaching that the doctrines of the faith assume a new sense as human science progresses, the Vatican Council declared once for all that the meaning of the Church’s dogmas is immutable (De Fide Cath., cap. iv, can. iii). On the other hand it explicitly recognizes that there is a legitimate mode of development, and cites to that effect (op. cit., cap. iv) the words of Vincent of Lérins: “Let understanding science and wisdom [regarding the Church’s doctrine] progress and make large increase in each and in all, in the individual and in the whole Church, as ages and centuries advance: but let it be solely in its own order, retaining, that is, the same dogma, the same sense, the same import” (Commonit. 28). Two of the most eminent theological writers of the period, Cardinal Franzelin and Cardinal Newman, have on very different lines dealt with the progress and nature of this development. – Cf. Catholic Encyclopedia > Revelation > The Christian revelation

      Plainly the “organic development of doctrine” proposed by Card. Schönborn to try to explain AL and AL itself does not grow in its order and does not retain the same dogma, the same sense, and the same import. I often say people twist and distort Scripture and that is the Word of God, so what’s new?
      There is a simplistic way I explain this to myself, like the growing of a baby into an adult. It is a not a development into something alien, grotesque or monstrous. Another way I look at it is that both Mary and Jesus were full of grace yet they grew. It was a growth from fullness to fullness. The third way I see is that source of our revelation is divine, God himself, who is infinite; the growing can be seen as the growth from finite view toward the infinite and God’s full and encompassing knowledge and understanding of his own Revelation (let the experts correct my understanding).

  • Vince

    I might offer that the main upset over the new “theology” of Holy Communion to the remarried without annulment should be for the sake of the souls being misled by bishops willing to risk their eternal salvation over a modern day theory that contradicts sacred tradition.

  • bernie

    Cdl. Schoenborn tipped his hand for me when I read his little book, “The Joy of Being a Priest” he repeatedly refuses to offer a defense of Church teaching. “I cannot give them clear rules”, “I cannot give you a clear solution”‘, “If we do not change our way of looking at these things we will become a sect”, are all phrases he uses.
    We all should remember that AL is an Apostolic Exhortation, not an Encyclical. For me that is its one saving grace.

    • MSDOTT

      I suppose then, God the Father was wrong, when He gave Moses the 10 commandments. Those rules are pretty clear to me. … too bad they are not clear for the Cardinal.

      • samton909

        I am sure that Pope Francis is quite angry with God for “merely setting down rules” and for sitting in that “judgment chair of Moses”.

        Now if God had written a book called “Heal me with your Mouth: The Art of Kissing” he might have some chance of being one of Pope Francis’s advisors. But after writing such black and white set of rules, well, he has no chance of being in the good graces of this Pope.

  • cken

    Well no one has gotten conversion through confessional torture or excommunication so maybe comfort is the way to go.It always amazes me when a priest thinks a spouse should remain in a physically abusive marriage.

    • standtall909

      Of course we are to accept and welcome those that their lives are upside down. But……….God loves them too much to just leave them there, and so should we! In the meantime, yes they are to be ‘accompanied’, but it does little good and a lot of harm to just admit them to the sacraments WITHOUT their full conversion.

      • cken

        By without their full conversion you mean somebody who has committed what you call a sin. If sinners couldn’t take communion nobody would be taking communion. How many sinners do you know who go and sin no more.

        • Diane

          It is what Jesus Christ has called a sin, not what man has made up. The Ten Commandments must also be followed. Jesus said that He came to fulfil the law, not to change it. If you are living in mortal sin, you must confess your sins and try never to commit that sin again. If you fall from grace, you must confess again before you can present yourself to the Holy Eucharist. But you must strive to change your sinfulness permanently. I actually know many sinners who do not commit mortal sins. They live good and morally Holy lives.

    • samton909

      What a nonsensical comment. No priest would ever counsel someone to remain with an abuser – they can always separate. But the marriage remains intact. However, there may be some grounds for annulment. So, no priest would ever counsel someone to remain in an abusive situation.

      • cken

        No it is not nonsensical, I know a couple of people that happened to.and the priest denied divorce or annulment. Why would one expect an abuser to agree to an annulment or even admit to the abuse. They are having too much fun beating up their spouse. And what about psychological abuse? What about repeated adultery? There are many good reasons for divorce and they shouldn’t bar one from communion.

        • Diane

          If they are not allowed an annulment, just don’t remarry. A divorced person is allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist provided they are in no other mortal sins.

      • cken

        One more thing many abusers become stalkers and far too many abused spouses when separated have been killed. Restraining orders sometimes work with abusers. Divorce however generally ends the problem.

    • cgreen1121

      Cken, the situation that you propose is most uncommon. I know many priests, most very orthodox, even “conservative”, if you will, and not one of them would counsel a spouse to remain in an abusive home. Separation, even divorce, is not only permissible, but may even be obligatory, particularly if one is in real physical danger, or if one’s children are in that danger. Divorce alone does not exclude one from the sacraments, provided one is not guilty of other mortal sin. No, it is not divorce that is the problem (though divorce is far from ideal and should be a measure of last resort), it is the remarriage that is the problem. A divorced Catholic who is in a state of grace may, and should, participate fully in the life of the Church, including reception of the sacraments.
      What if an annulment is not granted? Then the person in question has some choices: first, remain single. Second, marry, but live chastely as brother and sister (which is entirely possible, by the way! I know this from experience). Third, marry outside the Church and accept the resulting consequences, including no longer being able to receive the sacraments (unless or until the new marriage is “regularized”).


    Interesting comment from a commenter named ‘pelerin’ on the a blog elsewhere . It seems 30 cardinals tried to dissuade the Holy Father from publishing some of the content in the Exhortation. Here is the comment:


    2016/04/09 at 2016/04/09
    Father – you mention that you think Pope Francis is pitting the pastors of the Church against each other There is an article in ‘Le Figaro’ online today saying that 30 Cardinals tried to dissuade the Pope from publishing some of the document. I don’t know how reliable the journalist is or how he knew this but this lack of unity is very worrying. Is it naive of me to think that after all their years of study the Cardinals should be in agreement?

    I felt really safe and secure with Pope Benedict at the helm. I know I should feel the same with Pope Francis but have to admit that I no longer do so. I tell myself that I know the Church has had its ups and downs over the centuries and yet still survives – Popes come and go but Christ remains forever.

    A Priest has said to me that Pope Francis knows what he is doing but I do wonder whether he said that just to try and reassure me. We see churches closing, convents left with one or two elderly nuns, a drastic shortage of Priests all overworked, Mass attendance down and in my case two generations of my family lost to the Church after having been brought up in a practising family and having attended Catholic schools. I have never once regretted my conversion over 50 years ago now but these days are proving the most difficult….”

    • Thomas J. Hennigan

      Thousands of martyrs gave their lives for Christ and what he taught. The teaching of the Church has been developed by many great Doctors such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Blessed Cardinal Newman and so many others. Many other saints have lived it out in their mystical experiences as well as in their charitable works, The likes of St. Teresa of Ávila, or Mother Teresa of Calcutta come to mind. If you follow what the Church has always taught and what has moved to moved so many saints, missionaries and martyrs to give their live for Christ and his Chuch, then you have nothing to fear. You might begin by reading the life of St, Catherine of Sienna, who is probably the saint who gives the greatest witness of love for the Church. She knew somthing about wavering popes.

    • Jules Tempest

      Perhaps the priest meant that the pope knows he is confusing the faithful.

    • MarcAlcan

      I felt really safe and secure with Pope Benedict at the helm. I know I should feel the same with Pope Francis but have to admit that I no longer do so.

      Isn’t it an awful sign of the times that so many faithful Catholics were afraid of the release of this document?

      Isn’t it an awful sign of the time that we breathe a sigh of relief when Pope Francis says something that does not go against Catholic truth?

  • Aqua

    Catholcs everywhere wonder: can I contracept, abort my child, engage in adultery, homosexuality and pornography? Can I do these things (and so many others) wth a clean conscience and still go to church, receive communion, go to heaven someday?

    They wonder these things in a world in which immorality is part of the air. We are gagging on it. We are desperate for help.

    And we get this document, Amoris Laetitia, filled with fluff and little drops of fatal theological poison. We need a life preserver. We get an anvil. We have moved beyond obscure references to potential doctrinal changes. No more. Now it is plainly stated, sprinkled liberally throughout this dangerous document.

    I do not share your ambivalence, (a little good, a little not so good). If you believe in the nature of salvation as a deliverance from personal sin into holy life everlasting in Jesus Christ, sustained by Eucharistic exchange, then you cannot be happy with a document that smiles on sin and permits its evil into communion with our Lord.

    • John

      I couldn’t agree more….

    • Diane

      You are absolutely correct. The laity cannot just accept this without disagreement. We need Spiritual help to overcome this.

    • Kaye

      I agree. Francis preaches ‘mercy,’ but the perception of the teaching (and, I think, the reality) is that sin really doesn’t matter much. Is it mercy to let someone running toward a cliff continue without pointing out the danger? Is it ‘judgmental’ to try to set their feet on the path to heaven? While we cannot, and must not, judge a person’s soul, we MUST judge their conduct, the clue to their character and spiritual state. Hard to do, yes, but essential to that person’s eternal destiny.

      • MarcAlcan

        Pope Francis’s stand self-implodes.
        Since he teaches that there is practically no situation of sin anymore, then why would we need mercy? Why, we can go right up to God and DEMAND to be allowed entry for we have not sinned. We have merely done “irregular” things. How dare God bar us from His presence. We are entitled to it, now pronto!

        • cgreen1121

          Well said…it is the logical consequence of much of the Holy Father’s teaching. One wonders if he slept through Logic during his seminary days…

  • rickrod

    As a non Catholic, most of the Catholics that I know pretty much do whatever they perceive to be moral and are good living people. Some are divorced and remarried, they are open to treating the LGBT community with respect and all use/used contraception. Not that the Catholic Church cares what outsiders think but the idea of letting people who have made mistakes in their lives back into communion, seems compassionate and sounds like something Jesus would recommend.

    • Thomas J. Hennigan

      If you read ST. John’s Gospel c. 6, you will find that Jesus clearly would have preferred that the Apostles themselves would have abandoned him that change his teaching on the Bread of LIfe and the fact that he really meant that they should “eat his flesh and drink his blood”. He preferred to have no followers that some who were not willing to accept what he taught. St. Paul told the Galatians that if an angel came down from heaven to teach something contrary to the Gospel he taught, that he be accursed”. He told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more”. He didn’t tell her to go and discern whether she had sinned or not. Compassion means “suffeing with”, but it doesn’t mean condoning sin and vice. He taught that the road to perdition is wide and the road to salvation is narrow and “few” follow it.

      • rickrod

        I certainly feel the tension within my own denomination between the desire to take the harder line on divorce and the desire to be more inclusive. I am drawn to I Jn 1:9 where we are told that God is faithful to forgive our sins if we confess them (I know that I stand in constant need of that forgiveness).
        I don’t accept that some Christians have damaged themselves to the point that God doesn’t want to have a relationship with them. I certainly acknowledge that some sins have definite consequences–ie a priest or pastor who commits sexual sin should be suspended from his vocation but he can be restored if he repents of his sin. I don’t understand all the dogma of the Catholic church but as an evangelical, we agree on the key elements of christianity and I would hope that more people would find their faith strengthened by Pope Francis’s making room for the divorced.

        • Diane

          The most important aspect of Catholicism and only found in Catholicism, is receiving the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, the True Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. No one is worthy to Receive the Holy Eucharist when in the state of Mortal Sin. This is the Key to Catholicism’s Christianity. Anyone who Drinks My Blood and Eats My Body will have life everlasting. For this reason, faithful Catholics are opposed to those living in adultery to Receive the Holy Eucharist. Also those in active homosexual unions or those living together who are sexually active. Without the Holly Eucharist we have nothing! So for the Pope to allow his idea of mercy to those living in mortal sin is difficult for faithful Catholics to accept. Unfortunately, the majority of Catholics do not know their religion. That is why the Catholics you spoke about are living in Mortal sin and don’t even recognize it. Jesus Christ is merciful and just and said “Go and sin no more”. The Pope appears to be finding ways to lessen these sins. God have mercy on all of us.

          • rickrod

            I don’t mean any disrespect but I know that a bishop is commanded to have one wife in I Timothy which Catholics have rejected so the church can obviously make and change doctrine as it sees fit. Why not make some changes to bring people into communion who otherwise may remain excluded (my family converted from Catholicism when I was a child but perhaps we would have remained in the church).

          • Alicia123

            You’re confusing the doctrine of the Catholic Church, the dogma received through revelation from God, Jesus through the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition ( what Jesus taught the apostles and they passed on until the Bible was put together around the 4th century) with ecclesiastical doctrine.
            Dogma, what we believe and is taught as the Word of God has been the same for 2,000 yrs and cannot be changed.
            The ecclesiastical doctrine is decided by the church and is a kind of administrative thing based on what best serves the church (sorry, I’m no expert at explaining this)
            The celibacy of priests is ecclesiastical. There were married priests and bishops, then the church authorities went for celibacy. Today there are married priests. Converts, who are married, sometimes become ordained priests . There are a few here in the US. However, with wife and kids your’re not available 24/7 and the average salaries of $30,000.00 are not enough to support a family. These are excellent priests just the same. The church can change the doctrine of celibacy if it wants to.
            The outcry now is because the change is to dogma, the teaching in the New Testament is very clear on this. Nobody, including the pope, can change it.
            The Catholic Church has held on to it for 2,000 yrs and unless Jesus returns and changes it, it must remain. Is not something that goes with the flow, moves with the world. It’s permanent and sacred.
            That’s the problem now.
            Hopefully, one of the wonderful priests who comment here can do a better job explaining it than me.
            God bless you.

          • Diane

            We must never change the teachings of Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Catholic Church was directly instituted by Jesus Christ and it must remain faithful to His teachings. There is no need to change the Catholic Church teachings, people must change to conform to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Priests not being married is not a Doctrine of the Catholic Church. Actually, in I Timothy it doesn’t command that the Bishop be married, it cautions that he is to be married only once. There is talk of allowing priests to marry. I personally think that is a bad idea because it would be too difficult to do all that a priest must do and also have a wife and family, something will suffer.

        • Alicia123

          The divorced, as long as they remained single and chaste, have been welcomed and receive communion.
          The problem is with the divorced and remarried. According to the church and Jesus, this is adultery. Their previous marriage by the church, a sacrament, is still valid, so their second marriage is considered adultery which is a mortal sin. They are welcomed in the church, but they can’t receive communion in a state of mortal sin.
          Sure, they can repent and be sorry they are offending God, but they must confess, and GO AND SIN NO MORE , which is what Jesus said. Then, they would be welcomed to receive communion.
          The problem is they want to have it both ways : be forgiven and receive communion while continuing to live married lives in the second marriage.
          Not possible and goes against Catholic doctrine, Jesus,, and St Paul.

        • MarcAlcan

          Yes, God is faithful is we confess our sins. But with this comes the promise to no longer commit the same. But when one confesses and at the same time lives in this objective state of sin, then is one really sorry? Does one really think that this adulterous life is a sin. Repentance implies a determination to change. But if you are determined to remain in the adulterous relationship, what are you repentant about?

    • Aqua

      Jesus did, in fact, recommend it. No, he commanded it.

      Our Church has been built on that very principle from the day our Lord commissioned Peter and the Apostles. Billions of faithful have been brought back into TRUE communion throughout the ages, using the same formula commanded by our Lord at the birth of our Church. Mercy is not presented for the first time by Pope Francis. TRUE mercy has been an essential part of the Catholic Faith since day 1.

      It goes like this:

      1: Grace from God convicts a person of sin.
      2: The person is repelled by it and sorry.
      3: (S)He wishes to repent and change.
      4: They FULLY confesses the sin to God, SACRAMENTALLY in Confession via God’s Priest.
      5: God freely pardons and brings His child back into FULL communion with Himself.
      6: Then, (and ONLY then) does the person get to exchange himself with God’s entire Self, Sacramentally through the Holy Eucharist as spiritual sustaining Food.

      That is the ONLY way to achieve communion with our Maker. There are no shortcuts. Those who say there are are lying about essential things.

      God wants us to be in communion. His mercy is infinite. But it is not cheap. We must pick up our own cross to attain it, and then follow Him precisely. The Catholic Church has ALWAYS taught this, unceasingly, unchangingly for 2,000 years. Those who depart from this formula are wrong, even if it is the Pope himself.

      And as a convert, I can tell you that the formula is actually stunningly easy and effective.

      • rickrod

        I relate more to a time of personal conversion(one mediator between God and man, that man Christ Jesus) and commitment to Christ as like most evangelicals, I view the elements of communion as symbolic. I respect your beliefs and just wanted to express that as someone outside of the Catholic faith that I was impressed with Pope Francis’s initiative (let’s be honest, the Catholic church has not been getting lots of good press lately).

        • Aqua

          In the Protestant Church, every individual gets to determine their own version of Mercy from day to day, culture to culture, denomination to denomination.

          That is not the case in the Catholic Church. Every theological point from greatest to smallest was handed down directly from Jesus to the Apostles, and passed down, and fully developed, in a continuous precise line to every generation to come. It is true because it’s source is Jesus, directly, and not some charismatic man who knows how to persuade. Mercy, and how we attain it, is explained for us all equally by the Bride of Christ; in every age the same.

          Mercy is quite clearly defined in all of its heavenly glory by the Church, and its meaning is not open to debate or change, even by Popes. It presupposes sacramental repentance and conversion of heart and is sustained by sacramental (not symbolic) Eucharistic exchange, (real, literal Divine food and drink for our eternal soul; read all of John 6).

          Mercy that is not based on Truth is a fraud. Mercy that does not presuppose sacramental repentance is not Catholic. That is the source of current Catholic discord and why Catholics like myself, in fear and trembling, oppose the very Pope himself as we keep our eyes firmly on Jesus.

        • Kaye

          As a Protestant, I, too, was told the Eucharist was ‘symbolic.’ As a convert, I refer to the sixth chapter of John, in which Jesus himself said that his body was REAL food, his blood was REAL drink, and that he who does not eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood does not have life within him. Because it was a ‘hard saying’ many of his followers left him. Afterward, alone with the twelve, he did not ‘comfort’ their confusion with talk of symbolism, but emphasized the literalness of his words. Then he asked them if they, too, would depart. What happened? Peter stepped up and said, “Where would we go, Lord? YOU have the words of everlasting life.” This passage was instrumental in my husband’s conversion to the Catholic faith.

          Note also that Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in the Real Presence, though their spiritual descendants have departed from that teaching.

        • Jules Tempest

          We really need to worry when those who are not Catholic are impressed with a pope’s initiative.

          Viewing the body and blood of Christ as symbolic is contrary to the words of Christ in John 6. When St John stood with Holy Mary, Mother of God at the foot of the Cross he witnessed Christ’s very real blood being shed for us.

          Christ is both human and divine. Christ is God and man. He was crucified because he said so.

        • MarcAlcan

          Then no wonder you think the way you think.
          Since the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is not what you receive, then yes why should you bar anyone from receiving. Anyone can take crackers. It makes no sense to deny one or another.
          But Catholic communion is a totally different thing altogether.
          This is why not only those who are in a state of mortal sin who are not admitted, but also those who are not members of the Church.

      • Donna Kerrigan

        Beautifully stated. As a cradle Catholic, I have tried both paths: presuming “God will understand in His Mercy” while persisting in my personal spin on Church teaching, and presuming Christ meant what He said and feeling true remorse and asking for forgiveness in Confession. Only the latter brought true peace and spiritual growth.

    • Problem is, that to leave someone in their sin isn’t compassionate or merciful, just fanciful. Jesus said “pick up your cross and follow me” but this therapeutic age acts as if any suffering, or a lengthy inconvenience, cannot be asked of them. In every Catholic wedding celebration you hear that marriage is an image of Jesus as Bridegroom and the Church as Bride. Since Jesus never abandons the Church, our marriages must also become an icon of fidelity even during hardship. Where there is abuse, physical or emotional, and other dangerous circumstances, spouses may licitly separate. The hope is that with time and maturity and prayer that the marriage may reconcile. This process is utterly alien to the culture because its focus is the pleasure and power in this life only. The culture, having abandoned its Christian roots, no longer understands that spouses are supposed to aid one another on the journey to eternal happiness with God. A sacramental marriage isn’t simply a commitment to each other but to God– a marriage is Trinitarian:God, husband and wife. In a culture where God is dead, or irrelevant the only god is science or power, this structure for marriage looks foolish. But that IS the structure for marriage that Jesus gave us. He gave us no other option. To pretend that Christians can marry and divorce is to belittle Christ Himself. All of this is a ” hard saying” of course and too many are unprepared to hear it–through no real fault of their own, often times, because this isn’t a message that is seen in the movies, media or even preached.

    • TomD

      rickrod, Christians are not called to a good life, they are called to holiness. A good life follows from holiness. The notion of being called to a good life is a fairly recent innovation and only a partial reflection of the Gospel.

    • ScottG

      Thanks rickrod, as a progressive Catholic I wholeheartedly agree with you. Please be aware that a huge faction of the Catholic Church is receptive to the Pope’s latest proclamation (I would daresay a large majority), and we have total faith that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the church and church leaders with a heightened sense of love, mercy and compassion.

      The basis for this belief, naturally, comes from scripture: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

      • Diane

        Read Cardinal Burke’s column regarding the Exhortation of the Pope. He said that it is not magisterial and cannot change the Doctrines of the Catholic Church. He goes on to say that it is the personal reflection of the Pope. Faithful Catholics pray that Catholics will learn their religion and accept the teachings of Jesus Christ, which will never change. If all Catholics truly knew their religion, they would never, ever leave the Catholic Church and would never want it to change. Jesus Christ directly instituted the Catholic Church and He is the same yesterday, today and forever and His teachings will live for eternity, never to be changed by mere men.

      • MarcAlcan

        Confirming others in their sin is not love. It is a dereliction of duty.
        Jesus had has words for those who mislead others and thereby cause them to sin.
        There has been plenty of that since the beginning of this papacy.

    • MarcAlcan

      You are correct that letting people who have made mistakes in their lives back in to communion is something that Jesus would recommend. The millions of truly faithful Catholic who come every day to receive His Body, Blood Soul and Divinity are a testament to that.

      But Jesus also teaches “go and sin no more”.

      The arrogant posture of those who say we should let everyone come to communion is in fact a denial of this statement from Jesus.

      To say that we need mercy is to say that we sin – not just made a mistake – but that we sin. But what we want is not mercy. We want the Church to declare that what we have done is just something “irregular”. If such is the case, who needs mercy. Irregularity does not need mercy. Sin does.

      The problem is not letting people come back to communion. The problem is that in their pride and arrogance and utter disobedience of the commands of the Lord, they demand that they be admitted on their own terms.

      It’s like people who want to enter a decent establishment. One turns up putrid and foul smelling as can be and says that he wants to enter. The counter staff says yes you can but let me take you to the showers and allow me to give you clean and decent clothes then you may join the other guests. But the person demands to be allowed to enter just as he and is belligerent about it.

      As I have always written, there is too much talk of mercy but the Pope fails to see that these people do not want mercy but a validation of their sinful lifestyle.

      In the parable of the wedding banquet, one was thrown out for not having the wedding garment. So one wonders how come this one is not like the others who are dressed accordingly when they have all been taken from streets? It is because in his arrogance, he thinks he has a right to the banquet just as he is and on his own terms. But he was not invited to the banquet on his terms but on the terms of the King who gave the banquet.

  • standtall909

    Great analysis Robert! This document is full of contradictions and a danger to the Church, I do believe. As I have suspected, the Holy Father seems confused by the real meaning of MERCY.

  • James

    Antonio Socci’s ruthlessly honest assessment of the tragedy befallen the Church is featured at Rorate Caeli. He brings an unapologetic and an unashamed eye to the situation that we don’t often find in the United States. It need be read.

    • Alicia123

      Thank you, James. I just read it. It’s excellent. It’s also disturbing because it is obviously true, specially the boiled frog comparison.
      Let’s pray lots, and I mean LOTS, of rosaries for our beloved Catholic Church.

  • Thomas J. Hennigan

    It seems odd that Pope Francis, thanks to abundant “discernment” seems to be finding it so difficult for anyne to sin that one wonders where there is any room for his much taunted emphasis on mercy.
    It seems that he has made a Herculean effort at squaring the circle. Thanks especially for the excellent and well mentioned quotes from Newman.
    I am a priest and I have no intention of counseling penitents in favor of false so called “internal solutions”. In the faithless Western countries almost nobody goes to confession in any case, except some devout old ladies who are obviously beyond having any of the problems which cause so much angst to the Pope. Priests who give advice to penitents based on falisties or contrary to the teaching of the Church, place a tremendous burden on their own consciences. We are there to manifest the truth. It seems very strange that a Pope should be against “general norms”. Does he mean that the Decalogue is no use, or cannot be applied without such abundant “discernment”, something totally absent from both Jesus’ and St. Paul’s interpretation of it. I also think that the text quoted from St, Thomas is not correct Intrepretation of the Angelic Doctor’s teaching. It seems to me that St. Ignatius´s famous rules for the discernment of spirits have nothing to do with adultery. I don’t think he or any other saint had to make any great effort in order to discern this matter.

    • Aqua

      When Priests lead, the Faithful will follow. We want to follow.

      For instance, I have found that those Parishes that offer Confession frequently and emphasize it to its Parishioners have ample lines whenever the green light goes on, (usually one or two Parishes per metropolitan region in my traveling experience).

      Catholcs are starving for leadership. Let it begin now. God bless you in your Vocation.

  • David Fockler

    This Apostolic Exhortation at best causes mass confusion among the faithful and at worst gives rogue bishops and priests the green light to continue to lead people from light into darkness. In I Cor. 14:33, St. Paul says …God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. This ambiguous writing by Pope Francis causes nothing but confusion, therefore it is not of God. Period. Faithful Catholics need to vigorously oppose it and the papacy of Pope Francis. We implore the help of Blessed Mary and St Michael to deliver us from this mess.

    • Diane

      Thank you for saying that. Some sites won’t allow talk of this type. We need help from faithful Cardinals, Bishops and Priests. But, I am afraid that Bishop Sheen was right, only the laity can do this with the help of the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael.

      • MSDOTT

        I think you are right. The National Catholic Register has just published an essay by Cardinal Burke. According to him,[my interpretation] there is nothing to resist, as the exhortation is not binding, not infallible, and we should read it light of the Magisterial teaching of the church.

        Wow…given Cardinal Burke’s stance, I’m not sure that my compilation of names and address of the Cardinals who wrote the orthodox books for the Synod are going to help. It may just be a lot of wasted paper and postage. I had already compiled the names of the 11 Cardinals who wrote the book on Marriage and Family for the 2015 Synod, and was just searching for their addresses. But given Cardinal Burke’s response, I think I will not go any further …for now.

        Lifesite News, in a post today, says Cardinal Burke’s ‘puzzling’ response makes perfect sense. I understand them to say he released his essay to calm everyone, but they expect to hear from him again on this matter.

        What I don’t understand is how, how on earth, not calling something a sin, but ‘irregular’ can lead people to repent…” repent” was one of the first words of Our Lord when He began His Public Ministry. ….Don’t get it at all, especially as these people in ‘irregular’ unions can go and receive Communion. …So, the Church’s teaching all through the ages on this is pffttt… gone?

    • Kaye

      Yes, thank you for stating, in essence, that the emperor is naked.

  • Fred martinez

    I’m sooooo tired of all this, too.

    Jesus was sooooo tired of all this on the cross when He said: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.”

    As we hang on the cross with Jesus we can imitate Him in our deep worry for His Church and in all our sufferings.

    We trust the Father in the darkest darkness.

    Next, we join our suffering to Jesus crucified for all sinners especially ourselves.

    Finally, with our Savior who is Truth we speak the truth.

    Yesterday, Fr John Hunwicke spoke it best:

    At the end of the Amoris laetitia press conference Cardinal Schoenborn was asked “whether there was anything in this new document which contradicted paragraph 84 of Familiares consortio. ”

    Schoenborn” repudiated strongly” that there could be a contradiction and claimed Blessed Newman’s doctrine development.

    According to Newman expert Hunwicke the Blessed’s teaching is that “Catholic Doctrine had in the past developed while remaining true to type. ”

    The Cardinal “by a neat conjuring trick, could present Change as Non-change…so if Amoris laetitia footnote 351 were to mean what many on both “sides” seem to assume, we would have now a truly lightning’ development, ‘ all the way from X to Contra-X,” said Fr John.

    For me more worrisome than the denial of the law of contradiction or more simply the denial of plain truth, is the deafing silence of the successors of the Apostles.

    I pray that some bishops will join us simple laypeople and priests as we worry about contradictions from the teachings of Pope John Paul II.

    I pray they will they join us as we worry about euphemisms such as irregular for adultery and as we worry about methods such as repeating over and over again the word “mercy” while emytying it of it’s Scriptural and theological meaning and worst of all of contradicting the plain words of our Lord Jesus’ “warnings that divorce/ remarriage is adultery.”

    I pray there are some bishops who will imitate St John the Apostle and will join us and Our Lady as we worry and are sorrowful as her Son, the Truth, is crucified, again.

    Please pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and St Michael the Archangel prayer for Pope Francis, for our beloved Church, for ourselves and that some bishops will imitate St John the Apostle.

    • Concerned parent

      Well said Fred – the Church will be plunged into chaos through contradictions, ambiguity – the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.

  • HeartwornHighways

    From the Australian website “Church Resources”

    “Catholics are generally aware of the fact of papal infallibility and that the Church teaches “with authority” (Matthew 28: 19-20). However they often do not have a clear idea that when the Church teaches in various modes, it does so with different levels of authority.

    “Not all statements or documents carry the same weight. Some are more authoritative than others and so Catholics need to respond to these documents in different ways.”

    It is my fervent hope that one day, soon, one of the contributors to The Catholic Thing will attempt an outline, for readers, of the differences among Apostolic Letters, Apostolic Exhortations, Encyclicals, Motu Proprios, Papal Bulls, Apostolic Constitutions, Common Declarations, etc…and to give an approximation of their relative weights of authority.


    Here’s an extremely worrying thought that occurred to me today. Please could some one address this concern of mine? Father Morello? Fr Schall, someone?

    Here is how my thinking on the AL is developing: that this is beyond extremely serious. … My understanding is there is such a thing as the ordinary magisterium, that we faithful Catholics should assent to. Exhortations by other popes…perhaps such as the one by St. JPII, fall into the same category as this one by Pope Francis. Unless we combat the AL head on , then we become cafeteria catholics ourselves, picking which exhortations we assent or not. In my view, this makes what has been done to us by the release of the AL, bits of poisonous heresy hidden in verbosity – pretty diabolical.

    Bottom line: All the heretical parts of AL – such as that allowing people in ‘irregular’ situations absolutely has to be rescinded. No quarter should be given on this.

    Also, in his essay entitled “Can divorced and civilly remarried people receive communion” Willhem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk in the book Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family says the following:

    “We must realize that the question of administering Communion to divorce and civilly remarried persons is not an incidental, secondary matter. If we were to agree that it was, we would be also agreeing that the mutual gift of the spouses did not have to be total either at the spiritual level or the physical level. Consequently, we would be compelled to change the Church’s doctrine about marriage and sexuality in other areas”. [ he links what he says to the following] …….. “we would be compelled to also accept sexual acts that are not directed to procreation at all, such as homosexual acts”.

    Woweee!!!! AL also contains a Trojan Horse …. what are we to do?

  • Alicia123

    Jesuits are not supposed to hold offices. Is this a strict order, a vow they take ? Pope Francis accepted the office of bishop ( the only way to eventually become a pope ), cardenal, and pope.
    Had he vowed not to do so .?
    How does that work ? Has it happened before.?
    Cardenal Burke has explained very clearly that AL is non-magestirial and cannot change or overturn Church teaching, doctrine, nor pastoral practices because it doesn’t have the juridical authority.
    AL is only a very long essay with the opinions of a pope. That’s all !!!

  • Tom Williams

    The error within The Church today is all the errors of the past rolled into one, is the attempt to change The Essence of God as LOVE to His essence as Mercy. Of course God is all merciful but mercy is the product of love not the opposite. This error leads one to believe “there is a reasonable hope that all are saved” and therefore our sins are automatically forgiven because “God is Mercy.” It is understandable why faced with such an such an overwhelming task by the leaders within the Church to convert the world, many have embraced the easier softer way of Mercy to preach The Gospel rather than what Jesus commanded they preach about repentance. Unfortunately the way the Gospel is preached today leads to Hell not heaven.