(Catholic Herald) Alberto Melloni, an influential Church historian, has derided the four cardinals who queried Pope Francis about his exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL), calling them “merely four cherries who think they are half the cherry tree.” But at an international conference on Saturday in Rome, lay scholars deepened the queries. Not just four cherries, but experts from four continents, discussed the document and its aftermath.
At the conference in the Columbus Hotel, only a stone’s throw from the Vatican, six speakers raised concerns about AL, some saying the document has caused damaging confusion within the Church and could eventually split it. The conference was attended by a predominantly lay audience of about 100.
A year ago four cardinals asked for papal answers to five queries, particularly about AL’s Chapter 8 and its footnotes. This chapter has been interpreted in various ways: some have said divorced and remarried Catholics, even if they do not live as brother and sister, can receive the Eucharist in some circumstances. The Pope did not respond to the cardinals; they made the queries public, and were criticised for creating discord. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, the former archbishop of Bologna and one of the four, replied: “The queries are the result of the discord, not the cause of it”.
Some bishops have welcomed AL as encouraging a process of discernment for “irregular couples”. Some bishops have denied it raises any doctrinal problems. But many Catholics are concerned that it could be interpreted as contradicting Church teaching, including John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor. They also claim that opening the possibility of Communion for those who have remarried while their original spouse is still alive contradicts its affirmations of the indissolubility of marriage. [More]