Abp. Chaput Schools Bp. Farrell on Who Runs a Diocese

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 18, 2016   

"Governance of a diocese belongs to the local bishop ... not to a conference"

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PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia told Cardinal-designate Kevin Farrell that a local bishop is responsible for running his own diocese and not a conference of bishops. Farrell was recently appointed prefect of the Vatican's new dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life.

In an interview earlier this week, Farrell took exception to Chaput's firm guidelines implementing the papal exhortation "Amoris Laetitia"; Chaput had rejected opening up Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried, and had insisted "Amoris Laetitia" could not be read to imply that.
Farrell told Catholic News Service (CNS) — the official news arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — that such implementation "has to be done in communion with our bishops. I think that it would have been wiser to wait for the gathering of the conference of bishops where all the bishops of the United States or all the bishops of a country would sit down and discuss these things."
On Thursday, November 17, Abp. Chaput published his response to CNS after it had asked him to comment on Farrell's criticisms.

Under canon law — not to mention common sense — governance of a diocese belongs to the local bishop as a successor of the apostles, not to a conference, though bishops' conferences can often provide a valuable forum for discussion. As a former resident bishop, the cardinal-designate surely knows this, which makes his comments all the more puzzling in the light of our commitment to fraternal collegiality.

In July Abp. Chaput became the first U.S. bishop to implement the papal exhortation on marriage. His six-page guideline states, "Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist."
But Cardinal-designate Farrell sees it another way. "I don't share the view of what Archbishop Chaput did, no," he commented. "I think there are all kinds of different circumstances and situations that we have to look at — each case as it is presented to us. ... Obviously, there is an objective moral law, but you will never find two couples who have the same reason for being divorced and remarried."
Archbishop Chaput took the extraordinary step of publishing his full responses to CNS, as the news outfit had left out portions of his original answers. In the full response, Chaput commented on Farrell,
I wonder if Cardinal-designate Farrell actually read and understood the Philadelphia guidelines he seems to be questioning. ... Life is messy. But mercy and compassion cannot be separated from truth and remain legitimate virtues. The Church cannot contradict or circumvent Scripture and her own magisterium without invalidating her mission. ... The words of Jesus himself are very direct and radical on the matter of divorce.

Ever-growing division on such issues, especially among prelates, moved Cdl. Raymond Burke, former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, along with three other cardinals to formally ask the Holy Father for an official clarification on specific questions related to "Amoris Laetitia." The Holy Father has yet to respond.


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