Cdl. Brandmüller: Papal Exhortation Must Be Read in Light of Traditional Church Teaching

News: Investigations
by Christine Niles  •  •  April 10, 2016   

Says "Amoris Laetitia" cannot contradict the Catechism

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ROME ( - A German cardinal is cautioning Catholics as well as secular media to read the latest papal exhortation in light of traditional Church teaching. Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, said of "Amoris Laetitia" — Pope Francis' final thoughts on the Synod on the Family — that the document cannot be read in contradiction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"[A] contradiction between a papal document and the Catechism of the Catholic Church is inconceivable," the cardinal said to the German press last week.

The secular media has been quick to report that the Pope's latest exhortation is a radical shift away from Church teaching on marriage and sexual morality. In a New York Times article Friday titled "Francis' Message Calls on Church to Be Inclusive," the authors write that the Pope "seemingly signaled a pastoral path for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive holy communion."

And is writing that "Pope Francis' 'Amoris Laetitia' Is a Closeted Argument for Gay Marriage."

But Cdl. Brandmüller is reaffirming that nothing in the apostolic exhortation can contradict the Church's traditional dogma on marriage or sexuality. Citing Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" as well as the Catechism, Brandmüller explained, "One can say that the adherence to the indissolubility of marriage has become a unique feature of the Catholic Church. So if any teaching denies the indissolubility of marriage, then it has left the realm of Catholic doctrine."

He also confirmed Church teaching that those who enter a second union after a valid sacramental marriage commit "adultery."

"So long as a Catholic is not ready to end this state, he can neither receive absolution in confession nor the Eucharist," he said.

He went on to explain that all pastoral efforts to minister to such irregular unions must be in harmony with the truths of the Faith. Any attempt that deviates from the clear teachings of the Church "would fail" because of "its inner falsehood."

He also expressed caution against integrating such couples into the liturgical or catechetical life of the Church, so long as they refuse to end their adulterous union, as to do so could bring "conflict and embarrassment" to injured members of the family.

"[It] would also undermine the credibility of the Church's proclamation" on marriage, he clarified.

In his opinion, proposals to integrate adulterous couples into the life of the Church without first requiring repentance and a return to a life of grace is no more than an attempt to whittle away at Catholic doctrine in order to open up the sacraments to those in irregular unions.

He also rejected the idea of making these determinations on a case-by-case basis, characterizing this method as a "dead end." "What is fundamentally impossible for reasons of faith is also impossible in the individual case," he emphasized.

Cardinals and bishops had received an advanced copy of "Amoris Laetitia" before publication Friday.


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