Church Militant spoke with renowned Bolognese priest and theologian, Fr. Alfredo Morselli, to ask for his thoughts on the dubia, or set of questions, submitted to Pope Francis regarding Amoris Laetitia, his apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family. Father Morselli, a teacher of Ignatian spirituality and one of three priests entrusted with the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in the Bologna archdiocese, has extensively written about the ambiguity of Amoris Laetitia and the controversy regarding the interpretation that allows the divorced and civilly remarried to approach the Eucharist.
In 2015, Fr. Morselli came together with Abbot Claude Barthe and Msgr. Antonio Livi to write a document that elaborated their rejection of the Instrumentum laboris of the 2015 Synod on the Family. The introduction and two of the four chapters of the text (the first, on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, and the third, on homosexuality) can be read in English here.
In May 2016, Fr. Morselli wrote 59 pages of comprehensive observations on Amoris Laetitia. The document was partially published on the website messainlatino.it (full document can be downloaded here). La Corrispondenza Romanacalled the document "a courageous and logical act," going on to say that "Morselli's analysis is an excellent antidote to the 'moral of the situation,' condemned by Pius XII and St. John Paul II, and that resurfaces today behind the mask of 'divine mercy.'"
Many other articles and comments have followed, as Fr. Morselli continues to publicly fight what he calls "the heretical storm unleashed after Amoris Laetitia." Here is our interview.
The problems are so many that I find it very difficult to summarize.
CM: You've written a great deal about Amoris Laetitia. Could you please summarize what are, in your view, the main problems with this apostolic exhortation?
The problems are so many that I find it very difficult to summarize: In order to allow the divorced who have civilly remarried to participate in the Eucharist, it's necessary to say that adultery may not be a sin, that it's possible to receive absolution without the purpose of no longer committing the sin, that at times it's impossible to live according to the Commandments, that intrinsically evil acts don't exist ... It would be the burial of the encyclical Veritatis Splendor.
You see, the truths of faith are all tightly bound together; there's a reason the parts of the Creed are called "articles" — because they are like members of the body, all connected. If a truth of faith falls, then all of them fall apart.
CM: Cardinal Raymond Burke has said that Amoris Laetitia is not part of the infallible magisterium, because it contains the potential for grave errors. Some bishops have contradicted him. Do you agree with Cdl. Burke?
Cardinal Burke doesn't say the document contains grave errors, but that it presents many problems; according to him there aren't even "material heresies" in the document. What His Eminence means, when affirming that Amoris Laetitia is not part of the Magisterium, be it because of the nature of the exhortation, be it because of the Pope's own words (that in the beginning of the exhortation acknowledges the possibility of discussion), be it because of the objective problems of the text, is that Amoris Laetitia doesn't require the same level of adherence typical of other testimonials from Tradition (for instance, Veritatis Splendor, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, etc).
I completely share the affirmations of Cdl. Burke; the fact thatAmoris Laetitia isn't obligatory is also inferred from the fact that numerous members of the Teaching Church (bishops and cardinals) have denounced grave problems. In other words, it's not possible to say that the Church has embraced Amoris Laetitia as Her document. It's not only about the disagreement of some theologians, as such has happened in the past, but also about the questions put by many extremely obedient and distinguished pastors.
CM: Do you believe the Pope will answer the dubia submitted by the four cardinals? If not, and the confusion continues, what are the faithful to do?
At the moment it looks like he won't. I believe that the Pope is afraid to answer because he knows that the arguments, in favor of the interpretation leaked in interviews and in his letter to
some bishops, are easily challenged.
During the times of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the parallel magisterium was the work of dissident theologians; now we have the paradox of a parallel magisterium which is the work of the Pope himself, with interviews and unofficial letters that don't appear in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis...
To the faithful my advice is to pray for the Pope, whom we should in every case always love and support.
To the faithful my advice is to pray for the Pope, whom we should in every case always love and support, and to refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, strongly desired by St. John Paul II in foreseeing times like these.
CM: Have you been surprised by the harsh criticism launched against Cdl. Burke, Cdl. Caffarra and the other cardinals for publicizing the dubia?
I expected it, because the world and its prince can stand neither Truth nor whomever proclaims it. I see these reactions as a good sign; in theology this is called probatio ex adversariis.
CM: Recently, Cdl. Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said he does not foresee a formal correction of the Pope, because, in his opinion, Amoris Laetitia presents "no danger to the Faith." He also said he was disappointed that the dubia had been made so public. What's your reaction to this?
Müller's reaction is mysterious, because he's also very puzzled by the document; some voices in the Curia have said that Müller himself had presented numerous corrections of Amoris Laetitia to the Pope, all of them ignored. It could be an outstretched hand to the Pope, an invitation to dialogue, perhaps by a suggestion of Benedict XVI; but this is only a hypothesis of mine, let's make that clear.
CM: There is a great deal of confusion out there because of varying interpretations of Amoris Laetitia by various bishops. What is your counsel to confused couples who may be in an invalid marriage yet desire to receive Holy Communion? What must they do according to Church teaching and practice?
They ought not to reject a priori, and as certainly impracticable, the idea of living as brother and sister; they should entrust themselves to the Holy Mother, consecrate themselves to the Virgin, recite the Rosary and think about the fact that they are neither excluded nor excommunicated, even if momentarily they are not allowed to approach the sacraments. If they let themselves be guided by the Immaculate, sooner or later they'll reach the pinnacle. And at the same time, turn to the ecclesiastical court with confidence, as the procedures have been largely simplified.
CM: How do you see the specific situation of the Church of Bologna? Is it going to be possible to overturn the effects of the erroneous interpretations in a context so favorable to the errors?
The Church of Bologna has now the presence of so many fresh forces: The world that is apparently triumphing is a world that, in reality, is dying — from the prayer groups, from the centers of eucharistic adoration, a new Church of Bologna will rise, just like it has happened in many other local churches. The good Lord has set aside the "biological solution" for the rebirth of the Church: the extinction of modernism, which is sterile and does not fascinate anyone. We shouldn't fear the last blows of the defeated; we shall remain working for the truth, all the while patiently bearing the last self-celebrations of the imaginary springtime following the Second Vatican Council.
CM: You have showed concern for the future of the Tridentine Mass. Do you think the Traditional Latin Mass could be the next target of reforms?
AM: They are definitely trying; but the vivacity and the non-sectarianism of the many faithful that attend the Traditional Mass are an immovable obstacle. There's also the question of the agreements with the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), much desired by the Holy Father; it's a bit difficult, on one side, to say to the SSPX "do whatever you want," and then on the other side to forbid the perennial Mass to the faithful that have always been obedient.
CM: Do you think Cdl. Caffarra's detailed interview was a sign that the four cardinals do intend to go on with the formal correction of the Pope? In the interview the cardinal said the faithful and priests had requested the cardinals' intervention, and your article "Amoris Laetitia: The Perpetuation of Falsehood," where you plead with pastors not to be afraid to intervene, came to mind. Are you one of the priests who requested this intervention of Cdl. Caffarra?
AM: I don't have any direct contact with the cardinals, other than exchanging a few words with Caffarra, whom I had the opportunity to meet on occasion, but not in a private audience. Therefore, speaking as an outsider, intuitively, I'm convinced that the four of them are very determined.
The priests who have written to Caffarra are many; a lot of them are former students of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute, but not solely; many priests have Caffarra as a point of reference. There's a disoriented Catholic world that's ignored by the media. The Pope needs to receive the Cardinals in audience.