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Pope’s marriage document not up for personal interpretation, cardinal says

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s doctrinal chief said some bishops are interpreting Pope Francis’ document on marriage and family in a way that is not in accordance with Catholic doctrine. Read more »

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Pope Francis says he doesn’t lose sleep over his critics’ lack of understanding

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The church is not a prop for one’s ego, a soapbox for ideas or a suit of armor protecting a sad life, Pope Francis said.

“The church exists only as an instrument for communicating God’s merciful plan to the people,” he said in an interview published in the Nov. 18 edition of Avvenire, an Italian Catholic newspaper.

Pope Francis attends an ecumenical event at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, Oct. 31. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis attends an ecumenical event at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, Oct. 31. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

God doesn’t ask for grand gestures, just for the trustful abandon of a child in a father’s arms and for sharing that divine love and mercy with others, he said.

“Those who discover they are loved very much begin to emerge from terrible solitude, from the separation that leads to hating others and oneself,” he added.

While most of the lengthy interview’s questions touched on ecumenism and the meaning of the Year of Mercy, the pope’s responses revealed his vision of the church and the “bad spirit” or psychological defects that foster division.

For example, he said, some reactions to his apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia,” continue to reflect a lack of understanding about how the Holy Spirit has been working in the church since the Second Vatican Council.

With “Lumen Gentium,” its dogmatic constitution on the church, he said, the church “returned to the source of her nature, the Gospel. This shifted the axis of Christian understanding from a kind of legalism, which can be ideological, to the person of God, who became mercy in the incarnation of the son.””

“Think about certain reactions to ‘Amoris Laetitia’ — some continue to not understand, (seeing) either white or black, even if it is in the flow of life that one must discern.”

Historians, however, say it takes a century for a council’s teachings to fully sink in, which means “we are at the halfway mark,” Pope Francis said.

[On Nov. 14, four cardinals — Cardinals Walter Brandmuller, a former president of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Sciences; Raymond L. Burke, a U.S. cardinal and patron of the Knights of Malta; Carlo Caffarra, retired archbishop of Bologna, Italy; and Joachim Meisner, retired archbishop of Cologne — said they formally asked Pope Francis to clarify his teaching in “Amoris Laetitia” on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and, not receiving a response after two months, they released their letter to the press.

“We have noted a grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the church,” the cardinals said. “Even within the episcopal college, there are contrasting interpretations of Chapter 8 of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’” the chapter dealing with ministry to the divorced in his exhortation on the family.]

Pope Francis told Avvenire in the Nov. 18 article that the church and its members are asked to be docile to the Holy Spirit and to let the Spirit do the work because the Spirit knows when “the time is ripe” for things.

Calling the Year of Mercy was an example of that, he said. It was not “a plan” of his own, but something inspired by the Spirit and built on the cornerstones of his predecessors.

“The church is the Gospel, it is the work of Jesus Christ,” the pope said. “It is not a course of ideas, a tool for asserting them.”

“The cancer in the church is giving glory to one another,” he said in response to an observation made by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who said a worldly mentality within the church was at the root of divisions among Christians.

Someone who has never heard of or encountered Christ can always come to know him someday, Pope Francis said.

But, he said, if someone is already “in the church and moves within it because precisely in the world of the church they cultivate and feed their hunger for domination and self-affirmation, (then) they have a spiritual disease; they believe the church is a self-sufficient human reality where everything proceeds according to the logic of ambition and power.”

There is a “sinful habit of the church to look too much at itself as if it believed it had its own light” — what Bartholomew called an “ecclesial introversion,” the pope said. Divisions are born when the church looks too much too itself and not to the real light of Christ, which the church reflects like the moon does sunlight.

“Looking at Christ frees us from this habit and also from the temptation of triumphalism and rigidity,” the pope said.

The guide for knowing the right path to take is always understanding the importance of following the Holy Spirit, he said when asked about criticisms that his outreach to other Christian communities was a sign of “selling out” Catholic doctrine or “Protestant-izing” the church.

He said he doesn’t “lose sleep” over such critiques because it’s important to see what kind of “spirit” is motivating such opinions.

“When there is no bad spirit” behind the remarks, differing opinions can be helpful for walking the way of the Lord, he said.

Other times, it is immediately obvious when criticism is driven by wanting to “justify a position that’s already been taken,” he said. Such criticisms “are not honest, they are made with a bad spirit to foment division.”

One sees right away that certain forms of strictness “arise from a shortcoming, from the desire to hide one’s own sad discontent within a suit of armor,” he said, adding that the film Babette’s Feast offered a good example of “this rigid behavior.”

As long as the church and its members keep their focus on Christ, they will avoid many of these errors and temptations, he said.

It is walking behind Christ and doing his will by praying together, helping the needy and dying as martyrs together that will unite all Christians who already share the same baptism.

Ecumenism is a process, a walking together, not carving out or “occupying spaces,” or setting aside and ignoring theological differences, he said.

The “grave sin” of proselytism, too, goes against the “dynamic” of authentically becoming and being Christian. “The church is not a soccer team seeking fans,” he said.

 

 

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Rush to guidelines? U.S. bishops should have discussed pope’s marriage document first, new cardinal says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal-designate Kevin J. Farrell believes the U.S. bishops as a whole should have discussed pastoral guidelines for implementing Pope Francis’ exhortation on the family before individual bishops began issuing guidelines for their own dioceses. Read more »

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Scripture in the papal exhortation on families

November 4th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love,” is the result of the work developed at the two synods on the family that were held at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015.

While much of the content of this exhortation is taken from the findings that were voted on by the bishops who attended the synods, the exhortation is firmly rooted in Scripture. Read more »

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The ‘Joy of Love’ is an affirmation worth the read

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Catholic News Service

It probably shouldn’t be necessary to have pastoral letters or papal encyclicals or apostolic exhortations (or any other official church document) to tell us what we should already know: that marriage and the family life it creates are holy and sacred. Read more »

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Families aren’t a problem, they’re an opportunity, pope writes

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Catholic News Service

“No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love,” Pope Francis writes in his document titled “The Joy of Love.” Read more »

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Vatican newspaper calls pope’s document on family life ‘authoritative church teaching’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family is an example of the “ordinary magisterium,” papal teaching, to which Catholics are obliged to give “religious submission of will and intellect,” said an article in the Vatican newspaper.

A newly married couple hold rosaries in their hands as they leave Pope Francis' general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The Vatican newspaper is calling Pope Francis's  apostolic exhortation,  "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), an authoritative church teaching. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See stories to come.

A newly married couple hold rosaries in their hands as they leave Pope Francis’ audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The Vatican newspaper is calling Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), an authoritative church teaching. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Father Salvador Pie-Ninot, a well-known professor of ecclesiology, said that while Pope Francis did not invoke his teaching authority in a definitive way in the document, it meets all the criteria for being an example of the “ordinary magisterium” to which all members of the church should respond with “the basic attitude of sincere acceptance and practical implementation.”

The Spanish priest’s article in L’Osservatore Romano Aug. 23 came in response to questions raised about the formal weight of the pope’s document, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”).

For instance, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke has said on several occasions that the document is “a mixture of opinion and doctrine.”

Father Pie-Ninot said he examined the document in light of the 1990 instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the vocation of the theologian.

The instruction, issued by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now-retired Pope Benedict XVI, explained three levels of church teaching with the corresponding levels of assent they require.

The top levels are: “Infallible pronouncements,” which require an assent of faith as being divinely revealed; and teaching proposed “in a definitive way,” which is “strictly and intimately connected with revelation” and “must be firmly accepted and held.”

A teaching is an example of “ordinary magisterium,” according to the instruction, “when the magisterium, not intending to act ‘definitively,’ teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect.”

“Amoris Laetitia” falls into the third category, Father Pie-Ninot said, adding the 1990 instruction’s statement that examples of ordinary magisterium can occur when the pope intervenes “in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements.”

The instruction notes that “it often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent,” although, as the Spanish priest said, the instruction insists that even then one must assume that “divine assistance” was given to the pope.

Accepting “Amoris Laetitia” as authoritative church teaching, Father Pie-Ninot said, applies also to the document’s “most significant words” about the possibility of people divorced and remarried without an annulment receiving Communion in limited circumstances.

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Vatican Letter: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ at three months — Communion question still debated

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Three months after the publication of Pope Francis’ exhortation on marriage and family, bishops and bishops’ conferences around the world are studying practical ways to apply it. Some still disagree on what exactly the pope meant. Read more »

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Holy & sacred: Marriage and family

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It probably shouldn’t be necessary to have pastoral letters or papal encyclicals or apostolic exhortations to tell us what we should already know: that marriage and the family life it creates are holy and sacred.

And yet, as someone celebrating 40 years of marriage and 36 years of parenthood this year, I readily admit that there are times when the sacredness of marriage and family life gets lost amid the day-to-day challenges and struggles of surviving in the world. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Pope puts out the welcome mat

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I don’t know if there are Home Depots in Rome, but an enterprising household goods sales person over there might call on Pope Francis to sell him a gigantic welcome mat for St. Peter’s Basilica. “You’re welcomed in the church” has been the pope’s continuing theme since his pontificate began in 2013.

He extended that welcome again last week when he released his postsynodal apostolic exhortation “‘Amoris Laetitia’ (“The Joy of Love”) on Love in the Family.”

The document’s title might be unwieldy, but its message is positive, clear-eyed and traditional. Read more »

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