CDF head: Amoris Laetitia in line with previous teaching

The Church’s doctrinal chief has said Pope Francis’s document Amoris Laetitia is in line with previous Church teaching on divorce, remarriage and Communion.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, told seminarians in Spain that the apostolic exhortation does not change the Church’s discipline in this area.

John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the CDF have all said in the last 35 years that the divorced and civilly remarried should not receive Communion unless they live “in complete continence”.

Cardinal Müller told the seminarians: “If Amoris Laetitia wanted to overturn such a deep-rooted and important discipline, it would have expressed this precisely and given reasons for it”.

Footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia was related to text in paragraph 305, concerning those in “irregular situations”.

“ . . . Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” AL(305)

The footnote went on to say: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. . . .”

It referenced previous statements by Pope Francis about priests not making the confessional into a torture chamber and the Eucharist being powerful medicine for the weak, not a prize for the perfect.

Cardinal Müller said the document’s footnote 351 does not specify the divorced and remarried.

“Without going into details, it is enough to point out that this footnote refers to objective situations of sin in general, not to the specific case of civilly remarried divorcees,” he said.

“The situation of the latter has peculiar features which distinguishes it from other situations,” the cardinal added.

The footnote, the cardinal went on, “does not apply to the previous discipline”.

Referring to the teaching of John Paul and Benedict, he added: “The standard of Familaris Consortio [84] and Sacramentum Caritatis [29] and their application in all cases is still valid.”


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