According to La Stampa, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on “love in the family”, is to be released on April 8. Titled “Amoris Laetitia”, the joy of love, it comes following the Extraordinary and Ordinary Synods held in the Vatican in October 2014 and October 2015 respectively.
Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said the document will be presented in the Vatican newsroom at 11:30 am by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Synod’s secretary, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna and a married couple, Francesco and Giuseppina Miano who participated in the Synod discussions. The text is to be published in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese. A live stream of the press conference can be viewed on http://player.rv.va/ (Vatican Radio’s Vatican Player) but it will also be available on demand for later viewing.
Accredited journalists will have access to the embargoed text – in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese – as of 8 am on the date of publication.
Maike Hickson, writing for OnePeterFive, fears that this eagerly anticipated document may bring the Church to a point of conflict:
Giuseppe Nardi, a well-informed Rome expert, reports on the German website Katholisches.info that all bishops have now received a letter from Rome, instructing them that they should prepare the faithful around the world for the upcoming Apostolic Exhortation. As Nardi writes:
As reported by La Croix, the daily newspaper of the French Bishops’ Conference, the electronic notification comes from Curial Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He urged all bishops to convene a press conference – if possible everywhere at the same time, that is to say, simultaneously, with the press conference in Rome – to present the post-synodal letter of Pope Francis about the family.
Readers might remember that Archbishop Paglia was among the “Kasperites” during the two Synods. His Pontifical Council for the Family had earlier published a book promoting the idea of allowing “remarried” divorcees to receive Holy Communion.
In preparation for the upcoming Apostolic Exhortation, Thomas Sternberg, the head of the prominent German lay organization, Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), has told the Catholic News Agency KNA on Thursday that he expects reforms to be made with regard to the relationship between the “pastoral practice, which anyway already follows other paths,” and the doctrinal Magisterium. The official website of the German Bishops, katholisch.de, sums up Sternberg’s words:
Concretely, Sternberg spoke in favor of admitting remarried divorcees to Holy Communion. This question could also be decided upon by national bishops’ conferences since it is not about a dogmatic problem which can only be decided upon by Rome. The unity of the Church, according to Sternberg, will be preserved even if there is a greater autonomy on the regional level.
While the progressives are preparing the atmosphere (and the battlefield) for a more liberalizing interpretation of the Apostolic Exhortation, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has just made several statements in defense of the traditional teaching on marriage, especially about the indissolubility of marriage.
As we reported on March 1, Mueller referred to John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation“Familiaris Consortio” and said that “remarried” couples can only be admitted to Holy Communion if they “live together as brother and sister.”
On March 29, the Vatican expert Sandro Magister published several important statements from the German Cardinal which were just published in Müller’s new book. One of these statements pertains to the decisive importance of being in the state of sanctifying grace in order to be able to receive Holy Communion:
When someone has lost sanctifying grace, he needs the sacrament of reconciliation [penance]to recover this state, not as his own merit but as a gift, as a gift that God offers him in the sacramental form. Access to Eucharistic communion certainly presupposes the life of grace, it presupposes communion in the ecclesial body, it also presupposes an ordered life in keeping with the ecclesial body in order to be able to say “Amen.”
It seems that the Catholic Church is coming to a point of conflict; these two approaches are not reconcilable. One is either following God’s Commandments, or not. It will be up to each individual Catholic to resist any falsification or undermining of God’s Laws which are themselves acts of love. It will also be a test of fidelity and courage for the prelates of the Church – especially those with a symbolic red hat of martyrdom – whether they will wholeheartedly defend Christ and His teaching.