Om - Amoris Laetitia

America: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ represents an organic development of doctrine, ‘not a rupture.’

8. april 2016

Gerard O'Connell skriver bl.a.:

At a Vatican press conference to present Pope Francis’ new exhortation on the family, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said there is “an organic development of doctrine” in “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) when compared to a similar text, “Familiaris Consortio,” written by St. John Paul II after the 1980 Synod on the Family.

The archbishop of Vienna’s words are highly significant, since he is considered an authority in such matters. He is one of the theological heavyweights in the College of Cardinals, was chief editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is very close to Benedict XVI and played an important role in the 2014 and 2015 synod of bishops. For all these reasons, Francis chose him, and not Cardinal Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to present his post-synodal exhortation on the family to the international media.

His statement on the development of doctrine came in response to a question as to whether paragraph No. 84 of “Familiaris Consortio” is still valid given that in footnote No. 351 of “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis opened the possibility that divorced and remarried Catholics could, in certain circumstances, receive the sacraments of reconciliation and Communion. St. John Paul II had ruled out such a possibility, unless the couple—who for serious reasons cannot separate—“take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

The Austrian cardinal describes Francis’ opening as “a classic case” of “the organic development of doctrine.” He explained that here “there is not a change [of doctrine],” but there is “the organic development of doctrine,” along the lines that John Henry Newman had envisaged. He recalled that just as John Paul II had “developed doctrine” in “Familiaris Consortio,” so, too, Francis has done the same in “Amoris Laetitia.” He suggested that one might even say that this new development was in some way “implicit” in No. 84 of “Familiaris Consortio,” which looked at three different situations. In any case, the cardinal said, “There is continuity in teaching here, but there is also something really new. There’s a real development [of doctrine], not a rupture.”

Asked why Francis had inserted this significant change into a footnote (No. 351) and not into the main body of the text, the cardinal responded, “I don’t know!” He suggested, however, that the reason may have been because Francis—as he said on several occasions—thinks “it’s a trap to focus on this single issue” because one risks losing the wider vision of marriage that is being presented here. Cardinal Schönborn then expressed his own view that perhaps the time has come, 50 years after the Second Vatican Council, to look anew at “how we understand the sacramental life.”

In his presentation, the Austrian prelate expressed “personal joy” at “the language and style” used by Francis which, he said, contrasts with the usual “ecclesial discourse on marriage and the family” where there is often a tendency “to discuss these realities of life on the basis of two separate tracks, the ‘regular’ where everything is according to the rules, and ‘irregular’ situations that represent a problem.” He confessed that he found such discourse particularly difficult since he came from “a patchwork family,” and felt such talk “may cause harm and can give the sensation of exclusion.” He noted that Francis, on the other hand, reaches out to everyone, and speaks about all situations “without cataloguing them,” and “with the eyes of Jesus that exclude no one.”

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