Pope’s deputy urges di­a­logue af­ter Fran­cis ac­cused of heresy

Medicine Hat News - - FAITH - NI­COLE WIN­FIELD

VAT­I­CAN CITY The Vat­i­can sec­re­tary of state called Thurs­day for greater di­a­logue within the Catholic Church af­ter a small group of tra­di­tion­al­ists for­mally ac­cused Pope Fran­cis of spread­ing heresy with his 2016 open­ing to di­vorced and civilly re­mar­ried Catholics.

Car­di­nal Pi­etro Parolin said those who don’t agree with the pope are free to ex­press them­selves, “but on these things one must rea­son and find ways to un­der­stand one an­other.”

Parolin’s com­ments marked the Vat­i­can’s first re­sponse to the for­mal ac­cu­sa­tions made pub­lic last week­end.

The so-called “fil­ial cor­rec­tion,” pre­pared by a few dozen tra­di­tion­al­ist aca­demics and clergy, ac­cuses Fran­cis of prop­a­gat­ing seven hereti­cal po­si­tions con­cern­ing mar­riage, moral life and the sacra­ments with his doc­u­ment “The Joy of Love” and sub­se­quent “acts, words and omis­sions.”

None of the sig­na­to­ries is a high-rank­ing mem­ber of the church, and to date fewer than 150 peo­ple have signed. But the 25-page let­ter has made head­lines, tap­ping into an over­all un­ease among con­ser­va­tive Catholics about the pope's doc­u­ment on fam­ily love and how it has been in­ter­preted by some bish­ops.

“It’s im­por­tant to di­a­logue, also in­side the church,” Parolin was quoted by the ANSA news agency as say­ing Thurs­day on the side­lines of an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Iraq.

Fran­cis him­self hasn’t re­sponded to the heresy let­ter or to a re­quest four car­di­nals made for him to clar­ify a series of ques­tions, or “du­bia,” they had about the 2016 text.

When it was re­leased in April 2016, “The Joy of Love” im­me­di­ately sparked con­tro­versy be­cause it opened the door to let­ting civilly re­mar­ried Catholics re­ceive Com­mu­nion.

Church teach­ing holds that un­less these Catholics ob­tain an an­nul­ment — a church de­cree declar­ing their first mar­riage in­valid — they can­not re­ceive the sacra­ments since they are seen as com­mit­ting adul­tery in the eyes of the church.

Fran­cis didn’t give Catholics who re­marry out­side the church an au­to­matic pass, but sug­gested — in vague terms and strate­gi­cally placed footnotes — that bish­ops and priests could do so on a caseby-case ba­sis af­ter ac­com­pa­ny­ing them on a spir­i­tual jour­ney of dis­cern­ment.

Sub­se­quent com­ments and writ­ings sug­gest he in­tended to cre­ate such wig­gle room in keep­ing with his be­lief that God’s mercy ex­tends par­tic­u­larly to sin­ners and that the Eucharist isn’t a prize for the per­fect, but nour­ish­ment for the weak.

Fran­cis ex­plained his think­ing in a speech to Je­suits that was pub­lished Thurs­day, re­ject­ing crit­i­cism that there was “no Catholic moral­ity un­der­ly­ing ‘The Joy of Love’ or at least no sure moral­ity.”

The pope in­sisted that he does not ap­proach moral­ity as a one-size-fits-all set of rules, but rather in the more nu­anced way favoured by the church doc­tor, St. Thomas Aquinas.

“I want to say this so that you can help those who be­lieve that moral­ity is purely ca­su­is­tic,” he told the Je­suits in Colom­bia ear­lier this month ac­cord­ing to re­marks pub­lished by the Je­suit jour­nal “Civilta Cat­tolica.”

Com­ing to Fran­cis’ de­fence Thurs­day was Mon­signor Pierangelo Se­queri, the head of the pope’s newly re­founded in­sti­tute for mar­riage and fam­ily life.

In an ed­i­to­rial in the weekly edi­tion of the Vat­i­can news­pa­per, L’Osser­va­tore Ro­mano, Se­queri said the pope’s “Joy of Love” crit­ics needed to pipe down.

“Enough with the laments,” Se­queri wrote. The faith­ful should in­stead spend time help­ing fam­i­lies in need and “driv­ing out the ghosts of fear in our walk through the shad­ows.”


Pope Fran­cis blesses a preg­nant woman dur­ing his weekly gen­eral au­di­ence, at the Vat­i­can on Wed­nes­day.

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