Laypeople from around the world will hold a Rome conference at the end of this month aimed at helping to bring clarity to a controversial chapter of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
The one-day April 22 conference, hosted by the Italian publication La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and the monthly magazine Il Timone, will comprise six speakers who will examine the issue from a variety of perspectives.
The public meeting at the city’s Hotel Columbus, entitled “Bringing Clarity One Year after Amoris Laetitia”, is being held in response to “very different and even diametrically opposed” interpretations of the document’s Chapter 8, said Riccardo Cascioli, editor of La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. The varied readings of the chapter are due to the “objective ambiguity of the language” used, he added.
The conference follows the submission by four cardinals of five “dubia”, or doubts, to Pope Francis aimed at confirming whether or not these ambiguous elements in Amoris Laetitia are in continuity with the Church’s established moral teaching.
The Holy Father has so far made it known that he won’t respond to the five questions, each of which requires a “yes” or “no” answer, saying some “persist in seeing only white or black, when rather one ought to discern in the flow of life.”
Some bishops conferences such as Germany’s and Malta’s have interpreted the text of Chapter 8 along the lines of the Pope’s wishes, that is to allow some couples living in irregular unions, in particular remarried divorcees living in an objective state of adultery, to receive Holy Communion — a position which critics argue is opposed to the Church’s magisterium.
Other bishops such as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bishop Steven Lopes of the Anglican Ordinariate and the bishops of Alberta, Canada, say they have interpreted the document in continuity with the Church’s doctrine and tradition, giving utmost attention and care for divorced and remarried persons, but not allowing those living in an objective situation of adultery to receive Holy Communion.
Priests, bishops and laity are reporting an immense amount of confusion due to the lack of clarity and these divergent interpretations, and see it as incumbent on the Holy Father to remedy the situation.
“We must not forget that the stakes are very high and involve three Sacraments: Penance, the Eucharist and Matrimony — we are therefore touching upon the foundations of the Catholic Church,” wrote Cascioli. The organizers of the April 22 conference therefore believe an answer to the “dubia” is “more necessary and urgent than ever.”
“It is not just a few elderly cardinals demanding it, as some would have you believe,” Cascioli added, “but rather it is a widespread need in the Church around the world.”
Speakers from five continents will address the conference:
Senior Research Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
University of New England (Australia)
“A year since Amoris Laetitia: a word at the right moment.”
Professor of Medieval Philosophy
University of Chile (Chile)
“The need for consistency of the Magisterium with Tradition: examples from history.”
Director of the Institute for Demography, Welfare and Family (Germany)
“The indissolubility of marriage, a good for society.”
Professor of Christian Philosophy
McGill University, Montreal (Canada)
“The roots of the current crisis.”
Jean Paul Messina
Professor of the History of Christianity and Religious Studies
Theological Faculty of the Catholic University of Central Africa, Yaoundé (Cameroon)
“The universality of doctrine and local contexts: the case of the African churches.”
Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy
Collège Stanislas, Paris (France)
“A matter of conscience.”