April Rome Conference to Address Crisis of Confusion in Church

The meeting, with interventions from cardinals and bishops, will be entitled ‘Catholic Church: Where Are You Heading?’

(photo: Edward Pentin photo)

Lay faithful as well as members of the hierarchy, clergy and religious are being invited to participate in a Rome conference aimed at helping the Church find its way after the uncertainties of the past five years of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

The organizers, a group of Italian Catholics known as the “Friends of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra,” say the April 7 meeting will be on the theme: “Catholic Church: Where Are You Heading?”

Its subtitle, “Only a blind man can deny that there is great confusion in the Church,” is taken from comments Cardinal Caffarra made in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Foglio in January 2017.

The former archbishop of Bologna, one of the signatories of the dubia — five questions sent to Pope Francis in 2016 aimed at helping to resolve the prevailing confusion, died last September.

The conference was one of Cardinal Caffarra's last wishes after he had become deeply disillusioned by the crisis of confusion, most notably regarding the issue of giving the Eucharist to Catholics engaging in sexual relations outside marriage, such as remarried Catholic divorcees and cohabiting couples.

The mainly Italian event is being organized in close conformity with the cardinal’s wishes.

The organizers say the afternoon conference will explore the limits of papal authority as well as seek ways to overcome the division in the Church, exacerbated by what many see as pastoral and doctrinal confusion on key moral issues largely emanating from differing interpretations of Chapter VIII of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

Also discussed will be the leadership roles of the “People of God,” and how the faithful should be consulted on matters of doctrine.

A list of speakers and full program have yet to be released but cardinals and bishops will be taking take part. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has already submitted a video message, and Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, is also due to give an address.

Also shown will be a past interview with Cardinal Caffarra on the subject of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. The cardinal had become concerned that a Vatican commission set up last year on Humanae Vitae would seek to re-interpret the encyclical’s ban on artificial contraception during the document's 50th anniversary this year. The cardinal had given his life to defending the document and the Church’s teaching on marriage, family and procreation.

Lay scholars will also give presentations at the April 7 event, for example Professor Valerio Gigliotti, professor of history and of medieval and modern law at the university of Turin, who will discuss the exercise of the plenitudo potestatis (fullness of power) of the Pope in the history of the Church.

Professor Renzo Puccetti, a physician and professor of bioethics at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute, will present the evolution of the bioethics taught at the institute, from the time when Cardinal Caffarra was the president, to its current leadership under Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

The conference will end with a declaration —a profession of faith on points of doctrine and morality that are most controversial today. It will be proposed for the whole Church and be issued as coming from the voice of “baptized and confirmed members of the People of God.”

The April 7 conference will take place at ‘The Church Village’ conference center (La Rambla area), Via di Torre Rossa 94, at 3pm.