June 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia will “be the core resource for the catechetical preparation” for the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin, the Catholic bishops of Ireland said in their summer meeting’s final statement, released earlier this month.
The World Meeting of Families is a Catholic family conference held every three years and sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family. Pope Francis spoke at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which was themed “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
The theme of the 2018 World Meeting of Families will be “The Gospel of family, joy for the world.” The conference will focus on the “vital role” of families as “real protagonists of renewal and of the transmission of the faith to the coming generations,” according to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Pope Francis is slated to travel to Ireland to attend the conference.
In their statement, the Irish bishops also noted that Amoris Laetitia has made the non-fiction bestseller list in Ireland, with Catholic book publisher Veritas having sold over 5,000 copies.
Since its release in April, many Catholic leaders have raised concerns about the exhortation’s seeming incompatibility with Catholic moral teaching. Chapter 8 of the controversial document in particular has caused great alarm amongst Catholic theologians and philosophers. Among the concerns is that it seems to open the door for those living in objectively sinful situations to receive the Sacraments without a firm purpose of amendment.
Professor Robert Spaemann, a prominent Catholic philosopher and close friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, labeled the exhortation a “breach” with Catholic tradition and said it is contradictory to the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his exhortation Familiaris Consortio.
In Familiaris Consortio, the late pope affirmed the Church’s teaching on the question of the Sacraments for remarried divorcees, writing:
…the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Earlier this month, several progressive European Catholic theologians proposed that the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Church’s Code of Canon Law be re-written in light of Amoris Laetitia. Dr. Maike Hickson translated the theologians’ proposals at OnePeterFive.
Eva-Maria Faber and Martin Lintner, two theologians, cited Amoris Laetitia for their claim that “irregular situations”—situations that the Church teaches are objectively sinful—can no longer necessarily be described as gravely sinful. The Catechism should be adapted to reflect the exhortation’s new developments, the two wrote. Lintner has suggested in the past that the Church “rethink” its teaching on homosexuality.
Austrian theologian Rainer Bucher suggested that the Church “re-contextualize moral theology and canon law” in light of the exhortation.
Stephan Goertz, a German theologian, said that different dioceses can interpret Amoris Laetitia in different ways. It has “made free [sic] the path for different interpretations in the local dioceses,” he said. Goertz is the author of a book about homosexuality and the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, OP, the Archbishop of Vienna and one of the main compilers of the most recent version of the Catholic Catechism, has suggested that the Church recognize the “positive” elements of actions it teaches are sexual sins. Schönborn has also said that Amoris Laetitia adopts his approach of sometimes admitting to the Sacraments the divorced and civilly remarried.