NEW YORK, March 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Philadelphia’s archbishop wants Pope Francis to answer the dubia submitted to him months ago for clarification on whether his apostolic exhortation on marriage is intended to circumvent Church teaching.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. cautioned that Amoris Laetitia has to be interpreted primarily through the teaching of Christ, which cannot be contradicted, and that one pope’s instruction cannot contradict that of another.
“Do you want the pope the answer the dubia?” CRUX’s John Allen asked the archbishop in a recent interview. The Philadelphia archbishop responded, “Yes. I think it’s always good to answer questions, clearly.”
The archbishop went on to say that we should take Christ at his word, “and his words about divorce and remarriage, about it being adultery, are very clear.” There’s “just no doubt about what Jesus said in the Gospels.”
Cardinals Raymond Burke, Joachim Meisner, Walter Brandmüller and Carlo Caffarra submitted the dubia, Latin for “doubts,” to Pope Francis last September in a plea to the pope for clarity on Amoris Laetitia.
The pope has yet to respond. Since the letter became public, controversy has ensued, with both attacks and support for the four cardinals and continued calls for the pontiff to answer.
Major confusion has resulted from Pope Francis’ document. One of the grave results is different bishops’ conferences around the world interpreting the document to varying degrees. Some see it as a green light for couples to receive Holy Communion while living in a state of objective sin.
The confusion is fueled in part by an apparent contradiction of Church teaching and previous papal documents such as Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortations Familiaris Consortio and Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, and Pope Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis.
The dubia reference these documents in requesting clarification from the pope on whether he intends to allow Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics who do not observe marital continence.
The dubia also inquire whether Amoris Laetitia is meant to conflict with John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor regarding the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and whether these are binding without exceptions.
In his interview with CRUX, Archbishop Chaput was very clear in saying there was no doubt in what Christ said about marriage, and also that Our Lord cannot be contradicted.
“St. Francis of Assisi encouraged the brothers, the Franciscan brothers, to accept the Gospel without gloss,” he said. “And glosses were convoluted efforts to make the Gospel say something that it didn’t say, or Jesus didn’t really mean what he said.”
“So it seems to me we ought to take Jesus at his word, and his words about divorce and remarriage, about it being adultery, are very clear,” the archbishop continued. “I mean, there’s just no doubt about what Jesus said in the Gospels.”
Archbishop Chaput is one of the bishops who remains clear on Church teaching with these issues, publishing guidelines for his archdiocese last summer clarifying that Catholics living in adulterous unions must remain abstinent from Communion. He took criticism from other prelates for doing so.
The archbishop continued to provide clarity in this week’s interview, explaining how the truth of the Christ’s teaching cannot change. He explained that a pope can neither alter Christ’s nor a previous pope’s teaching.
“It seems to me that it’s impossible for us to contradict the words of Jesus, and it’s also impossible for a teaching to be true 20 years ago not to be true today when it’s the teachings of the pope,” he stated. “The teachings of Pope Francis can’t contradict the teachings of John Paul II when it is a matter of official teaching.”
Amoris Laetitia must be taken in accord with Christ and the Church’s Magisterium, the archbishop emphasized, and it’s not possible for Catholics living in what has been called “irregular” unions to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion.
“So it seems to me we have to interpret Amoris Laetitia in the light of what’s gone before it, primarily the words of Jesus, but secondarily the teachings of the pope, the Magisterium of the Church,” he said. “And so how can it be true that people can receive Communion when they’re living in an adulterous union today. How is that possible, when the Church says it’s not possible?”
Archbishop Chaput also told Allen that Pope Francis’ approach to the papacy had been confusing for people.
He said bishops should help make the Holy Father aware of the confusion and disappointment that people are experiencing as a result of his approach, laying some responsibility for responding at the pope’s feet as well.
“As bishops, we can’t deal with that alone, we have to do it in conjunction with the Holy Father,” he stated. “He has to be aware of that confusion, and I think that he has a responsibility of responding to it as well as us responding to it.”
Archbishop Chaput said he “absolutely” wanted the pope to answer the dubia, even if the answer is not in the direction he would like.
Asked whether he thinks Pope Francis will eventually respond to the dubia, the archbishop stated, “I don’t know. He certainly has opportunities to do that. [But] I don’t really know what he’ll do. He hasn’t told me.”