Don’t expect Pope Francis to respond to the four cardinals’ request: Vatican observers

Father Gerald Murray told EWTN's Raymond Arroyo that 'for the cardinals not to get an answer from the pope in my mind is not a good thing.'
Wed Jun 28, 2017 - 9:01 am EST
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EWTN's Raymond Arroyo and Father Gerald Murray

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Canon Law expert Father Gerald Murray decried the confusion created by Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia last week on EWTN, saying if pastors don’t vigorously defend the faith they are remiss in their duty.

He noted that, because of the confusion, parish priests are now forced to question whether they should continue to uphold Church teaching that they learned in the seminary, which was carried out by the previous two pontiffs. This is the result of various Church hierarchies around the world now allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion because of the document.

All of moral theology is a whole, Father Murray told The World Over’s Raymond Arroyo, and Catholics can’t separate one aspect from another.

“So if we can cast aside mortal sin for adultery, well, what other sins are now going to going to go off that list?” he asked. “And this is where you have lots of problems.”

“This is not a free-for-all religion,” Father Murray stated. “This is a religion handed down by the apostles from Christ. If we don’t zealously guard it, we’re failing in our duty as pastors.”

Arroyo asked Father Murray and veteran Vatican correspondent Ed Pentin for their perspective on the four dubia cardinals’ recent release of a follow-up request to Pope Francis for clarification on Amoris Laetitia.

Father Murray told Arroyo that the issues surrounding the pope’s document must be dealt with, and he heartily supports the cardinals’ effort to get the questions clarified.

Arroyo asked Pentin why there is reluctance on the part of Pope Francis to clarify something so elementary as the Church’s teaching on marriage.

Ambiguity and irony

Pentin said there are a number of theories, “but I think the main one is that the pope wants this ambiguity, because he says that these issues aren’t black and white.”  

Pentin noted as well that critics say that this goes against previous papal teaching.

Arroyo asked Pentin about why the pope would be reluctant to engage with the cardinals.

Pentin’s answer highlighted the contradiction between the pope’s consistent calls for dialogue with others and his non-response to the cardinals.

“Well, this is the irony,” he said, “because he does want to dialogue with everybody else it seems, but not his own cardinals.”

The cardinals are faced with a real problem in trying to uphold the orthodoxy of the faith, Pentin added.

“So that is of great concern,” he said, “to many of the cardinals, I understand, not just the four who are the dubia four.”

It’s anyone’s guess whether the pope will respond to the cardinals’ inquiry, Pentin told Arroyo, “but it seems unlikely at this stage.”

Who’s watching over the flock?

Father Murray pointed out that the reference to the lay faithful in the cardinals’ recently published request to Pope Francis is very important because it shows that the cardinals are not simply acting on their own thoughts or concerns.

It’s well known that many complaints and doubts have come from the laity as well, he said, and it’s clear these cardinals feel it’s their responsibility as advisers to the pope to bring them to him in the spirit of ministering to the lay faithful.

Arroyo asked the priest whether Pope Francis would again dismiss the cardinals’ request for an audience, and simply invoke the pharisaical and rigid pejoratives as he regularly does.

It is unknown what the Holy Father will say, Father Murray replied, but he hasn’t so far answered the dubia.

“We do know that he has said to the Argentinian bishops of Buenos Aires region that their interpretation of Amoris Laetitia was correct,” Father Murray said, “and that interpretation is not in accord with Catholic doctrine.”

He emphasized recognizing what the question at hand actually is.

What God said

“This is a question of, ‘What is the faith handed on from the apostles?’” Father Murray said. “And it’s quite clear — our Lord said, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

“Adultery is a mortal sin,” Father Murray continued. “Those who are living in the state of mortal sin in a public way are to be denied Communion by the Church’s ministers, for their own good.”

Receiving Communion in that situation not only scandalizes other people, it could further imperil the salvation of those who do so, the priest stated further.

“So, the unworthy reception of Holy Communion’s always a problem,” he stated, “We try to minimize it, try to eliminate it. But the public rejection of the Church’s teaching on marriage by getting civilly married cannot be tolerated as simply a minor matter.”

Arroyo asked Father Murray to compare the pope’s response to questions over his apostolic exhortation with how he addressed the dispute within the Order of Malta.

“So what I notice here is that certain issues get direct and immediate attention by the pope, and action is taken,” Father Murray said. “For the cardinals not to get an answer from the pope in my mind is not a good thing.”

“The pope is sovereign, he can do what he wants,” he continued, “but it doesn’t make sense, in all other areas where you take swift action when problems are brought to you, or you say you want dialogue – which he’s engaged in dialogue with a lot of people – why aren’t these cardinals brought and (it) said, “Look, I know you’re here because you love the Church, we all love the Church, let’s discuss what’s at issue.”

Francis told the faithful to go out and make a mess, Father Murray reminded Arroyo and his viewers, and the four cardinals are simply bringing to his attention that some of this approach is not going in the right direction and Church leaders must deal with it.

“Remember, the pope is a servant of Christ,” Father Murray stated, “so are you and I, anybody in the Church, all the baptized, we’re all under the eye of Christ.”

“So we all have to say to ourselves, 'What would Christ do if a doctrinal question came to him that was of great importance?'” he said. “Would he say to people, look, don’t ask questions because the pope’s gonna get upset? I don’t think so.”

  amoris laetitia, catholic, communion for remarried, dubia, four cardinals letter, pope francis

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