BOSTON, Massachusetts, October 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Jesuit priest and papal confidant Father Anthony Spadaro said that Pope Francis holds that the Catholic Church can no longer set down general norms that apply to entire groups of people.
Spadaro, editor of the Italian magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, made the comment today at a conference at Boston College where liberal Cardinals met with dissident theologians to discuss strategies for implementing Pope Francis’ controversial teachings on marriage and family in dioceses across the United States.
The Jesuit priest told attendees that Amoris Laetitia, the Pope's 2016 teaching on marriage and family, recognizes that people living in “irregular” family situations, such as the divorced and remarried living in adultery, “can be living in God's grace, can love and can also grow in a life of grace.”
“We must conclude that the Pope realizes that one can no longer speak of an abstract category of persons and … [a] praxis of integration in a rule that is absolutely to be followed in every instance,” he said, according to a report by National Catholic Reporter.
“Since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same,” he added.
“It is no longer possible to judge people on the basis of a norm that stands above all,” he concluded.
Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, a dissident theologian at Boston College and one of the main organizers of the October 5-6 event, said the conference will “fortify and further the ongoing reception of Amoris in the U.S.”
He said that the event is about “setting an agenda for the future of the Church” in the U.S.
Today’s discussions at the conference focused on Amoris Laetitia’s call for pastors to, in the words of the National Catholic Reporter, “listen to laypeople and respect decisions they make about their lives after undertaking a process of discernment.”
During his talk, Spadaro praised guidelines issued by the Sicilian Bishops Conference this summer that authorized priests to give Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried without annulment (i.e. in a state of public and permanent adultery).
“The Sicilian document concludes with clarity that in some circumstances as regards the divorced and remarried, according to the evaluation of the confessor … it is possible to admit absolution and to admit him or her to the Eucharist,” Spadaro said.
The Boston College conference consisted of panel discussions between prelates, theologians, and canon lawyers, many of whom hold positions contrary to perennial Catholic teaching on marriage, the sacraments, conscience, and the existence of absolute moral norms.
The conference comes about two weeks after 60 Catholic clergy and lay scholars from around the world issued a “Filial Correction” to Pope Francis for “propagating heresy.” They asserted that Pope Francis has supported heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the Eucharist that are causing a host of “heresies and other errors” to spread throughout the Catholic Church.