Featured Image
Pope Francis greets Cardinal-designate Kevin Farrell

Update: Archbishop Chaput has responded to Cardinal-designate Farrell's comments. Read the story here.

VATICAN CITY, November 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal-designate Kevin J. Farrell, one of Pope Francis’ most outspoken American supporters, has slammed a fellow U.S. bishop’s guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia as causing “division.”

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s guidelines issued in July unequivocally state that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may not receive Holy Communion unless they “refrain from sexual intimacy.” Chaput, who currently heads the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee for implementing the pope’s controversial Apostolic Exhortation, has stated that the document must be interpreted “within the tradition of the Church’s teaching and life.”

But Farrell, who was recently appointed by the pope to head the new Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, stated that he disagreed with Chaput’s position.

“I don't share the view of what Archbishop Chaput did, no,” the cardinal-designate told Catholic News Service on Tuesday. “I think there are all kinds of different circumstances and situations that we have to look at — each case as it is presented to us,” he said.

“I think that is what our Holy Father is speaking about, is when we talk about accompanying, it is not a decision that is made irrespective of the couple,” he said, adding that while there is an “objective moral law” you will never find two couples who have the same reason for being divorced and remarried.

IMPORTANT: To respectfully express your support for the cardinals' letter, sign the petition to Pope Francis. Click here.

The Cardinal-designate said implementing the pope's exhortation should be done “in communion” with all U.S. bishops, not by individual bishops.

“I think that it would have been wiser to wait for the gathering of the conference of bishops where all the bishops of the United States or all the bishops of a country would sit down and discuss these things,” he said, adding that a conference-wide discussion would ensure “an approach that would not cause as much division among bishops and dioceses, and misunderstandings.”

Amoris Laetitia has been a hotbed of controversy since its publication in April. It has been criticized for its ambiguity on the issues of the indissolubility of marriage and whether couples in adulterous relationships can receive Holy Communion.

In September, the Pope ended the ambiguity his document had caused when he wrote to the bishops of Argentina that there was “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia other than one admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to Holy Communion. While the letter made the pope’s position clear, it caused a firestorm among faithful Catholics who questioned the pope’s statement.

Earlier this week, four Cardinals went public with their unanswered letter to Pope Francis that asked him to clarify “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful” stemming from the exhortation. One of the four cardinals, Raymond Burke, stated Tuesday that should the pope fail to address their concerns the cardinals are contemplating a “formal correction,” something quite rare within the Church.  

Farrell, who once tweeted that “If you find Pope Francis ‘confusing’ – you have not read or do not understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” stated in the interview that Amoris Laetitia is “so important” because of its vision for family life.

“The most important part of Amoris Laetitia is not Chapter 8″ on accompanying those in irregular situations, he said. “We need to explain marriage, we need to explain human love in a much better and more dynamic way.”

Farrell said that despite there being many “difficulties” that surround civilly divorced and remarried Catholics “we have to try to find ways to bring them into full communion.”