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Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State for the Holy See

VATICAN CITY, January 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Cardinal Parolin stated that Pope Francis’ teaching on marriage and the family found in his 2016 controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia arose from the Pope’s “new paradigm” for the Catholic Church.  

Cardinal Parolin stated that “ultimately Amoris Laetitia arose from a new paradigm that Pope Francis is carrying out with wisdom, prudence and even patience.” He made the comment in an interview with Alessandro Gisotti of Vatican News, the Holy See’s “new information system.” 

The Pope’s exhortation plunged the Church into a crisis over its apparent contradiction of Catholic teaching concerning divorce and remarriage. Specifically, the exhortation has been interpreted by leading bishops and cardinals as allowing Catholics in a second “marriage” who are committing adultery to receive Holy Communion.

Last September, over 60 Catholic clergy and lay scholars from around the world issued what they called a “Filial Correction” to Pope Francis for “propagating heresy.”

When asked why the exhortation caused such a heated confrontation, the cardinal responded: “Probably the difficulties that have arisen and still exist in the Church are due, in addition to some aspects of the content, to this change in attitude that the Pope asks of us.”

“A change in paradigm, inherent in the text itself, that is asked of us: this new spirit, this new approach!” he added.

The Cardinal’s comment echoes that of one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, Argentinean Archbishop Victor Fernández, who said in a 2015 interview that the Pope plans to change the Church in ways that cannot be undone by future popes.

“The pope goes slow because he wants to be sure that the changes have a deep impact. The slow pace is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the changes. He knows there are those hoping that the next pope will turn everything back around. If you go slowly it's more difficult to turn things back… . You have to realize that he is aiming at reform that is irreversible,” he said. 

READ: They gave Pope Francis four years to ‘make the Church over again.’ Here’s how he’s tried.

Cardinal Parolinl said in the interview that every change involves difficulties, but the difficulties raised by Amoris Laetitia must be faced with diligence and enthusiasm to find answers that “become moments of further growth.” 

“And here, too, I believe that Amoris Laetitia, in addition to being an embrace that the Church gives to the family and to its problems in today’s world, to help truly incarnate the Gospel within the Family–which is already a Gospel: the Gospel of the Family–it is also at the same time a request for help from families so that they will collaborate and contribute to the growth of the Church.” 

But a number of bishops within the Church have recently called the Pope’s teaching in the exhortation “alien” to the Catholic faith.

Earlier this month three bishops issued a “public and unequivocal profession of the truth” regarding the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage as a “service of charity in truth” to the Church of today and to the Pope.

The statement was a response to Pope Francis’ and certain bishops’ interpretation of Amoris Laetitia to allow some “remarried” divorcees (without an annulment and not living in sexual continence) access to the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. The statement has since been signed by three additional bishops, bringing the total number up to six. 

During the interview, Cardinal Parolin said the Church’s focus in 2018 would be on “young people.” He said the focus would be based on a “paradigm of responsibility exempt from paternalism.”

“I believe that the most innovative aspect of this approach is the search for a new relationship of the church with young people, based on a paradigm of responsibility exempt from paternalism,” he told Vatican News. “The Church wants to truly enter into dialogue with the reality of youth, wants to understand the young and help the young.” 

Ordained to the priesthood in 1980, Parolin has had a long and distinguished career as a Vatican diplomat, with many years experience of living and working in Latin America.  

Benedict XVI appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela in 2009 when there was growing conflict between the Church and the socialist state, and in 2014 Parolin was invited back to the troubled nation to mediate between the government and the opposition party.  In 2014 he also played a role in the improvement of relations between the United States of America and Cuba. 

In August 2013, Parolin was appointed Secretary of State by Pope Francis, becoming, at 58, the youngest man to hold the top position since it was filled in 1929 by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, at the age of 53.