Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park, MD. on Nov. 15, 2016. (CNS photo/courtesy Will Kirk)Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park, MD. on Nov. 15, 2016. (CNS photo/courtesy Will Kirk)

CORNWALL, Ontario (CNS) -- Cardinal Marc Ouellet denounced the "alarmist" and "unfaithful" interpretations of the Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia."

The Canadian cardinal, who serves as the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, told Canadian bishops the document does not signal "changes to doctrine or to sacramental discipline," but represents a pastoral approach that takes into consideration "the good of the person," according to his or her circumstances.

"Any alarmist interpretation" that says the document is "a break with tradition," or a "permissive interpretation that celebrates access to the sacraments" for the divorced and remarried is "unfaithful to the text and to the intentions of the supreme pontiff," said Cardinal Ouellet.

Speaking Sept. 25 to more than 80 bishops and eparchs attending the annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Ouellet said contrasting reactions to the document have been "delighting some, worrying others, leaving none indifferent."

The former Quebec City cardinal said Chapter 8 of the document is a call for a "new pastoral conversion" that can bring comfort to suffering people. He conceded that although many welcome this approach, others see it as a risk, "a break with the traditional doctrine and discipline" of the Catholic Church. Chapter 8 became the "interpretive key" for the document, making people judge it as either "positive and welcome," or "ambiguous and risky," he said.

"Amoris Laetitia," the pope's 2016 apostolic exhortation that followed synods of bishops on the family in 2014 and 2015, "deserves more attention in itself than merely the public debate" around "disputed points," he said.

"Amoris Laetitia deserves more attention in itself than merely the public debate around disputed points."

Late last year, four cardinals wrote to Pope Francis seeking clarification on several questions related to the document. More recently, a group of 62 priests, theologians and lay Catholics sent the pope a letter that they claim corrects alleged heresies contained in "Amoris Laetitia."

Pope Francis identified Chapters 4 and 5 as the "center of the document" said Cardinal Ouellet. The document "must be read as a whole" to understand the "limits and extent of the pastoral orientations." Often, however, criticisms have been removed from their context, he said.

"Amoris Laetitia" seems "especially urgent and needed in Canada" because of a gap between the church's official teaching and the "lived experience of couples and families," Cardinal Ouellet said. This gap has widened since the Second Vatican Council due, in part, to the influence of what St. John Paul II called "the culture of death": unrestricted abortion, euthanasia, contraception, pseudo-marriage of same-sex couples, divorce and assisted suicide.

"We must re-read 'Amoris Laetitia' in a spirit of pastoral conversion," and with "receptivity to papal teaching," to help cultures that are "far from the faith" experience the "joy of the Gospel that emerges from faith," he said.

Pastoral conversion is a process that involves accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness in order to reach people in fragile circumstances, he said. Without that conversion, "it is impossible to adopt the appropriate pastoral attitude of welcome, listening, dialogue and mercy," said the cardinal.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Martin Blackshaw
5 years 2 months ago

Cardinal Ouellet is being disingenuous. AL is an ambiguous document that has already seen two Bishops' Conferences cast aside Church teaching to admit divorced and remarried persons to Holy Communion. AL is a "back door" method of undermining the moral and Sacramental teaching and discipline of the Church. It is disguised as pastoral but is in fact revolutionary.

The same happened with other innovations after Vatican II, also introduced as pastoral but resulting in real terms in a change of faith and discipline.

Communion in the hand is one such abuse. Introduced illicitly into the Church by Cardinal Suenens in Belgium, it soon spread to neighbouring countries where it became the norm. Pope Paul VI lamented this illicit development in Memoriale Domini, insisting that the universal norm for the Church is that communicants kneel and receive on their tongue. But then he made the fatal error of permitting the "contray usage", nice name for abuse, to stand in countries where it had become widespread and entrenched. He further erred by permitting Bishops' Conferences to apply to Rome for special permission to adopt this abusive novelty.

Before we knew where we were the Protestant pratice was everywhere adopted, to the extent that priests dared to refuse kneeling communicants faithful to the Church's declared norm.

Today, Communion in the hand to standing communicants (an Indult) has usurped the Church's norm, still in force, of reception on the tongue while kneeling. This is how Modernists work and this is exactly the method behind AL. Not long from now divorced and remarried Catholics everywhere will be re-admitted to Holy Communion without being required to repent of their sin or regularise their state. The sacriledge will be called pastoral mercy and all who oppose it will be called Pharisees.

Unbelievable betrayal of the Faith and the Church's teaching has taken place since Vatican II in the name of that one pastoral council.

As one Archbishop once put it: "The martyrs sacrificed their lives for the truth, now they sacrifice the truth". St. Pius X warned the Church of how clever Modernists are with words, masters of ambiguity. How prophetic both he and the aforementioned Archbishop were.

The latest from america

jesuit father marko rupnik speaks in front of a microphone
Slovenian Jesuit and artist Father Marko Rupnik has been barred from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction after complaints about his ministry.
A priest in white robes speaks with a young girl in a jacket that reads "Newtown Lacrosse"
Reflecting on the horror and the events of the intervening years, Msgr. Weiss said: “Gratitude sustains me. I pray a lot and try to keep myself in the Lord’s hands.”
Who is this King Wenceslas fella? What makes him good? And why does he merit a song at Christmas?
Jim McDermottDecember 05, 2022
Pope Francis visits a Nativity scene during an audience with the donors of the Vatican Christmas tree and the Nativity scenes, in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican.
Stopping to gaze at and perhaps pray before a Nativity scene is one of the best ways to remember the real meaning of Christmas, Pope Francis said.