Cardinal Caffarra (CC): In Amoris Laetitia  the Holy Father Francis writes: “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion.” I infer from these words that His Holiness realizes that the teachings of the Exhortation could give rise to confusion in the Church. Personally, I wish – and that is how so many of my brothers in Christ (cardinals, bishops, and the lay faithful alike) also think – that the confusion should be removed, but not because I prefer a more rigorous pastoral care, but because, rather, I simply prefer a clearer and less ambiguous pastoral care. That said – with all due respect, affection, and devotion that I feel the need to nourish toward the Holy Father – I would tell him: “Your Holiness, please clarify these points. a) How much of what Your Holiness has said in footnote 351 of paragraph 305 is also applicable to the divorced and remarried couples who wish still anyway to continue to live as husband and wife; and thus how much of what was taught by Familiaris Consortio No. 84, byReconciliatio Poenitentia No. 34, by Sacramenttum unitatis No. 29, by the Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1650, and by the common theological doctrine, is to be considered now to be abrogated? b) The constant teaching of the Church – as it has also been recently reiterated in Veritatis splendor, No. 79 – is that there are negative moral norms which allow of no exceptions, because they prohibit acts which are intrinsically dishonorable and dishonest – such as, for example, adultery. Is this traditional teaching still believed to be true, even after Amoris Laetitia?” This is what I would say to the Holy Father.
If the Holy Father, in his supreme judgment, would have the intention to intervene publicly in order to remove this confusion, he has at his disposition many different means to do so.
MH: Would you like to make a comment about Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s recent remark that Amoris Laetitia is binding doctrine and that all the previous magisterial documents concerning marriage and the family have now to be read in the light of Amoris Laetitia?
CC: I reply with two simple observations. The first observation is: one should not only read the previous Magisterium on marriage in the light of Amoris laetitia (AL), but one should also read Amoris laetitia in the light of the previous Magisterium. The logic of the Living Tradition of the Church is bipolar: it has two directions, not one. The second part is more important. In his [recent] interview with Corriere della Sera, my dear friend Cardinal Schönborn does not take into account what has happened in the Church since the publication of Amoris Laetitia. Bishops and many theologians faithful to the Church and to the Magisterium argue that, especially on one specific – but very important – point, there is not a continuity, but, rather, an opposition between AL and the previous Magisterium. Moreover, these theologians and philosophers do not say this with a demeaning or revolting spirit toward the Holy Father himself. And the point is, as follows: AL says that, under some circumstances, sexual intercourse between the divorced and civilly remarried is morally legitimate. Even moreso, it says that, what the Second Vatican Council has said about spouses – with regard to sexual intimacy – also applies to them (see footnote 329). Therefore: when one says that a sexual relationship outside of marriage is legitimate, it is therefore a claim contrary to the Church’s doctrine on sexuality; and when one says that adultery is not an intrinsically dishonest act – and that therefore there might be circumstances which render it not to be dishonest – that, too, is a claim contrary to the Tradition and Doctrine of the Church. In such a situation like this, the Holy Father, in my opinion – and as I have already written – thus has to clarify the matter. For, when I say “S is P,” and then say “S is not P,” the second proposition is not a development of the first proposition, rather, but its negation. When someone says: the doctrine remains, but it is only about taking care of some few cases, I answer: the moral norm “Do not commit adultery” is an ABSOLUTELY NEGATIVE norm which does not allow of any exceptions. There are many ways to do good, but there is only one way not to do evil: not to do evil.