….What might come as a surprise to some observers is the other fight over “Eucharistic coherence” waiting for the bishops during Thursday’s meeting.
The bishops will be asked to vote upon “Called to the Joy of Love,” a document called a “pastoral framework,” on marriage and family ministry. The text is essentially a guidebook for lay and clerical pastoral ministers to families and married couples, which says it is inspired and guided by Amoris laetitia, a 2016 text from Pope Francis on marriage and family life.
Amoris laetitia sparked years of disagreement and conflict among bishops and theologians in the Church, especially over a footnote, footnote 351, which seemed to suggest that couples in “irregular marriage” — that is, civilly married couples maintaining a sexual relationship, in which at least one party had been previously married and not received an ecclesiastical annulment — might be able to receive the Eucharist, in at least limited circumstances….
The Amoris controversy came roaring back Wednesday afternoon, when Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich asked Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who chairs the committee which drafted the “pastoral framework,” why the text seemed not to have drawn from the pope’s ideas to better “integrate” couples in irregular marriages into the life of the Church. Those ideas are expressed most especially in Chapter Eight of Amoris laetitia.
It seemed obvious — given that Cupich has spoken frequently and favorably of the footnote — that Cupich had in mind footnote 351.
Cordileone countered that his committee’s text had drawn from the principles of Chapter Eight, but the discussion was quickly drawn to a close, as time for the meeting expired.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge, who chairs the USCCB’s communications committee, said that “Archbishop Cordileone answered the question quite clearly” by saying that themes important to the pope were included in the USCCB’s document.
Burbidge added that Cordileone had “answered Cardinal Cupich’s question by reassuring him, ‘Yes, absolutely, the Holy Father’s main theme is that we don’t abandon anyone, we find a way as Church to heal and accompany them, that’s very much part of the document.’”
“And I think that was part of the response, and concern, I think, was alleviated,” he said.
It seems unlikely that Cupich’s concern was actually alleviated, or that the cardinal was reassured. Cupich was not looking for main themes. He was looking for specifics, and by his reading of the text, they weren’t there. And the cardinal seemed intent on doing what he could about that.
Ahead of Thursday’s debate on the document, bishops are permitted to submit proposals for amendments; Cupich is reported to have submitted several proposals, some of which aim at a more concrete and direct reference to the aspects of Amoris laetitia he thinks have been omitted from the bishops’ document.
During scheduled debate on Thursday, and with those proposed amendments in hand, Cupich is likely to again press for clarity on why the U.S. bishops’ document does not directly take up footnote 351 in its treatment of Amoris laetitia. At least a few other bishops will probably join him….
The above comes from analysis after the June 16 bishops’ meeting by J.D. Flynn of The Pillar.