Guidance for Raymond Card. Burke On Amoris Laetitia


Pope Francis Greets Raymond Card Burke

Pope Francis greets Raymond Card. Burke with a gesture of authority.

Raymond Card. Burke is very anxious about Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia (AL).  Is it possible that by saying there is much confusion amongst pastors regarding the Pope’s writings about the “irregular situations” and reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and illicitly remarried that he is really projecting his own confusion and reservations about he Pope’s intentions onto them?


In speaking about Amoris Laetitia (AL), he skips over this qualification which Pope St. John Paul made very clear in Familiaris Consortio #84, before reminding all of the Church’s long tradition of not admitting the divorced and invalidly remarried to Holy Communion:

“Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage…”

Pope Francis now writes in AL about the reality that there are cases requiring discernment where a deep spiritual understanding of both justice and mercy is required, and which the rigorist, controlling personality may be unwilling to accept: the type of the “unjustly abandoned.”

St. John Paul already allowed the divorced and remarried (in cases when best for the children) to Holy Communion when they agree to live as brother and sister. So, the Church admits that there can be cases of adultery (defined as being divorced and invalidly remarried) which are not strong enough to be considered mortal sin and inadmissible to Holy Communion – in this case, living as a civilly-married couple but not engaging in conjugal relations.

So now, Pope Francis takes us further along into discernment to find those who have been egregiously abandoned but who, for the good of the children, engage in activities available to them to safeguard the children. This is the case where the husband runs off abandoning his family, remarries a wealthy woman for the allure of her money, and has another family with this wealthy woman, leaving his valid wife and three children alone on a farm deep in the Amazon, without access to priests, where such husbandless families are vulnerable to evil. A good, non-Catholic man comes along, and having love and compassion for her and her family, and desiring children with her in addition to her own and being a man of great virtue, marries her and protects the family. Is this adultery? I might consider that it could even be a lesser grade of adultery than that which still exists in the divorced and invalidly remarried who are living as brother and sister as a civilly-married couple, in a safe and modern urban city with access to many priests and services, for the sake of the children, but who are no longer having conjugal relations.

And so, I think Raymond Card. Burke is missing out on understanding scenarios like this one.  Where the Blessed Sacrament helps the civilly-married, non-conjugating couple keep from falling into mortal sin for love of Jesus, the same could help the abandoned wife and mother, who is called in her heart to metanoia, strive for perfection and obtain a non-conjugal agreement later when her children are older.  This process might speed along if by her attachment to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, who never abandoned her, she also converts her husband to the Faith, and he then desires to become obedient.

Just like violating the commandment not to kill can have cases where killing is not a mortal sin [self defense, “just cause” military action], there might be be cases, IMHO, where what the Church defines as adultery may not necessarily be mortal sin. Yes, it is adultery, but is it venial instead of mortal if the intention of the second marriage was the securing of a bond required for the defense or protection of her children? This requires Magisterial discernment.

This, I believe, is Pope Francis’ rendering of the wishes of the Holy Spirit in Amoris Laetitia .  Not that the divorced and remarried may be admitted, as a new rule, to Holy Communion.  No!  But that the abandoned may not also be abandoned by the Church and by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament when she, in her abandonment, dire fear and defense of her children,  needed Him the most.

15 responses to “Guidance for Raymond Card. Burke On Amoris Laetitia

  1. What you have said about Pope Francis and your interpretation of what he meant may be true, but it is certainly not how it’s being applied. I think you do Cardinal Burke an injustice to think he hasn’t discerned or come across such situations that require mercy. You have no idea how he has acted in private with Pastoral judgment. But doctrine does require clarity. Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. I think the 4 Cardinals want clarity because of exactly what has happened in Germany where all civilly divorced and remarried are allowed to communion– which does nothing to compel one to seek truth, and in fact compels one to receive in pride which only brings judgement upon oneself.

    • I do know what he did publicly, which proves what he does not do privately. Be careful not to allow sentimentality for a Cardinal to sway your judgment in this case.

      • Actually I disagree it doesn’t prove anything about what he does privately. Having been in a situation of having to go public about church matters I can tell you very personally you have no idea what happens privately. What you need to be careful of is calumny against a Cardinal. As others need to be careful of against the Pope. It has nothing to do with sentimentality.

        • Of course. You want me to fear without knowing a basis for fear.

          • I want you to fear what? I’m just stating that an accusation that a Cardinal isn’t Merciful when you can’t possibly know his heart or how he acts toward individual souls, is not an accusation I would fling around. I think both the Pope and the Cardinal need our prayers and God will work it out as He always does.

            • Francis Philip

              I did not make that accusation. You suggested calumny which, of course, is meant to invoke fear.

            • You stated that you think Raymond Card. Burke is missing out on understanding situations like this one — talking about a woman in the Amazon. And that perhaps he knows the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it. How can you possibly know that? It suggests he has not Love and is a Pharisee in your eyes. Is that not what you were saying? If it isn’t then I apologize– but that’s sure what it sounds like were saying. Speaking doctrine clearly in no way in my mind suggests there wouldn’t be mercy and understanding in individual situations — which is what you seem to be stating? Is that not what you are saying?

            • Francis Philip

              I asked a question; I did more make an accusation. I did not say he has no love. I did not call him a Pharisee. But he went public to ask 5 questions which, in my opinion, are unnecessary and could have been addressed privately without causing doubt in the Church. History is full of antipopes (about 29) and Burke sets the conditions which lead to an antipapacy. All antipopes have failed.

            • Francis Philip

              I meant, I did not make an accusation…I asked a question.

            • They were addressed privately and went unanswered. What do you make of the Bishops who have opened communion to all Divorced and remarried? Do you think they have interpreted AL correctly? Personally I see no harm in asking questions– what I do see harm from is shutting down dialogue. Burke (and the other 5 Cardinals 3 of whom are also public) has professed obedience so I do not see an antipope situation you speak of. And I know one thing for sure, the gates of hell shall not prevail.

            • Francis Philip

              Right. If bishops open Holy Communion to all divorced and invalidly remarried, then they commit a crime against God Himself. Pope Francis did not express or imply that this should be done. Those bishops ought to be dealt with. Raymond Cardinal Burke could be putting his energy there, on the disobedient, instead of on the Pope, who has the most inspiration and ear of God and God’s agents.

            • Well to the point of the Bishops committing a crime against God himself and Burke putting his energy there— shouldn’t the Pope be putting his energy there? Isn’t he the one who could actually stop that? At any rate — working in ministry I come across this issue all the time. I have seen really heartbreaking situations. But the most awesome thing to see is when someone comes to know Christ personally– they love him so much they are willing to sacrifice to follow the law — “if you love me you will keep my commandments” Those are the people who I stand in awe of. They know the Living God and are willing to sacrifice for love of Him.

            • And I apologize if I read too much into what you were saying. It’s just that I have seen so many poison arrows of judgement on both sides shot at the Pope and the Cardinal. I know you to be of pure heart from what I have read of yours. My prayer is that soon enough the confusion will lift and the Pope and Cardinal will be fast friends.

            • Francis Philip

              Thank you. You are very sweet and kind to me. Much love to you from my heart of hearts.

        • I do not fear.

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