Pope Francis associate: Controversial questions on communion already answered

Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica on December 8, 2015 in Vatican City.

Story highlights

  • Fr. Spadaro defends Pope Francis from criticism that he has not addressed concerns raised by his document on the family
  • Fr. Spadaro: Pope Francis never blocks dialogue, if it is loyal and motivated by the good of the Church
  • Amoris Laetitia has created an open and interesting debate within the Catholic Church, he says

(CNN)Editor's note: Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ is the editor-in-chief of La Civilta' Cattolica, an authoritative Jesuit journal at the Vatican. Close to Pope Francis, Fr. Spadaro conducted the first interview with the Pope upon his election in 2013 and is considered a trusted interpreter of the Pope's thought.

In the following op-ed, Fr. Spadaro addresses the controversy in the Catholic Church raised by Pope Francis' document on the family, Amoris Laetitia. In it, he defends Pope Francis from criticism that he has not addressed concerns raised by his document, and says that the conclusions reached in the document were based on a consensus of voices from the bishops' Synod meeting, which Francis held in 2015. Fr. Spadaro suggests that those who criticize the Pope's document may be trying to create division rather than sincerely seek answers.
Fr.  Antonio Spadaro
The controversy erupted this month when four senior cardinals went public with an official letter, called a dubia (Latin for "doubt"), which they had sent to the Pope asking for clarification on several issues in the document.
The Pope has not directly responded to the cardinals. Questions raised by the cardinals' letter have caused division in the Catholic Church, particularly on the issue of giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, which the Pope's document in a footnote (#351) says could be allowed "in certain cases."
The cardinals complain that allowing communion for some divorced and remarried persons would contradict millennia of Church teaching and the Bible, which expressly forbids remarrying after a divorce.
The full text of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn's interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, referenced by Fr. Spadaro, can be found here. -- Delia Gallagher, CNN Vatican correspondent

Fr. Antonio Spadaro: An open and interesting debate

I think that Amoris Laetitia has created an open and interesting debate within the Catholic Church thanks to Francis, a Pope who never blocks dialogue, if it is loyal and motivated by the good of the Church.
The case, however, of those who use criticism for other purposes or ask questions in order to create difficulty and division, would be different, of course.
The interesting questions of the four cardinals, in reality, were already raised during the Synod, where the dialogue was deep, extensive and most of all, frank. Amoris Laetitia is only the mature fruit of Francis' reflection after listening to everyone and reading the Synod's final document.
It is the result of a Synod and not just a personal idea of the Pontiff, as some might think.
During the Synod, all of the necessary responses were given and more than once. Since then, many other pastors, among them many bishops and cardinals, carried on and deepened the discussion, including recently. The Pope even indicated Cardinal Schönborn as a faithful interpreter of the document.
Thus I believe that a doubtful conscience can easily find all of the answers it seeks, if it seeks them with sincerity.
In this case, however, as in others, everything which touches the lives of people should not be resolved in the abstract, but must be dealt with -- as the four cardinals themselves affirmed -- continuing, "the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect."