The Voice of the Family versus Pope Francis

Here’s the news report:

“Over 100 pro-life and pro-family leaders from all over the world leapt to their feet in applause at a meeting in Rome on Saturday after hearing a call for Pope Francis to withdraw his controversial exhortation Amoris Laetitia.” (, Voice of the Family calls on Pope Francis to withdraw Amoris Laetitia)

The argument is that Amoris Laetitia contains errors on faith, morals, and discipline. What are these errors? As far as I can see, the alleged errors fall into two types: (1) what the Pope didn’t say but should have said, and (2) what the Pope didn’t say, but seemed to suggest.

My response: (1) The Pope is under no obligation to repeat, in every magisterial document on a subject, every past magisterial teaching on that subject. Pope Francis does not need to say that the Sacrament of Marriage is indissoluble; the Church has already made that doctrine clear.

I would also like to point out, as a side note, that the assertion “marriage is indissoluble” is not accurate. A valid but merely natural marriage is dissoluble under the Pauline privilege. A Sacramental marriage that is ratified only, and not yet consummated, is dissoluble. So only a ratified and consummated Sacrament of Marriage is properly said to be “indissoluble”, meaning of course that it is not able to be dissolved, except by the death of one or both spouses.

Pope Francis does not need to reassert every past teaching of the Magisterium on other subjects as well.

(2) If you think that a particular idea is an error, and the Pope did not actually assert that idea, why do you attribute it to him, as if he suggested or implied it? Each person’s words and deeds should be interpreted with Christian charity, and this rule applies to everyone. So how is it that so many Christians feel justified in treating the Vicar of Christ with such a lack of charity?

It is an example of extreme arrogance to publicly rail against the Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff because he dared to write a document in a way that is different from your preferences or judgment.

Unfortunately, many of these Catholics seem to lack the virtue of faith. For if they have any of the infused virtue of faith left in their souls, it does not show. They are unwilling to believe any idea merely because it is taught by the Magisterium. They have become a Magisterium unto themselves believing only what seems right to them, in their own minds and hearts.

Pope Francis is a valid successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, and he is the true Roman Pontiff, the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. The prevenient grace of God prevents him from committing the sins of apostasy, heresy, and schism, and from teaching any heresy. So we must put our faith in his teachings, as he speaks for Christ.

See my previous posts on the limits of faithful dissent.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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