16 April 2018
Philadelphia archdiocese to host Cardinal Burke for lecture on matrimony
Burke has threatened to correct publicly Francis’ marriage and family document for its opening to divorced and remarried couples to receive communion
The church headquarters of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is due to host Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of Pope Francis’ most prominent critics, for an event titled “Matrimony: Rediscovering its Truth.”
Cardinal Burke has threatened to correct publicly Francis’ marriage and family document for its opening to divorced and remarried couples to receive communion while recently giving a lecture suggesting there are times when a Pope should be disobeyed.
The decision to hold the event today, Saturday 21 April, at the cathedral of St Peter and St Paul has added significance given it is the episcopal seat of the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, who chairs the United States Bishops’ Conference Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
At the end of the day-long recollection and conference, the cardinal will celebrate Mass sung by the cathedral’s choir and will be joined by New York priest and papal critic, Fr Gerald Murray and Fr Gerald Dennis Gill, director of the office for divine worship at the Philadelphia basilica.
The Tablet made repeated requests to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s communications office for comment about the event but received no response.
Along with chairmanship of the marriage and family life committee, in 2016 Archbishop Chaput was appointed to lead a working group on the “reception and implementation” of Amoris Laetitia, the Pope’s apostolic exhortation on the family following two synod of bishops gatherings.
According to Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the then president of the United States bishops’ conference, the hierarchy is planning to develop ways to “incarnate the rich vision of marriage and family life found in Amoris Laetitia.”
While Archbishop Chaput has praised the wisdom in the document, he issued guidance to his own archdiocese stressing that divorced and civilly remarried couples should not receive Communion unless they live as brother and sister. Parishes should, however, welcome them into their communities.
In his weekly column on 6 April, the archbishop praised a book written by Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist who argues that the Pope has made a dangerous gamble with Catholic doctrine by allowing divorcees who have married again to receive communion in certain circumstances.
A footnote in Amoris Laetitia says the remarried could be admitted to the sacraments, while a number of bishops’ conferences have issued their own guidelines over where this is possible.
Nevertheless, the debate has continued with a recent conference in Rome, attended by Cardinals Burke and Walter Brandmüller, ending with a declaration re-affirming opposition to giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Brandmüller both signed a series of questions to the Pope, known as “dubia,” which demand clarification over Francis’ family life text.
Archbishop Chaput attended the synod of bishops gathering in 2015, and hosted the Pope for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in the September of that year. A capuchin friar - an offshoot of the religious order founded by the Pope’s namesake, St Francis of Assisi - the archbishop is known for his robust public defence of Catholic doctrine on bioethical, life and family issues. He is also a respected administrator who has turned round the financial fortunes of an ailing archdiocese.
The archbishop has clashed publicly with Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the leader of the Vatican’s dicastery for laity, family and life, over the guidelines Philadelphia issued on Amoris Laetitia arguing that “mercy and compassion cannot be separated from truth”.
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