Amoris Laetitia

A summary of the Post-Synodal Exhortation and the events which have followed the publication of this historic document.

Amoris Laetitia is the official document (or “post-synodal exhortation”) published by the Vatican in March 2016, which summarized the conclusions of the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family.

The publication of this document, as described by Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, has caused the following:

  1. A deep division within the episcopate and the Sacred College of Cardinals, the bewilderment of the faithful, and further suffering of the Church.
  2. Catholics whose marriages have failed but who, given the situation, have very virtuously and sometimes heroically remained faithful to the promise they made before the altar, feel betrayed.

The SSPX joins with many others, and now 4 Cardinals of the Church in petitioning the Holy Father:

We humbly but firmly implore the Holy Father to revise the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and most especially chapter 8. As with the documents of Vatican II, what is ambiguous must be interpreted in a clear manner, and what contradicts the constant doctrine and practice of the Church must be retracted, for the glory of God, for the good of the whole Church, and for the salvation of souls, especially those in danger of being deceived by the guise of a false mercy." 

For more information on this document and its importance, we offer this timeline with links to articles that have appeared on this site and others.

The Synod on the Family

The 2015 Synod was at times contentious

2014 - 2015: The Synod on the Family was called to review the Church's teaching on the Family, with particular emphasis on standing of divorced and remarried couples.

Amoris Laetitia Published

Bishop Fellay giving a sermon in 
Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay shortly after Amoris' release.

March 19, 2016: Amoris Laetitia published by the Vatican, and the SSPX is swift in response.

Reaction to Amoris Laetitia

The document available in multiple languages for wide distribution

Spring-Summer, 2016: Various churchmen and theological experts rebuke the document.

  • An Austrian Catholic philosopher said he fears Amoris laetitia may cause a complete split in the Church.
    "Pope Must Act To Avoid Schism and Heresy"
  • On June 29, 2016, 45 theologians from all over the world addressed to the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a critical analysis of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris laetitia in which they condemn 19 statements in this Papal document. 
    45 Theologians Provide a Critical Analysis
  • On June 7, Vatican specialist Sandro Magister published on his website Chiesa a very precise critical study by the Australian university professor Anna M. Silvas, who teaches at the University of New England and at the Australian Catholic University. 
    A critical study called "Alice in Amoris Laetitia Land"

The Dubia

Cardinal Burke (left) one of the four signers of the dubia

September, 2016: 4 Cardinals of the Church write to the Holy Father presenting a document called "dubia" (Latin for "doubts"), asking for clarification on capital points and principles of morality.

November 14, 2016: Having received no response from Rome, the Cardinals make their request public, unleashing a firestorm of news and controversy.

  • As the Pope decided not to respond to the dubia, the four signatories said they read “his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect,” and therefore have decided to inform “the entire people of God about our initiative and offering all of the documentation.”
    Cardinals Publicly Challenge Pope Francis
  • Pope Francis opts not to hold his customary meeting with the curia ahead of November 19's consistory.
    Pope Francis Declines to Hold Curia Meeting
  • The confusion following Amoris Laetitia is reaching fever pitch, with prelates now publicly taking opposing opinions.
    Contradictory Reaction to Cardinals' Dubia

Confusion Continues After Publication

Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

December, 2016: The confusion spreads and the Dubia become a point of contradiction.

  • On November 2, 2016, a Chilean university professor, Claudio Pierantoni, published a study in which he shows the parallel between the current controversy surrounding the exhortation Amoris laetitia and the Arian crisis that shook the Church sixteen centuries ago. 
    The Arian Crisis of 2016
  • Cardinal Raymond Burke has given an indication of the possible timeline of a “formal correction” of Pope Francis should the Pope not respond to the five dubia seeking clarity on Amoris Laetitia.
    Cardinal Burke Suggests Correction Would Take Place

January-February, 2017: Various cardinals and bishops take stances on the divisive document.

  • In a January interview, Cardinal Müller said that a “fraternal correction” of Pope Francis regarding his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is “not possible at this time because it is not a danger to the faith as St. Thomas [Aquinas] said.”
    Cardinal Müller's confusing comment about the four Cardinals' dubia
  • Then in an interview some weeks later, Cardinal Müller gives further insight into his interpretation of the exhortation. Parts of the interview show an adherence to the Magesterium, where he states clearly that in order to receive the Eucharist divorced and remarried couples must remain in continence, while other parts of the interview still show some confusion.
    Cd. Muller Tries to Clarify "Amoris Laetitia"

Spring-Summer 2017: Deafening silence from Rome, rumblings continue from Christendom.

September 2017: A filial (that is, from a son) correction that was issued in July was made public. It was signed by clerical & lay scholars, including the Superior General of the SSPX, Bishop Bernard Fellay.

October 2017: The silence from Pope Francis and his supporters begins to break following the publicity of both the dubia and the Correctio filialis.

  • “Some maintain that there is no Catholic morality underlying Amoris Laetitia, or at least, no sure morality. I want to repeat clearly that the morality of Amoris Laetitia is Thomist, the morality of the great Thomas.”
    Is Amoris Laetitia a Thomistic Exhortation?
  • A letter of support for Pope Francis’ “pastoral initiatives and their theological justification” was signed and published by about 700 signatories, heavily Austro-German.
    A Defense of Pope Francis Following the Correctio Filialis