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:
- A deep division within the episcopate and the Sacred College of Cardinals, the bewilderment of the faithful, and further suffering of the Church.
- 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.
- The SSPX notes some regrettable ambiguities and omissions, and most importantly several breaches opened up in discipline in the name of a relativistic pastoral “mercy”.
Official Declaration of the SSPX on the Synod
- Cardinal Burke voices his concerns with the final report of the Synod on the Family.
Cardinal Criticizes Final Report
- A compilation of texts offered on our website related to the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family.
Collection of Texts on the Synod
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.
- On Sunday, April 10, 2016, during the pilgrimage to Notre-Dame du Puy-en-Velay (France), Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, gave a sermon in which he spoke about the Post-Synodal Exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia.
Bishop Fellay in a sermon calls the document "Enough to Make One Weep"
- Declaration of the Society of St. Pius X concerning the post-synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis (March 19, 2016).
Official Declaration by the SSPX on the document
- Father Matthias Gaudron, priest of the Society of St. Pius X, comments on the subjectivism of the document.
Amoris Laetitia: A Triumph of Subjectivism
- Father Jean-Michel Gleize, professor of ecclesiology at the SSPX seminary of St. Pius X in Econe, comments on chapter 8.
Brief Considerations on Chapter 8 of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia
- Father Christian Thouvenot, Secretary General of the Society of St. Pius X, comments on the the indissolubility of marriage called into question.
After the Synod: Indissolubility Called into Question
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"
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.
- On April 22, 2017 an international conference was held within sight of the Vatican on the topic of “Bringing Clarity”, alluding to the title of the dubia about Amoris laetitia that the cardinals sent to the Pope.
Rome: International Conference on The Dubia
- For its fourth annual meeting, which ended on May 19, 2017, the Rome Life Forum had the honor of welcoming some choice guests, including Bishop Athanasius Schneider and two of the cardinals who signed the Dubia on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia.
Cardinal Burke: “The Church is Beset by Confusion and Error”
- Aug. 29: A new voice has made itself heard in the controversy: renowned theologian Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P., suggests a reform of canon law in order to judge papal error on a doctrinal matter.
The Growing Debate Around Amoris Laetitia
- The end of summer brings the need for a review & recap of the events surrounding the exhortation, including retributions, new criticisms, and the death of a signatory of the dubia.
The Amoris Laetitia Debate is Far From Over: An Update on Recent Events
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.
- Several clerics and lay scholars addressed a correctio filialis, a filial correction, to Pope Francis. They reveal the seven heresies contained in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
Clerical and Lay Scholars Send the Pope a Correctio Filialis About Amoris Laetitia
- After the publication on Sunday, September 24, 2017, of the Correctio Filialis, FSSPX.News asked Bishop Bernard Fellay why he signed the document.
Interview of Bishop Fellay: Why I Signed the Correctio Filialis
- Other prominent churchmen and scholars continue to sign the Correctio over the end of September and into October, 2017, including other bishops.
An American Bishop and WWII Veteran Signs the Filial Correction
The Filial Correction has now been signed by 235 clerics and lay scholars
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