Cardinal Cupich launches Amoris Laetitia seminars for US bishops

San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy among presenters for conference planned at Santa Clara University, other sites include Boston College and University of Notre Dame

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

The Archbishop of Chicago has invited some U.S. bishops to a series of conferences on the 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The seminars will be held at three Catholic colleges later this month.

According to a letter obtained by Catholic News Agency, the meetings, dubbed “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” are designed to offer a “tailor-made program that goes from why Amoris Laetitia provides New Momentum for Moral Formation and Pastoral Practice to how to provide formative pastoral programs.”

“The aim is to gather fifteen to twenty Bishops to have a conversation with the aid of theologians on the related topics,” the letter said.

The letter, written by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, explains that the conferences are modeled after a seminar of bishops and theologians discussing Amoris Laetitia held at Boston College in October 2017.

“The seminar treated the full document giving particular focus to its reception in the multi-cultural and diverse environment that characterizes the Church in the United States,” Cardinal Cupich wrote.

“Both the bishops and the theologians universally agreed that our two-day seminar was an exercise in synodality, a walking together in which the Church both taught and listened. In fact, in keeping with the counsel of Pope Francis at the start of the 2014 synod, the Boston College participants spoke with candor and boldness, parrhesia, but they also listened with humility,” the letter explained.

The letter said that Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery on Laity, Family and Life, encouraged and endorsed the upcoming conferences, which will be held at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, and Santa Clara University.

The upcoming seminars come in the wake of a speech given by Cardinal Cupich Feb. 9, at the Von Hügel Institute, at St. Edmund College, in Cambridge, England.

In that speech, Cardinal Cupich said that “Pope Francis is convinced of the need for a new ministerial approach to families as he looks at the challenges facing families in today’s world.”

He added that “some people misinterpret and misunderstand Amoris simply because they fail or refuse to take into account the present reality in all its complexity.”  

Bishop McElroy: “Many times, our discussions in the life of the Church suggest that chastity has a singularly powerful role in determining our moral character, or our relationship with God. It does not.” (image: NC Reporter)

Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Archbishop Wilton Gregory are scheduled to speak at the upcoming Boston College seminar. Cardinals Joseph Tobin and Blase Cupich will present at the University of Notre Dame. Bishops Steven Biegler and Robert McElroy will present at Santa Clara University, according to the invitation.

Several theologians and a canon lawyer will also present at the upcoming seminars.

Among the theologians is Dr. Kate Ward, a professor at Marquette University. From 2012-2015, Ward was a national board member of Call to Action, a group that has called for the ordination of women to the priesthoodexpressed support for same-sex marriage, and said that the Church should re-evaluate its “position” on the use of artificial birth control.

Also scheduled to present is Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a theologian at Manhattan College.

In a 2015 interview with the podcast Daily Theology, Imperatori-Lee described the late theologian and University of Notre Dame professor Fr. Richard McBrien as a mentor. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “McBrien advocated the ordination of women priests, an end to mandatory celibacy for priests, moral approval of artificial birth control, and decentralization of power in the church.”

In a 2016 essay in the magazine America, she wrote “any claim that there are only two kinds of humans, male and female, is simplistic.”

At the 2017 seminar, Alesandro said that Amoris Laetitia “as a whole supports the idea that as time passes, sacramental marriages become more sacramental and therefore more indissoluble.”

He said the exhortation “is challenging judges in a tribunal process to discover whether both spouses, including the man, were at the time of the wedding truly capable at the time of tenderness in the sense described by the pope, the tenderness of a mother cradling her infant.”

“Spouses must be capable of entering a lifelong adventure, and able to renew it constantly if they are to exchange consent validly. It requires that they be friends on the journey. While they do not start out whole and complete, we know that, they must at least be able to grow into this vocation. If they’re incapable of that growth, or they’re really not committed to it, I don’t think they’re validly married, at least, not the Christian marriage.”

“Canon lawyers may find it difficult to get their juridical mind around love, if their thinking has become overly legal, which is another way of saying ‘secularized,’” he said.

During his Feb. 9 speech, Cardinal Cupich said that Pope Francis has introduced a set of “hermeneutical principles” – principles of theological interpretation – that “force a paradigm shift” in the Church’s work with families.

Among the aspects of such a paradigm shift, Cupich said, is “rejecting an authoritarian or paternalistic way of dealing with people that lays down the law, that pretends to have all the answers, or easy answers to complex problems, that suggests that general rules will seamlessly bring immediate clarity or that the teachings of our tradition can preemptively be applied to the particular challenges confronting couples and families.”

Cupich further discussed the importance of discernment in conscience. The “voice of conscience—the voice of God…could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal, while nevertheless calling a person ‘to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized,’” he said, commenting on an excerpt from Amoris Laetitia.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. Lou Varini says:

    Will anyone representing the authors of the “Dubia” which has yet to be anawered, parrticipate, or will their valid questions be ignored in favor of a revisionist agenda negating the indissolubility of marriage? The locations chosen are interesting also. Those locations have Catholic names, but are opposed to promoting Catholic teaching (e.g., University of Notre Dame and its facilitation of artificial birth control).

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Lou, the Dubia were answered.

      • Lou Varini says:

        Thanks for the correction. Much appreciated. Will research to see if they were actual answers or evasiveness.

      • Lou Varini says:

        I agree, they werw answered, but the answer did not come from the Holy Father, the person to whom they were addressed.

        Rather, answers were provided by Cardinal Brandmuller, one of the two surviving authors of the original Dubia, and probably as the resulr of the Holy Father’s unresponsiveness in the first place. Cardinal Brandmuller’s answers, which he knew when the Dubia were initially posed, took place on December 29, 2017.

      • No. They were not.

  2. Specifically whom would the author recommend be presenters to provide a ‘different’ theological point of view than Professor Ward and others?
    A second point. The article says fifteen to twenty Bishops. Assuming that is twenty per presentation, then only sixty Bishops in total will attend. I hope the organizers are providing electronic access to those Bishops not physically present.

  3. “The “voice of conscience-the voice of God” must be based in truth, keeping His teachings no matter how difficult today.

  4. Jim Grisafi says:

    My sheep hear my voice, for I am the Good Shepherd.
    These are voices not to listen to.

  5. This article clearly shows the need for all of us who follow the One, True, Holy Catholic Church to pray the Rosary daily….more if possible. These two – so called Catholic men are clearly off the rails and need to be reigned in. Where is St. John Paul II when we need him so desperately? Is Pope Francis paying attention to what they are saying and proposing? God help us all.

  6. Today Crisis Magazine has an online article written by Fr. Rutler that gives Cardinal Cupich an intellectual smackdown like only Fr. Rutler can deliver!

  7. helen wheels says:

    Great advice Walter.
    I’m all in on praying the daily Rosary.
    Spes Unica !

  8. Many thanks to Cardinal Cupich for having the humility to listen to the voice of our Holy Father who is Christ’s Vicar on earth. Hopefully, these seminars will help clear up much of the misunderstanding promulgated by a few regarding this important encyclical.

    • Fraternal correction here —- Amoris Laetitia is an “exhortation”, not a “Papal encyclical” as, for example Humanae Vitae.

      An Encyclical is a general letter expressing a Pope’ thinking, generally on matters of faith and morals. It may be a letter to the entire Church or an epistle to a particular Church or people ( e.g. “Mit bennendun sorge”, which was Pius XI’s encyclical to the German people condemning racism). It is a communication on Catholic teaching on a particilar matter (e.g. “Humanae Vitae”).

      An Apostolic Exhortation is a document similar to an an Apostolic letter, used to communicate to the Church the conclusion that a Pope has reached after consideration of the recommendation of a Synod of Bishops. Thus, an…

      • Lou Varini says:

        … exhortation is a personal opinion of the Holy Father, where there is no onligation to agree with it. It is analogous to the Holy Father saying that, in his opinion, the Dallas Cowboys are the greatest football team in history. Such an opinion, like the one contained in Amoris Laetitia, does not carry with it the teaching authority of the Church.

        • Your Fellow Catholic says:

          The Pope has since clarified that there is a binding nature to AL.

          • Lou Varini says:

            Unfortunately, by definition, an exhortation by its very natuer is nonbinding. Please provide information as to where the “clarification” can be found, or even better, when the authoratative tre

          • Lou Varini says:

            Thamks. It would be helpfil to know the particular pronouncement appeared. I don’t recall that the Catechism was amended regarding the ability of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics, without an anullment, are able to receive the Eucharist.

          • No he hasn’t. Besides, ambiguity cannot bind.

            Amazing how someone who doesn’t think the Church’s clear, universal and constant teachings about homosexuality and marriage are binding would think that an ambiguous footnote in chapter 8 of an insignificant exhortation is iron-clad binding.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            Anonymous, you put an awful lot into the mouths of other people, don’t you? Amazing talent!

            Lou Varini, a pretty good summary of catholic thought leading up to & since AL at Wikipedia. As to its binding nature: “In December 2017, both the Buenos Aires guidelines and Pope Francis’ letter of approval were published in the October 2016 edition of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, followed by a statement by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that Pope Francis had decreed that both documents be promulgated as authentic magisterium.[30]

          • Anon, that is the game that YFC has been playing on this site for years. Agree with the part of Church teaching that he wants to. Then he has the nerve to tell Faithful Catholics what is binding. YFC one question are you chaste or not. If not you have zero authority to open your mouth on anything that the Church teaches. ZERO. But I bet you wont answer that question.

          • What would that even mean? That AL is binding? .

    • This is an underhanded attack on Humane Vitae which will soon be completely thrown out by likes Bergoglio and his band of modernists. Which in turn will lead to blessing of so called gay marriage which in turn will purge the Church of liberals a via schism.

      • Lou Varini says:

        I particularly find your use of the word “modernist” insightful. His Excellency Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has a well-founded treatment on the dangers of modermism. More information and the excellent manner in which the dangers of modernism can be found at Bishop Barron”s website —

      • Why commit sin because you are worried about something that is never going to happen? That is over the top anxiety.
        If you had read the document, you would realize that in it is a call to revive the teachings in Humanae Vitae.

  9. Bohemond: if you had really read Amoris Laetitia then you would know that Pope Francis wrote in continued support for Humane Vitae and voiced strong support for the other teachings of Pope Paul VI. Perhaps you would benefit from reading Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Populorum Progressio.

  10. The point of Amoris was to play the game of keeping moral doctrine intact but creating individual conscience exemptions from having to follow that doctrine. Francis can say he hasn’t changed church teaching but he and his minions can say that conscience allows one to decide that committing adultery is the best decision one can make in a situation, therefore adultery it is not sinful and he can go to communion. That exemption will rapidly extend to contraception, homosexual acts and unions, and so forth unless it is stopped in its tracks by courageous bishops.

    • You have totally skewed the teaching in Amoris and it’s purpose. Pope Francis has not changed Church teaching or even Church practice.

      • Pope Francis hasn’t changed Church practice? Are you not aware of the regions where bishops have said that Catholics in adulterous second civil marriages may now receive Communion? That’s a change in Church practice, and Amoris is the reason those bishops have given for the changes.

        Are you not aware of the controversy that has been brewing worldwide with some territories admitting adulterous Catholics to Communion and other, even neighboring territories maintaining the Church’s traditional practice?

        • No, he has not changed Church practice. I know people who received this dispensation long before AL. I have heard of people before Vatican II who received this dispensation.
          There is no diocese on the earth that has declared that everyone who is divorced and remarried may receive communion. Some diocese have issued guidelines that in rare cases where it can be discerned (after a period of discernment) that the person or couple is not guilty of adultery, is not in grave sin, they may receive communion.

          • I think that this has to be discerned with a priest. I don’t think a person just on their own can discern it and then take communion.

        • You do not have to agree with this practice. I really don’t either. I think it is fraught with the potential for abuse and error. But it is wrong to misrepresent it. You spread error when you do so. The secular media (and Catholic media, too) have done people a disservice by their reporting on it.

    • Lou Varini says:

      It is agreed that remarriage after a civil divorce, without the benefit of an annulment, and engaging in the subsequent conjugal relationship, is manifestly and objectively adultery. Adultery is a mortal sin. Mortal sin is grave sin. It thetefore follows that Canon 915, which has not been amended to accommodate AL, applies.

      Canon 915 reads in relevant part: “Those . . . obstinantly preserving in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

      Does AL mean that the mortal sin of adultery is lowered to a subjective rather than an objective standard?

      • First of all, AL did not start this. It has been a practice in the Church for a long time. Many years ago I remember reading a post by Kenneth M. Fisher, who was the founder of Concerned Roman Catholics of America, concerning this practice. He said he had a relative who received permission to receive communion because of whatever circumstances she had. If you know Kenneth M. Fisher, you know he stood up for Church doctrine even against dioceses and the Knights of Columbus. I trust him.
        Sometimes, for whatever reason, a person who was in an invalid marriage cannot obtain an annulment. It is these people that are helped by this. It is not about people in mortal sin receiving communion. It is about people NOT in mortal sin being…

        • You are so wrong. Amoris is being used to justify admitting people in persistent, manifest objective grave sin to Communion. Francis is undermining Catholic faith, doctrine and discipline.

          • No one who is conscious of having committed grave sin is to present themselves for reception of Holy Communion.
            No one who is guilty of manifest grave sin is to present themselves for reception of the Eucharist.

        • Re-marriage aftre receiving a civil divorce, without an anullment and living a conjugal relationship is adultery. Adultery is a mortal sin. Receiving the Eucharist in an unworthy state is prohibited. This is not meant to be punitive. Rather, it protects the Eucharist from desecration, by being received into a person who is not in a state of grace.

          • You were pressured into marrying someone you did not want to. You never said anything because you were trying to make everybody happy. You decided to never have children with this person. You never told anyone. The marriage breaks up. You want an annulment. Your ex-wife and all the witnesses say “He never told me he didn’t want kids.” The annulment is not granted.
            You had an invalid marriage but you can’t prove it.

          • Yes, you are correct. And Pope Francis and all the Bishops agree with this.

          • Also, the person would be committing the mortal sin of sacrilege.

        • I was at a Church retreat when the priest said that he had been advised not to talk about it but he shared with us about the internal forum solution, We were told that the couple has to go through the annulment process first. Then if the annulment is denied and they and their priest discern that something was faulty in the annulment process (which happens) and the first marriage really was not valid, they could receive communion but not at Mass. People went ballistic so I understand the outrage now that the Church has come clean about this practice. It is better that we know the truth.

          • Pure baloney. That is a caricature of the internal forum. Just because a priest says something doesn’t make it true. I’ve had priests tell me things in the confessional that I knew weren’t true, such as that such-and-such wasn’t a sin so it needn’t be confessed.

            If there was a flaw in the annulment process, the flaw can be fixed by reopening the case. What you are talking about is disagreeing with the marriage tribunal’s judgment because you don’t like the result and rationalizing sin through the internal forum. Pure baloney.

      • Truth-seeker says:

        Perennial Catholic moral theology has held, and with no change continues to hold, that the subjective guilt attached to committing an act gravely sinful in the OBJECTIVE order may be lessened in the SUBJECTIVE order when considering freedom of will and other circumstances. Briefly put, even if it is certain that one has committed sin in the objective order, per se, allows no conclusive judgment as to his/her moral guilt. I am astounded that so many pontificating here seem totally unaware of this distinction.

  11. St. Christopher says:

    One must wonder at the power of Satan. He has his children, and they know him. Amoris Laetitia is not a mandate of the Faith,and its proclamation is an attack on the 19 centuries of Church moral teaching. Many have already written about the impossibility of imposing a “pastoral” exemption — for any reason — to Christ’s own moral commands, most specifically on marriage.

    Bishops of Catholicism must not attend this conference, as nothing of the Faith will be taught or reinforced there. In fact, the “other speakers” are obvious minions of Lucifer, given the very nature of their topics. The Faith is perfect; learn to follow it. Ignore Francis (but pray for the Pope) and his fools.

  12. The statistics are interesting. The US has about 6% of the world’s Catholics, but about (depending on the source) 60-87% of annulments. A huge number of them are for civil marriages resulting in divorce when one partner wants to be remarried in the Church. Let’s keep in mind that nearly 50% of US marriages end in divorce, more and more of them with older people. Let’s keep in mind also, that young people are not getting married at a young age anymore.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.