August 31, 2017 (Steven O’Reilly) – Lifesite News reports that Amoris Laetitia apologist Stephen Walford was granted a 45 minute private audience with Pope Francis (see here). That is a long audience. There are heads of state and Prefects of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith who do not get that much face time with Pope Francis! There can be no doubt that this was a reward for Mr. Walford’s attempts to defend that interpretation of Amoris Laetitia which would allow communion for manifest adulterers at least in certain circumstances. A great reward for services rendered and a morale boost for services yet expected, no doubt. The Pope must be expecting a difficult slog ahead with a formal correction coming, thus he wants to make sure he has relief ready in the bullpen. If Mr. Walford keeps at it – he might yet be named a Doctor of the Church by this Pope.
Lifesite News duly noted the irony that Mr. Walford received such a private audience while the Dubia cardinals have not been granted an audience to discuss Amoris Laetitia with the Pope. I have never had the privilege of a private audience with a pope, though I have been part of larger audiences on two occasions where I had the good fortune to meet John Paul II, and exchange a few words with him on both occasions. Attendance at these audiences was secured by contacts or friends with contacts in the Vatican. Great memories. However, when my wife and I traveled to Rome this past January for our 25th wedding anniversary I had no interest in any variety of audience with Pope Francis. Though I had a contact who could have possibly wangled something had I asked – I knew I would want to say something to the Pope about the dubia if there was the slightest opportunity. Not wanting to get a contact fired for daring to admit a “rigid” Catholic into the pope’s presence, I never bothered to ask. Then again, it might have been the case my contact never offered knowing or fearing I would say something! Either way. . .my wife was greatly relieved.
Mr. Walford has written several articles for Vatican Insider arguing for his position. Aside from trashing “conservatives” and “traditionalists” who have questions and or difficulties with Amoris Laetitia, he has never addressed any of the counterarguments, whether from this site (see below) or others, which have responded to him. A compilation of this blog’s rebuttals is provided below.
“SUMMA CONTRA STEPHEN WALFORD”
- Pope Francis’ Predecessors come to the Defense of his Magisterium? Well–Yes and No, Mr. Walford (February 19, 2017)
- Honorius Redivivus – Addendum (February 23, 2017)
- Answering Mr. Walford’s Questions on Amoris Laetitia – Really) (March 28, 2017)
- Responding to Mr. Walford: Been there, done that (several times, Mr. Ivereigh) (June 23, 2017)
- Mr. Walford Pelts the Great Wall of China with Popcorn, Again ) (June 29, 2017)
While Mr. Walford might wish to dismiss the arguments and the need for the Pope to respond to the Dubia, he cannot dismiss the facts. The course of events since the publication of Amoris Laetitia – in which various bishops and Episcopal conferences around the world have published contradictory communion policies, all based on different interpretations of the same document – has made the case decisively against Mr. Walford’s position on the Dubia. We have the recent examples of the bishops of Brazil who have come out for communion for the divorced and remarried in certain cases (see here), while the bishops of Poland oppose this novel teaching (see here). Most recently, Bishop Martinez of San Luis in Argentina has also come out against communion for divorced and remarried (see here). The situation cries out for the Pope to ‘confirm the brethren,’ yet while he can spare 45 minutes on Mr. Walford, he cannot give several princes of the Church even 5 minutes on the Dubia.
Mr. Walford, a piano teacher (per LifeSite News), has addressed none of the above – nor has the Pope. It is unlikely Mr. Walford asked His Holiness why he will not reply to the Dubia. Rather, I imagine passers-by in the hallway outside of that papal audience heard the lively sound of Mr. Walford playing the piano as Pope Francis tapped danced around a copy of the Dubia.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives near Atlanta with his wife Margaret. He has four children. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com.