Amoris Rumblings to Grow Louder in Atlanta?

October 11, 2017 (Steven O’Reilly) – There was an “Amoris Laetitia” conference held at Boston College last week. In an article on the conference in America (Listen to Families on ‘Amoris Laetitia.’ bishops and theologians say), Michael J. O’Loughlin reports some of the things said by various participants and speakers, which included Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, Fr. Spadaro SJ, and others of such ilk. I was disappointed, but not surprised to hear that Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta was not only among the participants, but was a speaker as well.

An opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter by Michael Sean Winters (see ‘Amoris Laetitia’ conference signals big changes, highlights problems left) did give us a bit of bright news on this Amoris Laetitia conference – though I am sure Mr. Winters did not intend it as such – was the following (emphasis added):

This leads to another issue, one that was much commented upon at the Amoris Laetitia event: Where is the bishops’ conference, the USCCB? They sent a staffer to the event, but why has the USCCB not sponsored similar explorations of the document, tapping the best theological minds in various regions of the country, furthering the implementation of Amoris Laetitia and beginning the task of pastoral conversion it sets forth? Other bishops’ conferences have undertaken events similar to that at Boston College. Why not ours? I think we all know the answer: Too many bishops in the U.S. view this entire pontificate as a bit of bad weather, and they can’t wait for it to pass.

This, of course, is good news! I do agree that the U.S. bishops seem to be lying low for the most part, waiting for the end of this pontificate.  Unfortunately, while they have this opportunity to have their “St. Athanasius moment” – i.e., to speak out boldly against the errors spreading among their fellow bishops (e.g., of Malta and of Germany) and to support the “Dubia Cardinals” – for the most part, the U.S. bishops have chosen a watchful (and shameful) silence.  Still, while not a bold stance, their silence is as deafening as the Pope’s. I imagine Pope Francis was not pleased to hear of the small numbers attending this Amoris Laetitia gathering at Boston College. I’d wager that the next cardinal’s hat to be awarded to an American will be given to a bishop or an archbishop who attended this event, rather to one who sat it out.

According to the program, Archbishop Gregory’s talk at this aforementioned conference was entitled  “What do you need from theologians today to respond to the invitation of Amoris Laetitia?”  I have yet to see the text of his remarks, but the America article provided some morsels (emphasis added):

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory said that pastoral care providers have largely embraced “Amoris Laetitia.”

“It has received the stamp of pastoral authenticity from those who know the territory,” he said, describing it as “a document that recognizes the real and serious problems and challenges facing families today, but at the same time it is a proclamation of hope through the mercy and grace of God.”

Pope Francis, Archbishop Gregory continued, “challenges the church and its pastors to move beyond thinking that everything is black and white, so that we sometimes close off the way of grace and growth.”

I would like to read all of Archbishop Gregory’s talk, but the underlined comment above on its face sounds eerily reminiscent of what Fr. Spadaro, SJ (a papal confidante) said at the same conference:  “We must conclude that the pope realizes that one can no longer speak of an abstract category of persons and … [a] praxis of integration in a rule that is absolutely to be followed in every instance” (see National Catholic Reporter, Bishops deliberate whether one rule applies to all divorced people after ‘Amoris Laetitia’). Such statements are disheartening, yet another sign that relativism has infected many in the clergy and hierarchy.

I previously reported on where the Archdiocese of Atlanta might be heading in relation to an interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, particularly regarding the infamous footnote n. 351 (305) and the question of communion for public adulterers (see Amoris Rumblings in the Archdiocese of Atlanta?). To my knowledge, there have not yet been any formal guidelines issued by Archbishop Gregory on the question up to this point.  However, with the Archbishop fresh from this gathering at Boston College, and bearing its “fruits,” I suspect the Amoris rumblings will soon grow still louder in Atlanta in the very near future.

.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

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