August 18, 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) – Roma Locuta Est recently posted an article (Stephen Walford repeats his error regarding a “sacramental discipline” ) that commented on a response made by Stephen Walford in his recent interview with the knee-jerk-Francis-defending blog, Where Peter Is (see here).
Reading the questions posed to Mr. Walford by Where Peter Is, I thought of the interview questions Roma Locuta Est would pose to Mr. Walford, and indeed has posed of Mr. Walford over the last year. Unfortunately, Roma Locuta Est is but a wee, humble blog. The world will little note, nor will it long remember what “we” say on these dusty and cob-webbed digital pages. We certainly don’t have the sizable audience which might otherwise help us to attract an interview with a notable personage, whether they be a “theologian” or a piano player – or both!
However, undaunted, we endeavor to do what we can, even if only in our own lilliputian way. Therefore, below, Roma Locuta Est conducts half of an interview with Mr. Walford. We offer our questions to Mr. Walford, and leave space for his responses. A couple of the questions we have asked before of Mr. Walford in articles: questions on dissent (see here) and the “adherence of the faithful” (see here). We also add below one on sacramental discipline, as a follow up to our recent article (see here). As always, we invite our readership to review and use the Summa Contra Stephen Walford as a resource in the ongoing controversy over Amoris Laetitia and other things.
But, now, without further ado…Roma Locuta Est‘s “half-interview” with Mr.Walford.
Roma Locuta Est’s “Half-Interview” with Mr. Walford
Roma Locuta Est: Mr. Walford, let us begin with some background to our questions. I’d like to prescind from the magisterial status of Amoris Laetitia, which I hold is unclear – at best. Leaving that aside, it is clear that Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio (84), published in 1981, taught divorced persons who have remarried could not be admitted to communion because their “state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.” This “magisterial decision” (cf. Donum Veritatis 17) was reiterated by John Paul II in 1984 (cf. Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 34). Just a few months after this, the Catholic Catechism was promulgated by Pope John II and in it this “magisterial decision” was once more set forth in the Catholic Catechism for the faithful (cf. CCC 1650).
Furthermore, Mr. Walford, in 1994, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under Cardinal Ratzinger – with the approval of the Pope John Paul II – issued a response to a question Rome had received as to whether exceptions to the teaching of Familiaris Consortio 84 were possible (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful. September 14, 1994). The CDF, in its response approved by Pope John Paul II, said that no exceptions were possible to the teaching of Familiaris Consortio 84. This document called the discipline of withholding communion in such cases a “constant and universal practice” of the Church, “founded on Sacred Scripture,” and said that the teaching of Familiaris Consortio “presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations.”
Mr. Walford, given you have cited Donum Veritatis against opponents of communion for manifest adulterers, I call to your attention – as you likely know – to the fact that Donum Veritatis (DV) states: “the documents issued by this Congregation expressly approved by the Pope participate in the ordinary magisterium of the successor of Peter” (DV 18). Therefore, it is abundantly clear the CDF’s letter cited above – which “participates in the ordinary magisterium of the successor of Peter” – declared the teaching of Familiaris Consortio 84, if it had not been obvious already, is a binding “magisterial decision.”
Roma Locuta Est holds this “magisterial decision” can never be revoked. Mr. Walford, you have called it a “sacramental discipline” which can be changed by the pope. But, leaving aside who is right between us, Mr. Walford, even according to your own argument (see here), you must admit this “magisterial decision” (of John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio 84) at least at one time called “for the adherence of the faithful” (cf. DV 17).
With this in mind, Mr. Walford, I ask you to consider the following facts, which are not in dispute:
- Before Jorge Bergoglio was made Archbishop of Buenos Aires in February 1998, there had already been four interventions of the papal ordinary magisterium (inclusive of the Catechism) between 1981 and 1994 on the question of communion for the divorced and remarried who do not commit to living together as brother and sister – all prohibiting admittance to communion without exception.
- Six years after Archbishop Bergoglio had been created a cardinal in February 2001, the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis in 2007 reiterated the prohibition of Familiaris Consortio 84.
- Cardinal Bergoglio was Chairman of the drafting committee of the document produced by the General Conference of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, in 2007 (See Sandro Magister’s article: “The Man who had to be elected pope“). The document produced by the committee under Cardinal Bergoglio’s chairmanship stated in part (emphasis added): “Accompany with care, prudence and compassionate love, following the guidelines of the magisterium, couples who live together out of wedlock, bearing in mind that those who are divorced and remarried may not receive communion.” (Aparecida Document, 437 j).
Given the above facts, we can be morally certain that Cardinal Bergoglio – a highly educated Jesuit, an Archbishop, and a Prince of the Church – was not ignorant of the teaching of Familiaris Consortio 84, Reconciliato et Paenitentia 34, the Catholic Catechism 1650, the guidelines of the CDF approved by John Paul II, and Sacramentum Caritatis 29; and, not to forget, the reiteration of this teaching in the Aparecida document which Cardinal Bergoglio helped draft. Therefore, again, it seems reasonable to say one is able to conclude with moral certitude that Cardinal Bergoglio understood the Church’s discipline and teaching regarding communion for the divorced and remarried while he was Archbishop and Cardinal.
Yet, according to various reports, this same Archbishop and Prince of the Church allowed the priests of his archdiocese to give communion to those whom these same “magisterial decisions” expressly prohibited it without exception (e.g., see Sandro Magister’s article: “The Man who had to be elected pope“; and the National Catholic Reporter’s book review of Paul Vallely’s Pope Francis: Untying the Knots; and Paul Vallely’s Newsweek article “The Crisis that changed Pope Francis“). That Cardinal Bergoglio did allow this appears to be undisputed – at least to my knowledge.
With the above as background, Mr. Walford…let’s proceed now to the questions. Mr. Walford, last October you attacked the “filial correction” and its 62 signatories in an article in the National Catholic Reporter, entitled ‘Filial correction’ of pope marked by glaring hypocrisy, risible accusations. In that article you cited Donum Veritatis, a document from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. You wrote:“as Donum Veritatis teaches, ‘magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful.’ So the question the signatories must answer is: do you believe and adhere to that and if not why not?”
Mr. Walford, given your above familiarity with Donum Veritatis and its teaching regarding the “call for the adherence of the faithful” to “magisterial decisions” (cf. DV 17) even of a disciplinary nature, my question to you is this: if the uncontested reports of Cardinal Bergoglio allowing communion for the divorced and remarried in Buenos Aires are accurate, do you believe Cardinal Bergoglio faithfully “adhered” to the aforementioned “magisterial decisions” of the Successor of St. Peter at the time and, if so, on what grounds to you justify this belief? However, if you do not believe his was an example of “faithful adherence” to the Successor of St. Peter – could you tell us of what his actions are an example?
Stephen Walford: [Insert response here]
Roma Locuta Est: Mr. Walford, in an article for La Stampa’s Vatican Insider, entitled “The Amoris Laetitia Dissenters”, you criticized Amoris Laetitia “dissenters” saying to them in your words: “Loyalty to the Holy Father and obedience to his magisterium has always been central to a spiritual life pleasing to God. To place oneself outside that requirement is not only defying the Successor of St Peter, but God himself. To also claim one need not submit “intellect and will” to this non-infallible teaching because one is still unsure as to what the Pope has taught or changed, is simply an untenable position to hold now.”
Again recalling the background we just reviewed, tell us, are the actions of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio relative to the teaching of Pope John Paul II such an example of the sort of “loyalty to the Holy Father” and “obedience to his magisterium” of which you speak, that is “central to a spiritual life pleasing to God,” one which does not defy, not only the Successor of St. Peter, but God himself? Did Archbishop Bergoglio submit his “intellect and will” to the clear teaching of Familiaris Consortio 84 on communion for the divorced and remarried? Why or why not?
Stephen Walford: [Insert response here]
Roma Locuta Est: One final question, you continue to state that the practice of withholding communion from the divorced and remarried is only a “sacramental discipline” which can be changed by a pope. Certainly, you must be aware that in the Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei (by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, June 29 1998. (n. 17) it is stated that: “It should be noted that the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium is not only set forth with an explicit declaration of a doctrine to be believed or held definitively, but is also expressed by a doctrine implicitly contained in a practice of the Church’s faith, derived from revelation or, in any case, necessary for eternal salvation, and attested to by the uninterrupted Tradition…”.
You are aware that Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the practice, declaring: “the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture..” [FC 84]. When queried as to whether exceptions to this practice were possible, the CDF with the same pope’s approval replied: “At the same time it (i.e., Familiaris Consortio 84) confirms and indicates the reasons for the constant and universal practice, “founded on Sacred Scripture, of not admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion”. The structure of the Exhortation and the tenor of its words give clearly to understand that this practice, which is presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations.”[ Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful. September 14, 1994.]
Mr. Walford, seeing as how we are speaking of a “constant and universal practice, ‘founded on Sacred Scripture'” (i.e., “derived from revelation” cf. Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei [n. 17]) and given the CDF says of the teaching that the “tenor of its words give clearly to understand that this practice, which is presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations,” how do you defend the notion this practice – “founded on Sacred Scripture” – can be altered or admit of exceptions?
Stephen Walford: [Insert response here]
Roma Locuta Est: Thank you, Mr. Walford.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives near Atlanta with his family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, set during the time of the Arian crisis. He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).