August 21, 2018 (Steven O’Reilly) – Today Crux magazine and the Italian Jesuit La Civilta Cattolica magazine published a letter written by Pope Francis to Stephen Walford. This letter – the First Epistle of Francis to Stephen Walford – will serve as the preface to Mr. Walford’s forthcoming book: “Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce: In Defense of Truth and Mercy” published by Paulist Press). Mr. Walford is well known to the more elite readers of this lilliputian blog (Roma Locuta Est) which has written the Summa Contra Stephen Walford as a resource for all those confounded by Mr. Walford’s articles in defense of Amoris Laetitia. It was in fact one of Mr. Walford’s articles that led to the launch of this blog (see here).
Speaking of Pope Francis’ letter; curiously, the La Civilta Cattolica article announcing it was entitled “alcuni pensieri su Amoris Laetitia.” This is translated from the Italian as “some thoughts on Amoris Laetitia.” Yes, read the letter. But, if you do, you are forewarned that while you may get some papal “thoughts,” do not read it looking for papal “answers” – – for you will not find any. Certainly though. Read the letter. However, it does not advance the story on Amoris Laetitia. While the Pope does say Amoris Laetitia is not a rupture with the past, he not only does not provide a convincing argument for this assertion – but he provides no argument whatsoever.
However, leaving all the above aside, what caught my eye the most, as I noted to Mr. Walford on Twitter, is that the Pope in his letter said (emphasis added):
“In the letter you left for me, you asked if I could write some thoughts about Amoris Laetitia, and you proposed some questions. I will happily respond but I think it would be better for me to write freely what is in my heart. I hope this will be useful to you.”
Ah! We see that Mr. Walford asked the Pope two or more questions. Thus, I naturally asked Mr. Walford on Twitter: “Do you mind telling us what specific questions you asked PF (NB: Pope Francis) in your letter to him?” I also reminded Mr. Walford of the questions I have asked of him (see The Interview Questions Stephen Walford will not Answer); ones which I’d ask of the Pope if given the opportunity. Mr. Walford answered this question as follows: “No Steven, they will remain private. I hope you will consider reading the entire book for the answers you want from me.”
Mr. Walford is keeping his questions private because the Pope did not answer them. Think about that! Mr. Walford asked Pope Francis two or more questions on Amoris Laetitia – but the Pope did not provide answers to them. When this was noted, Mr. Walford informed me : “I would imagine they (NB: i.e., Mr. Walford’s questions) would have been too time consuming to be honest.” The Pope is excused by Mr. Walford because the questions may have been “too time consuming.” Oh well. But, still, my respects to Mr. Walford! He is to be commended. He at least asked questions of the Pope that might have actually taken some time and thought to answer. Granted, the Pope did not do so. I pointed out Mr. Walford’s mistake with a touch of sarcasm:
“Ah…but you should have posed them as “yes or no” questions…like the Dubia. But, oh..wait…that doesn’t guarantee a PF response either! But, unlike the “dubia cardinals” who heard nothing in reply, at least you received a letter back from PF. Well done.”
Mr. Walford at least received a letter from the Pope, although not one which answers his questions! Congratulations, Mr. Walford! Quite an accomplishment as the “dubia cardinals” – and the rest of us Catholics – have heard nothing at all. So, well done, Mr. Walford. Well done. Though you received no substantive answers to your questions, you have at least received a papal letter as a preface to your book. This will help increase the sales and marketing value of your book. The value will increase even more so if the Pope at some point enters your letter into the Acta Apostolica Sedis. As he seems desperate to create the appearance of “authentic magiseterium” (e.g., the Argentine bishops’ letter and his own private one to them), you stand a good chance of securing a place in history. Indeed, this will secure a place for you in history – though I think not the one you will like. I fully expect that one day Pope Francis’ letters and acts will be – like the letters and acts of Pope Honorius (see here and here) – consigned to the flames by a future pope and or ecumencal council.
But what of Mr. Walford’s coming book? For you – either the random reader who may have come upon this blog by happenstance or the regular and elite reader – this blog has offered rebuttals to the arguments Mr. Walford pedals in favor of what is best described as communion for adulterers. This blog’s rebuttals may be found in the Summa Contra Stephen Walford. Roma Locuta Est expects – once it obtains a copy of Mr. Walford’s book – to publish a rebuttal.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Margaret O’Reilly. 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).