Amoris laetitia chapter 8 is so confusing!

We just finished reading Amoris laetitia for our marriage group. The overall reception was 50/50. Some liked parts others did not. 100% of the couples thought chapter 8 was confusing and seemed to put forth confusing statements on conscience. We had two trained theologians in the group and they both thought it was a poorly written document, especially chapter 8. They said it is attempting to put forth ambiguous language because that gives dissenters room to maneuver. They recommended Familiarize Consortia which is much clearer, consistent with tradition, and written by a saint. What say you? In particular ch. 8 and it’s take on conscience.

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Overall I like AL.

Chapter 8 is certainly not the best written but there are ways it can be interpreted in line with doctrine. Mortal sin requires knowledge and consent and it may be the case that one or both are lacking. However when such a scenario occurs the Priest should be working with the couple.

This is the key, and Pope Francis has affirmed that this is the right interpretation of the document.

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I think it’s very well written and much easier to understand than most papal magesterial writing. What you heard sounds to me like parroted talking points from people who have a limited understanding of Catholicism. There is no new theology in AL. What’s new is that Pope Francis put several different points together in the same document for the first time. It’s called development of doctrine. It’s not the first nor the last time that will happen. Some people don’t like change - that’s just human nature. There’s not even very much change in practice in AL, but because it involves having mercy on sinners, the hard hearted will be in an uproar.



Ultimately, I think a group of people pretended to be confused because they didn’t like the messenger and/or certain people had their own theologically liberal agenda and wanted Pope Francis to say something radical, and that willful misreading of the document has spread like wildfire.

OP, read chapter 8 again and hold the assumption that Pope Francis is orthodox. Everytime that “oh no he’s liberal” feeling pops up remind yourself that Pope Francis is orthodox. Chapter 8 will be a lot less confusing. :slightly_smiling_face:


Before AL, did the practice of certain situations of “irregular marriages” receiving Communion by the consent of a pastor have Church approval? That is a big change.

Mercy on sinners was not absent before AL.


But, on what basis is he suggesting this change? Did he invent some new theological basis for this position?

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Yes. That was developed by JPII, who may have developed it further from a previous pope.

Well he didn’t get it from the last two Popes, that’s for certain.

True, and JPII drew a distinct line which acknowledged a couple must not have sexual relations. Ascribing the sexual act to continue to commit adultery.

Does Pope Francis attempt to permit sexual relations in irregular marriages and so receive Eucharist?


If the theologians you apparently spoke with are having trouble with it, apparently, what sort of clarification do you expect to find among anonymous laypersons on the internet?
(by the way, this precise topic has been kicked around the world 5 times here. A search of the forum will give you all the acrimony you can stand).

This is the same non sequitur that others keep parroting. It shows a lack of understanding of Catholicism, or hard heartedness, or malice. I don’t know which it is for you, maybe it’s something els.

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I don’t know if you meant to do this but this is just an ad hominem attack meant to deligitmise anyone disagreeing with your position.

It is quite clear from the likes of the ‘dubia’ and the filial correction, let alone the numerous other theologians and bishops who have interpreted chapter 8 in different ways, that it is a confusing piece of writing that many Catholics, in good faith, struggle with.


You make a good point, and I just did as you suggested. I was hoping, perhaps even expecting, that with this perspective in mind I would be able to read it without being disconcerted by any passages. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. Although I do not think of Pope Francis as a liberal, I do feel that certain passages in AL are overly optimistic. The first passage (in chapter 8) that gives me this feeling is the quote at the start of par. 294:

“The choice of a civil marriage or, in many cases, of simple cohabitation, is often not motivated by prejudice or resistance to a sacramental union, but by cultural or contingent situations”.

Pope Francis quotes this from par. 71 of the report from the synod, but the context of the quote (in the synodic report) does not offer any further information as to why the bishops believe this to be so. Personally I think it’s wrong; based on the cases of unmarried “co-habitation” that I know, it is precisely “prejudice or resistance to sacramental union” that is at work. The cases that I know have no other reason to reject marriage, though they hide behind the typical excuse that “marriage is only a piece of paper anyway”.

This is just one example. There are other passages that, in my view, interpret the reasons behind “situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to [the Church’s] teaching on marriage” too optimistically.

Apart from these optimistic interpretations, I also find it awkward that the document emphasizes again and again that it is up to pastors to adequately “discern” and “distinguish” specific situations. From a practical point of view I don’t see where pastors would find the time to delve into the details of every single case of “co-habition”, “remarriage”, etc., these cases being so numerous. Whatever may be wrong with hard-and-fast rules, one good thing about them is that they are very time-efficient. I’m afraid the same can’t be said of the pastoral-investigation approach that AL proposes here.

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Thank you goout! You confirmed what I was thinking. I was just trying to field multiple answers. I guess the Pope (or ghost writer) is trying to open the door to incompatible views of conscience and morality. The document itself, apart from ch. 8, was pretty overhyped by the progressives trying to use it to justify sin. I guess that was their aim of ch. 8. Ch. 8 was, for me, like The Last Jedi. When I read it the first time it was ok. But the nore you read it the more you realize it is subpar and potentially nefarious. Nevertheles, we have tried and true documents far superior and clear on the issues of family life and morality (Casting canubii, Humane vitae, Familiaris consortio, Veritas splendor, Theology of the Body, etc).

I totally agree with you and I think Pope Francis would wholeheartedly agree with you as well.

You have forgotten something very important. He is talking about exceptional cases not the rule.

This is why he goes on and on and ON about discernment. He is placing a huge responsibility on the pastor to correctly identify exceptional cases. No where does Pope Francis indicate that he is seeking to create a blanket policy of communion for all divorced and remarried. He is at pains to clarify this over and over. Here is just one such quote from paragraph 300:

…this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. For this discernment to happen, the following conditions must neces-sarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more per-fect response to it”.338 These attitudes are essen-tial for avoiding the grave danger of misunder-standings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant “exceptions”, or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours.


Or many pastors trained theologically or psychologically enough to deal with this issue. I love the priests of my diocese and think most are good hearted and we’ll intentioned. But…I don’t think many are well formed in tradition or theology enough to offer perennial based rede rings on this issue. I know many liberal priests that will discern liberally and many traditional priests that are more in line with tradition and will render narrow verdicts. I see this whole thing as potentially opening the door to a pastor based relativism. As my good priest friend pointed out that neither Amoris or any other document has called for priests or given universal guidelines on how to practically impose Amoris. It only says they have to accompany but does not order that verdicts need to be given. If as everyone says that Amoris changes nothing than we can expect no new waves of adulterers (divorced and civilly remarried) showing up for Holy Communion. Yet some bishops (evil as they are) are doing just that based on Amoris. I would also ask the rationale to bypass the Gospel on sacraments to public adulteres, how can this interpretation of conscience in ch. 8 not be extended to homosexuals, contracepting couples, cohabitating couples, etc?

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That answer evades the question.


You do realize that priests on a daily basis are tasked with guiding souls to discern the gravity of and consequences of the actions they take.

The basis Pope Francis uses for this discernment is the same one used to determine whether or not someone is guilty of committing a mortal sin. Do we trust our priests to do that?


It wasn’t an answer to the question.

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