Cardinal O’Malley: ‘The Church Will Not Change Her Teaching on Marriage’
The archbishop of Boston discusses Pope Francis’ first year, the work of the council of cardinals and the pastoral challenge of assisting divorced-remarried Catholics.
BY JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND 03/20/2014
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has had a cardinal’s-eye view — shared by only a very select few — of the key events of the first year of Pope Francis’ papacy.
Cardinal O’Malley has devoted much of his vocation to ministering to Hispanic immigrants and working with the Church in Latin America, and he participated in the March 2013 conclave that elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. Appointed subsequently to the eight-member council of cardinals formed to advise the Holy Father, the Boston archbishop has now taken on a more visible role in the global Church, working closely with Pope Francis on Church reforms and announcing the formation of a new Vatican commission to address pastoral issues related to clergy sexual abuse and the protection of children.
On March 18, Cardinal O’Malley headlined “The Francis Factor,” an event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Baltimore that allowed the cardinal to share the rich and compelling insights about Pope Francis he has garnered during the past year. Before an audience of 3,000 people, Cardinal O’Malley spoke about Pope Francis as a “quintessential Ignatian Jesuit,” who is now sharing the fruits of his long practice of spiritual discernment, anchored in the discipline of the daily examan. Indeed, the Pope’s Jesuit formation has made it possible for him to engage his flock in unexpected ways, like his washing of the feet of prisoners at a Rome detention center during his first Holy Thursday as pope. The strong reaction to the Pope’s surprising action, said Cardinal O’Malley, recalled the 12 Apostles’ own “shock” as Jesus washed their feet.
Before the event, which was hosted at Loyola University in Baltimore, Cardinal O’Malley briefly spoke with Register senior editor Joan Frawley Desmond about his experience on the council of cardinals, his efforts to keep the clergy-abuse issue before Pope Francis and the Pope’s concerns about finding pastoral solutions for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Pope Francis has expressed sympathy for Catholics who cannot receive the Eucharist because they have divorced and remarried, and some German bishops say that Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage should be modified. Can you give us any information on this issue, which will be addressed at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family?
The Church will not change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
There will be an effort to help those people who have had a failed marriage and try to sift through ways [to consider what] can be done. The Holy Father is anxious to discuss that, but I think it is premature to make any forecast for how it will play out.
The simplification of the annulment process would be a wonderful first step for addressing a very crucial pastoral problem for the Church.
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