Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia does not seek to change Church teaching, Cardinal Raymond Burke has.
In an article for the National Catholic Register, the cardinal said that “Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium” and that “it is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops (on the family).”
“A post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time,” Cardinal Burke wrote.
The cardinal continued: “With the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the task of pastors and other teachers of the faith is to present it within the context of the Church’s teaching and discipline, so that it serves to build up the Body of Christ in its first cell of life, which is marriage and the family.
“In other words, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation can only be correctly interpreted, as a non-magisterial document, using the key of the Magisterium as it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
Amoris Laetitia, On Love in the Family, was published on Friday. It addressed all aspects of family life and included contentious discussions about under what circumstances divorced and remarried Catholics could receive Communion.
Cardinal Burke wrote that “the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for His Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls ‘a more rigorous pastoral care.'”
The apostolic exhortation “should be received with the profound respect owed to the Roman Pontiff as the Vicar of Christ,” said Cardinal Burke.
He added that “the Church has historically been sensitive to the erroneous tendency to interpret every word of the pope as binding in conscience, which, of course, is absurd.”