ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT'S RESPECTFUL TAKE ON POPE FRANCIS
This is a portion of and interview by John Allen with Archbishop Charles Chaput in Crux:
Let me put on my Vaticanista hat and ask a couple of pope questions. First, in some press coverage you’re styled as one of the critics of Pope Francis. Yet in Strangers in a Strange Land, you quote Francis approvingly. What is your actual take on Pope Francis?
I think Pope Francis is an interesting man. He’s the pope, first of all, so my take on him is he’s succeeded to the role of Peter as the vicar of Christ, and it’s very important for those of us who are bishops to maintain enthusiastic unity for the Church and to be supportive of the Holy Father because of that.
At the same time, he’s being pope in a way that’s very different from his predecessors, and that has been confusing for people, and I think it’s important for us to help the Holy Father understand that but also to help people understand the Holy Father and to do what we can to help people through the confusion and disappointment I think some people are experiencing.
As bishops we can’t deal with that alone, we have to do it in conjunction with the Holy Father. He has to be aware of that confusion, and I think that he has a responsibility of responding to it as well as us responding to it.
One of the leitmotifs that runs through the book is your concern for marriage and the institution of marriage. Today’s debate over Amoris Laetitia pivots on that subject. What do you think is at stake?
St. Francis of Assisi encouraged the brothers, the Franciscan brothers, to accept the Gospel without gloss. And glosses were convoluted efforts to make the Gospel say something that it didn’t say, or Jesus didn’t really mean what he said. So it seems to me we ought to take Jesus at his word, and his words about divorce and remarriage, about it being adultery, are very clear. I mean, there’s just no doubt about what Jesus said in the Gospels.
It seems to me that it’s impossible for us to contradict the words of Jesus, and it’s also impossible for a teaching to be true 20 years ago not to be true today when it’s the teachings of the pope. The teachings of Pope Francis can’t contradict the teachings of John Paul II when it is a matter of official teaching.
So, it seems to me we have to interpret Amoris Laetitia in the light of what’s gone before it, primarily the words of Jesus, but secondarily the teachings of the pope, the Magisterium of the Church. And so how can it be true that people can receive Communion when they’re living in an adulterous union today. How is that possible, when the Church says it’s not possible?
Do you want the pope to answer the dubia? [Note: The term refers to questions put to Pope Francis by four cardinals, including American Cardinal Raymond Burke, about the meaning of Amoris.]
Yes. I think it’s always good to answer questions, clearly.
Even if the answer doesn’t go in the direction you might want?
Do you think he will?
I don’t know. He certainly has opportunities to do that. [But] I don’t really know what he’ll do. He hasn’t told me.