Friday, December 4, 2015


What Cardinal Donald Wuerl is saying is very important, very clear, very orthodox and very common sense!

Question: On the topic of persons who have entered into a civil remarriage after divorce and do not have a declaration of nullity: In concrete terms, what are we talking about when we talk about the “internal forum,” and how do you see pastors using this as a tool to help Catholics in those situations?

Cardinal Wuerl's answer: Within the synod, there was discussion about the need for better clarity in our terminology, and so, right away, we must explain what is meant by speaking with a pastor in the “internal forum.” A perhaps oversimplified definition is that it involves personal, private spiritual guidance and counseling toward the goal of individual inner discernment, as opposed to public acts, the “external forum.” Homilies, classroom instruction and similar activities play an important role in helping people to learn, know and grow in the faith, and legal structures such as marriage tribunals are important in determining the sacramental validity of a putative marriage. However, the one-on-one, hands-on personal interaction in the privacy of an office or the confessional is essential if we are to minister to people in their individual situations and help them to understand in the context of their own personal situations how to live the faith more vibrantly and grow in the proper formation of conscience.

Question:Of course, there is a lot of speculation that priests may use the internal forum to counsel Catholics in divorced-and-remarried situations without annulment to receive Communion. Is that really possible for a priest to do that in the internal forum, or is this an issue you think that Pope Francis will have to clarify for the Church?

Cardinal Wuerl: The message of the synod, like the message of the Church as a whole on all matters, is one of mercy, not moral indifferentism. The teaching on conscience and the role of the Church in the formation of consciences is not changed. Neither was it suggested that the internal forum, or other subjective discernment, be a substitute for the objective tribunal process. The synod was clear that in these conversations with a pastor, the person’s discernment could not properly be contrary to the truth and charity of the Gospel as taught by the Church. Certainly in all of this, we welcome the Holy Father in offering the light of God to help those in difficult situations to find their way.

Question: As the synod concluded, you commented in a pair of interviews that, moving forward, the Code of Canon Law would no longer serve as the “framework” or “frame of reference” for pastoral responses. Could you elaborate on what you meant by this, in terms of when and how the Code of Canon Law would be supplanted as a framework? How might this play out in practical terms?

In the governance of the Church, it is important to have a set of rules and norms. Following our archdiocesan synod last year in Washington, we instituted various statutes to guide our efforts. Yet it is also important to understand that these rules exist to serve our Gospel mission, not frustrate it.
In promulgating the current code, Pope John Paul II reiterated that it is not intended to be a substitute for faith, grace and especially charity. Instead, there is a primacy of these things. Canon law is at the service of the Gospel. It’s God’s love that saves, not the Code of Canon Law. Law provides order in the Church’s activities, but we’re not saved by those words in the law — we’re saved by Jesus on the cross. The point here, really, is that we should not have an overly legalistic approach that looks only at the printed words on the page and does not see the person in front of us. That does not mean ignoring canon law, but interpreting and applying canon law in light of the Gospel.

In the Church, we have always said: You speak the teaching of the Church with clarity. And then, as a pastor of souls, you work with the person, where that person is. The two go together. That’s always been the Tradition of the Church: Speak the truth and minister with love. If those struggling with Catholic teaching have a perception of being alienated permanently and essentially from the Church, this raises a barrier in the effort to live it in real, concrete situations.


TJM said...

Wuerl never answered the question in a straightforward manner. The answer is NO. I am not a Wuerl fan, he is weak and a timeserver who is no lion of the gospel.

Gene said...

Yep, Wuerl is no help.

Vox Cantoris said...

If you see Voris today, there's some interesting history that the Cardinal should not be too proud of.

Ryan Ellis said...

Sounds like the inviolable conscience (aka, caving) is the winner here.

MR said...

Sounds like Wuerl is sort of implying the orthodox teaching, while avoiding directly stating it.

And Cardinal Sarah has (again) strongly defended the traditional teaching, while also saying "I am quite sure that Pope Francis interprets numbers 84-86 of the “Relatio synodi” in perfect continuity with and fidelity to his predecessors."

Anonymous said...

So now we are supposed to believe that Cardinal Wuerl is upholding the integrity of the sacraments and the teachings of the Church. He just got back from Rome where he spoke non stop about allowing Catholics living in adultery (mortal sin) to be allowed holy communion without first receiving absolution and amending their lives. And also this is the man that refuses to obey canon law regarding prominent Catholics who cause public scandal being denied communion as long as they persist in being a cause of scandal for faithful Catholics. And this is also the man that immediately removed a priest who refused communion to a woman after she came and identified herself as a practicing lesbian, Buddhist. This is the guy we are supposed to be listening to. Oh, and let's not forget the $40,000,000.00 penthouse he lives in. That's smelling like the sheep I guess. Although I'm sure Francis wouldn't have a problem with that.

Anonymous said...

Either he said that the law is objective, but how we explain the "why" requires pastoral discernment, or he said the law is objective, but whether we abide by it in reality requires pastoral discernment. I am not sure which he intended.


George said...

Clarity of Teaching:

Edward/Pentin/Cardinal Sarah and the sacraments


Rood Screen said...

I wonder what he's like when ordering food at a restaurant. It must take ages for the waiter to guess what he wants.