Cardinal Farrell reiterates support for 'Amoris laetitia'

Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell Credit Lucia Ballester CNA Cardinal Kevin Farrell. | Lucia Ballester/CNA

In a recent interview, Cardinal Kevin Farrell offered his view of criticisms of the apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia.

"There is nothing in 'Amoris Laetitia' that is contrary to the Gospel. What does Francis do? He goes to the gospel. Look at every chapter, its straight out of one of the gospels or the letters of St Paul," Farrell asserted in an interview with Christopher Lamb of The Tablet, a weekly British magazine, published Jan. 23.

Excerpts of the interview were published Jan. 25.

Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, also touched on his association with Archbishop Theodore McCarrick while the two were in the Archdiocese of Washington; opposition to Pope Francis; and the sexual abuse crisis.

Lamb wrote that Farrell's tasks as prefect include "the implementation of Amoris Laetitia."

"From what I see from information that is coming to us from the conferences of bishops and lay groups involved in marriage and family life in different parts of the world, [Amoris laetitia] is very well received, overwhelmingly well received," Farrell stated.

He did acknowledge that "there are some elements in the United States, on the continent of Africa, and some here in Europe - but not very strong" who have not received Amoris laetitia warmly.

"Cardinal Farrell said the teaching is clear: the Pope is opening a way for divorced and remarried Catholics to return to communion following a process of discernment and on a case-by-case basis," Lamb wrote.

According to Farrell "It's not just a question of going up to a priest and saying 'can I receive communion?' It is a process, a process that could take one year could take two years, could take three years. It depends on the people. Fundamentally, this is about encountering people where they are."

Farrell told Lamb that those opposed to admitting the divorced-and-remarried to Communion say those people are "outside the Church for ever."

"There's no redemption whatsoever? None? You mean to tell me that Christ and Christ's redemption didn't work for those people? No."

The cardinal called opposition to the pope's policy "an ideological conflict … deep down."

He discussed "theological courses" offered at the World Meeting of Families, which is organized by his dicastery.

He contrasted a "practical" viewpoint with those of theology and canon law.

"We wanted to ensure that 'Amoris Laetitia' was dealt with from a practical point of view, not from a theological-canonical point of view," Farrell stated. "And, therefore, I didn't include any courses on Canon Law. None."

The cardinal characterized opposition to Pope Francis as "unprecedented" and "vicious", and claimed that the pope "has put the Church on an evangelical road" based on the Gospel.

He also said that "it's so important that lay people take responsibility for the Church, and for the future of the Church."

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Discussing the sexual abuse crisis, he focused on the meeting being held at the Vatican next month among presidents of bishops' conferences, saying, "My hope is that there would be a clear vision of where we are going in the future," while managing expectations for the summit: "expectations for the meeting are being created that can't humanly be met".

"Instead of passing the problem to Rome, I think bishops need to take responsibility for the situation in their own nation," he added.

Farrell also faced questions about his time living with now-disgraced Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

"I lived in the episcopal residence, where there were six other priests, two bishops. Did I ever know? No. Did I ever suspect? No. Did he ever abuse any seminarian in Washington? No. I never went anywhere with him. I was the Vicar-General, I was the one stuck in the offices all the time, dealing with all the problems. The archbishop of the diocese is out and about. He's in Rome, he's in Latin America, all over the world."

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