In case you missed it, here’s the replay of Pedro Gabriel’s dialogue with Professor Eduardo Echeverria about the orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia:

I have also converted it to an audio podcast that you can listen to here (or wherever you listen to podcasts):

The audio version has a brief intro (by me) and some funky music to play the discussion in and out.

Note: Since Pedro’s audio was faulty between 02:50 and 08:32, as well as 34:25 and 41:55 of the video, we made a voice-over of those parts so that it’s easier for our viewers to follow along. You can check the original livestream here.

Check out Pedro Gabriel’s book, The Orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia, published by Wipf and Stock.

Also check out Professor Echeverria’s book, Pope Francis: The Legacy of Vatican II, from Lectio Publishing LLC.

There’s a lot to unpack here. It was very generous of Dr. Echeverria to take part in this exchange and to take the time that he did. In my experience, most critics of Amoris Laetitia will refuse to directly engage the arguments against their positions. I’ve found that they often get angry and shut down the dialogue immediately. But given that Amoris Laetitia is an official Magisterial document that teaches in the areas of faith and morals, it is vital that critics and supporters alike grapple with these serious issues.

And even though I largely disagree with his argument, I think Dr. Echeverria brought up a few points worthy of deeper consideration. For example, he challenged the exhortation’s handling of the requirement of a penitent to have a firm “purpose of amendment” in order to receive absolution. Pedro touches on it in his book, quoting footnote 364, in which Pope Francis states, “Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice. For this reason, it is helpful to recall the teaching of Saint John Paul II, who stated that the possibility of a new fall ‘should not prejudice the authenticity of the resolution.’”

That said, I think this is an area where greater study and theological reflection would be beneficial.

That said, on the whole Dr. Echeverria’s argument seems to be based on a very pessimistic reading of Amoris Laetitia. Frequently in the dialogue, he points to passages that (to him) seem to point towards proportionalism or suggest that the pope promotes choosing the “lesser of two evils.” As evidence of this, he points to passages where Francis issues a warning against falling into an error, such as Francis’s reminder that “what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.” Pedro’s response to such charges is to take the pope’s words at face value. Simply that when the pope says, “this is acceptable,” he means it’s acceptable. When he says to avoid something because it’s erroneous, he is telling us to avoid it and why.

But enough of me on this. Listen to the discussion. In the coming days or weeks I will try to coordinate a debriefing session with Pedro. So keep an eye out for another podcast or video.

Images: “Book Launch: H.E. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke” by Liturgical Photography (Extraordinary Form) is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. Pope Francis © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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