The Catholic University of America

Kurt Martens, professor, canon law, was interviewed for a story on debates that exist over Amoris LaetitiaJohn Grabowski, associate professor, theology, was quoted in a Religion News Service article previewing the pope's apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. After its publication, he was quoted in Catholic News Service, Crux and National Catholic Reporter. Grabowski and Melissa Moschella, assistant professor, philosophy, were quoted in a National Catholic Reporter reaction story. William Mattison, interim dean, theology, and Chad Pecknold, associate professor, theology, were quoted in a Boston Globe story. Mattison was also quoted in a National Catholic Reporter reaction story. Kurt Martens, professor, canon law, published an article in Our Sunday Visitor on the internal forum. He was also quoted in a Catholic News Agency article. Grabowski and Pecknold were quoted in a National Catholic Register story. See below.

Scholars divided over authority of Amoris Laetitia

From: Catholic Herald (UK)
Date: Aug. 25, 2016
Author: Dan Hitchens

 

The debate over Amoris Laetitia has continued, after an article in the Vatican newspaper said the document required “religious submission of will and intellect”.

 

The article in L’Osservatore Romano, by Spanish ecclesiology professor Fr Salvador Pié-Ninot, argued that Amoris Laetitia was part of the “ordinary magisterium” and that Catholics should respond with “the basic attitude of sincere acceptance and practical implementation.”

But Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of American in Washington D.C., told the Catholic Herald that different parts of a document may require different kind of reception.

 

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Moral Theology and Amoris Laetitia: Some Expert Assessments

From: National Catholic Register
Date: April 22, 2016
Author: Edward Pentin 

... For Professor John Grabowski, director of moral theology and ethics at the Catholic University of America, the document represents “a deep engagement” with the teaching of Paul VI, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. “It develops John Paul and Benedict’s thought with a genuinely beautiful reflection on love [Chapter 4],” he said, which he has heard described as “the beating heart of the document.” 

While showing the deep continuity of Francis with his predecessors, Francis “puts this teaching at the service of the Church’s pastoral mission in his (very Jesuit) focus on accompaniment and discernment,” Grabowski added. “The purpose of this focus is to enable families to become agents of the pastoral care of families and of the New Evangelization (in that way it is an extension of Evangelii Gaudium).”

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Professor Chad Pecknold, associate professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, holds the same view as Cardinal Burke that the “very lack of clarity” in parts of the document means those passages are “not an authentic expressions of the Magisterium” and "must be interpreted or clarified in light of the clear teaching." Matters that appear to be in conflict with Familiaris Consortio, “will require clarification by Pope Francis or a future Pope to alleviate legitimate concerns that I am certain the Holy Father had no intention of raising,” he said.

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Real revolution in pope’s family letter may come in muddy shoes

From: Crux
Date: April 17, 2016
Author: Mark Zimmermann 

When Pope Francis in his recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) says the Church’s marriage and family outreach should sometimes be like shoes getting “soiled by the mud of the street”, that’s something John Grabowski definitely understands. 

In their nearly 31-year marriage, Grabowski and his wife Claire have raised five children and also are longtime volunteers in marriage preparation programs and outreach to married couples at their parish in Maryland, St. Ignatius of Loyola in Ijamsville.

Sometimes the programs have involved Theology on Tap talks, movie nights and romantic dinners. This year, they’ve organized a 12-week formation series on Catholic marriage, drawing on Scripture and Church teaching.

“We’re getting our feet dirty here,” Grabowski laughs.

While most media attention after release of Amoris Laetitia focused on what the pope had to say on hot-button issues such as Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, experts on the Church’s approach to marriage and family ministry say its real revolution may lie in what pastoral care for couples actually looks like.

Grabowski – an associate professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America, who serves with his wife as one of two American couples on the Pontifical Council for the Family – said Pope Francis underscores the importance of parishes serving married couples in all stages of life, not just in limited programs for engaged couples.

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Reactions to 'Amoris Laetitia': A leap or baby step?

From: National Catholic Reporter
Date: April 21, 2016
Author: Tom Roberts

Three things stood out most to John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America: the amount Francis draws upon the work of the synods, the incorporation of the teachings of his immediate predecessors on the area of marriage and family, and the focus on accompaniment and discernment.

"It's very obvious he listened very deeply to the bishops who were there," said Grabowski, who was also present at the Synod of Bishops last fall. "Previous popes have written apostolic exhortations to synods, but not to this extent. This is a very, very deep engagement."

The pope wants "pastors who are out there rubbing elbows with the people they pastor, spending time with families, especially poor families, sharing time and meals with them," said Grabowski.

But the document only touched briefly on important issues like women's roles in the church and same-sex marriage, he said.

"Those were part of synod discussion, but the sense was these deserve their own synod," Grabowski said. "Obviously, there is more that could be said or should be said, but to spend more time on those really important issues would have distracted what focus there is in the document." ...

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No, Pope Francis isn't saying your 'conscience' trumps doctrine

From: Catholic News Agency
Date: April 12, 2016
Author: Matt Hadro

 

Pope Francis is not allowing divorced-and-remarried persons to determine whether or not their first marriage is valid, explained Dr. Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Rather, the Pope is teaching priests to be “tactful” and “sensitive” in explaining to divorced-and-remarried couples why they might not be able to receive an annulment, to get them to “come to understand” what that means, he said.

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Understanding Francis and the internal forum

From: Our Sunday Visitor
Date: April 12, 2016
Author: Kurt Martens

The ink of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) is not even dry, and already various commentators, particularly in the secular press, have decreed that Pope Francis now allows Communion for the divorced and remarried, adding that he permits it through the use of the internal forum for the formation of a correct judgment, which then grants that access to the Eucharist. It is hard to find even the slightest support for such a headline in a document that is, on the one hand, very pastoral in nature, and that, at the same time, presupposes knowledge of the Church’s teaching on the subject matter. Some explanation is warranted other than the simplistic statements we find in the secular media. To put it in the words of Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto: the exhortation states that everybody needs to be welcomed back more fully into the life of the Church, but that welcome is not necessarily going to include Holy Communion.

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Part 3: Reactions to pope's reflection on family life

From: National Catholic Reporter
Date: April 12, 2016

 

William Mattison III, interim dean of the school of theology and religious studies at the Catholic University of America, was upfront about the document's purpose -- to guide and pastor families.

 

"It is very beautiful," said Mattison. "It talks about everything from the nature of love to wedding preparation to having kids."

For those searching for answers to hot button issues like gay marriage and contraception, they could be disappointed.

"You don't get language that can be misconstrued," Mattison said of those who had hoped for controversial doctrinal changes.

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Part 2: Reactions to pope's reflection on family life

From: National Catholic Reporter
Date: April 11, 2016

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Three things stood out most to John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics at the Catholic University of America: the amount Pope Francis draws upon the work of the synods, the incorporation of the teachings of his immediate predecessors on the area of marriage and family, and the focus on accompaniment and discernment.

"It's very obvious he listened very deeply to the bishops who were there," said Grabowski, who was also present at the synod last fall. "Previous popes have written Apostolic Exhortations to synods, but not to this extent. This is a very, very deep engagement."

Grabowski said as he read the document, a recurring thought stirred: Francis "wants pastors who have the smell of sheep on them," he said, citing Francis' earlier apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. The pope wants "pastors who are out there rubbing elbows with the people they pastor, spending time with families, especially poor families, sharing time and meals with them," said Grabowski.

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Melissa Moschella, assistant professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America, said the document is fundamental in its teachings to prepare families for marriage.

 

"It's beautiful, it's uplifting, it's practical, it addresses families where they are and so I think it's going to do a lot of good in that sense if people follow the pastoral tips that he gives."

But by people, Moschella means the laity in particular -- not just the priests. "This isn't just the job of the priest, but it's the job of other married couples that can help younger married couples in a way that is maybe much more practical," Moschella said.

 

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Pope offers ray of hope to divorced Catholics

From: Boston Globe
Date: April 8, 2016
Author: Lisa Wangsness

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“This is practical advice on issues our family deals with — ‘Put your phone away,’ ” said Chad C. Pecknold, a systematic theology professor at the Catholic University of America. “Parts of this exhortation really read like you are sitting down with Pope Francis and having a counseling session.”

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William C. Mattison III, interim dean of the Catholic University of America School of Theology and Religious Studies, said the only explicit mention of Communion in this context came in a single, cautious footnote.

Mattison said this raised the possibility the church “could easily backtrack.”

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Observers say apostolic exhortation can help church model mercy to families

From: Catholic News Service (via Catholic Courier)
Date: April 8, 2016
Author: Dennis Sadowski

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John Grabowski, associate professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America and an expert tapped to attend last fall's Synod of Bishops on the family, said the document serves to help church leaders "form and equip families to that families can become the pastoral instruments of ministry and evangelization to families." 

"He's not diverging from the teaching of his predecessors. He's saying 'Let's put this into pastoral application now,'" he said. 

Grabowski, who with his wife, Claire, lead a marriage ministry for couples in their parish, St. Ignatius in Ijamsville, Maryland, sees the need for such programs emerging from the exhortation. "We need to stop seeing marriage formation as ending at the wedding," he said.

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Pope to stress broader conception of family

From: Religion News Service
Date: April 7, 2016
Author: Rosie Scammell

... John S. Grabowski, an associate professor at Catholic University of America who served as an expert to the 2015 synod, said the pope will recognize families in different forms without delinking family from marriage and parenthood.

He said Francis will be “talking about the family as multigenerational, not just nuclear. He’s casting the net of family more widely and more inclusively,” Grabowski told RNS.

But he added there will be no opening to same-sex couples. “At various points, Pope Francis has been insistent that having a mother and a father is non-negotiable.”

Despite this, the pope is expected to call on priests to accompany Catholics who fall afoul of church rules, as opposed to criticizing them, Grabowski said. ...

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