Today on the plane press conference on the way back to Rome from Greece, Pope Francis was asked a very direct question about the exhortation*:
Some maintain that nothing has changed with respect to the discipline that governs the access to the Sacraments for the divorced and remarried, and that the law and the pastoral practice and obviously the doctrine remains the same; others maintain instead that much has changed and that there are many new openings and possibilities. The question is for one person, a Catholic, that wants to know: Are there new concrete possibilities, that did not exist before the publication of the Exhortation or not.
His answer, though it went on longer, contained a straightforward affirmation:
“I can say yes.” (“Posso dire di sì“)
Cardinal Burke, please call your office.
*My thanks to an anonymous source in Italy for the quick translation.
UPDATE: To head off the “bad translation” trolling at the pass, my translator, who has now double-checked the audio in Italian, says that the Italian syntax in the linked transcript is slightly off. He tells me that the pope clearly says, “Io posso dire sì. Punto.” In English: “I can say yes. Period.” This actually makes the statement even more emphatic, not less so.
UPDATE 2: Disputes over translation have necessitated a definitive answer. We have produced a video — with English subtitles — showing the exact exchange between Francis X. Rocca and Pope Francis on the plane, in which the question about whether new “concrete possibilities” for the divorced and remarried following the exhortation exist.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.