Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, has written a new book, released just a few days ago on February 8. The short, 30-page text is entitled, The Eighth Chapter of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Two facts — that it was printed by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and that a press conference on its release has been scheduled tomorrow at the Vatican — gives the unmistakable impression, similar to the L’Osservatorio Romano publication of the Maltese bishops’ exhortation guidelines before it, that the text has implicit papal approval. It is unclear if any intended significance has been placed on the presser taking place on Valentine’s day — no longer an appropriate commemoration of the Roman priest and martyr, but an international celebration of all activities, moral or immoral, carried out in the name of “love.” If not, the coincidence seems fitting.
Like the Maltese bishops’ guidelines, Coccopalmerio’s book appears to embrace the most liberal possible interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. In a report from journalist Orazio La Rocca on the Italian website Panorama.it, we are treated to an important excerpt* from the text:
“The divorced and remarried, de facto couples, those cohabitating, are certainly not models of unions in sync with Catholic Doctrine, but the Church cannot look the other way. Therefore, the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion should be given even to those so-called wounded families and to however many who, despite living in situations not in line with traditional matrimonial canons, express the sincere desire to approach the sacraments after an appropriate period of discernment.” [Emphasis added]
Lacking any qualifiers, it is bracing to read that “the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion should be given” to the divorced and remarried. The addition of cohabitating couples to this inclusion indicates that the bastions against all forms of sexual immorality are also being razed — from within the Church. Following this logic, it can only be a matter of time before others engaging in acts such as homosexual sodomy will be explicitly added to the group of those who “must” be given access to the sacraments as a means of “pastoral care”.
La Rocca — who is, incidentally, listed as a co-presenter at tomorrow’s presser — continues with some observations:
It is an answer, however indirect, [to the dubia], but the result of a thorough canonical and ecclesiological study done at the request of the Pope himself, by one of his closest and most listened to collaborators, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (the “Minister”of Justice of the Holy See).
…An initiative, they explain in the Vatican, aiming to “clarify” all “concerns” raised by the more traditional quarters related to their defense to the bitter end of the Church’s doctrine regarding marriage and access to the sacraments…
… Yes, therefore, to admission to the sacraments for those who, despite living in irregular situations, sincerely ask for admission into the fullness of ecclesial life, it is a gesture of openness and profound mercy – it is written in the ministerial note – on the part of Mother Church, who does not leave behind any of her children, aware that absolute perfection is a precious gift but one which cannot be reached by everyone.
Francis was elected in part to reform a dysfunctional curia. So shifting responsibilities is not troubling in itself. And it is hard not to credit the sincerity of his jeremiads against child abusers. But the CDF’s performance on this issue is miles better than the situation before 2001.
So why revert?
Perhaps because the CDF has taken a tough, rules-based approach to the issue of child abuse, which clashes with the more personal autocratic style of this pope. Or perhaps because reforming the reform would reward his allies, and humiliate an antagonist.
Rumors of this reform have been circulating in Rome for months. And not happily. Pope Francis and his cardinal allies have been known to interfere with CDF’s judgments on abuse cases. This intervention has become so endemic to the system that cases of priestly abuse in Rome are now known to have two sets of distinctions. The first is guilty or innocent. The second is “with cardinal friends” or “without cardinal friends.” [emphasis added]
Consider the case of Fr. Mauro Inzoli. Inzoli lived in a flamboyant fashion and had such a taste for flashy cars that he earned the nickname “Don Mercedes.” He was also accused of molesting children. He allegedly abused minors in the confessional. He even went so far as to teach children that sexual contact with him was legitimated by scripture and their faith. When his case reached CDF, he was found guilty. And in 2012, under the papacy of Pope Benedict, Inzoli was defrocked.
But Don Mercedes was “with cardinal friends,” we have learned. Cardinal Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, now dean of the Roman Rota, both intervened on behalf of Inzoli, and Pope Francis returned him to the priestly state in 2014, inviting him to a “a life of humility and prayer.” These strictures seem not to have troubled Inzoli too much. In January 2015, Don Mercedes participated in a conference on the family in Lombardy.
This summer, civil authorities finished their own trial of Inzoli, convicting him of eight offenses. Another 15 lay beyond the statute of limitations. The Italian press hammered the Vatican, specifically the CDF, for not sharing the information they had found in their canonical trial with civil authorities. Of course, the pope himself could have allowed the CDF to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired.
Note well the names of the players intervening here. Coccopalmerio, whose new book on Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia is being given the red-carpet treatment by the Vatican even though it is an open door to the complete degradation of sacramental discipline and the observance of the 6th Commandment, and Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, the prelate who attacked the Four Cardinals and their dubia at the alleged request of Pope Francis, and whose name appears on one of the oldest lists of suspected Freemasons in the Vatican. The same collaborators of the papal cabal seem to come up again and again in news stories as intriguants, if only in different contexts. The same pattern can be observed with other names, including but not limited to Cardinals Baldisseri and Maradiaga, the ever-present Archbishop Victor “Tucho” Fernández, who is alleged to have ghostwritten portions of virtually every papal document since Francis was elected, and media figures and pundits like La Civiltà Cattolica editor Fr. Antonio Spadaro, Crux contributing editor Austen Ivereigh, and Vatican Insider journalist Andrea Tornielli.
OnePeterFive has extensively covered this Vatican’s use of surrogates and disinformation to accomplish ends that would be untoward to come directly from the pope or the Holy See. We see this in repeated interviews with Eugenio Scalfari in which the pope can air his wildest ideas to a journalist of deeply questionable integrity. We see it in the years-long farce that the “Kasper Proposal” was not, in fact, the Francis Proposal (despite Kasper clearly saying so). It became evident in the Vatican’s intentionally confusing communications strategy, and their penchant — in conjunction with those media outlets closest to the Vatican Press Office — for changing the text of what the pope has said after the fact in an Orwellian fashion. Add to this the pope’s clear manipulation at the synods, his letter to the Argentine bishops, the army of papal friends attacking the Four Cardinals in the media, the aforementioned publication of the Maltese bishops’ guidelines in the official Vatican paper (and that publication’s later publication and obfuscation of the similarly troubling guidelines from the German bishops), and we’re left with a pretty clear picture.
Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s book appears to be the latest such effort from the Vatican, an officially-held position being pushed out through unofficial means. It’s disappointing at this point that Francis and his cohort lack the courage to be forthright about their purpose. They’ve made their position unmistakably clear. Why continue to pretend otherwise?
Meanwhile, as I was writing this, news has broken that an odd press statement has been released by the pope’s Council of Cardinals — the group of ten prelates chosen to work with him on his program of “reform”. In a translation provided by LifeSiteNews, the statement reads:
In relation to recent events, the Council of Cardinals pledges its full support for the Pope’s work, assuring him at the same time of its adhesion and loyalty to the figure of the Pope and to his Magisterium.
Slight pockets of resistance have sprung up in the last week, including posters that popped up overnight in Rome, taking Francis to task for his lack of mercy, and a fake edition of L’Osservatorio Romano making fun of Francis and his friends — both of which have been treated, to some degree, as criminal activities. In fact, a Vatican Gendarmerie investigation has been launched to discover the origins of the fake paper.
But despite this, the reference to “recent events” seems far more likely to refer to one thing — the dubia, and the possibility of a formal correction of the pope. It appears that the collaborators in the aggressive push for the new “mercy” of sacraments for those in objective grave sin are closing ranks.
* Translations of Italian texts used in this article provided by Andrew Guernsey.
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.