Enough to Make One Weep

Declaration of the Society of St. Pius X concerning the post-synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis (March 19, 2016)

“This is an apostolic exhortation entitled The Joy of Love, but it makes us weep.”

Sermon by Bishop Fellay in Puy-en-Velay, April 10, 2016


  1. Among the many opinions, explanations, and commentaries that have been published on the subject of Amoris Laetitia, three studies made by priests of our Society have recently appeared: “Amoris Laetitia: A Triumph of Subjectivism” by Father Matthias Gaudron; “Brief Considerations on Chapter 8 of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia” by Father Jean-Michel Gleize; and “After the Synod: Indissolubility Called into Question” by Father Christian Thouvenot. The General House approves of these essays and gives its complete support to them. They complement one another harmoniously and give an overall view of the papal document.

  2. The procedure followed during the two synods and the circumstances surrounding them have already raised numerous questions. At the Extraordinary Consistory in February 2014, only Cardinal Walter Kasper was invited to specify the theme of the Synod, whereas for years he has been recognized as a militant supporter of suppressing the divine law’s prohibition of giving the Body of Christ to public sinners. The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem), published in October 2014 during the Extraordinary Synod, gives information not in accord with the results of the discussions. Then certain topics were incorporated into the Final Report which had not been approved by the Synod. Just before the Ordinary Synod, the Pope published two motu proprio letters dealing precisely with the subject of the Synod and facilitating the canonical procedure for declarations of marriage annulments. And a confidential letter from thirteen cardinals expressing fears about the outcome of the Synod was publicly described as a “conspiracy”.

  3. The question concerning admission of divorced-and-“remarried” persons to Holy Communion has already been addressed several times by the Church, whose clear answer has been repeated even recently.[1] A new discussion of the Church’s constant teaching and practice could therefore only be detrimental and likely to confuse matters instead of clarifying them. And that is what happened.

  4. In a papal document one expects to find a clear presentation of the Church’s magisterial teaching and the Christian manner of living. Now, as others have correctly noted, Amoris Laetitia is rather “a treatise on psychology, pedagogy, moral and pastoral theology and spirituality”. The Church has the mission of proclaiming the teaching of Jesus Christ in season and out of season and of drawing from it the necessary conclusions, all for the good of souls. It is incumbent upon her to remind men of God’s Law and not to minimize it or explain how it might not apply in some cases. The Church has the obligation of stating principles, the concrete application of which she leaves to pastors of souls, to confessors, and also to the conscience that has been enlightened by faith, the proximate rule of human action.

  5. Because of its search for a pastoral practice based on mercy, the document is in some places marred by subjectivism and moral relativism. Objective rules are replaced, in Protestant fashion, by the individual’s conscience. This poison is in part attributable to personalism, which, in the matter of pastoral care of families, no longer places the gift of life and the good of the family first and foremost, but rather the personal fulfillment and spiritual development of the spouses. On this subject we can only deplore once again the inversion of the ends of marriage sketched out in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes of the Second Vatican Council, an inversion that is found again in Amoris Laetitia. The so-called “law of gradualness” turns Catholic morality upside down.

  6. The consequences of Amoris Laetitia are already making themselves felt in the Church: one parish priest, in keeping with his duty, refuses the Body of Christ to public sinners, while another invites everyone to Holy Communion. The President of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has declared that Amoris Laetitia will be put into practice immediately in his country and that consequently, in certain cases, divorced-and-“remarried” persons will receive Communion.[2] A deep division is forming within the episcopate and the Sacred College of Cardinals. The faithful are bewildered; the whole Church is suffering from this rift. Calling into question the obligation to observe in all cases God’s commandments, particularly the commandment of marital fidelity, means surrendering to the dictates of current practice and the spirit of the age. In many countries—Germany for example—what is required by divine law has already been trampled underfoot for a long time. Instead of raising what is to the level of what ought to be, they are lowering what ought to be to what is; that is, to the permissive morality of modernists and progressives. Catholics whose marriages have failed but who, given the situation, have very virtuously and sometimes heroically remained faithful to the promise they made before the altar, feel betrayed. It is enough to make one weep.

  7. We humbly but firmly implore the Holy Father to revise the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and most especially chapter 8. As with the documents of Vatican II, what is ambiguous must be interpreted in a clear manner, and what contradicts the constant doctrine and practice of the Church must be retracted, for the glory of God, for the good of the whole Church, and for the salvation of souls, especially those in danger of being deceived by the guise of a false mercy.

Menzingen, May 2, 2016

Feast of Saint Athanasius

[1]Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (n. 84); Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1650); Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated September 14, 1994; Declaration of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts dated June 24, 2000.

[2] “This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting. It can and should happen immediately.” Statement AMORIS LAETITIA In the Jubilee of Mercy, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.