No, no. No one has leaked the Holy Father’s forthcoming post-Synodal exhortation, Amoris laetitia, to us. And, while dear Father Lombardi could not revoke our Holy See Press Office credentials if only because we don’t have any, we would never in a million years wish to violate the pontifical secret, applied by article 1(1) of the 1974 Instruction Secreta continere. (Though being only human, we imagine that we would like very much the feeling for the next week of wouldn’t you like to know that would attend being in the loop on this one. How they manage in the Curia is beyond us.)
However, we do anticipate that we will make some comments on Amoris laetitia when it is finally released later this week. And, to be frank, our expectations for the document will likely color in a significant way our reaction to it. Thus, we think it is only fair that we go on record with those expectations now. Also, there is something very enjoyable about putting one’s predictions out in the open air. (Sometimes, anyway. It is Opening Day for our beloved Cincinnati Reds, and having seen GM Walt Jocketty’s idea of “rebuilding,” we are far too depressed to offer our predictions for the Reds.) At any rate, here’s what we expect to see:
- It will be very long and not always hugely gripping.
- There will be something for everyone, but, on the whole, the progressives will be much happier than the orthodox. Because no hard and fast rules will be established, conservative Catholics will feel constrained to put a brave face on things. The progressives’ note of triumph will be a little unseemly. Everyone will start to think a little more seriously about next time.
- It will authorize, through the forum internum process, communion for bigamists. The appointment of Cardinal Schönborn as one of the relators for the exhortation sealed the deal for us. He was the moderator of the Germanicus group that came up with that compromise, though his ties to Ratzinger undoubtedly make him, well, more palatable to conservatives than Reinhard Cardinal Marx, one of the other ramrods behind the compromise. It seems to us very natural to select Cardinal Schönborn as the relator for the exhortation in order to sell the forum internum theory to the wider world. But there will be some language emphasizing how “narrow” the exception is, and how those who can prove nullity ought to be encouraged to do so.
- There may be some language about episcopal conferences establishing norms for the forum internum process, but it would surprise us if the progressives in the Vatican wanted to trust more conservative episcopates with the keys to the gate they’ve strived so mightily to throw open.
- Expect to hear even more about the tendentious misquotation of Familiaris consortio that was forced upon everyone last October. Indeed, expect to see endless citations to John Paul II and Benedict XVI during the really important parts. The argument will be made, implicitly, that Amoris laetitia is but an incremental development on John Paul’s thought and Benedict’s thought.
- It will probably remove any other restrictions on participation in the Church by bigamists. All of the other restrictions—e.g., being a godparent—that we have heard about over the last eighteen months will be lifted without reservation.
- It will have lots of nice things to say about other irregular situations.
- People hoping to hear nice things about same-sex couples are going to be disappointed. That project will have to wait a while.
- Much ink will be spilled on marital preparation.
- Much ink will also be spilled about what a great procedural success the Synod was and how it represents a model of Church governance for the future.
Just some predictions. Some of them we feel fairly strongly about. Some we threw in just so we could get to ten. But, obviously, we would be happy to be proved wrong about many of these predictions.