Recently, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the influential publication La Civiltà Cattolica—whose proofs, we are unfailingly reminded, are corrected in the Secretariat of State, if not Santa Marta—interviewed Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and the Holy Father’s preferred interpreter of Amoris laetitia. A lengthy excerpt has been made available in English. A sample:
But this orientation was already contained in some way in the famous paragraph 84 of «Familiaris consortio», to which Francis has recourse several times, as when he writes: “Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations” (AL 79).
Saint John Paul II did indeed distinguish a variety of situations. He saw a difference between those who had tried sincerely to salvage their first marriage and were abandoned unjustly, and those who had destroyed a canonically valid marriage through their grave fault. He then spoke of those who have entered a second marital union for the sake of the upbringing of their children and who sometimes are subjectively certain in their consciences that the first marriage, now irreparably destroyed, was never valid. Each one of these cases thus constitutes the object of a differentiated moral evaluation. There are very many different starting points in an ever deeper sharing in the life of the Church, to which everyone is called. John Paul II already presupposes implicitly that one cannot simply say that every situation of a divorced and remarried person is the equivalent of a life in mortal sin that is separated from the communion of love between Christ and the Church. Accordingly, he was opening the door to a broader understanding, by means of the discernment of the various situations that are not objectively identical, and thanks to the consideration of the internal forum.
(Emphasis supplied.) Read the whole thing there.
We predicted, prior to the release of Amoris laetitia, that it would be presented as an incremental development on John Paul’s thinking in Familiaris consortio and Benedict’s thinking. We have not been disappointed so far. In reading the whole of this excerpt, it becomes clear that Cardinal Schönborn wants very much to convince his readers that, really, Amoris laetitia is of a piece with Familiaris consortio and other magisterial interventions through the years. He also, in passing, suggests that the forum internum solution was, in fact, pre-Conciliar practice with which he was familiar, which is something we had not yet heard.