cover of book

Before Amoris Laetitia: The Sources of the Controversy
by Jaroslaw Kupczak
translated by Grzegorz Ignatik
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
Cloth: 978-0-8132-3400-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8132-3401-4
Library of Congress Classification BX2351.K87 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 234.165

The publication of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia started the most important theological debate in the Catholic Church since the end of the Second Vatican Council. The cardinals, bishops, theologians, priests, lay Catholics found themselves on the opposite sides of this crucial and complicated discussion. This book attempts to shed some light on this debate by tracing its genealogy.

Since Amoris Laetitia is a post-synodal document, the large part of the book is devoted to the theological analysis of the two Synods of Bishops convoked by Pope Francis in the first years of his pontificate: the extraordinary in October 2014 and the ordinary that took place a year later. The main topics for the two synods were determined, however, in the speech given by Cardinal Walter Kasper during the cardinals consistory in February 2014 whose main aim was to prepare the possibility of admitting divorced persons who live in second unions to Holy Communion. The arguments of Cardinal Kasper are presented in the first chapter of the book and confronted with the most significant statements of the Magisterium of the Church on the issue of admittance to the Holy Communion.

This book is a study at the intersection of Church history, the history of theology, and systematic theology: dogmatic and moral. Kupczak is interested in the chronology of the events connected to the two synods on the family but in the context of theological problems discussed therein: the theological significance of contemporary cultural changes; the relation of the Church to the world; the understanding of the indissolubility of the sacramental marriage and the Eucharist; the methods of ethically assessing human acts, particularly the concept of so-called intrinsically evil acts (intrinsece malum); and the relation of conscience to the general moral norm. The non-partisan ambition of this book is to serve as a “road map”— a help in navigation for the reader in the complicated discussions leading to publication of Amoris Laetitia.

The uniqueness of this book consists in combining the historical analysis of the events leading to the publication of Amoris Laetitia with research of the theological discussion that ensued. Since Amoris Laetitia is a post-synodal exhortation, this book rests on the assumption that crucial for its understanding is a thorough analysis of its genealogy. Only in the light of this historical and theological perspective the debates surrounding Amoris Laetitia may be understood.

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