The cardinal said that if the Pope had wanted to change the discipline, he would have given a full explanation

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal authority, has said that Pope Francis’s recent document is consistent with previous Church teaching.

In a talk to seminarians in Oviedo, Spain, reported by the German newspaper Die Tagespost, Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said that Amoris Laetitia does not say the divorced and remarried can take communion.

John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the CDF have all said in the last 35 years that the divorced and remarried should not take communion unless they live “in complete continence”.

Cardinal Müller told the seminarians: “If Amoris Laetitia wanted to overturn such a deep-rooted and important discipline, it would have expressed this precisely and given reasons for it”.

[“Hätte Amoris Laetitia eine so verwurzelte und so gewichtige Disziplin aufkündigen wollen, hätte es sich deutlich ausgedrückt und die Gründe dafür angegeben.”]

Cardinals Christoph Schönborn, Raymond Burke and Vincent Nichols have all said that Amoris Laetitia is in line with John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (1981), which said: “The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.

“They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.”

Last week the prominent German philosopher Robert Spaemann said that Amoris Laetitia’s footnote 351 contradicted Church teaching. Spaemann said it implied that the divorced and remarried could be admitted to the Eucharist even if they were still sleeping together.

But Cardinal Müller said the footnote did not specify the divorced and remarried. “Without going into details, it is enough to point out that this footnote refers to objective situations of sin in general, not to the specific case of civilly remarried divorcees. The situation of the latter has peculiar features which distinguishes it from other situations.”

The footnote, the cardinal went on, “does not apply to the previous discipline.” Referring to the teaching of John Paul and Benedict, he added: “The standard of FC 84 and SC 29 and their application in all cases is still valid.”