The Petrine keys of mercy: A biblical defence of 'Amoris Laetitia'

In the last few decades there has been no more controversial a papal document than that of 'Amoris Laetitia'. The controversy revolves around divorce, in particular allowing the divorced and remarried, with no annulment, to communicate at the Eucharist.1 The critics of 'Amoris' argue that Pope Francis, under the claim to be exercising mercy, is effectively undermining the truths of the faith. The defence of 'Amoris', however, is that in answer to the exigencies of the time mercy is being applied in such a way that it develops the truths of the faith and expands their reach and pastoral application. It is clear from the New Testament itself that from the very beginning of the church the issue of how grace operates to extend the reach and application of God's mercy is one that has given rise to much dispute and even division. It is a process that prompts reflection upon theological givens, and the disputes that arise are occasioned by the question: Is the development that flows from this reflection one of an organic continuity, or is it instead a corrupt imposition? It is no exaggeration to say that this is exactly what is at issue today in respect of 'Amoris'.
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