OTTAWA (CCN) — Pope Francis’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia has left moral theologians an important duty to listen, says the master of the Dominican Order.
“We have to listen to the experience of faith of those who are believers who are living these situations,” said Brother Bruno Cadoré, a moral theologian who has led the Dominican Order since his election as master in 2010.
“The church doesn’t exist just as a group or as an institution,” said Cadoré, who was a medical doctor before joining the Dominicans in his native France. “The church is the community of believers and of only one Christ who would like us to be his body in this history.”
“So the time now is to sit down where we are to listen to what is the experience of faith of those who are not in the line of discipline of the church,” said Cadoré, who was at Dominican University College May 1 as part of a visitation to Canada.
Asked whether Amoris Laetitia represents a development in moral theology, or needs clarification in the five “Dubia” or doubts put forward by four cardinals, Cadoré said: “I’m not one to say anything about what Pope Francis is doing.”
But the duty to listen is “not just to promote a decision,” he said. “For me the point is to promote a conversation.”
“One first step in the theological work is to listen to the faith of the others, the faith of the members of the church,” the master said. “And this is true for the family, this is true for the technical, scientific mastering of the world, this is true in ecology, this is true for the youth, this is true for everybody.”
“We have first to listen to what is the experience, the difficulties, the joys, of faith of the believers,” Cadoré said. And through this listening, see how the long tradition of the church would make the conversation more intelligible — the conversation “the Lord would like to have with this concrete, present world.”
“The Catholic Church is the sacrament of God’s friendship,” he said. “We just have to do that. Friendship.”
“What is friendship? To speak about friendship in the world is not just to use an easy word,” Cadoré said. “When you are friends with someone, the Catholic Church has to be like a sacrament of this friendship of Our Lord with the Creation.”
Cadoré spoke of confidence in friendship. “When you are friend, the first point is that you are confident,” he said. “If I am your friend, I will be confident with you. I am not sure you will always do something right, but I am confident that, if you do something wrong, I will be able to talk with you and you will be able to listen to me and we shall have new conversation even if I did something wrong, or you did something wrong, the confidence is that we can go on in conversation.”
“This is the conviction of the Catholic Church, not because we decided that, but because the Lord used to do that, to do the same.”
When asked about the state of the Dominican Order in Canada, Cadoré said he was “very impressed.”
“We are facing a difficult time in the church in so many movements in so many countries so we could complain about what is going on,” he said.
Though the church has been fortunate and very strong in Canada, “we are in a different age,” he said. “But when I look my brothers and my sisters, I see that they are doing exactly what is needed, to see what we have to do to proclaim that the kingdom of God is coming, and there are some reasons to hope.”
He praised the work of Dominican brothers and sisters working with migrants; in equipping laypeople to proclaim the faith; in organizing communities; in being present among those who have no voice; and in organizing academic institutions to help people “think about what is happening in the world.”
“I see them to trying to find an equilibrium in this country between the French-speaking culture and the English-speaking culture,” he said.