VATICAN CITY (CNA)—On Tuesday the Vatican announced that Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna, has died at the age of 79. He was known for pastoral and academic work in support of marriage and families, especially through the founding of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.
No details regarding the late prelate's
death were included in the Sept. 6 announcement of his passing. However, his
death comes almost exactly two months after that of Caffara's friend and
collaborator, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who passed away July 5 while on
vacation in Bad Füssing, Germany.
Cardinals Caffara and Meisner were among
the four cardinals who penned a letter with five “dubia,” or questions, about
the interpretation of Amoris laetitia to Pope Francis, requesting that he
“resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity.”
Signed also by Cardinals
Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Leo Burke, the letter was sent to Pope Francis
privately on Sept. 19, 2016, but was released to the public two months later.
The four cardinals believed themselves
obliged to submit the dubia because of “the fact – which only a blind man could
deny – that in the Church there exists great confusion, uncertainty, insecurity
caused by some paragraphs of Amoris laetitia,” Cardinal Caffarra said in a Jan. 14
interview with Matteo Matzuzzi of the Italian publication Il Foglio.
In the interview, Cardinal Caffarra said the letter
and its dubia “were long reflected on, for months … for my part, they were also
the subject of lengthy prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
“In these months, in terms of fundamental
questions regarding the sacramental economy (marriage, confession, and the
Eucharist) and the Christian life, some bishops have said A, some others have
said the contrary of A, with the intention of interpreting well the same text.”
The cardinal said that “the way out of this
'conflict of interpretations' was to have recourse to fundamental theological
criteria of interpretation, the use of which I think can reasonably demonstrate
that Amoris laetitia does not contradict Familiaris consortio.”
And yet, he said, “we saw that this
epistemological model would not suffice. The contrast between the two
interpretations continued,” and so the only way to address the question was to
ask the author of Amoris laetitia to clarify it.
Born in Samboseto di Busseto, Italy, in
1938, Cardinal Caffarra was ordained a priest in 1961 and was widely known for his work
in the area of marriage and the family.
He held a doctorate in canon law from the
Pontifical Gregorian University, as well as a diploma of specialization in
moral theology from the Pontifical Alfonsian Academy.
He taught moral theology and moral ethics,
and in 1974 he was tapped by Pope Paul VI as a member of the International
Theological Commission. Four years later, in 1978, he participated as a
representative of the Holy See at the First World Congress on human sterility
and artificial procreation in Venice.
In 1980, Cardinal Caffarra was named an expert at
the Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family, and a year later was appointed
by St. John Paul II as founder and president of the John Paul II Institute for
Marriage and the Family.
He also served as a consultant for the
Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1983-1988 and was
longstanding a friend of the dicastery's prefect, Josef Ratzinger, who would
later become Pope Benedict XVI.
During his tenure as consultant for the Vatican's doctrinal department, Cardinal Caffarra also participated in a study on genetic engineering launched by Italy's health ministry. Then in 1988, he officially founded the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Washington D.C., bringing it to Mexico and Spain shortly after.
On Sept. 8, 1995, he was named Archbishop
of Ferrara-Comacchio, a position he held until his appointment in 2003 as
Archbishop of Bologna, where he served until his retirement in 2015.
He was named cardinal by Benedict XVI in
2006 and also held an honorary doctorate in Christian Literature from the
Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
Despite nearing retirement, Cardinal Caffarra was
appointed by Pope Francis as a participant in both the Extraordinary Synod of
Bishops on the Family in 2014 and the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2015.
He was a
member of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Supreme
Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He was also an honorary member of the
Pontifical Academy for Life.
The cardinal's funeral will be celebrated Saturday, Sept. 9, at 11 a.m. in Bologna's San Petronino cathedral by the diocese's current Archbishop, Matteo Maria Zuppi. A memorial vigil will be held in the cathedral the night before, beginning at 9 p.m.