The sudden death of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra has deprived the Church of one of its major personalities. The Italian cardinal, who died last week aged 79, was a leading protagonist in the cultural and religious battles of our times.

His life story, especially in his final years, was dramatic. It was marked by fidelity to the pope and the Church, and by suffering over what he considered to be a distortion of Church doctrine. He was one of the four cardinals who signed the dubia raising questions about the post-synodal exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. That certainly wasn’t an easy step for him.

In 2014, along with other scholars, Caffarra wrote an article in a book that was opposed to the thesis of Cardinal Walter Kasper, who argued that some divorced and remarried people should be able to receive Holy Communion after a

“penitential period”.

Critics accused Caffarra of being against the pope. He replied: “Forgive me the joke: I’d rather hear someone say that the Archbishop of Bologna has a mistress than that he thinks contrary to what the pope thinks. Because if a bishop has a thought contrary to that of the pope, he must go. He just has to go from the diocese, because he would lead the faithful on a road that is no longer that of Jesus Christ. Then he would lose himself eternally and would risk the eternal loss of the faithful.”

Caffarra insisted that the charge of being against the pope was “something that deeply embitters me because it is slanderous”.

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