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Office of News & Public Affairs

Boston College Expert: Pope Francis

James Bretzke


Fr. Bretzke is a Jesuit priest and professor of moral theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  He is the author of 70 articles/reviews and seven books including A Morally Complex World: Engaging Contemporary Moral Theology and Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary. He earned a doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he also taught for three years.  He has also taught for several years in Seoul, Korea at Sogang University and as a Visiting Professor of Moral Theology at the Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila, Philippines.  On the weekends, Father Bretzke ministers at St. Michael's Parish in Bedford, Mass.

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9-8-15 On Annulments

“What we’re seeing are very practical moves to speed up the annulment process, to make them more user friendly, and respond to the needs of the poor and the marginalized. The Pope is seeking to respond pastorally to the tens of thousands of couples who are experiencing profound pain and alienation as a result of broken marriages.  This move is in accord with the Pope’s oft-repeated image of the Church as a ‘field hospital’ that goes out to meet people where they are most in need, and then to treat their most serious wounds first - rather than stay at home and wait for people to come to them.

“The second important thing we’re seeing is these documents underscore the central role of the local bishop and the central judge in his diocese representing the person of Christ and that’s a real development, a positive development because over the last 150 years or so, the tendency has been to centralize power in the Roman bureaucracy. The Pope is now trying to move it back to its proper place.”



9-1-15 On Absolution after Abortion

“What the Pope wants to do is not punish people who have procured an abortion, but extend mercy to them. It’s not a change in church teaching or doctrine. It sends a message that he is emphasizing mercy and not retribution, that he's embracing reconciliation and not excommunication. It’s another good example of the Pope staying on message about the importance of mercy.”






Media Note: Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College

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