Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Amoris Laetitia (and its aftermath)

News and Documentation

Commentary

  • Is Pope Francis deliberately subverting papal teaching authority?, by Phil Lawler. CatholicCulture.com. 09/15/16:
    The most memorable statements of this pontificate have been made off the cuff, during airplane interviews, rather than in written documents and prepared statements. How many times have Vatican officials been forced to "clarify" a shocking papal statement, to explain away an apparent contradiction? Again and again Pope Francis has spread confusion among the faithful. But never before has it been quite so evident that he deliberately sought ambiguity, to avoid the proper use of his teaching office-- which is to resolve questions and to unify the brethren.

    If the Pope’s conscious intention is to diminish the authority of the papal magisterium, he is succeeding. If that is not his intention, I am at a loss to explain him.

  • Francis' Argentine Letter and the Catholic Response, by Elliot Milco. First Things 09/14/16:
    The real problem with the Argentine norms is their deviation from this larger and more fundamental principle: that grace truly sanctifies and liberates, and that baptized Christians are always free to fulfill the moral law, even when they fail to do so. Jesus Christ holds us to this standard in the Gospel. It is presumptuous of Francis—however benign his intentions—to decide that his version of “mercy” trumps that given by God himself.

    Worse, though, is the scandal and confusion that Francis's continued teaching on this topic will bring to pastoral praxis at the parish level, legitimizing laxism among poorly formed clergy, creating myths and half-truths about the Catholic approach to the moral law, and forming ever-larger numbers of lay Catholics who do not understand that sacramental marriage is indissoluble. All of these things are already massive problems in the Church, and this confirmation of error will only exaggerate them.

  • Pope Francis, Henri de Lubac, and the Decentralizing of Church Authority, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. Catholic World Report 09/06/16. The Holy Father wants to enhance the authority of episcopal conferences. But one of his theological lodestones -- Cardinal Henri de Lubac -- warned of the dangers of such an approach—dangers come to fruition in countries such as Germany:
    ... There was, however, another temptation which de Lubac associated with efforts to decentralize authority in the Church. He called this “ecclesial nationalism.” By this, de Lubac meant those circumstances in which Vatican II’s emphasis on local churches’ rightful freedom degenerated into “nationalist excesses.” In some cases, this concerned bishops in a given country claiming that they should be given autonomy to “creatively” address specific theological and disciplinary problems created by “local realities.”

    But, quoting Bishop André-Marie Charue of Namur, de Lubac insisted that “sociology cannot be determinate in theology.” Polygamy might, for instance, prevail in a given country. That fact, however, cannot mean that bishops in that nation somehow theologically accept polygamy as a “real world” factor to which the Church must adapt. Theological and moral truth is supposed to transform culture: not the other way round. The earliest Christians didn’t accommodate themselves to particular moral evils which proliferated in the Roman Empire. Instead, they sought to, and eventually did, change that “real world.”

    Even worse, de Lubac wrote, is when a local church tries:

    to align the universal Church with its own particularities. The somewhat arrogant conviction of having attained a degree of culture superior to those of other human groups, more particularly to that which reigns at the center of the Church, thus provokes a kind of fever of religious imperialism.

  • A Bizarre Papal Move, by Robert Royal. The Catholic Thing 09/14/16:
    So now we know. We knew before, really, but didn’t have explicit confirmation. The long, agonizing slog, however, is finally over: from Pope Francis’ invitation to Cardinal Kasper to address the bishops in Rome in February of 2014 to the pope’s letter last week to some Argentinean bishops affirming guidelines they had developed in a joint document that, in “exceptional cases,” people divorced and remarried (living in an “adulterous” relationship as we believed for 2000 years in Western Christianity), may receive Holy Communion. This whole affair is bizarre. No other word will do. ...

  • On the Buenos Aires directive, by Ed Peters. In the Light of the Law 09/13/16:
    Basically, the Argentine draft (assuming it is still a ‘draft’) directs ministers of holy Communion (chiefly parish priests) to work through concrete cases impacting access to at least three sacraments (Matrimony, Penance, and the Eucharist), guided not by the Church’s accumulated pastoral wisdom as summed up in norms like Canon 915 (which seem not even not to be mentioned!), but instead by a line of endlessly malleable considerations phrased in verbiage redolent of the 1970s. If some pastors after the publication Amoris were already being told by irate parishioners that ‘Pope Francis says you have to give me Communion’, what might they expect in the wake of his sweeping approval of this Argentine interpretation of Amoris?

  • Pope Emeritus Benedict's Ongoing Support of the Francis Papacy, by Maike Hickson. OnePeterFive.com 08/29/16:
    The ambiguities with regard to Amoris Laetitia and to the vexed question as to whether one now has to follow its content – and fully adhere to it – are obviously increasing. This is not pastoral. Confusion – especially subversive equivocation – is never pastoral. And an ambiguous teaching is not at all binding upon the Catholic conscience. ... In this situation where so many souls are at risk due to such ambiguous – and some objectively heretical – statements coming from Pope Francis, each Catholic prelate, I dare to say, has a greater duty now, in charity, to help the pope himself to correct his errors, and even some of his perceptibly hardened errors. In this context, it would be Pope Emeritus Benedict’s experienced role as the former pope, and in his role as a known theologian, to raise his clarifying voice and to help confused Catholics to find the loyal path to salvation.

  • Some Concerns about "Amoris Laetitia", by Anna M. Silvas. 06/07/16. [Republished by Sandro Magister, www.Chiesa; See also PDF format:
    I am aware that "Amoris Laetitia", as an apostolic exhortation, does not come under any rubric of infallibility. Still it is a document of the papal ordinary magisterium, and thus it makes the idea of critiquing it, especially doctrinally, mighty difficult. It seems to me unprecedented situation. I wish there were a great saint, like St Paul, or St Athanasius or St Bernard or St Catherine of Siena who could have the courage and the spiritual credentials, i.e. prophecy of the truest kind, to speak the truth to the successor of Peter and recall him to a better frame of mind. At this hour, hierarchical authority in the Church seems to have entered a strange paralysis. Perhaps this is the hour for prophets – but true prophets. Where are the saints, of "nooi" (intellects) long purified by contact with the living God in prayer and ascesis, gifted with the anointed word, capable of such a task? Where are these people?

  • Catholic Scholars Appeal to Pope Francis to Repudiate ‘Errors’ in Amoris Laetitia, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 07/11/16:
    A group of Catholic scholars, prelates and clergy have sent an appeal to the College of Cardinals asking that they petition Pope Francis to “repudiate” what they see as “erroneous propositions” contained in Amoris Laetitia.

    In a statement released today, the 45 signatories of the appeal say Amoris Laetitia — the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation (summary document) on the recent Synod on the Family that was published in April — contains “a number of statements that can be understood in a sense that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals.”

    The 13 page document, translated into six languages and sent to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals as well as 218 individual cardinals and patriarchs, quotes 19 passages in the exhortation which “seem to conflict with Catholic doctrines”.

    The signatories — described as Catholic prelates, scholars, professors, authors, and clergy from various pontifical universities, seminaries, colleges, theological institutes, religious orders, and dioceses around the world — then go on to list “applicable theological censures specifying the nature and degree of the errors” contained in Amoris laetitia.

  • From Casuistry to Mercy, Towards a New Art of Pleasing? — An Essay on the Malaise in the Church by Msgr. Michel Schooyans, republished by Edward Pentin. June 2016:
    The Synod on the Family has revealed – even assuming this was necessary – a profound malaise in the Church. A crisis of growth without doubt, but also recurrent debates on the question of « remarried » divorced persons, « models » for the family, the role of women, birth control, surrogate motherhood, homosexuality, euthanasia. It is futile to close our eyes: the Church is challenged in its very foundations. These are to be found in the entirety of the Holy Scriptures, in the teaching of Jesus, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in the announcement of the Gospel by the Apostles, in an ever finer understanding of the Revelation, in the assent of faith by the community of believers. The Church has been entrusted by Jesus with the mission of receiving these truths, casting light on their coherence, commemorating them. The Church has not been given by the Lord either a mission to modify these truths, or a mission to rewrite the Credo. The Church is the guardian of this treasure. The Church should study these truths, clarify them, deepen man’s understanding of them and invite all men to adhere to them through faith. There are even discussions – on marriage for example – which were brought to a close by the Lord himself. ...

    Progressively, the rules of behaviour proceeding from the will of the Lord and handed down by the Magisterium of the Church are languishing in decline. The moral assessment of acts can therefore be modified. Not content with toning down this assessment, the casuists wish to transform the moral law itself. This will be the task of casuists, confessors, spiritual advisors and, on occasion, bishops. All must have a concern to please. They must in consequence resort to compromise, accommodate their arguments to the satisfaction of human passions: no person must be rebuffed. The moral assessment of an act no longer depends on whether it conforms to the will of God, as made known to us by the Revelation. This depends on the intention of the moral agent and this intention can be modulated and moulded by the spiritual advisor who « supports » his followers. In order to please, the spiritual advisor will have to soften the rigour of the doctrine handed down by tradition. The pastor will have to adapt his words to the nature of man, whose passions are naturally lead into sin. Hence the progressive relegation of references to original sin and grace. The influence of Pelagius (a monk of British origin, see s.) is evident: man must save himself and take his destiny into his own hands. Telling the truth forms no part of the role of the casuist, who must captivate, present a line of argument which is engaging, curry favour, make salvation easy, delight those who aspire to « have itching ears » (cf. 2 Tim 4, 3).

    In short, the eclipse of the decisive contribution of the Revelation to morality is paving the way for the investiture of the casuist and creating a space favourable to the installation of a government of consciences.

  • Amoris Laetitia and Vatican II’s Project of Inculturation, by Dr. Jared Staudt. Catholic World Report 05/26/16. Vatican II sought to initiate a dialogue with the modern world, meant to be an extension of the Church’s evangelizing mission. But things have not gone as hoped and planned.

  • Full text: Interview with Robert Spaemann on Amoris Laetitia Catholic News Agency. 04/29/16. Greatly valued as an advisor by Saint John Paul II, a friend of Benedict XVI, and widely held to be the most important German Catholic philosopher of recent decades, Robert Spaemann, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, expressed a distinctly critical interpretation of Amoris laetitia in this interview with Anian Christoph Wimmer, editor of CNA's German-language edition.

  • ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church, by Cardinal Raymond Burke. National Catholic Register 04/19/16. Cardinal Burke says a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, ‘by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.'

  • Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” Is a Closeted Argument for Gay Marriage, by William Saletan. Slate.com. 04/08/16. The Pope’s own words about infertility and erotic love undermine his argument against same-sex marriage.

  • Amoris Laetitia: A CWR Symposium Catholic World Report 04/09/16.

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