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Another Comment about the “Filial Correction” Letter

Here is one of the better comments I’ve read about the “Filial Correction Letter”.   It analyzes in detail why there are heresies in Amoris Laetitia concerning reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried persons.   It all stems from the elastic, casuistical, Jesuitical interpretation of Catholic doctrine stated in the Encyclical.   And the author is not optimistic about “Filial Correction” having an effect on Pope Francis and his followers.   So, as the author suggests, we have to pray that Jesus Christ, the bridegroom of the Church, intervenes.

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Pope Francis Responds (?) to Criticisms of Amoris Laetitia

In an interview from La Civilta Cattolica quoted in the blog Whispers in the Loggia, Pope Francis says, as I near as I understand, that we have to go beyond theology and Thomism–they’re not that useful nowadays.    He also says that the morality of Amoris Laetitia is Thomist.  (Is there a contradiction here?)   I don’t see that, but then I’m not a theologian nor a philosopher.   Here’s the quote–judge for yourself.

Fr. Vicente Durán Casas stands to ask another question: “Holy Father, again thank you for your visit. I teach philosophy and I would like to know, and I speak for my teaching colleagues in theology too, what do you expect from philosophical and theological reflection in a country such as ours and in the Church generally?”

[Pope:] To start, I’d say let’s not have laboratory reflection. We’ve seen what damage occurred when the great and brilliant Thomist scholastics deteriorated, falling down, down, down to a manualistic scholasticism without life, mere ideas that transformed into a casuistic pastoral approach. At least, in our day we were formed that way… I’d say it was quite ridiculous how, to explain metaphysical continuity, the philosopher Losada spoke of puncta inflata [Ed. “an inflated point”]… To demonstrate some ideas, things got ridiculous. He was a good philosopher, but decadent, he didn’t become famous…

So, philosophy not in a laboratory, but in life, in dialogue with reality. In dialogue with reality, philosophers will find the three transcendentals that constitute unity, but they will have a real name. Recall the words of our great writer Dostoyevsky. Like him we must reflect on which beauty will save us, on goodness, on truth. Benedict XVI spoke of truth as an encounter, that is to say no longer a classification, but a road. Always in dialogue with reality, for you cannot do philosophy with a logarithmic table. Besides, nobody uses them anymore.

The same is true for theology, but this does not mean to corrupt theology, depriving it of its purity. Quite the opposite. The theology of Jesus was the most real thing of all; it began with reality and rose up to the Father. It began with a seed, a parable, a fact… and explained them. Jesus wanted to make a deep theology and the great reality is the Lord. I like to repeat that to be a good theologian, together with study you have to be dedicated, awake and seize hold of reality; and you need to reflect on all of this on your knees.

A man who does not pray, a woman who does not pray, cannot be a theologian. They might be a living form of Denzinger, they might know every possible existing doctrine, but they’ll not be doing theology. They’ll be a compendium or a manual containing everything. But today it is a matter of how you express God, how you tell who God is, how you show the Spirit, the wounds of Christ, the mystery of Christ, starting with the Letter to the Philippians 2:7…. How you explain these mysteries and keep explaining them, and how you are teaching the encounter that is grace. As when you read Paul in the Letter to the Romans where there’s the entire mystery of grace and you want to explain it.

I’ll use this question to say something else that I believe should be said out of justice, and also out of charity. In fact I hear many comments – they are respectable for they come from children of God, but wrong – concerning the post-synod apostolic exhortation. To understand Amoris Laetitia you need to read it from the start to the end. Beginning with the first chapter, and to continue to the second and then on … and reflect. And read what was said in the Synod.

A second thing: some maintain that there is no Catholic morality underlying Amoris Laetitia, or at least, no sure morality. I want to repeat clearly that the morality of Amoris Laetitia is Thomist, the morality of the great Thomas. You can speak of it with a great theologian, one of the best today and one of the most mature, Cardinal Schönborn.

I want to say this so that you can help those who believe that morality is purely casuistic. Help them understand that the great Thomas possesses the greatest richness, which is still able to inspire us today. But on your knees, always on your knees….

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PopeWatch: Cardinal Caffarra

Two of the four cardinals who requested clarification from the Pope of Amoris Laetitia have now died while waiting for an answer.  Sandro Magister brings us the letter that the late Cardinal Caffarra sent to the Pope on April 25, the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist:

 

 

Most Holy Father,

It is with a certain trepidation that I address myself to Your Holiness, during these days of the Easter season. I do so on behalf of the Most Eminent Cardinals: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Joachim Meisner, and myself.

We wish to begin by renewing our absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus: the “sweet Christ on earth,” as Saint Catherine of Siena was fond of saying. We do not share in the slightest the position of those who consider the See of Peter vacant, nor of those who want to attribute to others the indivisible responsibility of the Petrine “munus.” We are moved solely by the awareness of the grave responsibility arising from the “munus” of cardinals: to be advisers of the Successor of Peter in his sovereign ministry. And from the Sacrament of the Episcopate, which “has placed us as bishops to pasture the Church, which He has acquired with his blood” (Acts 20:28).

On September 19, 2016 we delivered to Your Holiness and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith five “dubia,” asking You to resolve uncertainties and to bring clarity on some points of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.”

Not having received any response from Your Holiness, we have reached the decision to ask You, respectfully and humbly, for an Audience, together if Your Holiness would like. We attach, as is the practice, an Audience Sheet in which we present the two points we wish to discuss with you.

Most Holy Father,

A year has now gone by since the publication of “Amoris Laetitia.” During this time, interpretations of some objectively ambiguous passages of the post-synodal Exhortation have publicly been given that are not divergent from but contrary to the permanent Magisterium of the Church. Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved. Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church. And so it is happening – how painful it is to see this! – that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: “Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank.”

Numerous competent lay faithful, who are deeply in love with the Church and staunchly loyal to the Apostolic See, have turned to their Pastors and to Your Holiness in order to be confirmed in the Holy Doctrine concerning the three sacraments of Marriage, Confession, and the Eucharist. And in these very days, in Rome, six lay faithful, from every Continent, have presented a very well-attended study seminar with the meaningful title: “Bringing clarity.”

Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an Audience.

May Your Holiness remember us in Your prayers, as we pledge to remember You in ours. And we ask for the gift of Your Apostolic Blessing.

Carlo Card. Caffarra

Rome, April 25, 2017
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Paul II

 

 

For this reason the Second Vatican Council states that all the Pope’s teaching should be listened to and accepted, even when it is not given ex cathedra, but is proposed in the ordinary exercise of the magisterium with a clear intention to enunciate, recall, reiterate Faithful doctrine.

Pope John Paul II, General Audience, March 17, 1993 (Italics added.)

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PopeWatch: Malta

Lifesite News is reporting that Pope Francis gave a pat on the back to the bishops of Malta:

 

According to a Maltese news outlet, Pope Francis thanked the Catholic bishops of Malta for their interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, which says active adulterers may receive Holy Communion if they feel “at peace with God.”

Newsbook reported that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, recently sent the Maltese bishops a letter on behalf of Pope Francis.

The Malta bishops’ guidelines opened the door to Communion for Catholics in adulterous unions, saying it might be “humanly impossible” to follow Church teaching and live chastely while civilly remarried. The guidelines also suggest that a couple in an invalid union might “give rise to greater harm” by not committing adultery.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is permanent and lifelong, making “remarriage” an impossibility unless the previous union is declared “null.” The Catholic Church also teaches that the Eucharist is the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, so only Catholics in a “state of grace” may receive it. Catholics are supposed to go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion if they have committed serious (mortal) sin. Those who are divorced and civilly remarried must live as “brother and sister” in order to receive the Sacraments.

Shortly after their release, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published the Maltese bishops’ guidelines Continue Reading

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Cardinal Burke Interview

 

Last Thursday Raymond Arroyo of EWTN had an interview with Cardinal Burke, one of the Four Cardinals, in which the Cardinal explains what is at stake.  Here is the ending of the interview:

Cardinal Burke: Of course it does, that [is the] standard instrument in the Church for addressing such a situation. Yes, there are other cardinals. I don’t want to get into this business of the numbers. We have to remember, the criterion here is the truth. There have been cases, for instance, take for example the case of Henry VIII and his desire to be able to enter a second marriage without having his first marriage declared null—all of the bishops of England except St. John Fisher went along with the error, but St. John Fisher is the saint because he defended the truth. And all of us in the Church who are cardinals, bishops, we have the responsibility to defend the truth; whether we seem to be numerous or we seem to be very few doesn’t make any difference. It’s the truth of Christ which has to be taught. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Four Cardinals

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Four Cardinals wrote a letter to the Pope on September 19, 2016 asking for clarification in regard to portions of Amoris Laetitia.  Having received no response, the four Cardinals have gone public.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us the details:

ROME, November 14, 2016 – The letter and the five questions presented in their entirety further below have no need of much explanation. It is enough to read them. What is new is that the four cardinals who had them delivered to Francis last September 19, without receiving a reply, have decided to make them public with the encouragement of this very silence on the part of the pope, in order to “continue the reflection and the discussion” with “the whole people of God.”

They explain this in the foreword to the publication of the complete text. And one thinks right away of Matthew 18:16-17: “If your brother will not listen to you, take with you two or three witnesses. If then he will not listen even to them, tell it to the assembly.”

The “witness” in this case was Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Because he too, in addition to the pope, had been a recipient of the letter and the questions.

The five questions are in fact formulated as in the classic submissions to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. Formulated, that is, in such a way that they can be responded to with a simple yes or no.

As a rule, the responses given by the congregation explicitly mention the approval of the pope. And in the routine audiences that Francis gave to the cardinal prefect after the delivery of the letter and the questions, it is a sure bet that the two talked about them.

But in point of fact the appeal from the four cardinals received no reply, neither from Cardinal Müller nor from the pope, evidently at the behest of the latter.

*

The four cardinals who signed this letter and are now making it public are not among those who a year ago, at the beginning of the second session of the synod on the family, delivered to Francis the famous letter “of the thirteen cardinals”:

> Thirteen Cardinals Have Written to the Pope. Here’s the Letter (12.10.2015)

The thirteen were all members of the synod and in full service in their respective dioceses. Or they held important positions in the curia, like cardinals Robert Sarah, George Pell, and Müller himself.

These four, however, while all are recognized for their authoritativeness, have no operational roles, either for reasons of age or because they have been dismissed.

And that makes them more free. It is no mystery, in fact, that their appeal has been and is shared by not a few other cardinals who are still fully active, as well as high-ranking bishops and archbishops of West and East, who however precisely because of this have decided to remain in the shadows.

In a few days, on November 19 and 20, the whole college of cardinals will meet in Rome, for the consistory convoked by Pope Francis. And inevitably the appeal of the four cardinals will become the subject of animated discussion among them.

The ebb and flow of history. It was at the consistory of February 2014 that Francis gave the go-ahead for the long trek that resulted in the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” when he entrusted to Cardinal Walter Kasper the opening talk, in support of communion for the divorced and remarried.

Right away at that consistory the controversy broke out with the greatest intensity. And it is the same one that divides the Church even more today, including at the highest levels, seeing how the unclear suggestions of “Amoris Laetitia” are being contradictorily interpreted and applied.

Kasper is German and, curiously, two of the cardinals who – on the side opposite his – have published the present appeal are also German, not to mention Cardinal Müller, who signed the letter “of the thirteen” and now has received this other no less explosive letter.

The division in the Church is there. And it conspicuously runs through precisely that Church of Germany which represents for many the most advanced point of change.

And Pope Francis remains silent.  Perhaps because he thinks that “oppositions help,” as he explained to his Jesuit confrere Antonio Spadaro in giving over for publication the anthology of his discourses as archbishop of Buenos Aires, which have been in bookstores for a few days.

Adding:

“Human life is structured in oppositional form. And that is also what is happening now in the Church. Tensions need not necessarily be resolved and regulated. They are not like contradictions.”

But that’s just the point. Here it is a matter of contradictions. Yes or no. These and no others are the fitting answers to the five questions of the four cardinals, on the crucial points of Church doctrine and life brought into question by “Amoris Laetitia.”

Now it’s their turn.

In addition to Italian, English, French, and Spanish, the whole document is also available in Portuguese and German translations:

> Criar clareza. Alguns nós por resolver em “Amoris laetitia” – Um apelo

> Klarheit schaffen. Ungelöste Knoten von “Amoris laetitia” – Ein Appell

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Anna M. Silvas

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Sandro Magister at his blog at his blog Chiesa brings us the commentary on Amoris Laetitia of Professor Anna M. Silvas, a world renowned authority on the Church Fathers, who teaches at the University of New England and Australian Catholic University.  Her analysis is devastating:

 

And all that was be fore I came to reading chapter eight. I have wondered if the extraordinary prolixity of the first seven chapters was meant to wear us down before we came to this crucial chapter, and catch us off-guard. To me, the entire tenor of chapter eight is problematic, not just n. 304 and footnote 351. As soon as I finished it, I thought to myself: Clear as a bell: Pope Francis wanted some form of the Kasper proposal from the beginning. Here it is. Kasper has won. It all explains Pope Francis’ terse comments at the end of the 2015 Synod, when he censured narrow-minded “pharisees” – evidently those who had frustrated a better outcome according to his agenda. “Pharisees”? The sloppiness of his language! They were the modernists, in a way, of Judaism, the masters of ten thousand nuances – and most pertinently, those who tenaciously upheld the practice of divorce and remarriage. The real analogues of the pharisees in this whole affair are Kasper and his allies.

To press on. The words of n. 295 on St John Paul’s comments on the “law of gradualness” in “Familiaris Consortio” 34, seem to me subtly treacherous and corruptive. For they try to coopt and corrupt John Paul in support precisely of a situational ethics that the holy pope bent all his loving pastoral intelligence and energy to oppose. Let us hear then what St John Paul really says about the law of gradualness:

“Married people… cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties through constancy. And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with a ‘gradualness of the law’, as if there were differing degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness”.

Footnote 329 of “Amoris Laetitia” also presents another surreptitious corruption. It cites a passage of “Gaudium et Spes” 51, concerning the intimacy of married life. But by an undetected sleight of hand it is placed in the mouth of the divorced and remarried instead. Such corruptions surely indicate that references and footnotes, which in this document are made to do some heavy lifting, need to be properly verified.

Already in n. 297, we see the responsibility for “irregular situations” being shifted to the discernment of pastors. Step by subtle step the arguments advance definite agenda. N. 299 queries how “current forms of exclusion currently practiced” can be surmounted, and n. 301 introduces the idea of “conversation with the priest in the internal forum”. Can you not already detect where the argument is going?

So we arrive at n. 301, which drops the guarded manner as we descend into the maelstrom of “mitigating factors”. Here it seems the “mean old Church” has finally been superseded by the “nice new Church”: in the past we may have thought that those living in “irregular situations” without repentance were in a state of mortal sin; now, however, they may not be in a state of mortal sin after all, indeed, sanctifying grace may be at work in them.

It is then explained, in an excess of pure subjectivism, that “a subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent value”. Here is a mitigating factor to beat all mitigating factors. On this argument then, do we now exculpate the original envy of Lucifer, because he had “great difficulty in understanding” the “inherent value” to him, of the transcendent majesty of God? At which point, I feel that we have lost all foothold, and fallen like Alice into a parallel universe, where nothing is quite what it seems to be.

A series of quotations from St Thomas Aquinas are brought to bear, on which I am not qualified to comment, except to say that, obviously, proper verification and contextualization are strongly indicated. N. 304 is a highly technical apologia for moral casuistry, argued in exclusively philosophical terms without a hint of Christ or of faith. One cannot but think that this was supplied by another hand. It is not Francis’ style, even if it is his belief.

Finally we come to the crucial n. 305. It commences with two of the sort of throwaway caricatures that recur throughout the document. The new doctrine that Pope Francis had flagged a little earlier he now repeats and reasserts: a person can be in an objective situation of mortal sin – for that is what he is speaking about – and still be living and growing in God’s grace, all the “while receiving the help of the Church”, which, the infamous footnote 351 declares, can include, “in certain cases”, both confession and holy communion. I am sure that there are by now many busily attempting to “interpret” all this according to a “hermeneutic of continuity”, to show its harmony, I presume, with Tradition. I might add that in this n. 305, Pope Francis quotes himself four times. In fact, it appears that Pope Francis’ most frequently cited reference through “Amoris laetitia” is himself, and that in itself is interesting.

In the rest of the chapter Pope Francis changes tack. He makes an inverted admission that his approach may leave “room for confusion” (n. 308). To this he responds with a discussion of “mercy”. At the very beginning in n. 7 he declared that “everyone should feel challenged by chapter eight”. Yes we do, but not quite in the blithe heuristic sense he meant it. Pope Francis has freely admitted in time past that he is the sort of person who loves to make “messes”? Well, I think we can concede that he has certainly achieved that here.

Let me tell you of a rather taciturn and cautious friend, a married man, who expressed to me, before the apostolic exhortation was published: “O I do hope he avoids ambiguity”. Well, I think even the most pious reading of “Amoris Laetitia” cannot say that it has avoided ambiguity. To use Pope Francis’ own words, “widespread uncertainty and ambiguity” (n. 33 ) can certainly be applied to this document, and I venture to say, to his whole papacy. If we are put into the impossible situation of critiquing a document of the ordinary magisterium, consider whether in “Amoris Laetitia” Pope Francis himself is relativizing the authority of the magisterium, by eliding the magisterium of Pope John Paul, specially in “Familiaris Consortio” and “Veritatis Splendor”. I challenge any of you to soberly reread the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”, say nn. 95-105, and not conclude that there is a deep dissonance between that encyclical and this apostolic exhortation. In my younger years, I anguished over the conundrum: how can you be obedient to the disobedient? For a pope too, is called to obedience – indeed, preeminently so. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Muller Out, Schonborn In

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa explains why those who have been attempting desperately to interpret Amoris Laetitia in an orthodox manner have been utterly rejected by the Pope:

 

 

 

ROME, May 30, 2016 – The prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith is still the same, German cardinal Gerhard L. Müller.

Who diligently continues to carry out his task, most recently with the monumental address he gave in Oviedo on May 4 for a correct understanding of “Amoris Laetitia,” in harmony with the previous magisterium of the Church on the family:

> Reading Exercises. The “Amoris Laetitia” of Cardinal Müller

But it is increasingly evident that for Pope Francis, it is not Müller but another cardinal who is the teacher of doctrine authorized to shed light on the post-synodal exhortation: Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

On May 19, in meeting at the Vatican with the two cardinals and three bishops who make up the presidency of the Latin American episcopal conference, when asked about “Amoris Laetitia” Francis responded as follows, according to the website of the CELAM:

“The pope responds that the heart of the exhortation is chapter 4: love in family life, founded on chapter 13 of the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. While the most difficult to read is chapter 8. Some, the pope say, have let themselves get trapped by this chapter. The Holy Father is fully aware of the criticisms of some, including cardinals, who have been unable to understand the evangelical meaning of his statements. And he says that the best guide for understanding this chapter is the presentation of it made by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, a great theologian, member of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, highly expert in the doctrine of the Church.”

Already on April 16, questioned by the journalists on the return flight to Rome from the island of Lesbos, Francis had indicated Schönborn as the right interpreter of the document, recommending that his presentation be read and rewarding him on the spot with flattering titles, even mistakenly promoting him to former “secretary” of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.

But then Müller gave his talk in Oviedo, with the intention of bringing clarity to the carousel of contrasting interpretations and applications of “Amoris Laetitia” that had already gained a foothold. But for the pope, that talk of his wasn’t worth a thing. Just as it wasn’t worth a thing for “L’Osservatore Romano,” which completely ignored it.

For Francis, in fact, the only one that still applies is the interpretation of “Amoris Laetitia” made by Schönborn at the official presentation of the document, in the Vatican press office on April 8, the day of its publication. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Never Mind

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Father Z wonders how the Pope might cure the problems with Amoris Laetitia:

 

I am trying to think back through the Church’s long history for an instance in which a Pope has withdrawn one of his own teaching documents, on faith and morals.

Of course Popes have superseded previous documents by issuing their own.

But has a Pope ever withdrawn one?  How would that work?  In my mind’s eye I see a Pope giving a presser on an airplane (which in the future may become the Roman Pontiff’s official cathedra):

POPE WITH MICROPHONE: Okay, everyone, listen up!  That document I issued a while back… you know the one… okay, that’s all over now.  No more document, okay?  It’s gone. I’m withdrawing it.  It’s like… like an annulment, a rendering of something that was something into nothing, right?  Got it?  It’s not going to be on the website anymore.  We are not going to twitter about… tweet?… tweet about it.  We are asking everyone to just, like, throw it away.  If you love Vatican II, just stop talking about it.  Okay?  Thanks in advance everyone.

PRESS SECRETARY: Okay, folks, that’s it for today. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Archbishop Bruno Forte

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The bald faced mendacity behind Amoris Laetitia was recently confirmed by Archbishop Bruno Forte, crony of the Pope, and chosen by the Pope to be Special Secretary for the recently concluded Synod.

 

Archbishop Forte has in fact revealed a “behind the scenes” [moment] from the Synod: “If we speak explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried,” said Archbishop Forte, reporting a joke of Pope Francis, “you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.

“Typical of a Jesuit,” Abp Forte joked, attributing to that suggestion a wisdom that has allowed the maturation necessary to conclude that Amoris Laetitia, as Abp. Bruno Forte explained, does not represent a new doctrine, but the “merciful application” of that [the doctrine]of all time.

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: AMORIS LÆTITIA -The Orthodox Reading

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has an article by Dominican theologian Angelo Bellon as to the correct way of reading AMORIS LÆTITIA:

 

 

Instructions for reading the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Lætitia”

by Angelo Bellon, O.P.

In the exhortatiton “Amoris Lætitia,” the most controversial question is the one concerning communion for the divorced and remarried, which however is never expressly mentioned.

It must be noted that above all in the eighth chapter the language is at times very indefinite and can lend itself to conclusions that are not only different but even conflicting.

So then, precisely with regard to this chapter I would like to present a few general reflections and then take into consideration the most controversial expressions.


GENERAL CRITERIA OF INTERPRETATION

1. The first criterion of interpretation is that of the context in which the exhortation must be read in order to avoid distorting it.

This context was provided by John Paul II in the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” in particular at footnote 100:

“The development of the Church’s moral doctrine is similar to that of the doctrine of the faith. The words spoken by John XXIII at the opening of the Second Vatican Council can also be applied to moral doctrine: ‘This certain and unchanging teaching (i.e., Christian doctrine in its completeness), to which the faithful owe obedience, needs to be more deeply understood and set forth in a way adapted to the needs of our time. Indeed, this deposit of the faith, the truths contained in our time-honored teaching, is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else’.”

So the hermeneutical principle of interpretation is found here: the documents of the magisterium, including those on moral issues, must be interpreted according to the hermeneutic of continuity and development. And certainly not according to the hermeneutic of discontinuity, rupture, or transformation with respect to the perennial magisterium. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Bishop Athanasius Schneider

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Voice of the Family is hosting the English translation of Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s reflections on Amoris Laetitia.  Go here to view the translation  They indicate that the Bishop has given permission for the text to be shared widely, so I have taken the liberty of setting it forth below.  Here are his reflections:

 

 

 

 

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (AL), which contains a plethora of spiritual and pastoral riches with regard to life within marriage and the Christian family in our times, has unfortunately, within a very short time, led to very contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate.

There are bishops and priests who publicly and openly declare that AL represents a very clear opening-up to communion for the divorced and remarried, without requiring them to practice continence. In their opinion, it is this aspect of sacramental practice, which, according to them, is now to undergo a significant change that gives AL its truly revolutionary character. Interpreting AL with reference to irregular couples, a president of a Bishops’ Conference has stated, in a text published on the website of the same Bishops’ Conference: “This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting.  It can and should happen immediately”.

This opinion was further confirmed by the recent declarations of Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., after the Synod of Bishops in 2015, that the Synod had established the “foundations” for the access of divorced and remarried couples to communion by “opening a door” that had still been closed during the previous Synod in 2014. Now, as Father Spadaro alleges in his commentary on AL, his prediction has been confirmed. There are rumours that Father Spadaro was a member of the editorial group behind AL.

The way to abusive interpretations appears to have been paved by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself, who said, during the official presentation of AL in Rome, with regard to irregular unions, that: “My great joy as a result of this document resides in the fact that it coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’”. Such a statement suggests that there is no clear difference between a valid, sacramental marriage and an irregular union, between venial and mortal sin. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-Overall Thoughts

 

 

 

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There is no way to mince words in regard to Amoris Laetitia:   it is a disaster for the Church.  In the Exhortation, the Pope and his ghost writers engage in a lengthy exercise to find excuses to disregard the clear command of Christ in regard to divorce and remarriage.  That much of this is done with a wink and a nod merely adds mendacity to the charges that could be brought against this document.  The reasoning, to use a charitable term for the arguments made by the Pope and his ghost writers, could be used in reference to any sin imaginable.  The Catholic Church has always taught that both confession and a firm intention at amendment of life were necessary for the forgiveness of sins.  Pope Francis seems to do away with amendment, and although it is not completely clear from this turgid, twisted document, he seems to be arguing that, depending upon the peculiar situation of a particular individual, what is clearly sin may not be sin, at least not mortal sin, in regard to them.  Thus even the confessional may not be necessary in many cases, since confession is in reference to sin, and who are we to judge?  This stands the teaching of the Church on its head.

Some people are content to focus on the true parts of the Exhortation and do their very best to ignore the rest.  This is understandable for people who find it heartbreaking that a Pope put his name to this dangerous mess, but it is ultimately mistaken.  The only reason why the Exhortation was written is because the Pope regards the position of Catholics in adulterous marriages to be a crisis for the Church.  That on his way to addressing that question he dispenses some truisms and bromides is of no consequence.  Rather than calling upon Catholics in adulterous marriages to repentance and amendment he changes the teaching of the Church.  That sad fact is all one needs to know about Amoris Laetitia.

 

Here in one post is PopeWatch’s stripped down version of Amoris Laetitia with the commentary of PopeWatch: Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 11-Conclusion

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The conclusion of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

301.  People living in shack ups, the Pope refers to them as “irregular unions”, can’t simply be considered to be living in mortal sin because of possible mitigating factors.  (When it comes to sin the human mind can come up with infinite excuses for such conduct.  The Church never bought into that, except as a possible lessening of the penance imposed in the confessional.  Pope Francis takes this aspect of the priest-penitent relationship and uses it to argue that mortal sin is not mortal sin.  He clearly indicates that he is not referencing as a mitigating factor ignorance that what is being done is sinful, which would be the only legitimate factor which would cause someone not to be in a state of sin in such an adulterous marriage.)

302.  More of this rubbish.

303.  Personal conscience uber alles.

304.  Rules are sometimes not rules for the individuals involved.  (A rather confused paragraph.  Arguing that white is really black tends to be a fairly complicated exercise.)

305. “For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would be speak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.”  (Note the scare quotes around irregular when referring to people in adulterous unions.  The Pope argues like a juvenile in many cases.  This passage obviously tells priests that if they fail to give communion to people living in shack ups in mortal sin, they do so at their jeopardy.  This Pope will make the priests of our Church co-conspirators with him in ignoring the clear command of Christ.) Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 10

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Part 10 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

271.  Moral education must not involve too much of a child.  (A legitimate concern, although PopeWatch has observed that kids, like most people, tend to live up to, or down to, expectations.)

272.  A rather confused and turgid paragraph on ethical formation in kids.

273.  Excuse making for wretched conduct, a major theme of the Exhortation.

274.  The family is the first school for human values.  (A prime cause of the bloat in the Exhortation is the tendency of the Pope and his ghost writers writing the same thing again and again with minor variations.)

275.  Get your brats off the damn electronics for a while.

276.  We pick our friends, God picks our relatives, and learning to put up with them is an important element in growing up.

277.  More eco-babble. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 9

 

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Part 9 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

241.  Separation in marriage can sometimes be warranted, but must always be viewed as a last resort.

242.  Pastoral care must be shown to the separated, abandoned or divorced, especially those unjustly separated, abandoned or divorced.

243.  It is important that those who have entered into new marriages not be “discriminated” against by the Church.  (Probably the most foolish section thus far in the Exhortation.  The Church constantly discriminates in regard to people based upon their conduct and beliefs.  The Church should be far above the secular pieties currently in vogue at any particular time and place during her passage through this Vale of Tears.)

244.  Speed up the annulment process and make it free of charge.  (Wink, the fix is in when it comes to Catholic divorce annulments.)

245.  Bad impact of divorce and separation on kids.  (It teaches them early on that you can’t rely upon anyone in this Vale of Tears.)

246.  For this reason, Christian communities must not abandon divorced parents who have entered a new union, but should include and support them in their efforts to bring up their children. “How can we encourage those parents to do everything possible to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of committed and practical faith, if we keep them at arm’s length from the life of the community, as if they were somehow excommunicated? We must keep from acting in a way that adds even more to the burdens that children in these situations already have to bear!”  (Translation:  “Ignore the clear command of Christ.  Do it for the kids!”  This is a very mendacious argument.  I have never heard of priests “discriminating” against the children of the divorced or those born out of wedlock.  I have seen priests make extra efforts to make sure that such kids get to Church and catechism.  The idea that there are hordes of priests busily visiting the sins of the parents on kids is a typical example of beliefs that the Pope firmly clings to which simply are not true in reality.) Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 8

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Part 8 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

211.  More on marriage prep.  (All of this is mostly well and good, but it fails to comprehend that the average parish priest has a lot more on his plate than just counseling couples who wish to be married.)

212.  Pope argues for simple rather than elaborate and expensive marriages.  (The Pope is completely correct on this.)

213.  Couples in marriage prep should be taught the meaning of each part of the marriage liturgy.

214.  The Pope lays stress on the phrase “till death do we part”.

215.  Quotes approvingly the Kenyon bishops who have complained about young people focused on their wedding day and forgetting about the life long commitment.

216.  Couples to be married should meditate upon the Bible readings and they should pray together.  (The last is very important indeed, and just not prior to the marriage.  In all marriages there are always some tears, and praying together at the end of the day is a great means to deal with the inevitable sorrows that confront us in this Vale of Tears.) Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 7

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Part 7 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

181.   Members of families should remember that they are called to do good in the world as well as in their family.

182.  No family can be fruitful if the members of the family see their family as different or set apart from other families. “Still, some Christian families, whether because of the language they use, the way they act or treat others, or their constant harping on the same two or three issues, end up being seen as remote and not really a part of the community.”  (PopeWatch wonders what “two or three issues” the Pope has in mind.  Perhaps environmentalism, income inequality and pacifism?)

183.  A call for family members to be the most annoying type of social justice warriors.

184.  More of the same.

185. 1 Cor 11:17-34 interpreted as rich v. poor, an interpretation completely alien to the text, but that is how Pope Francis sees the world.

186.  Pope tries the trick of interpreting worthiness to receive communion as to whether you sign on to his leftist view of the world.  (Like most leftists, the Pope tends to regard morality as having the “correct” beliefs on a laundry list of current social justice issues rather  than morality as traditionally understood by the Church.) Continue Reading

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Cardinal Burke’s Strange Commentary on Amoris Laetitia

 
(Guest post by commenter Greg Mockeridge)

I remember watching a documentary on Michael Jackson shortly after his death. In this documentary, a journalist had said regarding Jackson’s ever-changing facial appearance, ” Just when I thought Michael couldn’t look any weirder, he would look weirder.” Likewise, Just when I thought the pontificate of Pope Francis couldn’t get any more bizarre, it gets more bizarre.

And the release of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) added another bizarre twist to the disaster that is this pontificate. I’m not really surprised by the document itself. From what precious little I have read, it seems to be standard Pope Francis writ, some beautiful statements along with incoherent gibberish and laced with a poison pill or two.
What I really find bizarre is this essay from former prefect of the  Apostolic Signatura and now Patron of the Knights of Malta Cardinal Raymond Burke that appeared on the National Catholic Register’s website on Monday April 11th. The first two paragraphs state:

The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.

Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful and potentially a source of scandal, not only for the faithful but for others of goodwill who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.

As to what His Eminence means by “even some Catholic media” is not all together clear. Some have tried to say that the Cardinal is merely referring to the National Catholic Reporter/America Magazine crowd. Regardless of who the good cardinal had in mind by that statement, the upshot of it is that the Pope Francis shills in the orthodox Catholic Media Complex have used Burke’s essay as a club to beat the pope’s orthodox critics over the head. One such example is this attack on Steve Skojec (of One Peter Five fame) from blogger Dave Armstrong. 

 
But contrary to what Mr. Armstrong asserts in his post, the Cardinal has not come out “strongly in support” of the apostolic exhortation. He utters not a word of praise (or criticism for that matter) of AL. He merely says, repeatedly, that the document is not magisterial. 

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 5

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Part 5 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

121.  Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us.

122.  Married couples do not have to reproduce perfectly the relationship of Christ and His Church.  (Whew!  That’s a relief!)

123.  Conjugal love is the greatest form of friendship.  (Too weak a term for what exists between spouses in a happy lengthy marriage.)

124.  A love that is weak cannot sustain the commitment that marriage requires.  (Basing a marriage all on love is always a mistake.  PopeWatch has seen some marriages survive rough patches simply because both parties were fundamentally decent people, and adhered to what some would consider bromides such as “A deal’s a deal.”)

125.  Marriage involves constant mutual respect.

126.  The joy of love needs to be cultivated in marriage.

127.  Tenderness is a sign of a love free of possessiveness.

128.  Pope writes about lover’s gaze in marriage.  (Parts of this Exhortation read like an old Dear Abby column from the Fifties.) Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 4

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Part 4 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

91.  Love is patient.

92.  Patience takes root when we accept the right of people to live in the world just as they are.

93.  Love is kind.

94.  Love is shown more by deeds than by words.

95.  Love is not jealous.

96.  Love rejects covetousness, unless, apparently, the covetousness is in service of the welfare state to reduce inequality.  (Another example of the Pope attempting to use Biblical texts to support his leftist political agenda.) Continue Reading

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Amoris Laetitia and Lets Pretend

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In regard to Amoris Laetitia most Catholic commentators have been playing a huge game of Lets Pretend.  What has sparked this game is the fact that Amoris Laetitia is a stark departure by Pope Francis from what was previously taught by the Church.  Afraid of admitting this obvious fact, most Catholic analysts have been bending themselves into pretzels pretending that nothing has changed, for fear of the unsettling implications that looking at reality head on will raise.  I am unable to join in this game of Lets Pretend.  Facts are facts and it is always harmful, and untruthful, to attempt to ignore them or wish them away.  Father Brian Harrison also is refusing to join in the game of Lets Pretend:

 

 

In allowing exceptions to the ‘no-Communion’ law for those in invalid marriages, Pope Francis is acting against the clear and constant bimillennial teaching confirmed by Pope St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio #84, and reaffirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1650 and 2390, last sentence). Also under St. John Paul II, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, in its Declaration of June 24, 2000, has asserted unequivocally that the exclusion of such Catholics from the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist flows from divine law, so that no human ecclesiastical law can change it, since it’s irrelevant whether the subjective imputability of remarried divorcees might in some instances be diminished. Why is this irrelevant? Because, says the Declaration, the admission to Communion of those who are publicly living in a situation which Jesus himself calls adultery will send a clear message that the Church doesn’t really take too seriously this teaching of our Lord about the indissolubility of marriage. And this will inevitably cause scandal (in the theological sense of leading others into sin). Pope Francis briefly mentions this document; but only by uncritically using the selective and deceptive citation found in the 2015 Synod Relatio (#85). Thus, both the Relatio and Amoris Laetitia omit altogether the main point of the 2000 Declaration, which is that the obligation of priests and other ministers to refuse Communion to civilly remarried divorcees “is by its nature derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws: the latter cannot introduce legislative changes which would oppose the doctrine of the Church” (section 1).

Also, this Declaration points out that logically, a concession to some remarried divorcees on the grounds that their subjective conscience may not be gravely guilty will open the way for further concessions, on the same grounds, to many who are living publicly in other objectively immoral situations. For instance, now that some civilly remarried divorcees are to be admitted to sacramental absolution and Communion, will not at least some same-sex couples have to be admitted these two sacraments on the same grounds (i.e., ‘diminished imputability’)? 

Are we now supposed to believe that Pope Francis alone is right on this issue, and that all his predecessors, including the still living Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and the Catechism promulgated by St. John Paul II, have been wrong and ‘unmerciful’ in allowing no exceptions in this area? If so, why should we believe that? Doesn’t it seem more likely that just one pope is wrong, and that all the other hundreds of popes have been right? Continue Reading

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Just Us?

 

 

Because we’re here lad.  Nobody else.  Just us.

Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne, Zulu (1964)

At the battle of Rorke’s Drift on January 22-23, 1879, some 141 men of B Company, 2 Warwickshire (24th Regiment of Foot) beat off an attack by a Zulu impi, around 4,000 men.  At the time it was considered a military miracle.  The officers in command had nothing in their careers before or after the battle to mark them out as in any way superior.  They were typical run of the mill officers and almost all the men under their command were typical troops.  The most unusual was Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne who at the battle was twenty-four years old.  Two years previously he had attained the rank of Colour Sergeant, making him the youngest Colour Sergeant, the highest NCO rank in the British Army.  He would rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during World War I, and die at 91, last survivor among the defenders of Rorke’s Drift, on V-E Day, appropriately enough, May 8, 1945.  For a secular purpose the defenders of Rorke’s Drift were willing to fight with all their being, and they won against apparently overwhelming odds.

This little excursion into military history is caused by this quotation from Father Z:

I’ve had a tough few days.  How ’bout you?

Conversations with friends and priests suggest that the Devil is working really hard right now to demoralize the Team.

And there is Amoris laetitia with its Infamous Footnote 351 (et al.) and the fallout which is on going.   So many people are frustrated, confused, beaten down.

This morning for Mass I read again the prayer for the 2nd Sunday after Easter in the traditional Roman Rite, a very ancient prayer:

Deus, qui Filii tui humilitate iacentem mundum erexisti: fidelibus tuis sanctam concede laetitiam; ut, quos perpetuae mortis eripuisti casibus, gaudiis facias perfrui sempiternis.

Namely…

O God, who raised up a fallen world by the abasement of Your Son, grant holy joy to Your faithful; so that You may cause those whom You snatched from the misfortunes of perpetual death, to enjoy delights unending.

The great L&S indicates that erigo, giving us erexisti, means “to raise up, set up, erect” and, analogously, “to arouse, excite” and “cheer up, encourage.” The verb iaceo (in the L&S find this under jaceo) has many meanings, such as “to lie” as in “lie sick or dead, fallen” and also “to be cast down, fixed on the ground” and “to be overcome, despised, idle, neglected, unemployed.” Humilitas is “lowness”. In Blaise/Dumas, humilitas has a more theological meaning in the “abasement” of the God Incarnate who took the form of a “slave” (cf. Philippians 2:7). Blaise/Dumas cites this Collect in the entry for humilitas.

Our Collect views us, views material creation, as an enervated body, wounded, weakened by sin, lying near death in the dust whence it came.

Beaten down.  Demoralized.  Confused.  Frustrated.

Because of the Fall, the whole cosmos was put under the bondage of the Enemy, the “prince of this world” (cf. John 10:31 and 14:30). This is why when we bless certain things, and baptize people, there was an exorcism first, to rip the object or person from the grip of the world’s “prince” and give it to the King. God is liberator. He rouses us up from being prone upon the ground. He grasps us, pulling us upward out of sin and death. He directs us again toward the joys possible in this world, first, and then definitively in the next.

We must get back to our feet: rise again. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 3

 

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Part 3 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

61.  Marriage is a gift from God.

62.  Jesus mandated that marriage be indissoluble as a gift to Man.

63.  Jesus restored marriage to its original form.

64.  The love that Jesus demonstrated in his earthly ministry is an example to the Church.

65.  Jesus becoming a member of a human family changed the world.

66.  By emulating the holy family of Nazareth, any family can become a light in the darkness.

67.  Cites Gaudium et Spes on the family.

68.  Cites Humanae Vitae on conjugal love and procreation.

69.  Cites Saint John Paul II on the family.

70.  Cites the Pope Emeritus on the family.

71.  The Trinity is represented in the family.

72.  Marriage is a sacrament and a vocation. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part 2

 

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Part 2 of our stripped down look at Amoris Laetitia with some commentary by PopeWatch:

Chapter Two: The Experiences and Challenges of Families

31. In this chapter the Pope will look at families.

32. Pope really likes the word anthropological.

33. Extreme individualism threatens families.

34. More on that theme.

35. Christians cannot abandon the concept of families.

36. Church has had too much focus on family as a means of procreation. (Yep, the Pope really did mean his breeding like rabbits comments. The Pope claims to be a loyal son of the Church. That he may be. He certainly is a loyal son of the Sixties.)

37. Some psycho-babble about marriage as a means of personal development. Church is called to form consciences not to replace them. (This theme is one of the major ones in this dog’s breakfast of an exhortation: conscience is everything, which completely ignores the fact that many people have no difficulty in giving a thumbs up to any wretched, self-serving piece of evil they wish to undertake.)

38. Most people value families that have permanence and mutual respect. Church has wasted effort on denouncing a decadent world instead of being like Jesus with his compassion to the woman caught in adultery or the Samaritan woman at the well. (In neither case of course did Christ give the slightest sign that he condoned their sins. Quite the contrary.)

39. The culture of the ephemeral and narcissism are threats to families.

40. We need to find the right language to encourage young people to take up the challenge to form families. Continue Reading

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Amoris Laetitia and Cowardice

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The most disheartening feature of Amoris Laetitia is not the text itself.  It really hardly comes as a surprise.  Pope Francis since assuming the papacy has given ample evidence that he is anything but orthodox.  What is truly disheartening is the attempts by orthodox Catholics to pretend that all is well, or that Amoris Laetitia is a rejection of the heterodox who now believe they have a Pope on their side.  Michael Dougherty at The Week explains why such attempts are folly and cowardice:

Finally, although the pope rejects a formal institution of the Kasper proposal as a general rule, he strongly encourages the readmission of people in “objectively” adulterous unions to holy communion. He doesn’t trumpet this, of course. He buries it in the 351st footnote. For a man showing such great audacity before God, Francis certainly isn’t bold before men.

Many conservatives are revealing themselves as cowards, too. They hope that because the pope’s document seems so confused and self-contradictory, because it hides its innovations under a ton of verbiage, and buried within footnotes, and because it is merely an exhortation and not a more lofty encyclical, that they can embrace what is good in the document, and pass over the rest. “It could have been worse,” they are telling themselves. “It cites the Church’s teaching against contraception, at least.” I would remind them that their forebears said the same thing about the Vatican II’s document on the liturgy. “Oh, it says Latin shall be retained, it promotes Gregorian chant,” they comforted themselves. As now, the betrayal of the institution was too unthinkable, and they willfully overlooked the footnotes that contained within them a mandate to destroy high altars, tabernacles, altar rails, and institute folk music in a synthetic vernacular liturgy. So too, many conservatives will try to find the good parts, an easy feat in a document so prolix.

But progressives are not so timid. In the talking points handed out to bishops and other spokesmen ahead of the document, the intention was made clear, but plausibly deniable. “Pastors need to do everything possible to help people in these situations to be included in the life of the community.” Words like “possible” and “inclusion” are left to be interpreted broadly, from the footnotes. Cardinal Kasper described the document glowingly as a “definite opening.” Cardinal Schonborn boldly papered over differences between Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II by describing the work of Francis in Amoris Laetitia as the development of doctrine.

 

Traditionalist critics of the modern Church have a kind of slogan: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, the law of prayer is the law of belief. It’s hard not to see how the already incoherent prayer of the Church is leading to incoherent doctrine and practice. The Church officially teaches that confession is necessary to be restored to holy communion after committing a mortal sin, and that receiving communion in a state of sin is itself sacrilege. Yet rare is the pastor who seems troubled by the long lines for communion and the near disappearance of the sacrament of confession among the people in his parish. Everyone just sort of knows the Church doesn’t really mean what it says.

The Church’s blasé attitude here has a pedagogical effect, teaching people that there is no need to have a holy respect or fear when approaching the altar. Naturally, this attitude has worked its way up the chain to a papal pronouncement. Pope Francis’ document justifies people receiving communion in a public state of sin by saying that the Eucharist is “not a prize” for good behavior. That is true. But instead the Church has turned it into a participation trophy, something so perfunctory and ultimately meaningless that it seems just too cruel to deny it to anyone.

Perhaps worse than Pope Francis’ official invitation to sacrilege is the document’s cowardice, cynicism, and pessimism. The Church can no longer even bring itself to condemn respectable sins such as civilly approved adultery. It can barely bring itself to address a man or woman as if they had a moral conscience that could be roused by words like “sin.” Instead, it merely proposes ideals; ideals cannot be wounded by your failure to realize them. And it promises to help you out of your “irregular” situation.

This supposed paean to love is something much sadder. A Church so anxious to include and accept you that it must deny the faith that transforms and renews you. It admits that God’s commands are not just beyond our reach, but possibly destructive to follow.

Pope Francis is trying to be more merciful than God himself. He ends up being more miserly and condescending instead. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Amoris Laetitia-the Lean Version-Part I

 

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As the Pope himself acknowledges Amoris Laetitia is a loooong read.  PopeWatch believes that the meat of the 264 pages is footnote 351, go here to read about it, but PopeWatch would be derelict in his duty without providing to the readers of TAC a version of the Exhortation, sans bloat, and with some commentary by him.  PopeWatch will do about 30 paragraphs today, and since AL is 325 paragraphs, this will take awhile.  So, without further ado, we begin:

Introduction

1.   Joy of families is the joy of the Church.

2.   Synod revealed complex issues regarding families.  Pope positions himself between those who desire too much change of Church rules regarding families and those who want no change.  (See, I am between the extremes, the sweet voice of moderation!)

3.   Pope doesn’t have to settle all the issues, wielding the Magisterium.  Let a thousand regional and cultural flowers bloom, all guided by the Holy Spirit of course.

4.   Synod process was illuminating and impressive.  Now I am going to show where the Synod Fathers botched things.

5.   Mercy Uber Alles in this Year of Mercy.

6.   Brief outline of how the Exhortation is structured.

7.   The Synod dealt with a lot of questions and that is why this Exhortation is 264, count ’em, 264 pages in length.  The Pope warns against rushed reading, although he then suggests that lay readers may wish to read only the portions of interest to them.  (Whew that is a relief.  PopeWatch can just imagine Catholic life coming to a halt due to a vast number of Catholics putting their lives on hold to read every word of this document that is longer than the combined Gospels and 50% longer than Laudato Si.  At this rate, if Pope Francis is Pope for a few more years, his closing documents might rival War and Peace in length.)

Chapter I-In the Light of the Word

8.   Bible has a lot of incidents involving families.  Lets take a look at a typical Biblical family.  (Take out your curlers, Sarah!  David, put on a clean shirt! Company calling!)

9.    In the house we find a mother and father united in love.

10.  Genesis tells us that God created humanity male and female.

11.  A loving family is a reflection of the Trinity.

12.  Christ referred to the second chapter of Genesis to the first family of Adam and Eve.

13.  Christ referred to the passage in Genesis where the two became one flesh.  (The Pope emphasizes romantic love, although the Bible often has a more pragmatic view of marriage.)

14.  Various passages are cited from the Old Testament to emphasize how blessed are families who have kids.

15.  Families as domestic churches. Continue Reading

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The Devil Usually Lurks in the Footnotes: Footnote 351

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One thing I have learned in 34 years in the law mines is that the most important passages of documents are often carefully concealed in footnotes.

 

All you need to know about Amoris Laetitia:

 

 

Footnote 351:

In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium  [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013],  1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039). Continue Reading