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On the Appearance of Pope Francis’s Letter to the Argentine Bishops in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis

The following is a reprint of an article by Ed Peters, with permission.

Please be charitable and Catholic in the comboxes.

On the Appearance of Pope Francis’s Letter to the Argentine Bishops in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis

by Edward N. Peters, J.C.D., J.D., 4 December, AD 2017

Some three months ago I predicted that Pope Francis’ letter to the Argentine bishops, approving their implementation of Amoris laetitia, would make its way into the Acta Apostolicae SedisNow it has. An accompanying note from Cardinal Parolin states that the pope wishes the Argentine document to enjoy “magisterial authority” and that his endorsement thereof has the status of an “apostolic letter”.

Fine. Let’s work through some points.

1. Canon 915. It is crucial to understand that, today, what actually prevents ministers of Holy Communion from distributing the Eucharist to divorced-and-remarried Catholics is Canon 915 and the universal, unanimous interpretation which that legislative text, rooted as it is in divine law, has always received. Canon 915 and the fundamental sacramental and moral values behind it might be forgotten, ignored, or ridiculed, even by ranking officers in the Church, but unless and until that law is revoked or modified by papal legislative action or is effectively neutered by pontifically approved “authentic interpretation” (1983 CIC 16), Canon 915 stands and, so standing, binds ministers of Holy Communion.

Neither the pope’s letter to the Argentines, nor the Argentine bishops’ document, nor even Amoris Laetitia so much as mentions Canon 915, let alone do these documents abrogate, obrogate, or authentically interpret this norm out of the Code of Canon Law. Granted, little or nothing in these documents endorses or reiterates Canon 915, either, and the apparently studied silence that Canon 915 suffers these days is cause for deep pastoral concern. But law does not wilt under the silent treatment.

2. Apostolic letter. An “apostolic letter” is a sort of mini-encyclical and, however much attention encyclicals get for their teaching or exhortational value, they are not (with rare exceptions) legislative texts used to formulate new legal norms. Typically “apostolic letters” are written to smaller groups within the Church and deal with more limited questions—not world-wide questions such as admitting divorced-and-remarried Catholics to Holy Communion. Even where a special kind of “apostolic letter” is used to make changes to the law—such as John Paul II did in Ad tuendam fidem (1998), as Benedict did in Omnium in mentem (2009), or as Francis did in Magnum principium (2017)—the “apostolic letter” used in such cases carries the additional designation “motu proprio” (i.e., on the pope’s own initiative, and not in response to another’s action), and the changes made to the law thereby are expressly identified by canon number, not simply implied or surmised, especially not by silence.

The pope’s letter to the Argentines appears simply as an “apostolic letter”, not as an “apostolic letter motu proprio”, and it references no canons.

3. Authentic magisterium. Many people use the term “magisterium” as if it were tantamount to “Church governing authority”, but in its canonical sense “magisterium” generally refers to the Church’s authority to issue teachings on faith and morals, not to the Church’s authority to enforce discipline related to matters of faith and morals.

While Francis—albeit about as indirectly as is possible (through a memo to a dicastery official concerning a letter written by an episcopal conference)—has indicated that his letter to the Argentines and even the Argentine conference letter itself are “magisterial”, the fact remains that the content of any Church document, in order to bear most properly the label “magisterial”, must deal with assertions about faith and morals, not provisions for disciplinary issues related to faith and morals. Church documents can have both “magisterial” and “disciplinary” passages, of course, but generally, only those teaching parts of such a document are canonically considered “magisterial” while normative parts of such a document are canonically considered “disciplinary”.

Francis has, in my opinion, too loosely designated others of his views as bearing “magisterial authority” (recall his comments about the liturgical movement), and he is not alone in making, from time to time, odd comments about the use of papal power (recall John Paul II invoking “the fullness of [his] Apostolic authority” to update the by-laws of a pontifical think-tank in 1999).

But that inconsistent usage only underscores that the rest of us must try to read such documents in accord with how the Church herself usually (I wish always, but I’ll content myself with “usually”) writes them, and ask, here, are there “magisterial” assertions in Amoris, the Buenos Aries document, and Francis’ endorsement letter? Yes. Plenty, running the gamut from obviously true, through true-but-oddly-or-incompletely phrased, to a few that, while capable of being understood in an orthodox sense, are formulated in ways that lend themselves to heterodox understandings (and for that reason should be clarified for the sake of the common ecclesial good).

In any case, such teaching statements, to the extent they make assertions about faith or morals and come from bishops and/or popes acting as bishops or popes, already enjoy thereby at least some (relatively little) level of ordinary magisterial value, a value not augmented by sticking the label “magisterial” on them.

And, are there “disciplinary” assertions in Amoris, the Buenos Aries document, and Francis’ endorsement letter? Yes, a few. But as I have said before, in my view, none of those rather few disciplinary assertions, even those ambiguous and capable therefore of leaving the door open to unacceptable practices, suffices to revoke, modify, or otherwise obviate Canon 915 which, as noted above, prevents the administration of Holy Communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics.

Conclusion. I wish that Canon 915 were not the sole bulwark against the abandonment of the Eucharist to the vagaries of individual, often malformed, consciences. I wish that a lively, pastorally-driven sense of the liberating permanence of Christian marriage, the universal need for Confession to reconcile those in grave sin, the power of the Eucharist to feed souls in the state of grace and to condemn those who receive irreverently, sufficed to make invocation of Canon 915 unnecessary in pastoral practice. But apparently, in much of the Catholic world these days, such is not the case and Canon 915 must be pointed to as if it were the only reason to bar reception of Holy Communion in these situations.

But what can one say? Unless Canon 915 itself is directly revoked, gutted, or neutered, it binds ministers of holy Communion to withhold that most august sacrament from, among others, divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community.

Nothing I have seen to date, including the appearance of the pope’s and Argentine bishops’ letters in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, makes me think that Canon 915 has suffered such a fate.

The article is a reprint, with permission, from the blog, In the Light of the Law.

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Is There Something in the Water in Argentina?

Kirchner and Evita

Wow!  Is there something in Argentina that seems to bring out the crazy?

 

Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her.

“If something should happen to me, don’t look to the Middle East, look to the North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.

Fernández had previously claimed to have received death threats from Islamic State (Isis) because of her friendship with Pope Francis. In last night’s speech, however, she seemed to suggest the threats against her, received in three emails to Argentinian security officials, had come from the US. Continue Reading

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Down Argentine Way

Lovely.  As the video above indicates the ultimate expression of the pro-abort mentality is a complete hatred for Catholicism.  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us the details:

After watching the video, one might guess that the police were intimidated by the sheer size of the protest.  Clearly, they didn’t want to intervene on behalf of some people who were turning themselves into passive human shields to protect their place of worship. It’s not as if they had been taken by surprise, though, because this happens every year in Argentina for its National Meeting of Women, and a trek to defile the local cathedral is always on the agenda.

It happened last year in October:

Around 500 abortion activists in Posadas hurled insults, spat and threw paint on young Catholics who prayed the Rosary outside the local cathedral and prevented the demonstrators from entering.

The activists convened in the city Oct. 7 for the 27th National Meeting of Women in Argentina.

According to local media, the group march through the city, painting homes and streets with slogans in support of abortion and homosexual marriage as well as anti-Catholic slurs.

Some activists reportedly stripped naked, while others made sexual gestures at the young people standing in prayer outside the Cathedral of Posadas.

CNA also reported on it in 2009, when the route did get detoured away from the local cathedral:

The self-titled “National Meeting of Women,” which recently took place in Tucuman, Argentina, was not the exclusive domain of pro-abortion propaganda as in recent years, but this year was attended by a well-prepared group of women who spoke up in defense of life and against abortion.

In a report issued by the Christian Family Movement, analyst Eduardo Zavalia said the feminists who organized this event were shocked, as they had been accustomed to “doing and saying whatever they wanted and telling others what to say.” This year, he recounted, they were met with a group of women “firm in their values and large enough in numbers to be a majority in most of the workshops.”

“In some workshops, overcome by mere reason, abortion activists resorted to physically removing those who defended life,” the report said.

Even the usual violent and anti-Catholic march organized by abortion supporters was detoured this year in order to avoid passing in front of the cathedral where they usually harassed the faithful.

They weren’t so lucky in 2008:

A video posted on YouTube.com put on full display the ferocity of abortion supporters who were participating in the National Meeting of Women in the Argentinean city of Neuquen last August. It shows them harassing and insulting a group of Catholic young people who were standing outside the Cathedral of Neuquen to keep the church safe from the protests.

The National Meeting of Women is a feminist event that takes place each year to pressure authorities to legalize abortion and to promote reproductive rights and gender ideology.

Financed by anti-life NGOs and supported by the government of Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the meeting brings together pro-abortion, feminist, homosexual and left-wing organizations.

The meeting usually ends with a protest through the streets of the host city, with organizers planning the route to include a stop at the local cathedral. This year, in order to keep protestors from trashing the cathedral grounds, a group of young people from Neuquen stood outside the cathedral to pray and form a barrier against the protestors.

That’s why the Catholics in the diocese were ready to protect their church.  It’s not much of a mystery why the police weren’t prepared to protect them from these attacks, though, as the Kirchner government supports the thugs rather than the peaceful people they attack. Continue Reading

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A New Argentina

Something for the weekend.  A New Argentina from Evita.  From his earliest boyhood the songs from Evita were always a favorite of my son Larry.  He inherited that liking from his parents, my bride and I both enjoying Evita and playing the songs frequently.

A lovely musical, although the reality of Juan and Eva Peron was a disaster for Argentina and continues to be due to their political successors some six decades since Eva Peron departed this vale of tears and almost four decades since Juan Peron joined her.  The Perons mixed populism, corruption, dictatorial methods and a fair amount of style into a heady brew that kept Peron in power from 1944-1955  until he picked a fight with the Catholic Church by attempting to legalize divorce and prostitution.    When he attempted to take over the Catholic schools Pius XII excommunicated him.  Peron was sent packing into exile by a military coup.  His ruinous economic policies had sent Argentina into an economic tailspin and at the time his removal was largely popular.

However, in his absence the style and glamor of his regime helped sustain the Peronist political movement in Argentina and led to his eventual recall and a second attempt to destroy Argentina with a Presidency from 1973-1974 ending with his death at 79.  His third wife, Isabel, 36 years his junior, a former cabaret dancer, succeeded him as President.  The Peronists attempted to bill her as a second Evita, but she lacked the essential ingredient of style, and she was toppled by a military coup in 1976.  Since that time the history of Argentina has been largely a tale of misrule by the military and by the Peronists, an amorphous political group usually, although not always, noted for their  unicorn and fairy dust make believe fiscal and economic policies that bear some resemblance to the policies of the current government in this country.

What John Randolph of Roanoke immortally said about Edward Livingston fits Juan and Eva Peron to a T:

He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight.

The video at the beginning of this post is from the current broadway revival.  Here is A New Argentina from the original London cast in 1978: Continue Reading

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15,000 Pro-Family and Pro-Marriage March in Argentina

Police estimated 15,000 peaceful marchers came out in defense of the family and marriage against militant gay activists in Argentina on June 19, 2010 rallying Argentinians to vote “in favor of matrimony between one man and one woman.”

Archbishop José Maria Arancibi marched along these peaceful protesters in defense of children.

Continue Reading

Trust Your 401(k) to Uncle Sam?

The government of Argentina plans to nationalize, read steal, the private pensions of Argentinian citizens.  Good thing we’re Americans right?  That could never happen here, right?   Depending on how the election next month goes, maybe it could happen here?   Hmmm, that investment strategy of gold in coffee cans buried in the back yard is sounding better and better.