So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, April 29, 2016

Can so many informed voices be wrong in their criticism of Amoris Laetitia?

Amoris Laetitia is proving to be a thorn in the side of Tradition loving Catholics, which is to say it should be a serious concern for all who call themselves Catholic.

Amoris Laetitia is, at best, a good thing going very wrong. Is Amoris Laetitia attempting to be all things to all people? Has the Bishop of Rome forgotten that his first job is to confirm the brethren in the Faith that he has received from the Apostles? Some would say 'yes, definitely' on all counts. Others would say 'no, but... .'

Some people are getting bent out of shape by Pope Francis' latest comments which tend to lend additional confusion to the Tradition vs (illegitimate) innovation battle. Is Papa Francesco challenging the extremist traditionalistas? One can imagine that more than a few of our Eastern Orthodox brethren who tenaciously cling to their beautiful customs might consider Francis' choice of words to be rather unclear, and perhaps unfortunate, too.
“Christians who obstinately maintain ‘it’s always been done this way,' this is the path, this is the street—they sin: the sin of divination. It’s as if they went about by guessing: ‘What has been said and what doesn’t change is what’s important; what I hear—from myself and my closed heart—more than the Word of the Lord.’ Obstinacy is also the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry. ‘And what is the way, Father?’ Open the heart to the Holy Spirit, discern what is the will of God.”—Pope Francis.
According to the Vatican Radio report, Pope Francis moves the conversion in the legitimate direction of changeable custom (distinguished from unchanging capital 'T' Tradition) in a subtle way that is likely to be exploited by liberals and traditionalists alike, though in very different ways.
Pope Francis noted that in Jesus’ time, good Israelites were in the habit of fasting. “But there is another reality,” he said. “There is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the full truth. And for this reason he needs an open heart, a heart that will not stubbornly remain in the sin of idolatry of oneself,” imagining that my own opinion is more important than the surprise of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, one small phrase embedded in the midst of the next paragraph—highlighted in bold text—does little to prevent some emboldened priests who barely passed Theology 101 from running wild with a Francis-license and lobbing consecrated hosts at unrepentant sinners.
“This is the message the Church gives us today. (The sense of irony that can be drawn from a comparison of that phrase to Pope Francis' criticism of obstinacy is not being lost on the blogosphere quarterbacks!) This is what Jesus says so forcefully: ‘New wine in new wineskins.’ Habits must be renewed in the newness of the Spirit, in the surprises of God. (Changing bad habits, even bad customs—yes; changing the Gospel—no!) May the Lord grant us the grace of an open heart, of a heart open to the voice of the Spirit, which knows how to discern what should not change, because it is fundamental, from what should change in order to be able to receive the newness of the Spirit.” (We can only discern properly when we are configured to the Truth!)
"May the Lord grant us the grace of an open heart... which knows how to discern what should not change, because it is fundamental, from what should change(.)" The depth of discernment required (so that Amoris Laetitia might be rescued from abuse and be of some real use in the furtherance of the Kingdom) seems to escape some people's thinking, especially the thinking of those who would so easily abandon Tradition and gleefully run with heresy.

An important point lost amidst the current Tradition (Apostolic teaching) vs traditions (customs and changeable disciplines) kerfuffle is the notion that the Spirit about which Pope Francis is speaking is the very same Spirit which inspired the timely introductions of beautiful spiritual practices in the past, e.g., the Rosary, for one, which remain highly edifying and channels of grace even if we have allowed by neglect dust to accumulate and to dull our appreciation of said practices. We have been dogged and dominated for far too long by neo-puritans who cannot or will not see the value in spiritual practices, customs if you will, that remain of significant value despite attempts by the same neo-puritans who, thinking themselves progressive and attuned to the Holy Spirit, are mere iconoclasts.

Can so many informed voices be wrong? Fraternal correction of the Holy Father.

The saints have corrected each other from Apostolic times. Peter forcefully reminded the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:10) and affirmed the faith of the Church (Acts:15:11-12). Recall Paul's correction of Peter (Galatians 2) for not practicing what Peter had preached. Saint Peter was the visible head of the Church. Saint Paul was right to demand that Peter act in accord with the very teaching Peter had confirmed for all at the Council of Jerusalem. Saint Peter's error was pastoral in nature, not theological. Paul would have been wrong if he had attempted to correct the authoritative teaching of the visible head of the Church.

Recall, too, that St. Catherine was right to correct Pope Gregory XI.
Voices of Fraternal Correction

Tempering voices such as Cardinal Burke are being complemented by others such as Archbishop Athanasius Schneider and now Robert Spaemann who are questioning the inclusion of certain passages in Amoris Laetitia which, truth be told, are easily exploitable for all the wrong reasons.

Maike Hickson at 1Peter5 blog captures recent important comments by Professor Spaemann.
Spaemann – who is a personal friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – says about Amoris Laetitia that there are some ways of interpreting the document against the continuous teaching of the Church. He then continues:

However, the article 305 – together with the footnote 351 where it is said that faithful “in the middle of an objective situation of sin” and “because of mitigating factors” may be admitted to the Sacraments – is in direct contradiction to the paragraph 84 of the document Familiaris Consortio by John John II.
Translation of Spaemann's critique—
UPDATE: May 5, 2016
His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Müller has issued a clarification.
Last week the prominent German philosopher Robert Spaemann said that Amoris Laetitia’s footnote 351 contradicted Church teaching. Spaemann said it implied that the divorced and remarried could be admitted to the Eucharist even if they were still sleeping together.
But Cardinal Müller said the footnote did not specify the divorced and remarried. “Without going into details, it is enough to point out that this footnote refers to objective situations of sin in general, not to the specific case of civilly remarried divorcees. The situation of the latter has peculiar features which distinguishes it from other situations.”
The footnote, the cardinal went on, “does not apply to the previous discipline.” Referring to the teaching of John Paul and Benedict, he added: “The standard of FC 84 and SC 29 and their application in all cases is still valid.”—Catholic Herald May 4/16
This blogger happily defers to and agrees wholeheartedly with the counsel of the eminent Cardinal Burke that Amoris Laetitia must be read through the lens of the Magisterium. Cardinal Burke has spoken about the Magisterium as the key that guides and ensures correct interpretation. Never the fluffy optimist, Cardinal Burke knows all too well, as do those allied in the fight against goofy theology mocked up in frothy language, that many of his brothers will attempt to supplant the teaching of the Lord by hoisting the flag of a faux-mercy in a PR war in an attempt to marginalize any opposition to the implementation of the Kasperian heresy.

Professor Spaemann's comments represent an attempt to bring into the conversation the corrective voice of a saintly pope, perhaps the strongest and clearest witness to the Magisterium in centuries, to refine Amoris Laetitia in an absolutely necessary way that limits misinterpretation and in a way that corrects a non-magisterial document so as to preclude its very badly worded passages from entering into the vocabulary of the Church. Perhaps those who are attempting to mitigate the demands of the Gospel would do well to reflect frequently on Jesus' rebuke of the pro-divorce camp:
He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so."—Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 19:8
To which one might add comments made by the able Curt Jester, comments posted at this blog as a witness to the Truth:
It is rather odd when you deny the possibility of divorce that you are denounced as Pharisees when the Pharisees permitted divorce. Jesus called them hard-hearted for not defending the truth of marriage.—The Curt Jester [link].
Pope Francis' latest comments, which some reasonable folk are taking as yet another direct personal attack on the Tradition-minded, call into question the Holy Father's ability to consistently muster prudent speech. Given the massive confusion developing among the faithful... yes, there are also good reasons to question the Holy Father's motives for including ambiguous language in Amoris Laetitia. Benefit of the doubt, Pope Francis has stated he does not recall certain passages included in the document. In other words, our free-wheeling pontiff—who rightly sees the language of mercy as a major linguistic avenue into the spiritual wasteland of the West to redeem the lost—needs a better editorial board. It may be—to the conspiracy theorist's delight—that the doctrinal watchdogs at the Vatican know that, by letting slip the document's theological guffaws, they are tilling ground for the next conclave when voices will be raised to defend the faithful from further confusion and the cardinal-electors begin looking around the room for the next successor of Peter, the one who will be saddled with undoing the confusion created by Amoris Laetitia. By the mercy of God, may Kasper and his ilk be absent from the next conclave.
Has Amoris Laetitia provided the enemies of the Catholic Faith a tool to use against the Church? By the sounds of things, yes, in all probability. However, we are not defenceless. Christ's gifts of the Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium to the Church provide us with the weapons to overcome any disastrous interpretations of the latest papal document [UPDATE May 04/16—Card. Muller of the CDF speaks out; CLICK HERE]. Sadly, as was the case with the diabolical Winnipeg Statement that offered loopholes to assist half-hearted (c)atholics from observing the Magisterial teaching of Humanæ Vitæ, many souls will probably be lost because of the excuses provided to them by devious prelates who attempt to undermine the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us entertain no illusions. Amoris Laetitia is, at least in parts, a dirty bomb and its fallout will be with us for awhile.

Buck up buttercup, and let's get on with the battle for souls.

The heavy lifting being done by Burke, Spaemann, Schneider et al leads a reasonable person to conclude that Amoris Laetitia should be revised beginning with the suppression of Article 305 and note 351. Barring the removal or substantial revision of those passages, Amoris Laetitia and its author, along with its editors, will be entirely culpable for all the fallout, the good and especially the bad.

Let us do as Pope Francis has on many occasions requested us to do—i.e., pray for him!

Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, protector of families: pray with us for Pope Francis.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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