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.
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.
“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!)
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.
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.
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—http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-interview-with-robert-spaemann-on-amoris-laetitia-10088/
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 4/16This 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.
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
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].
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.