Friday, April 08, 2016

Excerpts from the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Lætitia”. “Roman Catholics may agree to disagree … not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

Quoting from the document itself:

3. Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. […] Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs.

So, Kasper gets his way. The German bishops will be able to “seek solutions better suited to their culture” without having to consult the Magisterium. Strikingly, “Pope Francis” finds an ally in Aquinas:

304. It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual’s actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being.

I earnestly ask that we always recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment: “Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects... In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all... The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail”.

It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations.

At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.

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 bespeak 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”.

This in itself seems to fly in the face of George Weigel’s “bottom line”. Weigel had said:

On the bottom-line matters at issue in the two recent Synods, for example, no pope can change the settled teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage, or on the grave danger of receiving holy communion unworthily, because these are matters of what the Council’s Theological Commission called “revelation itself:” to be specific, Matthew 19.6 and 1 Corinthians 11.27-29. Nor has Pope Francis indicated in any public statement that he intends any deviation from what is written by revelation into the constitution of the Church.

But for Aquinas (and “Pope Francis”), there is no “bottom line”.

However, given what the other fork of Pope Francis’s tongue has wrought regarding “annulments”, making it super-easy for anyone in an “irregular” situation simply to get an annulment, one wonders if the fuss over this will quickly die down.

Until the next doctrinal situation arises where the next country or region wants “to seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs”.


  1. Bryan Cross needs a new label: papal consumerism. Contemporary Catholics can shop around for the pope of their choice. Indeed, they have to decide which pope to follow given the diversity of papal teaching. Are they submitting to the papacy, or submitting to their private judgment regarding the best pope?

    1. That's a good point -- I'd love to see what his response would be to this. Seems to be "development", right before everyone's eyes.