Thursday, May 05, 2016

New: a “correct interpretation” of the papal “interpretation” of the synod, “Amoris Lætitia”

Roman apologists used to boast to us that a papal interpretation was necessary to provide “a principled means of distinguishing ‘the deposit of faith’ from that which is ‘mere human opinion’”.

Now, thanks to “Pope Francis”, that hermeneutic has been turned on its head, as Roman Catholics at all levels need an “interpretation” of the papal “interpretation”.

Instructions For Not Losing the Way in the Labyrinth of “Amoris Lætitia”:

“One month after the publication of the post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Lætitia” it is ever more evident that in interpreting and applying it there is growing “uncertainty and confusion, from the bishops' conferences to the small parishes in the middle of nowhere,” in the forceful criticism of the eminent German philosopher Robert Spaemann, a peer and longstanding friend of Joseph Ratzinger.”

Here, Sandro Magister points to selections from a new “catechetical” document, explaining to bishops and priests what is the “correct” interpretation (clearly understanding that there are two possible “interpretations”). And both interpretations are being followed “on the ground” in various places.

… The eighth chapter of the exhortation, on “irregular” couples and on communion for the divorced and remarried, is the one at the center of the most conflicting interpretations. With the effect, again according to the criticism of Spaemann, that “each priest who adheres to the until-now valid discipline of the sacraments, could be mobbed by the faithful and be put under pressure from his bishop.”

The most at sea, in effect, are the pastors who so far have obeyed the magisterium of the Church but now find themselves accused of disobeying the pope, “who instead says. . . .”

The following is precisely a reasoned response to this disorientation….it is like an instruction manual. Which examines point by point the most controversial passages of the eighth chapter of “Amoris Lætitia” and gives for each of these the interpretation most in line with the magisterium of the perennial Church, the only right thing to do, as Fr. Bellon explains from the beginning.

Naturally the proponents of the new course will not recognize themselves in the exegesis that the Dominican theologian makes of the most ambiguous passages of the exhortation.

And perhaps Pope Francis will not recognize himself in it either, because then he would not have expressed himself in such a vague and obscure form as to make “Amoris Lætitia” a labyrinth with two ways out.

The “instructions” document walks point-by-point through the most confused sections of the “Pope Francis” statement; the actual words of the document are parsed, and the places where the pope slings BS are called out:

7. At no. 301 of “Amoris Lætitia” it reads:

[From the pope]: “The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

To tell the truth, this “can no longer simply be said” has never been said by either the magisterium or the theology manuals.

This is Bergoglio’s Jesuitical instinct here, moving the goalposts. Continuing:

It should suffice to recall the declaration of April 26, 1971 from the congregation for the clergy in reference to what is called the “Washington case”: “Particular circumstances surrounding an objectively evil human act, while they cannot make it objectively virtuous, can make it inculpable, diminished in guilt or subjectively defensible.”

The pope is therefore referring to something that can be said by Fr. Tom, Dick, or Harry. Here we find the exhortative character of the document and the colloquial mode of expression of Pope Francis. Taking the sentence in itself, it does not correspond to reality, because that thing has never been said.


  1. The entire article strikes me as an exercise in attempting to shave the corners off of the square peg of the Pope's statements in order to get them to fit into the round hole of previous Magisterial Statements.

    1. They can't have "this guy" actually saying what he says.