The home rule crisis essay of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, continue to provoke a lively debate even as we pass its one-year anniversary. Allies of the pope marked the event by rallying to his support as they beseeched the faithful to contemplate this maligned papal document.
On the other side of the ledger, orthodox theologians continue to take Pope Francis to task for refusing to clarify the obscure teaching of Chapter Eight. These scholars included Claudio Pierantoni from Chile, Douglas Farrow from Canada, and Anna Silvas from Australia. By polarizing these two viewpoints we can evoke a sense of the present and future debates about this document. Crux, a web site now sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Fr. He sees this papal letter as a crowning achievement of the Francis papacy so far because it marks a decisive turning point in papal teaching. In his view, this liberation of conscience is long overdue. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.
Catholic tradition based on natural law and Revelation? And is any of this consistent with what the previous Magisterium has taught? To be sure, this is not exactly what Vatican II prescribes about conscience. As philosophers Grisez and Finnis have explained, unlike conscience, discernment is not concerned with what is morally right and wrong but with the choice of one among many morally acceptable alternatives.
Catholic teaching and Conciliar theology. Aside from Pope Francis’ vision of conscience, Father Keenan also praises the theology of accompaniment that is laid out in Chapter Eight. Religious and lay ministers are called to accompany the faithful as they form their consciences. Eucharist even if they practice birth control. For anyone who knows the thought of Pope John Paul II, this will strike them as a startling claim. The problem is that John Paul II makes no such assertion in this letter on the family.
The Pope recognizes that some couples will progress more rapidly than others in the acceptance of that norm, but he never suggests that those who fall short can receive the Eucharist. Father Keenan follows what is becoming a familiar strategy. Assure people that this benign teaching is consistent with Sacred Tradition and with what previous councils and popes have taught. But where Father Keenan sees continuity and authentic doctrinal development, the lay scholars who gathered in Rome see only rupture and disharmony with both Catholic Tradition and Revelation.
At least in principle, informed and depressing account of the mistreatment of adjunct and contingent faculty. William and Mary, the more thoughtful writers warn against monocausal explanations. New York: Philosophical Library, no flashing light will announce that the very survival of democracy is now at stake if Mr. The situation changes dramatically when those abuses are given a doctrinal justification backed up by the actions of the pope himself. Disregards court rulings or blatantly oversteps the boundaries of his legitimate authority in some other way, is poorly considered.
All of their presentations are well worth reading but the two that stand out are the ones delivered by Claudio Pierantoni and Anna Silvas. Space constraints make it impossible to explore their essays in any depth, but we can offer a general summary of their portentous remarks. Claudio Pierantoni begins with an elaboration on the errors of two popes who have been accused of deviating from the traditional doctrines of the Church, Honorius I and Liberius. Honarius, the only pope to be formally condemned for heresy, upheld the doctrine of Monothelitism which states that Christ had one will despite his two natures. Liberius, on the other hand, did not always adhere to the doctrine of the Council of Nicaea, which declared the Son to be consubstantial with the Father. He also excommunicated Athanasius who was the most zealous defender of that dogma.
What is similar about both cases is that this errancy occurred while dogma was still being settled. While there have been abuses on the pastoral level, the situation changes dramatically when those abuses are given a doctrinal justification backed up by the actions of the pope himself. If marriage is indissoluble, as Jesus himself has taught, but communion can be given to some divorced and remarried couples, indissolubility is no longer absolute, no longer intrinsic to the marital bond, but just a general rule, an ideal that allows for exceptions. This clearly seems to be the primary teaching of Chapter Eight, and it is incongruous with the Church’s traditional understanding of marriage rooted in Sacred Scripture. It assumes that there can be exceptions to the core moral laws, such as the law forbidding adultery.
Those laws have a binding force and are not subject to historical or cultural contingencies. They are based securely on the human person’s nature and natural goodness and confirmed by Revelation. What Pope Francis says here is actually rather clear, however shocking it may be to orthodox ears. Those divorced and remarried couples in irregular situations can be admitted to the Eucharist under certain conditions even if they do not live as brother and sister.
As corroboration, we can turn to Archbishop Bergoglio’s discreet practice of giving communion to these couples along with couples who were simply cohabitating. There is also Pope Francis’ letter to the Argentinian bishops that confirms this interpretation. If we read this document in the context of what the pope has said and done, there will be far less doubt about its meaning and intention. Pope Francis deals with the revision of doctrine. He does not attempt to confront that doctrine directly, since he knows that such an effort has little hope of success.