Amoris Laetitia – An Apologia for its Orthodoxy

Introduction

The Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia, and his letter to the Bishops of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region confirming its implication for Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, has engendered a number of doubts (or dubia) as to its Catholic orthodoxy. These objections have come from the all levels in the Church, not just formally from at least four Cardinals, but also:

  • Lay Catholics on social media.
  • Catholic commentators in traditional media.
  • Catholic theologians and scholars in open letters.

While Pope Francis himself has not chosen to address all of these objections, there has been some attempt to address at least those posed by the four Cardinals by those who may be presumed to speak on behalf of Pope Francis, including Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Rocco Buttiglione.

However the wide array of objections raised by different people, which are both complex and sometimes inconsistent, has meant many have not been addressed. While some defenders of AL have suggested the authority of the Pope and the two Synods on the Family is sufficient to answer these objections, a document can’t be defended on terms which itself explicitly rejects (Amoris Laetitia 35):

Nor it is helpful to try to impose rules by sheer authority. What we need is a more responsible and generous effort to present the reasons and motivations for choosing marriage and the family, and in this way to help men and women better to respond to the grace that God offers them”. [Emphasis added unless noted otherwise]

Accordingly, in light of Amoris Laetitia’s own call for a “responsible and generous effort to present the reasons”, this Apologia will instead provide in the words of the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman “answers to objections brought against the actual decisions of authority” (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

The Objections

The most prominent objections which have been raised against Amoris Laetitia in the public debate, including but not limited the dubia of the four Cardinals, may be summarised under the following headings:

1.0 Mortal Sin

2.0 Intrinsic Evil

3.0 Public Scandal

4.0 Sacred Scripture

5.0 Objective Contradiction

6.0 Unchanging Practice

7.0 Slippery Slope

8.0 Indissolubility

This Apologia will demonstrate, with reference to each of these objections, that Amoris Laetitia neither contradicts nor even develops the doctrine of the Church. It will further show that while Amoris Laetitia changes Church teaching, in the sense of its disciplines, these changes are of a purely pastoral nature which are within the authority of the Pope to alter.

Please note the response to each objection in this Apologia is self-contained. Therefore, it can either be read from start to finish, or a reader may without difficulty skip directly to a particular objection by clicking on the above headings.

Alternatively, for those readers who prefer an overview, a brief summary of the objections and this Apologia’s replies are provided at 9.0 Abstract and Conclusion.

Abbreviations and Sources

In this Apologia the following abbreviations are used for sources and key concepts.

Source / Concept Abbreviation
Canon Law
1917 Code of Canon Law 1917 CCL
1983 Code of Canon Law 1983 CCL
1990 Code of Canons of Oriental Churches 1990 CCOC
Canon 16 of the 1983 CCL Canon 16
Canon 17 of the 1983 CCL Canon 17
Canon 331 of the 1983 CCL Canon 331
Canon 712 of the 1990 CCOC Canon 712
Canon 750 of the 1983 CCL Canon 750
Canon 751 of the 1983 CCL Canon 751
Canon 844 of the 1983 CCL Canon 844
Canon 855 of the 1917 CCL Canon 855
Canon 856 of the 1983 CCL Canon 856
Canon 915 of the 1983 CCL Canon 915
Canon 916 of the 1983 CCL Canon 916
Canon 988 of the 1983 CCL Canon 988
Canon 1007 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1007
Canon 1060 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1060
Canon 1108 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1108
Canon 1117 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1117
Canon 1130 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1130
Canon 1141 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1141
Canon 1184 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1184
Canon 1324 of the 1983 CCL Canon 1324
Canon 2205 of the 1917 CCL Canon 2205
Canon 2356 of the 1917 CCL Canon 2356
Canon 2357 of the 1917 CCL Canon 2357
Papal Documents
Amoris Laetitia (2016) AL
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) CCC
Christmas Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia (2005) 2015 Christmas Address
Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003) EE
Evangelical Vitae (1995) EV
Evangelii Gaudium (2013) EG
Familiaris Consortio (1981) FC
Fidei Depositum (1992) FD
Humanae Vitae (1968) HV
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1994) OS
Pontifical Address of Pope Francis to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (2017) 2017 Roman Rota Address
Pontifical Address of Pope John Paul II to the Responsible Parenthood Study Day (1983) 1983 Responsible Parenthood Address
Pontifical Address of Pope John Paul II to the Twenty Years of Canonical Experience Study Day (2003) 2003 Canon Law Address
Pontifical Address of Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Council for the Family (1997) 1997 Pontifical Address
Pope Alexander VIII’s Decree of the Holy Office on the Errors of the Jansenists (1690) Decree on Jansenists
Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (1984) RP
Sacramentum Caritatis (2007) SC
To Have Courage and Prophetic Audacity – Dialogue of Pope Francis with the Jesuits Gathered in the 36th General Congregation (2016) Dialogue with Jesuits
Veritatis Splendor (1993) VS
Roman Curia Documents
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith CDF
CDF Letters from Cardinal Franjo Seper and Archbishop Jerome Hamer (1973 and 1975) 1973 and 1975 CDF Letters
CDF Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1986) 1986 Letter on Homosexuality
CDF Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful (1994) 1994 CDF Letter
CDF Memo Concerning Some Objections to The Church’s Teaching on The Reception Of Holy Communion by Divorced And Remarried Members of The Faithful (1998) 1998 CDF Memo
CDF Memo on Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles (2004) 2004 CDF Memo
CDF Notification Regarding Certain Writings of Fr. Marciano Vidal (2001) 2001 CDF Notification
Declaration on Euthanasia of the CDF (1980) Declaration on Euthanasia
International Theological Commission ITC
ITC Christological Theses on the Sacrament of Marriage (1977) 1977 ITC Theses
Letter to Cardinal William W. Baum on the Occasion of the Course on the Internal Forum Organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary (1996) 1996 Letter to Cardinal Baum
Letter to the Australian Bishops, from the CDF dated 29 July 1974 (Protocol number 52/63) (1974) 1974 Australian CDF Letter
PCLT Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who are Divorced and Remarried (2000) 2000 PCLT Declaration
Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts PCLT
Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004) RS
Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life (1997) 1997 Vademecum
Synod on the Family Documents
Instrumentum Laboris – 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (2014) 2014 Instrumentum Laboris
Instrumentum Laboris – 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (2015) 2015 Instrumentum Laboris
Relatio Synodi – 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (2014) 2014 Relatio Synodi
Relatio Finalis – 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (2015) 2015 Relatio Finalis
Theological Documents
Collationes in Decem Praeceptis (1273) CIDP
Summa Theologiae (1274) ST
Theologia Moralis (1748) TM
Other Documents
Church, Pope and Gospel, The Tablet 245, no 7891, 1310-1311 (1991) 1991 Letter to the Tablet
Directive of the Bishops of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region (2016) Buenos Aires Directive
Divorced and Remarried D&R
Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia  (2016) Dubia
The Application of Humanae Vitae, a pastoral letter of the Australian Bishop Conference published in September 1974  (1974) 1974 Australian Pastoral Letter

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19 thoughts on “Amoris Laetitia – An Apologia for its Orthodoxy

  1. Pingback: Morning Catholic must-reads: 20/01/17 | CHRONICA

  2. I’m so thankful you have written this Scott! And I’m so sorry I haven’t the time to read it today – I will later. From what I have read it is a brilliant article.

    To make it even better I suggest you briefly outline the objections to Amoris Laetitia, particularly those of the Cardinals. Cardinal Caffarra’s comments on conscience https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ybgSrDV4g_9zExwZQuFzs_j-bHqgnff6OfS7Alco9Ro/edit are perhaps (that is just an/my opinion) the most important.

    I would also suggest that you provide a conclusion. Instead of saying that the “Apologia will demonstrate . . . [and] will further show,” your readers would appreciate a brief summary of these arguments.

    Again, this is a brilliant article. However it can be made more effective by you communicating your ideas succinctly to your readers in addition to the detailed arguments. However, what I’m suggesting requires a huge effort. If you want to go all out, you could even write a 150-250 word abstract, but that may be going overboard.

    Such a great job you have done. God bless you

    Like

    • Thank you for your kind comments. Good points as well – I will add an Abstract / Executive Summary to briefly tie together the objections and my conclusions.

      Please don’t hesitate to share any further suggestions you may have on further reading!

      Like

  3. Dear Scott
    Thank you for the obviously great effort and thought that has gone into this. So far, I have had time to read only 1.0 Mortal Sin, and I have this question. You seem to me to proceed as though the question whether the D&R may receive communion is a “one-shot game”, ie the person is divorced and remarried, is living more uxorio, has not been to confession and therefore has not had the benefit of authentic pastoral advice from a confessor, and receives communion. But how does your analysis hold up in the second round in a repeated game, where the person has been to confession and been advised correctly as to the church’s teaching on the sacraments, and for example, has been told that the validity or nullity of a previous marraige is not a matter for the “internal forum”?
    Sincerely
    M Gray

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael,

      Thank you for reading, and for your kind words. In terms of your question, it is a good one, and I will update the Apologia to cover this point.

      As I understand it, one of the key things AL ensures it that Communion for those with reduced culpability is not an end point, but rather a means of Grace to assist people eliminate any subjective limitations and the objective sin.

      As AL 303 puts it “In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized”.

      Therefore the logic of AL means that a person may be able to fruitfully receive Communion for a time, only for that ability to cease as they grow in the spiritual life, and the subjective limitations are eliminated.

      How this will play out, and over what time period, will depend on the particular case. For example, in the case of subjective certainty of nullity, the ignorance may be able to be cured quite quickly by a good confessor or indeed the tribunal process itself (i.e. by helping the person to see their marriage was indeed valid). In other cases, the subjective limitation might endure for a longer period. In terms of nullity, this might be the case where a tribunal process can’t make a declaration for lack of evidence.

      In terms of mitigating factors which relate to a lack of full consent, rather than full knowledge, similar considerations will apply. For example, a fear kids will be harmed by the other partner abandoning them if continence is proposed, might be eliminated as the other partner grows in faith or the kids get older.

      Thank you again for your thoughts, and please do let me know if you have any other aspects I might need to consider further.

      Like

  4. Your response to objection number 5 has a few problems, and you carry one extra problem from the public scandal article which really hurts your argument.
    If I’m reading you correctly, in your response to 5 you argue against the purportedly doctrinal status of the objection, because, if it’s “just” a matter of discipline then it could be legitimately modified by AL. And you correctly cite FL in support of this objection: “They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist”. And this is *separate* from any appeal to public scandal, as follows from FL separately listing a “pastoral” objection (i.e., the fact that the pastoral isn’t subsumed into the “objective contradiction” argument shows that it doesn’t rest on purely pastoral grounds).
    But then, and again, if I’m reading you correctly, you try to show that, according to the ITC, “objective contradiction” is in fact a subset of “public scandal”.

    It is strange to me that in support of your position you decide to quote a document which explicitly affirms the following: “Even if it can claim some consideration under some aspects, above all when we deal with a case of the party who is unjustly abandoned, the new marriage of the divorced cannot be a sacrament, and it creates an objective incapacity to receive the Eucharist.” I believe that you are not reading the ITC’s *Propositions* with the appropriate care. There are, in my opinion, to ways to parse this document. One would be yours: the document contradicts itself, because on one hand it claims to speak about “propositions on the doctrine of christian marriage”, but, on the other hand, discusses matters of pure discipline (i.e. “the objective incapacity to receive the Eucharist”.) I believe my own interpretation to be better: this is, in fact, a matter of doctrine, which is why the ITC makes the reception of Communion by the D&R part of a document on the *doctrine* of marriage.

    You are not wrong when you say that the ITC also speaks about pubic scandal. But asserting that “the 1977 ITC Theses indicate that objective contradiction is in fact a subset of public scandal covered by Canon 915”, as you have done, is an interpretive leap that is in no way sustained by the text itself. In fact, the ITC also claims that: “The incompatibility of the state of remarried divorced persons with the precept and mystery of the Paschal love of the Lord makes it impossible for these people to receive, in the Eucharist, the sign of unity with Christ.” It is a very strong statement nad it doesn’t involve public scandal. It’s an incompatibility of the *state* with the *precept and mystery of the Paschal love of the Lord*.

    Not only that: your own interpretation of Canon 915 (which is a *disciplinary* measure grounded in the *doctrinal* reasons provided above) is abusive and imprecise. The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has claimed that “The prohibition found in the cited canon, by its nature, is derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws” (here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_20000706_declaration_en.html).

    In that document, your misunderstanding of the concept of “scandal” is also cleared up. See, for example, the following quote: “That scandal exists even if such behavior, unfortunately, no longer arouses surprise: in fact it is precisely with respect to the deformation of the conscience that it becomes more necessary for Pastors to act, with as much patience as firmness, as a protection to the sanctity of the Sacraments and a defense of Christian morality, and for the correct formation of the faithful.” Scandal does *not* require surprise. People can be unfazed or unknowing: it does not matter. There is an objective reality of scandal, in the same way that there is an objective reality of sin, even if the subject itself is not aware of it (and therefore not scandalized / guilty). I think you also make a mistake when you take *manifest* to mean *relevantly public*. Even if marriage records are not public, and therefore the purported *civil* marriage is not manifest, the so-called objective situation (i.e. living *more uxorio* with a person who’s not your spouse) is still there. Remember that the problem itself is not necessarily a civil marriage. *FC* already allows for civilly (re)married people to live together (*as brother and sister*), so when one talks about *manifest sin* one is obviously not referring to the civil marriage itself.

    Most importantly, as per the cited Declaration (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_20000706_declaration_en.html), the application of canon 915 is not doubtful or obscure: it has been sufficiently clarified by the Vatican itself.

    The Church has spoken clearly about the meaning and the content of Can. 915. Two important things have been said about it:
    1) It rests on doctrinal grounds.
    2) It cannot be denied that it is applicable to the D&R.
    3) “Bearing in mind the nature of the above-cited norm (cfr. n. 1 [i.e. the *doctrinal* grounding of Can 915]), no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it.” This is a discipline, but one that cannot be removed.

    Sadly, I cannot agree with previous commenters that your articles are brilliant. Not only do you miss some key statements from the Church on the issues you are dealing with, but you also selectively quote documents to support your point (I don’t want to be blunt, but you have butchered the ITC’s statement, which is *quite clear*). Moreover, your whole point seems to rest on an ignorance of previous authoritative statements on Can. 915.

    Like

    • I want to add something more: in saying that “The teaching of the Church on this objective contradiction show it relates to public scandal in relation to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, rather than in relation to the Sacrament of Marriage as separately mentioned by FC 84. Accordingly, as shown at 3.0 Public Scandal, objective contradiction doesn’t doctrinally preclude the approach of AL.” is a gross mistake. In fact, it has been said by the PCLT: “In the concrete case of the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing, affects at the same time both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage. ”

      It’s not either/or buth both/and.

      Like

      • Felix,

        Thank you for your close reading of my Apologia, and indeed for your criticisms, which I think are helping to clarify my thoughts on these important questions. In terms of the substance of your comments regarding “objective contradiction”, my thoughts are as follows:

        1. You are reading my argument correctly – I do consider “objective contradiction” to be a subset of “public scandal”, and thus there are non-doctrinal matters which can be altered to achieve the result sought by Amoris (i.e. the redefinition of manifest, as I outline in my Section 3.0 Public Scandal).

        2. In terms of the 1977 ITC Theses and its title “Propositions on the Doctrine of Christian Marriage”, I don’t think this can be read as deeming its content to be entirely doctrinal, apart from a consideration of the nature of each passage.

        For instance, paragraphs 1.8 and 1.9 are clearly of a contingent rather doctrinal nature, given they refer to legitimate adaptations of marriage rites and regulations for different cultures (which obviously the Church may or may not choose to provide).

        Indeed to assert a doctrinal nature based on the title of a document, would I think to be to fall into the same error as those who demand we treat every word of Lumen Gentium as dogmatic, just because it is entitled a “Dogmatic Constitution”.

        3. In terms of paragraph 5.3 of the 1977 ITC Theses, I didn’t include this, as I don’t believe it is relevant to either objective contradiction or public scandal. Rather I think it is relatively clear it is a reference to mortal sin as an obstacle to Holy Communion, rather than the grave matter of adultery in itself. This is shown by the fact the references provided by the ITC are Denzinger 1676 (which relates to contrition) and 1 Cor 11:27-29 (which as noted by my 1.0 Mortal Sin, must be understood only to exclude those guilty of subjective mortal sin from Holy Communion).

        However, I certainly don’t want to misrepresent the document in any way, so I will update the Apologia to refer to this passage.

        4. Please note, unlike some others, I do not agree Canon 915 is merely disciplinary. I would affirm the injunction against scandal is scripturally based, particularly on verses such as 1 Corinthians 8:13 (Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to stumble), as well as 1 Corinthians 10:32 and Romans 14:13-23.

        My argument is instead, as outlined in my 3.4 Reinterpretation of Manifest, is that “the treatment of civil marriage as “per se manifest” is an assessment of empirical fact to which the doctrine underlying Canon 915 is applied, rather than an intrinsic doctrinal reality itself”.

        5. Please note, I do not disagree with the 2000 PCLT Declarations definition of scandal, and indeed quote it in my 3.6 Substantive Content of Canon 915. My argument is Canon 915 need not apply if the irregular nature of a union is not actually manifest / public, because you can’t be led into error by something you don’t know about (a distinction Canon 915 is in fact based on). I do not argue scandal proper doesn’t arise because people are not scandalised in the secular sense of the term.

        6. When you speak of an “objective reality of scandal”, I think you have incorrectly conflated the objective situation, and its ability to cause the scandal the Church is trying to prevent.

        A correct understanding is shown by Canon 855 in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which noted “The minister is also to refuse occult sinners, if they request secretly and he will not have recognized them as converted; not, however, if they publicly request and he is not able to pass over them without scandal”.

        Which is to say, it’s the public nature of the grave sin which causes scandal, not its objective gravity alone.

        7. In terms of the brother / sister exemption, the 2000 PCLT Declaration to which you have referred in other respects, is actually key here. As I note in 3.2 Pre-Existing Exemptions, the PCLT states that:

        “Those faithful who are divorced and remarried would not be considered to be within the situation of serious habitual sin who … assuming the task of living in full continence … Given that the fact that these faithful are not living more uxorio is per se occult, while their condition as persons who are divorced and remarried is per se manifest, they will be able to receive Eucharistic Communion only remoto scandalo”.

        That is, the sin has to be BOTH grave and manifest, for Canon 915 to apply. Where either one is missing, Holy Communion need not be refused.

        8. In terms of Canon 915 being doubtful, as I argue in my 3.0 Public Scandal, the very existence of the 2000 PCLT Declaration proves that. If it were not doubtful, there would have been no need to issue the Declaration. And once recourse needs to be had to the Pope to interpret a Canon, he can (within limits) equally reinterpret it, as I understand the relevant principles of Canon Law.

        9. In terms of PCLT noting scandal applies to both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage, I think that actually supports my view. Interestingly, the 2000 PCLT Declaration nowhere mentions the objective contradiction noted in FC, and yet adds scandal regarding the Eucharist which is not explicitly noted in FC. Which is consistent with, and indeed makes most sense, if objective contradiction is as I contend actually related to scandal regarding the Eucharist.

        Like

  5. The misuse or partial quoting of Familiaris Consortio in chapter 8, the lack of reference to significant church documents on conscience such as Veritatis Splendor, the lack of discussion of canon law impacting this topic and the unwillingness to answer direct questions all show that this document is poorly suited in dealing with the topic of the synod unless it’s purposely vague to promote change without magisterial authority. It’s the old presidential deniability angle.

    It’s growing misuse by others shows it’s not clear and not fit to be used by the bishops and is a document causing schism without restraint or correction by the Pope. Not saying things clearly is what we just experienced in our presidential race. For it to be the longest document ever it had room to be clear on the questions from the synod and to anticipate and answer objections. We are spoiled by the quality of previous Church documents. I guess we have to expect a bad apple once in a while. Being unclear, leading to confusion, and not answering direct question is sign of poor leadership and a poor document. It was rushed and didn’t respond to changes requested prior to its release. These are doctrinal issues tied directly to scripture when we speak of marriage, sin, and conscience.

    If we cant take the time to thoroughly vet the document and can’t state where we are on these doctrines today then any “new horizon” is simply rupture and not continuity such as we have seen by progressive changes to the liturgy since Vatican II. History has clear examples to learn from but maybe a Trent II will be required.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rob,

      I suspect we will get further clarity from the Pope in the coming months, as we have increasing received over time (Synod was less clear than AL, which was less clear than the Buenos Aires Letter etc). But only time will tell.

      Like

      • I see a desire not to provide clarity and to give time for erroneous changes to take hold. Once in place they will unlikely be changed without a council which I might not see in my lifetime.

        Like

  6. “This Apologia will demonstrate, with reference to each of these objections, that Amoris Laetitia neither contradicts nor even develops the doctrine of the Church.”
    *
    Contradicts statements by Cardinal Schönborn, Pope Francis’ own chosen and designated as the main exegete of the post-synodal exhortation. Cf. Cardinal Schönborn Says ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Continues What John Paul II Taught | NCR, APR. 11, 2016 – http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-schoenborn-says-amoris-laetitia-is-a-continuation-of-what-john-pau
    *
    This is sufficient to ignore the rest of your Apologia.

    Like

  7. thewarourtime,

    I think your confusion arises from the fact Cardinal Schönborn is speaking in more general terms. When he speaks of “an organic development of church teaching and doctrine”, but “no break” in Tradition, I think he is identifying the same dynamic as I am.

    As I note, Amoris Laetitia changes Church teaching, there is a novelty. But equally that change isn’t to the underlying doctrines themselves, but rather to how we assess the facts to which they are applied in concrete circumstances. Which is why for example Cardinal Schönborn goes on to note that “proper discernment is nothing new”.

    Therefore I don’t believe there is any contradiction between Cardinal Schönborn views and my own on this point.

    Like

  8. Rob,

    At present I am not of the view the changes are erroneous, though the initial ambiguity may have been intended as a way to assist the reception of the novelty.

    In any event, I expect increasing clarity to become available, since I very much doubt the conflicting interpretations between Bishops are welcomed by anyone involved.

    Like

  9. I have read the first part of your apologia rather quickly but I think I have followed your argument which is that AL can be read as orthodox. I do not dispute that but it seems to me that cases where D&R could receive communion when living more uxorio after a process of discernment and accompaniment (assuming this is carried out a competent and orthodox priest – not always likely!) are likely to be so rare as to tend towards zero. I can only see lack of consent as being a possible reason i.e. on partner forces the other to have sex and one cannot see how such a situation would continue.

    However the problem is that AL is not being interpreted in that orthodox manner. People do not see how narrow the orthodox is but assume that after a nice talk with a priest kidding themselves that they are at peace with God they can take communion. Further they will seek out the dodgy priests to do this. The document of the Maltese Bishops confirms that this is an interpretation that people will make.

    The problem is that AL is tendentious and intentionally so. One only has to look at the bad faith exhibited in the referring footnotes and remember the manipulation of the Synod.

    Like

    • Nicolas,

      Thank you for reading and your comments.

      One clarification I would provide is that it is not sufficient that AL “can be read as orthodox”, and that my Apologia needs to reach a higher standard if it is to be successful, being that what Pope Francis intended to teach must also be orthodox. AL before the Buenos Aires Letter, could also be read as maintain the absolute ban on Holy Communion for the D&R from FC 84, but clearly that reading can’t be used to defend the teaching of Pope Francis.

      Another clarification is that my defence is limited to the formal orthodoxy of AL itself, rather than how it will be applied in practice. For all the talk of being more attentive to concrete realities, in my view we have neither the number of priests nor the desire among the D&R, required for the extended discernments the pastoral model of AL demands to take place.

      Given that, I fully expect the pastoral model of AL will be ignored in practice, with people in irregular situations left to decide for themselves if they should receive the Sacraments. This is regrettable, particularly as it does not accompany the faithful, but rather abandons them.

      However I find it hard to be overly critical of AL on this point, as in terms of the pastoral model being ignored in practice, precisely the same criticism could be made of FC (given the majority of priests never bothered to refuse Communion to the D&R when required). Accordingly its impracticality should not cause any further pastorals harms, over and above that which already arise.

      Like

  10. An excellent presentation of the position and would be a valuable contribution to a theological study. I’m not sure that, AL or this presentation, would be totally convincing to the laity in the pews considering that there are other positions by equally learned theologians and clergy, all of which would seem to indicate, as is said, not quite ready for prime time. Generally something as seemingly broadly stated and widely applicable would benefit from a boarder consensus than is present here. I doubt this matter is settled nor will be soon.

    Like

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