Cardinal Schönborn brings "a new fog"
Further to the recent comments of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna in Ireland, certain commentators have been spinning like crazy to make him look like some sort of orthodox heavyweight. Notably, old Catholic Voices collaborators Austen Ivereigh and Greg Daly are slagging off everyone from EWTN to The Spectator and The Catholic Herald and insisting "there's nothing to see here", utterly blind to their own hubris. They both seem to spend quite a lot of time these days attacking old friends and opposing anyone who has any questions about Pope Francis & his direction, even though Austen has been directly wrong footed by the Pope recently himself!
It is certainly the case, like numerous other modern churchmen, Schönborn has written some good stuff and his intellect is not in question. I remember a while back Archbishop Rino Fisichella was due to speak at a conference I attended and indeed, the text of his address was very good and Catholic, but he has made numerous very disturbing statements which would seem to betray a very anti-catholic and progressive agenda. I recall having this discussion with a number of high-ranking clergy: that what these Cardinals say in public is often at odds with what the say in private.
The same is true of Cardinal Schönborn; there have worrying been rumblings for a long while about his true allegiance to the Church.
In 2010, William Oddie had cause to ask What on earth has happened to Cardinal Schönborn? As "The one-time defender of orthodoxy has been causing an awful lot of trouble"
Similarly, Jimmy Akin in the National Catholic Register wrote: "it should by no means go without notice that Cardinal Schonborn has said and done things in the past that are, at a minimum, quite eye-opening"
Indeed there are many questions which have circulated for many years regarding the Cardinal's credentials.
Despite the journalists above determination to see everything as fully orthodox, Sandro Magister has posted a thorough refutation of the comments made by the Archbishop of Vienna written by "an authoritative churchman" which claims Schönborn's comments "are anything but convincing".
Magister's piece consists of a point by point rebuttal of Schönborn's comments and argues that, regarding the dubia everyone is answering them except for Pope Francis, which only furthers the chaos, given how disperate some of the interpretations of the dreadful Amoris Laetitia have been. Rather than clear anything up, Schönborn's comment merely add further "fog" to the issue.
Much of the post is simply pointing out the obvious inconsistencies in Schönborn's comments. Despite the constant talk of dialogue, synodality and parrhesia we hear from Schönborn & Pope Francis, the Pope has refused to give the i quattro Cardinali an audience.
Commenting on Ivereigh's assertion that the Pope asked Schönborn whether Amoris Laetitia were orthodox or not, Magister's source appears to suggest that this fact in itself is extremely problematic. As I have already commented, and bearing in mind the Pope purportedly asked this question only after the publication of the document, why on earth would the Pope publish controversial guidelines for the faithful if he was unsure of their orthodoxy? Magister's source states:Despite the attempts to pretend that any of the so-called theology in Amoris Laetitia is anything other than dangerous relativism, it seems clear to me that anyone with anything more than a passing acquaintance with theology recognises it is thinly veiled attempt to re-introduce concepts into the Church which baldly contradict positions stated in Veritatis Splendor and Familiaris Consortio. Sure a lot of people are reticent to acknowledge that, and a lot of people wanted to interpret it in an orthodox way, but I fear that moment has passed. It could have been salvaged as much of it is sophistry, but the way the whole affair has been dealt with has made that virtually impossible now. The only reason for continuing to deny this reality, it seems to me, is naivety, ignorance or a desire to see the Church move away from an affirmation of objective reality.
This account, if on the one hand it reveals the humility of Francis in asking for a judgment from his trusted theologians, does not change the fact that it should be the pope who gives responses to the theologians, to the bishops, to the cardinals who with the required parrhesia and the encouragement of the pontiff himself express to him their grave preoccupations over the state of the Church. This, in fact, is truly divided and wounded by the contrasting interpretations with which “Amoris Laetitia” has been proposed by various episcopates.
I still think the most incisive explanation of the obvious problems with Amoris Laetitia is given here by my old Professor of Moral Theology, Canon George Woodall.
Fr George is professor of moral theology and bioethics at Rome's Regina Apostolorum university. A former director of the secretariat of the Pontifical Academy for Life, he is also an expert in Canon Law and has published many articles and books on moral theology and bioethics.