Magisterial Hierarchy & Amoris Laetitia
In this recent post, I quoted an article by Austen Ivereigh from last July which criticised the Polish faithful. In that article Ivereigh writes:
Some Polish bishops have publicly critiqued the document as “ambiguous.” They argue that sections that are unclear should be interpreted according to the teachings of Francis’ predecessors — by which they mean John Paul II’s 1981 teaching document, Familiaris Consortio. In Catholic terms, this amounts to something close to a rebellion: Amoris Laetitia is authoritative magisterial teaching, and should be the dominant point of reference.Why is Amoris Laetitia *more* magisterial than everything that preceded it? Surely it can only be seen as Magisterial insofar as it affirms and expounds what the Church has already said? For me, it utterly fails in this regard, because regardless of the intent, it has only served to breed dreadful confusion. It is, at least, ambiguous enough for many clergy to feel it justifies abandonment of the Church's traditional teaching regarding divorced Catholics who remarry.
As I have always understood it, the role of the Pope and the Church is to make the teachings of Christ abundantly plain. After that, it's down to us how we act. It is our responsibility. There are no Vatican police standing at the head of the communion line. Many Catholics do not hold to the rules in any case and of course they are all perfectly free to present to a parish where their circumstances are not known. No one will stop them. The point is that it is the Church's job to let them know that if they were to do so they would be eating & drinking condemnation upon themselves as Paul points out in 1 Cor 11:27. Nobody is going to prevent them however and I'm sure many of us see this every day. Those who ignore the precepts do not fool God. They do themselves great harm, and in many cases cause grave scandal.
It seems to me that this was already an extremely difficult area of pastoral practice for our priests before Amoris Laetitia and it is now all the worse, because without the benefit of sound doctrine behind them, they will be vilified for upholding the Magisterium and the faithful will simply suffer greater confusion. I can't help but feel this is a disgraceful situation and I'm not alone.
You might be wondering what all the fuss is about? Well, Father Raymond J. de Souza gives a valuable overview of the arguments surrounding Amoris Laetitia HERE. He states:
Since at least the 1970s, principally in the German-speaking world, there has been a sustained effort to modify the Church’s pastoral practice to allow such couples to receive absolution and Communion without a required intention to change their situation. Most prominently associated with Cardinal Walter Kasper, the proposal was authoritatively rejected as incompatible with Catholic doctrine by St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and thus expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Fr de Souza shows how ++Kasper has been given prominence by Pope Francis from the very beginning:
Pope Francis held up Cardinal Kasper as a model theologian at his very first Angelus address on March 17, 2013, four days after his election. In February 2014, he invited Cardinal Kasper to address the College of Cardinals, wherein Cardinal Kasper argued for a change in the Church’s practice. When the cardinals emphatically rejected Cardinal Kasper’s proposal as contrary to the Catholic faith, the Holy Father himself came to the embattled cardinal’s defense, indicating that the subject would be on the agenda for two synods on the family in October 2014 and October 2015. In August 2015, Pope Francis indicated in an elliptical way that he did not hold to the clear teaching of St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio (1981) and Reconciliatio et Paenitencia (1984), along with Pope Benedict’s Sacramentum Caritatis (2007). He quoted the relevant texts, but deliberately omitted their conclusive teaching on the points in question.
He summarises the situation thus:
To date, the defenders of Amoris Laetitia have not offered arguments as much as undemonstrated assertions and appeals to authority. Without a convincing argument to demonstrate why Amoris Laetitia does not run afoul of Veritatis Splendor, which it prima facie does, attacking those who raise questions remains only a short-term political tactic.The magisterium is not, over the long term, shaped by such tactics.We live, though, in the immediate term, where such tactics have their impact.The year after the year of Amoris Laetitia will thus be one of greater acrimony and division, with those close to the Pope questioning the integrity of those who insist that, indeed, the cross of Christ has not lost its power and, in fact, remains that which makes possible the joy of love — even in the 21st century.