Existential Consequences of Amoris Laetitia & Theological Issues



Further to my post yesterday a friend commented that Cardinal Napier had recently addressed the question of the damage being done to the body of Christ by Amoris Laetitia in the following tweet:
The article promoted by the Cardinal, written by Scott Eric Alt, does not address the issue I was raising in this post, namely that we have an actual, physical division with regard to Amoris Laetitia due to differing interpretations and applications by different bishop's conferences (for example, the Maltese contra Portsmouth diocese).

The Dominican scholar, Fr Thomas Petri sees this immediately:
What it does say:
"AL is orthodox, is entirely consistent with Familiaris Consortio, and that anyone who reads it otherwise is in error. I just wish the pope would say that himself, rather than leave it to Schonborn and Müller." 
...it said in April, before Müller was terminated. Schönborn has now said that communion for divorced and remarried IS facilitated by Amoris Laetitia whilst Müller maintains it is not.

Alt's article says: 
'What could the pope clarify by answering the dubia?' 
I have to scratch my head at this remark because this is disingenuous. The Pope could clarify that AL does not seek to contradict the Magisterium- that would be nice! He could back Müller - that would end the confusion. He could explain to bishop's conferences (Argentina, Malta, Germany, most recently joined by Brazil) that Amoris Laetitia cannot be interpreted outside of the Magisterium—the consistent Apostolic teaching of the Church that Christ founded on St. Peter.

The problem, as Müller so appositely explains in the interview, is not with an orthodox interpretation of AL in light of the Magisterium, but with endorsement of pastoral approaches from different bishop's conferences.

It is true that Cardinal Müller, perhaps in an attempt to mitigate potential damage (especially given that the pope rejected seven pages of corrections on Amoris Laetitia from the CDF and ignored concerns expressed by over thirty Cardinals who objected having seen a draft of the document), stresses that it is indeed possible to read the document as orthodox, (insofar one interprets its ambiguity in the context of the Magisterium of the Church). 

However, I would argue that there are numerous real issues with the document, here are three, taken from previous citations:

1. It suggests that doctrine is a question of adherence to arid rules, lacking in motivation, devoid of mercy, and that pastors wish to cast stones at people in real difficulties are generic; they are unjust to those genuinely concerned to remain faithful to Christ on the indissolubility of marriage. This is objectively false.

2. Magisterial texts in AL are distorted when quoted selectively or ignored almost completely. Repeatedly presenting conscience as the sanctuary where man finds himself alone with God (Gaudium et spes, 16) suggests it is only a private matter between the individual and God, while references to invincible ignorance and to other factors reducing responsibility risk implying that people rarely sin or are rarely culpable. Grave misinterpretations of conciliar doctrine on conscience, corrected in Veritatis splendor, are basically ignored in AL. Conciliar and papal teaching that no one can act in good conscience who disregards magisterial teaching or who treats it as mere opinion (Dignitatis humanae, 14; John Paul II, Allocution, Nov., 1988) is not mentioned. Distinguishing right from wrong by dialogue and example in families and beyond does not occur automatically; it lacks the clarity, the coherence and the justification afforded by education also on the Decalogue and on the Church’s moral teaching, necessary for youngsters to be convinced and to defend objective moral truth before their peers.

3. Ignatian discernment is no substitute for proper formation of conscience. AL rejects legalism and casuistry. St. Thomas’ statement that, applied concretely, moral law binds in the majority, but not in a minority, of cases is mis-represented. Thomas had excluded earlier all intrinsically immoral acts (murder, adultery, perjury, etc.); his axiom applies to choosing between different positive, morally good actions and to merely human laws when these do not preclude intrinsic or objective moral wrong. Love is incompatible with immorality. Morally good living demands the virtue of prudence (informing conscience through advice—and on the basis of magisterial teaching—, distinguishing common and exceptional features in different situations—asuistry). Ignatius knew this, as did Suarez and Vasquez, Jesuit moralists who helped form consciences of people in the midst of persecution, war and injustice. Later, priests advising kings often manipulated moral truth, inventing excuses to permit or condone immorality. Genuine Ignatian discernment excludes this.

AL, though, could well give the impression of something even worse, of privatising conscience, of encouraging or permitting persons to refer to priests ignorant of or dissenting from magisterial teaching. The risk of situation ethics, of laxism, of moral relativism and of widespread contradictory pastoral practice, despite the Pope not wishing anything like this, seems to be considerable.

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