My comments: What is very unclear to me given what others are saying about what the pope's exhortation and what His Holiness is allowing, is the "internal forum" for unambiguous situations and the distinction between mortal and venial sins.
We already know that even if someone is living in what appears to be a state of sin, that if they are civilly married or simply cohabiting, be it adultery or fornication, that if they abstain from sex, they would be free to go to Holy Communion after Confession. It is in the confessional that the priest counsels this person. I get that.
Then we have the more messy situation of someone whose previous marriage is presumed to be valid by the Church, but after a civil divorce and remarriage, they have tried to get an annulment and can't because of technicalities, lack of witnesses and the such.
In this case, the priest in confession (and the penitent not the priest initiates it, adjudicates the case by listening to the facts and discovers from that person if only witnesses were present or someone would cooperate, he would have gotten an annulment. Apart from that there would be no impediments to the marriage being blessed in the Church.
The priest gives an internal solution barring any scandal, that the person may return to Holy Communion if in good conscience the person feels they can.
The priest may not under any circumstances, bless the marriage. But there is civil recognition already of the marriage and there was in the early church the practice of simply living together in a committed, lifelong relationship that constituted the sacrament. A ceremony was not needed in other words--common law was all that was needed.
The more difficult situation for me and the pope has caused it, is for those who refuse to go through the annulment procedure or gays living together in a civil marriage or whatever---how can anyone allow someone in a clearly unrepentant situation return to Holy Communion after confession but no desire to make amends. This is what I want answered by my bishop and the pope. I am confused here.
The Controversy at the Heart of Amoris Laetitia
By Dr. Jeff Mirus Apr 11, 2016If Catholics who have divorced and remarried without obtaining an annulment can in some cases be given permission to receive communion, will this do more harm than good? That’s the question at the heart of the controversy over Pope Francis’ post synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.
Other questions are so easily answered that we can skim over them very quickly. For example:
1. Is the text too long?
It is long, yes. It used 95 pages coming out of my printer, with 391 footnotes. But it is not out of keeping with other post-synodal apostolic exhortations on complex topics, for these documents typically attempt to pass along the full range of concerns and insights which surfaced in the discussions at the synods which prompted them. Thus Pope Benedict’s Verbum Domini in 2010 sported 382 footnotes and took 79 printed pages. John Paul II’s On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World in 2003 had 301 footnotes and filled 76 printed pages.
It’s not quite a fair comparison, but the revised Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops which grew out of the 2001 Synod, when printed, used 180 of my precious sheets of paper, and it had a whopping 760 footnotes. But what is fair to remember is that the 2003 and 2010 documents mentioned in the preceding paragraph covered just one synod each. Amoris Laetitia covers two of them.
2. Is the text confusing?
Not generally. This is quite an achievement for a document designed to include as many of the insights of two synods as possible. We must remember that there is always something of the “committee” in such documents, ensuring that each valid episcopal intervention makes the cut, and that the experience of the bishops from a variety of countries is honored. Nonetheless, in eight of its nine chapters, Amoris Laetitia is quite clear, engaging, perceptive, wise and even inspirational.
The first seven chapters discuss the nature of marital love, the surpassing importance of the family in God’s plan, and the great many problems which weaken both the family and the marital bond in our time. Anyone can read and reflect on all this with great profit. Pope Francis has done a fine job of pulling it all together. This is true of the closing chapter (chapter 9) as well, which outlines a brief “Spirituality of Marriage and the Family”.
So why the uproar?
The controversy stirred by Amoris Laetitia arises from Chapter Eight, “Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness”. As Pope Francis wrote in the introduction, it is likely that “married couples will be more concerned with Chapters Four and Five, and pastoral ministers with Chapter Six, while everyone should feel challenged by Chapter Eight” (emphasis added). This is because Chapter Eight considers an extremely difficult theological and pastoral question, namely: In ministering to the needs of her sinful members, to what degree can the Church take into account the reality that the human person cannot achieve the goal of spiritual growth all at once, but typically must proceed by degrees?
We first encounter this dilemma when we learn the difference between mortal and venial sin. While it requires grave matter for a sin to be mortal, not all sins involving grave matter are in fact mortal. (my comment: this is true, and most don't understand this.) Instead, two interior aspects also affect the gravity of sin. First, the sinner must be aware of the grave nature of his decision to sin; second, the sinner must choose the sin with the full consent of his will. In ordinary human lives, a large number of circumstances mitigate the guilt incurred when we sin, so that sins which are objectively gravely evil may in fact be venial for any given sinner. (My comment: But doesn't a priest have to inform someone in ignorance and once informed they must rectify the situation????)
We see in this another example of the mercy of God: The less spiritually mature and well-formed we are, the more often our sins are venial rather than mortal—owing to the very blindness and compulsion which we have not yet overcome through spiritual growth. We are dealing here with a Gospel principle: To whom much is given, from him much is expected. (Of course, we also recall that complete stagnation is unacceptable. The one who has been given little can fall into the danger of losing the little he has.)
At a more complex theological and psychological level, we encounter this same principle in the idea of “gradualism”. To keep this fairly brief, I am not going to make many specific references to the text.
Suffice it to say that Pope Francis rejects gradualism of the law (as if God’s law changes to accommodate our spiritual deficiencies). But he recognizes the gradualism of moral and spiritual growth. This makes it possible, without failing to set forth the demands of the Christian life, to judge that a person has not reached sufficient spiritual development and discernment for some of his or her sins to be considered mortal. Hence there is a certain legitimate latitude for gradualism in pastoral care, striving always toward greater perfection.
The Critical Consideration
Apply this to irregular marriages, and you can see the problem it presents. As I stated at the time of the first Synod on the Family in 2014, it is not necessary to conclude, from the objective gravity of the sins(s) involved in an irregular marriage, that these sins are always subjectively mortal. Human confusion and even compulsion in marriage matters is probably more difficult to overcome than in almost any other area of life. Pope Francis tries very hard to promote a proper application of this spiritual understanding. Let me provide just one extensive quotation:
What we are speaking of is a process of accompaniment and discernment which “guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God. Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what hinders the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and on what steps can foster it and make it grow. Given that gradualness is not in the law itself (cf., Familiaris Consortio, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church. For this discernment to happen, the following conditions must necessarily be present: humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it”.338 These attitudes are essential for avoiding the grave danger of misunderstandings, such as the notion that any priest can quickly grant “exceptions”, or that some people can obtain sacramental privileges in exchange for favours. When a responsible and tactful person, who does not presume to put his or her own desires ahead of the common good of the Church, meets with a pastor capable of acknowledging the seriousness of the matter before him, there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard. [#300]Let us ignore the last sentence for the moment—a prudential judgment which is vastly overstated, since we can hardly control what people might think. Up to that neuralgic point, we have a reasonably straightforward and cautious statement of what is clearly to be desired and, in fact, ought to be the case. This is why Pope Francis states that we cannot simply say (as many have said in the past) “that all those in any ‘irregular’ situations are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding ‘its inherent values’,339 or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin” (#301).
This is unquestionably true, and the conclusion is inescapable:
Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin—which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such—a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.351 [#305]Confession and Communion
Now even up to this point, there is (or ought to be) no great problem in understanding and agreeing with the Pope—unless we rush ahead to imagine the practical results in the daily ministry of the Church. Although Pope Francis tries to hedge against abuses in the way he presents the problem, two things are at work here which raise very grave prudential questions. The most important is the inclusion of Communion in the footnote at the end of the last quoted sentence, footnote 351:
In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 , 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039). [This is footnote 351.]Admission to Communion is specified only in this note. But the note serves to clarify that, at least in some cases, Pope Francis foresees admission to Communion to be possible (as it would be if the decision were based only on the question of whether the sin is mortal or venial). In passing, let me also mention that Cardinal Schönburg’s insistence that the Holy Father is referring only to Confession in this note is not tenable given the specific mention of the Eucharist.
Here we are, then, in this spacious and even strikingly beautiful document, right back to the Church’s sore spot: Communion for those who are divorced and remarried without benefit of annulment. This is certainly at least a small part of the Pope’s pastoral approach, as highlighted in this footnote, which specifies it as possible.
This, of course, brings us to the second of the “two things” I mentioned which raise questions. We must now recover that final clause in the last sentence of the very long passage above. Under the conditions he has outlined (which are excellent conditions), Pope Francis concludes: “there can be no risk that a specific discernment may lead people to think that the Church maintains a double standard.” But every Catholic in the entire world, on either side of this question, knows that this statement is extraordinarily wide of the mark. For even if every priest fulfilled the Pope’s high expectations in this process of accompaniment and discernment (and experience suggests the opposite), it is in fact impossible to prevent people from thinking the Church maintains a double standard, when the normal rules are in fact suspended, at least in some cases and perhaps more often than not.
It is inescapable that the Church’s ministry in this matter will be, at best, uneven. There will be scandal, not just in the minds of some, but in actual fact. (my comment: yes, yes, yes, when each priest offers an internal solution, some benefit while others don't! It isn't fair, whereas the law puts everyone on the same playing field!)
It goes without saying that it is impossible to know in advance the good and the evil consequences which will flow from this pastoral approach (and surely we can foresee both). It is even less possible to judge infallibly whether the good will outweigh the bad. For this reason, the first conclusion to be drawn is that any quarrel with Pope Francis on this point is not a quarrel over doctrine, but a quarrel over discipline. We are arguing not moral principles, but spiritual prudence. We are considering the question of which pastoral strategy, which type of ecclesiastical discipline, will bear the greatest fruit in our contemporary situation, when marriage and family life are under overwhelming assault.
Because the question is prudential, let me state clearly that I have no patience at all with those who say, in effect, that this is the last straw, that the Church has gone astray, and that they are leaving. Yes, I have had emails to this effect already, so I wish to be frank: This is sheer stupidity; worse, it is a dramatic failure in Faith. For insight on why the Pope may have chosen the course that he did, see my earlier essay, Divorce and Remarriage: Why has Pope Francis chosen to leave one door open?.
But the problem that this pastoral approach raises is exactly the one I hoped could be avoided (as I mentioned more than two years ago) by changing the emphasis with respect to irregular marriages from “objective state of mortal sin” (from which people unfortunately infer a corresponding subjective guilt) to “rejection of the Church’s sacramental authority”. We cannot know the exact state of someone’s soul, but we can know that in contracting a second marriage without an annulment, a couple has refused to honor the Church’s sacramental system, refused to accept the Church’s sacramental authority over marriage. As such, it would seem proper for the Church to take account of this refusal, with respect to Communion, until such time as it ceases to exist. (In this approach the weight of condemnation is not nearly so strong.)
I should also like to make one theological point. The Pope repeatedly emphasizes that the Church’s “ideal” of marriage must always be presented. But the Pope must also know, from the controversies of the seventies and eighties, that an emphasis on the “ideal” can often be taken to mean not that one understanding of marriage is right and others are wrong, or that one understanding of marriage is good and others are bad, but that one understanding of marriage is “ideal” yet others are “also acceptable and good.” The Pope does not mean to say this; but it will be in the air nonetheless.
When all is said and done, then, what do I expect? I expect that the uneven application of the Pope’s goals in this matter will continue to haunt the Church (which is haunted by this question already without the least pontifical justification). I generally agree, then, with Phil Lawler’s judgment that “The Pope’s confused message undermines his own pastoral program”. The only difference is that I do not regard the message as confused in itself so much as inescapably confusing to most Catholics, as well as immensely likely to be abused, both of which make it prudentially ill-suited to its stated goal.
But time will tell. Meanwhile there is enormous room for pastors to increase the fruitfulness of their ministry to the divorced and remarried if only they will apply their desired zeal in ways that do not call into question the importance of the Church’s sacramental authority and power. Every other concern the Pope mentions, and every other recommendation he makes to strengthen marriage and family life, should be taken to the very heart of the Church—should become hallmarks of Catholic ministry. Indeed, at one point Francis states quite clearly:
To show understanding in the face of exceptional situations never implies dimming the light of the fuller ideal, or proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being. Today, more important than pastoral care of failures is the pastoral effort to strengthen marriages and thus to prevent their breakdown. [Emphasis added]We must not lose sight of that.
If you are already raising the alarm and mounting your horse with mailed fist and eyes of flame, let me repeat: We must not lose sight of that. Yet we cannot keep these goods in sight if we have not bothered to read and understand what Pope Francis has exhorted us to consider and to do. Francis did not write Amoris Laetitia so that he could hear the faithful whine, but so that, “in reading the text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life, for ‘families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity’ ” (#7).
In this sense, I am obliged to add: It worked for me.
I think if approached by the laity priests can rely on Cardinal Burke's interpretation that Church teaching remains unchanged as far as receiving the sacraments without an annulment is concerned - after all Cardinal Burke was the top canonist in the Church. He states that the document does not and cannot change Catholic teaching and, therefore, falls into the realms of opinion and thoughts of the Pope. The definitive exposition on Church teaching, therefore, remains Familiaris Consortio. Those Catholics who don't like that response will no doubt find non-Catholic priests more to their liking.
As Lifesite news says:
"... the cardinal is approaching the issue from the viewpoint of a Catholic canon law jurist. He’s not interested (yet) in joining the host of those writers struggling to interpret the sometimes-tortured text. For now he’s interested in stemming the confusion by answering one, very specific question: exactly what authority the exhortation might have to propose novel doctrinal or pastoral practices.
His conclusion is: none.
He is essentially making the same argument as that made this weekend by the highly respected canonist Edward Peters: that is, the apostolic exhortation can’t change the Church's teaching or practice on communion, and therefore it didn't, no matter what it might seem to say. If the words of the document appear to say something different: refer back to canon law and established church teaching and interpret in light of that."
I think the letter points to only two states of life: marriage or virginity. Thus any sexual expression outside of the exclusive and permanent man/woman marriage is forbidden to a Christian. Thus the 'gay'marriage is no such thing. It's just two men or two women pledging friendship but living a relationship that involves simple mutual masturbation and/or sodomy which isn't even analogously "sexual intercourse" as there's no complementarity and no potential for life. Mere natural law suffices to convict the conscience that these behaviors are shameful and to be avoided regardless of how groovy they may make the addled 'feel'.
So the real thorny question is between imputed and real marriage. Was the first wedding an actual sacramental union or not? If there is doubt then the second wedding may be the real one.
But if there's no doubt as to the validity of the first union, then no matter the subjective state of the couple, there's no way we can justify the second and still be faithful to Jesus' expressed will for his disciples.
Jan, do you remember when Vatican II didn't make any doctrinal changes? This exhortation is going to be just like that.
Are we making this far more difficult than it needs to be? The layman has the incalculable benefit of clergy empowered to forgive sin. Repeatedly. One of my favorite prayers is by St Augustine wherein he confesses that we are repeat sinners and beg mostly to avoid the punishment that is our due while returning feverishly to our sins. Yet each time we are forgiven it is our acknowledgement of our wretched state combined with the unending compassion of our Lord that saves us. Surely the compassionate priest can hear the cri de cour and offer a solution to the deeply imperfect person. But if the priest should seek a sign of sincere contrition then the effort to avoid returning to the sin, and the situation that gives rise to it, would be a strong one. The so-called confusion people are claiming is actually dessembling the premise and pretending that one can despise a sin they intend to continue practicing. Yet if there is an effort, however feeble, to avoid the sin I would agree that is enough to present oneself for communion on the same day as the confession. What I do not think makes any sense whatsoever is for the person to make nothing other than a verbal apology and return to the situation without modification. That public contradiction is the source of scandal and mocks the Church and her clergy. The penitent should be anxious to vindicate his own reputation, as well as his soul, with a show of fidelity to that which he asks to join. Telling someone "no" is often the most compassionate thing we can tell them immediately before telling them how.
Another day passes...and nobody is talking about the 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
percent of uplifting things that His Holiness Pope Francis has offered to us via Amoris Laetitia.
Even Rorate Caeli, a vicious, and I mean vicious critic of Pope Francis, has acknowledged that the Exhortation is filled overwhelmingly with positives for Catholics. But nobody...nobody is disseminating to the Faithful the Exhortation's positives.
Outside the Church, as soon as the document was released last Friday, the news media sold the document to the public as "revolutionary" and having overthrown Catholic teaching. That is simply the news media being the news media.
But sadly, within the Church, liberals have followed that path and have insisted that the document is a "game-changer" and has opened the door most definitely to Holy Communion for people who would continue in adulterous relationships.
Traditionalists have agreed in that regard with liberals.
Conservatives and moderates within the Church are about the only folks who have presented the Exhortation as non-revolutionary and in keeping with Familiaris Consortio. But their collective voice is audible barely as liberals and traditionalists have dominated the discussion about the Exhortation.
The dominate message to Catholics (and non-Catholics) is that Pope Francis has just overthrown Church teaching. That is the popular belief throughout the Church and world...and as 99 9 percent of Catholics will never read the Exhortation, their only understanding of Amoris Laetitia will be that the Exhortation is "about allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion".
In that sense, Pope Francis' Exhortation is a disaster for Holy Mother Church.
The magnificent and prophetic Encyclical Humanae Vitae was reduced from day one to nothing more than "the birth control Encyclical".
Vatican II has been reduced to..."the Council that banned the Latin Mass and overthrew the 'old' Church".
Amoris Laetitia has been reduced to "the Exhortation that has opened the door to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics".
What a sad, sorry, confused state of affairs for Holy Mother Church.
Fr McDonald, thank you for saying that you are confused and want an answer from your Bishop and the Pope. I'm confused (and scared to be honest), and at least it's good to know I'm not alone in feeling that way.
Only Pope Francis can salvage the Exhortation via his official word on the matter. He must speak now to halt the massive confusion and controversy that has engulfed his Exhortation. He must speak clearly on that matter.
Unfortunately, and I say this as his spiritual child who loves him, Pope Francis' style of governance often has spawned confusion and controversy within and without the Church. Even if that has not been his intention, that has, unfortunately, been the case throughout his Pontificate.
What I fear greatly is that he won't speak to halt the chaos that has flowed, even if inadvertently on his part, from Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis has said that he desires "frank" talk to fill the Church. Well, in regard to Amoris Laetitia, he has been been granted that.
If Pope Francis refuses to state definitively the meaning of the most controversial parts of Amoris Laetitia, then his Exhortation will remain a source of horrific controversy within the Church.
Liberal Churchmen have labeled the Exhortation a "game-changer" that they have claimed has opened the door to Holy Communion for people who will remain in adulterous relationships.
Is that the interpretation that Pope Francis desires? Well, unless he says otherwise, that is the interpretation that will prevail throughout the Church.
A massive crisis erupted within the Church last Friday...and it's mind-boggling to me that Pope Francis has yet to address that crisis.
What is also chilling is that unless Pope Francis addresses the issue at hand, then his most vocal Traditionalist critics will insist that Pope Francis agrees with the liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.
To be fair to Traditionalists, unless Pope Francis speaks to the issue at hand, liberals will employ Amoris Laetitia to justify unorthodox pastoral practices. There isn't any question about that. Does Pope Francis want his Exhortation employed in said fashion?
Well, that is where we're headed (actually, we're there as liberals have claimed that the Exhortation has overthrown Catholic teaching) unless His Holiness Pope Francis acts now to halt the confusion related to Amoris Laetitia.
If the Pope thinks Amoris Laetitia is going to bring non-believing Catholics into the fold, he is sadly mistaken. Instead of catering to the non-Faithful, maybe he should focus on spiritually nursing the minority of practicing Catholics still in the fold and unleashing them to spread the Gospel with their new found enthusiasm for the Faith. Restoring the Liturgy and disciplining "creative" celebrants would be a good start.
Yes, Marc, I remember that but the reality is for some of us Vatican II came and went but it made no appreciable difference to us. We just stuck to the Church's teachings and will continue to do that. Only those who are liberal and want to receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin will embrace the exhortation. If anything, I think the exhortation will just speed up the growing exodus from the Church because those who pin everything on this exhortation for them they will then find the Church holds nothing of consequence for them and so they will leave. At least those who read the exhortation will realise just how liberal this Pope is.
I was wondering what the Pope will think when he reads the comments of Cardinal Burke, which he surely will, and sees that what he has written in reality amounts to nothing - nada - without the seal of infallibility. There is nothing that can rectify that except to commit an act of heresy, so the liberals are caught between a rock and a hard place. Cardinal Burke has really put the whole thing into perspective as Lifesite News points out. It literally carries no force.
However, what this all says is we are literally a Church of two halves. I imagine that will continue on until the end of this papacy. The neocons are to blame for letting all the rot fester and not facing up to the reality. Sweeping all of it under the carpet and hoping it will go away hasn't achieved anything. Mons Gheradini is right when he says the documents of Vatican II need to be looked at and overhauled. That is the root of the problem that has led us to this stage. The only Catholics in the Church preserving the faith are the traditionalists and they are the only section in the Church that is growing - small but growing nonetheless, which is more than can be said for the conservatives in the Church. Trying to straddle two sides never works, you eventually fall through a hole in the middle.
"Because the question is prudential, let me state clearly that I have no patience at all with those who say, in effect, that this is the last straw, that the Church has gone astray, and that they are leaving."
Jeff Mirus has no patience with the SSPX either. However, dear readers, never forget that while Jeff Mirus will tolerate and essentially defend the complete separation of Catholic morality from the practical lives of Catholics (and throw you conservatives under the bus if you speak up), that same priestly society of the Church and Mirus' old nemesis will continue to apply the eternal moral values of the Church and will defend the sacramental practice and underlying moral theology encapsulated in Familiaris Consortio. Don't forget that in the midst of the fog.
Jan, we go to an SSPX parish, so this exhortation will not change anything for my family. I am solely concerned about those in the rest of the Church who appear to lack the benefit of priestly and episcopal guidance to see this exhortation for what it is. I hope that some of the bishops and cardinals will speak out so that people can see the problems and that the sacrilege to our Lord in the Eucharist is quashed. We are seeing some priests write against it, but so far only one bishop--Bishop Fellay--has spoken out. I have faith that more bishops will speak out and that they are just taking a measured approach, which makes sense given the magnitude of the situation.
As you say, the neocons seem to refuse to see the reality and seriousness of this situation. Our Lord himself could appear to many of them and they would choose to follow the pope instead of Christ. In fact, that is precisely what is already happening.
Marc, I'm not into your doom and gloom about what God will or will not do to his faithful or faithless people. But if, as you say, the laity are in complete ignorance about what is required and being led astray by this pope, any bishop or priest, it is these people and not the poor laity in invincible bliss and/or ignorance, who will pay.
Father, it's not my "doom and gloom," it is the reality of hell. We cannot even imagine how terrible eternal damnation is. I don't want anyone to suffer that. It used to be that priests were worried about these things, both for themselves and for their flock. If I were in your position as a priest, I would be worried. I worry for myself, and I only have two souls (plus my own) for which I am to be held accountable.
I should also add that, merely because a person is not culpable or has a reduced level of culpability for a sin, does not mean that no evil has occurred. Every sin is an offense against Almighty God whether the sinner is culpable or not. So, the concern that I am expressing is not just a concern about people's eternal salvation, it is a general concern that God is being offended by the tolerance and promotion of false ideologies, especially when those false ideologies are being promoted by those specifically called by their vocation to preach the truth.
"In passing, let me also mention that Cardinal Schönburg’s insistence that the Holy Father is referring only to Confession in this note is not tenable given the specific mention of the Eucharist."
Very true. However, it may be helpful to revisit the issue of Confession and sacramental absolution to the unrepentant adulterer (and logically any other person in mortal sin) in order to better determine just how precarious and outrageous are the supposed lack of subjective culpability of those individuals. In order to prepare these individuals for confession, a confessor will promote an examination of conscience. Are we to assume that in the midst of this classic (and apparently still promoted, albeit without the acknowledgement of their chief mortal sin - AL, para. 300) spiritual practice, a public sinner may profess that he or she knows they are offending God through mortal sin (Al, para. 301), but may without any difficulty and with papal approval state the colloquial equivalent of "I just can't stop" (Al, para. 303 and 305), thus leading to reception of the sacraments (Al, para. 305/ft. 351). This is part of the reality of Amoris Laetitia on administering the sacraments to those in unrepentant objective mortal sin.
In other words, you've been sold a bag of goods for thirty pieces of silver.
Fr. Respectfully, I don't think an adult can dodge judgement for doing something because a priest says it is OK. We have our own free will and minds to guide us, the sakes ones we plan to use for our internal forum. If we didn't think it was wrong why would we have to ask?
One of the things that has crossed my mind about what has transpired since the release of Amoris Laetitia, is the opportunity for bishops and priests to convey to those who are unsure, in doubt, or have any misunderstanding, exactly what the Church teaches as regards to what the Holy Father has written. This is an opportune moment to tell those in the pews and the those outside the Church that the Holy Father has not changed Magisterial teaching. He can't.
It also would be a good time to note that while there is a subjective nature and component of sin which determines the seriousness of the sin as regards the effect on the person's soul, there is also the objective nature of sin by which it is manifest that an act is evil in itself, in that it violates God's Holy law, whether in a serious matter or less serious one. This is why even though a person may not be subjectively guilty of a serious sin, if what he or she is engaged in is objectively evil, it should be made known to the person that an amendment of behavior is necessary so as do what God desires in order to be both inwardly and outwardly in obedience and conformance to His Holy law. After all, we teach not just by our words, but by our outward example as well.
Father, I think the posts of rcg and George really ought to help you distance from your dilemma, and reinforce that it is not all up to you in that confessional setting. Not to minimize your role, but to clarify your relationship to the penitant's personal responsibility for his own actions. We cannot read the "mind" of God.
RCG, many lay people, especially in the pre-Vatican II period took what priests, bishops and popes said as divine truth without much critique and parish priests were constantly called about dispensations from this, that and the other, which the Church does give.
So if a priest tells a child it is okay to get drunk with him and then allow whatever to happen, that child thinks the priest to be like God and complies.
Adults who are immature may want validation from a priest for their sinful ways to ease their conscience. They accept the priest's vindication of their lifestyle.
The culpability isn't entirely theirs and because of this their sin may go from mortal to venial.
The priest however, is the one with the mortal sin for leading anyone astray.
Marc, I wonder where this idea comes from of accepting as infallible everything the Pope says and does. It is quite contrary to what I was taught about papal infallibility before Vatican II. In catechism classes we were expressly told the limits of Papal infallibility. So I don't get where those who support this pope through grave error have received this idea from. I can only think it is a further example of the lack of catechesis since Vatican II. Of course, I guess the best way to get acceptance of erroneous doctrine is to insist that the Pope is infallible in all things, so it needs to be clarified:
"In July 2005 Pope Benedict XVI stated during an impromptu address to priests in Aosta that: "The Pope is not an oracle; he is infallible in very rare situations, as we know."
Pope John XXIII once remarked: "I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible."
A doctrine proposed by a pope as his own opinion, not solemnly proclaimed as a doctrine of the Church, may be rejected as false, even if it is on a matter of faith and morals, and even more any view he expresses on other matters. A well-known example of a personal opinion on a matter of faith and morals that was taught by a pope but rejected by the Church is the view that Pope John XXII expressed on when the dead can reach the beatific vision.
The limitation on the pope's infallibility "on other matters" is frequently illustrated by Cardinal James Gibbons's recounting how the pope mistakenly called him Jibbons.".
I was taught the same thing in pre-Vatican II times that infallibility was very, very limited and Pope St. John Paul II reiterated that when he said that he had no authority whatsoever to allow for the ordination of women since it was a part of the ordinary magisterium of the Church and thus infallible that he could not change the dogmas surrounding the male priesthood.
Pope Francis is giving us a pastoral theology that includes some axes that he is grinding. I'm not sure why, but he does have an animus against bishops he presumes are to be equated with the Pharisees and their legalisms. This is pure 1970's ideology masked as theology that I was taught in the 1970's to undermine those bishops who were putting the brakes on some of the Vatican II experimentations and the direction that progressives wanted to take the Church. It is sad that the Holy Father is still stuck in this ideological conundrum. But he is and in a classic way.
Pope Francis' pontificate will be remembered as a time of further erosion and weakening of the Faith by kow-towing to the modern "World." He is turning Vatican II on its head: the Church was supposed to influence the World, not the other way around. Fortunately the younger clergy and hierarchy are not disciples of left-wing loonism and they will right the ship in future years.
Fr., the children that were misled felt uncomfortable, as adults they felt guilt, shame, and betrayal. So the basic answer was always present, only obscured by evil.
"how can anyone allow someone in a clearly unrepentant situation return to Holy Communion after confession but no desire to make amends(?). This is what I want answered by my bishop and the pope. I am confused here."
For the life of me, I cannot see what there is about this question to be confused about. Why would any knowledgeable Catholic need an answer from pope or bishop? (Except maybe a priest seeking "cover" to avoid taking personal responsibility for giving the obvious answer.)
"Pope Francis' pontificate will be remembered as a time of further erosion and weakening of the Faith by kow-towing to the modern "World." He is turning Vatican II on its head: the Church was supposed to influence the World, not the other way around. Fortunately the younger clergy and hierarchy are not disciples of left-wing loonism and they will right the ship in future years."
Current Church progressives have pushed their hand too far. Through the publication of Amoris Laetitia they have ensured that when the "other side" (forgive me for the shameless politicization - but we all know that church politics are all too real) attains power, the backlash will be radical. Any sympathy for a moderate reform is currently being burned out of the hearts of those being raised up to defend the Faith at such a time. Conservatism is bleeding into traditionalism, because at the end of the day, only the most traditional will preserve even the compromised "conservatism" of the two prior pontificates.
For those rejoicing in this Apostolic Exhortation, please note - when traditional Catholics attain power, they will dismantle all you have established (which will be easy because as sterile modernists, you believe nothing and produce nothing).
The current day problems that we are experiencing have their roots in the takeover of the Second Vatican Council by modernists. Traditionalists and conservatives were shut out. Card. Kasper has stated that ambiguities were deliberately inserted into the documents that emerged from Vatican II. Mons Brunero Gherardini has stated that some of the documents break with tradition:
"Monsignor Brunero Gherardini published a major book on Vatican II, Vatican Council II: An Open Discussion. Gherardini is nothing less than a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, a secretary for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, a professor emeritus at the Pontifical Lateran University, and the editor of Divinitas, a leading Roman theological journal. The book includes a forward by Bishop Mario Oliveri (ordinary of the Italian dioceses of Albenga and Imperia) and an introduction by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and now Archbishop of Colombo. In what promises to be a breakthrough in the effort to have an honest examination at last of the doctrinal status of the Council’s vexatious “pastoral” pronouncements, Gheradini makes this confession from inside the Vatican:
"Modernistic ideas still can be found in several Council documents, notably in Gaudium et Spes, and a few prominent Council Fathers were openly sympathetic to old and new modernists. They wished to have a Church in a pilgrimage toward the Truth, like every other pilgrim, a friend and ally of every other researcher, endorsing even in the field of sacred studies, the same critical methodology applicable to every other science. In short, their Church was to be a kind of research laboratory rather than a dispenser of Truths from on high."
Mons Gheradini's book was translated into English by the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Of course the Franciscans of the Immaculate and their printing press were subsequently shut down.
Mons Gheradini's book is available in English on Amazon. For those younger Catholics it provides a good backdrop for why the Church is in the state She is in today.
Conservatives need to wake up and start insisting, along with traditionalists, that these errors be corrected. Basically, the liberals are in the driving seat because they have been better organised and they know what they want and they're getting it. Conservatives have simply not been prepared to admit that there are problems with the Council documents and, because of that, nothing has been done about them. As a direct result of those documents, we have a false ecumenism and the mission of the Church has been overshadowed. Instead of Catholicism converting the world, the world is converting Catholicism. The churches are emptying because of the fact that conservatives, when they had St John Paul II The Great and Pope Benedict as pope, failed to act and strengthen the Church. They were and are too soft. They will not accept that we are the Church militant. Instead of decrying Traditionalists why aren't they decrying evil? Sitting back and saying nothing is only making the situation worse and leaving the door wide open to the march of liberalism that has gained momentum since Vatican II. The liberals should have been chucked out of the Church long ago - just as the modernists have chucked out the Franciscans of the Immaculate and have tried to shut down free speech against the evils they are promoting.
Of course, if you're a deconstructionist, such ambiguities aren't necessary. You can take the clearest imaginable words and definitions and make them mean what you want.
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