Archbp. Sample on ‘Amoris laetitia’: conscience isn’t a law unto itself

At CWR my old friend Archbp. Alex Sample of Portland as some things to say about Amoris laetitia.  He issued some instructions about the controversial document and commented on the.  HERE

Especially good is this…

CWR: The first misuse you address has to do with conscience. What is, in your experience as priest and bishop, are the central misunderstandings or distortions about conscience?

Archbishop Sample: As I state in my pastoral letter, it boils down to an erroneous understanding of conscience as a law unto itself. We must indeed obey our conscience, but we must be operating with a well formed conscience. We form our conscience according to the mind of Christ and the teaching of the Church as revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and in the magisterial teaching of Tradition. The teachings of Christ and his Church are not to be taken as simply suggestions that we are free to accept, accept in part, or reject altogether. We have the duty to inform our conscience in consonance with the truth revealed to us by God. Conscience can be in error, and it is the duty of the pastors of the Church to vigorously teach the truths revealed to us in order to help our people properly form their consciences. This will enable us to make moral choices that are pleasing to God.

Fr. Z kudos.

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20 Responses to Archbp. Sample on ‘Amoris laetitia’: conscience isn’t a law unto itself

  1. Dan says:

    “Conscience can be in error, and it is the duty of the pastors of the Church to vigorously teach the truths revealed to us in order to help our people properly form their consciences. This will enable us to make moral choices that are pleasing to God.”

    AMEN! God Bless Bishop Sample. Pray for him.

  2. Dan says:

    Pray for all of our priests and religious and obtain for us many more holy ones.

  3. mthel says:

    Great statement by the archbishop! I often wonder if Disney and its creation of Jiminy Cricket did more to ruin the Church than Satan could have ever hoped. By skewing the definition of conscience, a pandora’s box of personal choice was unleashed upon the world.

  4. stuartal79 says:

    The points made by Archbishop Sample about a properly informed conscience are critically important to any discussion about chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.

  5. RichR says:

    Or, as my pastor in San Antonio used to say, “The role of the conscience is to APPLY moral value, not to CREATE moral value.” -Fr. Christopher Phillips

  6. kiwiinamerica says:

    More FrancisConfusion.

    He’s got his bishops burning the midnight oil cleaning up his mess when they could be using their energies elsewhere.

    What a guy!

  7. SenexCalvus says:

    If only the Cardinal Vicar of His Holiness were as faithful to the teachings of Our Lord as the Archbishop of Portland!

    Do you realize, dear readers, that Pope Bergoglio has broken faith with the unanimous teaching of his predecessors? His own vicar has just issued guidelines that contradict the explicit teachings of the Magiaterium as reiterated within our memory in FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO.

    Martin Luther was a mere theologian, the Hans Kung or Charles Curran of his day. Pope Bergoglio is the successor to St. Peter. Either he is wrong or his predessecors are wrong. In either case, the bishop of Rome has become a mere primus inter pares. The principal of noncontradiction is rooted in the Logos and is prior to the giving of the Keys to St. Peter. Our Othodox brethren were right all along.

  8. stuartal79 says:

    SenexCalvus, contrary to what has been widely reported, Amoris Laetitia does NOT allow Catholics who have been civilly divorced and remarried outside of the Church to receive Holy Communion. However, it does promote the use of internal forum. Unfortunately, use the internal forum will now likely be overused to the point that it is abused by priests who are unfaithful to the teaching of the Church. That is why Archbishop Sample’s words are so important.

    When discussing Amoris Laetitia it is important to be clear about what it does and does not do. Catholics who are remarried outside of the Church can still NOT receive Holy Communion.

  9. Grumpy Beggar says:

    A close deacon friend of mine once quoted a Catholic maxim and its author for me. I had forgotten the author’s name, and now my deacon friend – well advanced in years, presently remains unable to recall the author’s name as well. but the maxim went thus :

    Consciences have to be informed and reformed , otherwise they become deformed.

    An excerpt from George Cardinal Pell’s The Inconvenient Conscience

    “Morality matters to all of us. This central fact of human experience is often missed by those who put forward some modern, liberal version of conscience. When approached for moral advice, the reply “just go with your conscience” has the effect of further isolating people, driving them back into themselves just when they have courageously stretched out to find answers. The replacement of Newman’s view of conscience with the liberal version has been a disaster in key areas of human life.”

  10. Charles E Flynn says:

    Here is a link to the pdf of another outstanding piece by Archbishop Sample:

    Pastoral Letter On Sacred Music in Divine Worship- Rejoice in the Lord Always

    From the Introduction:

    In any discussion of the ars celebrandi (the “art of celebrating”) as it relates to the Holy Mass, perhaps nothing is more important or has a greater impact than the place of sacred music. The beauty, dignity and prayerfulness of the Mass depend to a large extent on the music that accompanies the liturgical action. The Holy Mass must be truly beautiful, the very best we can offer to God, reflecting his own perfect beauty and goodness.

    Because the place of sacred music is so important, I am issuing this pastoral letter on the nature, purpose and quality of sacred music. This is an important discussion to have, since so often the music selected for Mass is reduced to a matter of subjective “taste,” i.e. what style of music appeals to this or that person or group, as if there were no objective principles to be followed. There are indeed objective principles worthy of study and proper implementation, as will be shown.

  11. THREEHEARTS says:

    As the Jesuits used to teach, “We have free will, must inform our conscience and the we make the burden of choice”.

  12. JabbaPapa says:

    SenexCalvus says:

    Do you realize, dear readers, that Pope Bergoglio has broken faith with the unanimous teaching of his predecessors?

    You seem not to have fully digested Monseigneur Sample’s clear explanations and clarifications ; only misinterpretations and misuse of the Exhortation can lead to such conclusions ; and a hermeneutic of rupture.

    As for Cardinal Vallini, his text for the Roman Archdiocese is entirely consistent with Archbishop Sample’s for his own.

  13. SenexCalvus says:

    Although my reading of Archbishop Sample’s text was cursory, nowhere did I see in it an acknowledgement that couples living in an objectively adulterous relationship might be admitted to communion, whereas Cardinal Vallini’s instructions do introduce that possibility. The former’s words struck me as a restatement of principles, the latter’s a proposal for implementing the change implied in AL and confirmed by the Pope’s leaked letter.

    Granted, Pope Bergoglio does not explicitly contradict Church teaching in AL; rather, he creates the sort of confusion that will result in a de facto, if not de iure, rupture with tradition. To allow for mutually contradictory sacramental disciplines without changing the underlying theological principles is his aim, as if one could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  14. SenexCalvus says:

    When I began my teaching career, a mentor offered me this advice: Don’t speak to be understood; speak so that you can’t possibly be misunderstood. Bishops and priests are teachers by virtue of their office. It is their duty to teach the faithful as clearly and unambiguously as possible. Anyone familiar with ecclesiastical Latin texts, whether doctrinal, juridical, or even liturgical, can attest to their clarity of expression. Anyone familiar with Roman texts knows that where ambiguity is found, it is intended by the author to create a particular effect in the reader. The confusion created by the current pope is no accident. It is like the naval or air bombardment that weakens an enemy stronghold in advance of an invasion.

  15. JabbaPapa says:

    Cardinal Vallini’s instructions do introduce that possibility

    No they don’t.

    They explicitly establish that a commitment to continence is a prerequisite of access to the Sacraments.

    The “complex cases” that some people have got into such a fuss about are NOT situations of objective unrepentant adultery ; they are situations that the Canon Law defines as constituting “putative nullity”, which are those where the Law has established what are the situations of Sacramental invalidity, but where the Courts have for whichever reasons been unable to declare any such invalidity canonically.

    To claim that a “complex case” means simple and ongoing adultery is to warp vocabulary outside of ordinary meaning.

    When I began my teaching career, a mentor offered me this advice: Don’t speak to be understood; speak so that you can’t possibly be misunderstood. Bishops and priests are teachers by virtue of their office. It is their duty to teach the faithful as clearly and unambiguously as possible. Anyone familiar with ecclesiastical Latin texts, whether doctrinal, juridical, or even liturgical, can attest to their clarity of expression. Anyone familiar with Roman texts knows that where ambiguity is found, it is intended by the author to create a particular effect in the reader. The confusion created by the current pope is no accident. It is like the naval or air bombardment that weakens an enemy stronghold in advance of an invasion.

    Sorry, but that’s a paranoid narrative ; and a very tortured one, presuming all manner of imaginary purposes outside the teaching of the Magisterium — correct interpretation of discourse shuns the addition of extraneous meaning(s) that are not provided by the actual words that are used.

    NOBODY can “authorise” any sort of “eucharistic adultery” as belonging to the Church, and certainly the Roman Pontiff did no such thing, particularly as he explicitly denounced such Error during the Synod.

    Your claims against the Pope are based on nothing that he has ever taught anywhere.

  16. robtbrown says:

    The events of the past couple of years (e.g., Cupich to Chicago, new Cardinals, Amoris Laetitia) are hardly surprising.

    JPII’s teaching on sexual morality is excellent. Unfortunately, he left a neo Con Church: Sound Catholic moral theology affixed has been affixed to Eucharistic Liturgy that is Protestant in Form but Catholic in Content (at least with the Form doesn’t usurp the Content) .

    There is no way such a structure would hold.

  17. DonL says:

    “The role of the conscience is to APPLY moral value, not to CREATE moral value.”
    I assume that likewise, no priest, bishop or pope can “create new truths or even sins” merely define them and “forgive them.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Should be:

    JPII’s teaching on sexual morality is excellent. Unfortunately, he left a neo Con Church: Sound Catholic moral theology affixed to Eucharistic Liturgy that is Protestant in Form but Catholic in Content (at least when the Form doesn’t usurp the Content) .

  19. SenexCalvus says:

    I quite agree with you, JabbaPapa, so I’ll reiterate, for the sake of furthering our fraternal dialogue, our common ground, calling attention only to that point of contention where my ignorance doesn’t enable me to understand what you’re saying. (Due to the limitations of my iPhone screen, I’ll work backwards.)

    1. “Your claims against the Pope are based on nothing that he has ever taught anywhere.” You couldn’t be more right! He hasn’t explicitly taught any of this, and that’s precisely why the confusion has arisen. He has merely created the conditions that allow it to occur.

    2. “NOBODY can ‘authorize’ any sort of ‘Eucharistic adultery’ as belonging to the Church, and certainly the Roman Pontiff did no such thing, particularly as he explicitly denounced such Error during the Synod.” You are right again!

    3. “Sorry, but that’s a paranoid narrative.” A person accused of being paranoid cannot defend himself for the very reason that to do so would be to concede defeat to his opponent. (Fortunately, however, you and I are not opponents, but fellow travelers on the via caritatis.)

    4. “and a very tortured one, presuming all manner of imaginary purposes outside the teaching of the Magisterium — correct interpretation of discourse shuns the addition of extraneous meaning(s) that are not provided by the actual words that are used.” As for the first part, I again concede the point, as it assumes words have been used in service of the Magisterium. It often comes as a surprise to Christians that what they choose not to say or do is every bit as meaningful as what they do say and do. (A contemporary exponent of the principle of omission was Marshall McLuhan, whose famous dictum explains why replacing the Latin Mass with its vernacular bastard child has wrought such havoc: “The medium is the message.”) As for your second clause, I am reminded of what we learned from the Holocaust, other genocides, and every instance of school bullying: “I didn’t say it, so don’t blame me!” Pope Bergoglio effects change not through his words, but through his silence.

    5. “To claim that a ‘complex case’ means simple and ongoing adultery is to warp vocabulary outside of ordinary meaning.” Again, you’re right, but since I never asserted otherwise, we needn’t contest this point. (The word ‘objective’ is often misconstrued as pejorative, whereas its real meaning is more likely exculpatory.)

    6. “The ‘complex cases’ that some people have got into such a fuss about are NOT situations of objective unrepentant adultery.” AGREED! And here I defer to Cardinal-elect Cupich, who “when asked in what specific situations he would allow a divorced and remarried person to receive Communion, refused to rule anyone out: ‘I wouldn’t exclude anyone . . . . I would like our pastors to have discussion with all of those folks who are in these kinds of situations . . . . I know in my experience as a pastor, if you’ve seen a marriage, then you’ve seen one marriage. There is no instance that can be replicated. Every situation has its variables that are part of it.’” As His Eminence rightly notes, “AMORIS LAETITIA is not a reform of the rules, it’s a reform of the Church.” Who am I to presume to contradict a Prince of the Church?

    7. “they are situations that the Canon Law defines as constituting ‘putative nullity’, which are those where the Law has established what are the situations of Sacramental invalidity, but where the Courts have for whichever reasons been unable to declare any such invalidity canonically.” This, I must confess, is where I, an ‘ignoramus rerum canonicarum,’ have much to learn from you. If a ‘putative marriage’ is an invalid union that, because it was entered into in good faith, is nonetheless assumed, for the sake of subjective culpability and the legitimacy of progeny, to have had the effects of a valid marriage, what is ‘putative nullity’? A non-existence that doesn’t, of course, exist but that nonetheless has such salutary effects, because it is believed to exit, as it would have if it did, in fact, exist? I look forward to receiving references to the canons that treat of this form of nullity, as they are clearly beyond my ken – and, I admit, my powers of comprehension. If only for this reason, my friend, I am grateful that our disagreement has arisen, for it provides me with an opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

    8. Concerning Cardinal Vellini’s instructions (and those of the Argentine bishops, and those of the Archbishop of Vienna, and those of the various other German-speaking hierarchs, and those of the Archbishop of Chicago, etc.), what I’ve said all along is this and only this: Pope Bergoglio intends to decentralize Church authority and has chosen as his means of doing so intentional ambiguity. This ambiguity has resulted in confusion, as our very conversation indicates. If you think our exchange is unique, you may want to read what cardinals, bishops, priests, theologians, philosophers, and even laymen, like myself, are saying. If you think his initiative is consistent with the teachings of his predecessors, you may want to read what cardinals, bishops, priests, theologians, philosophers, and even laymen, like myself, are saying. Father Z’s weblog is a good starting place.

    In any event, let’s resume this conversation a year from now. By then, I think, his teaching will be known for what it is by its fruits.

  20. JabbaPapa says:

    Thank you SenexCalvus for your gracious response.

    For now, I’ll simply point out that to criticise and denounce the positions of Monseigneur Cupich is far more sensible than blaming the Pope for them.