The defense of ‘Amoris laetitia’ by recourse to the Two Synods on the family

My friend Fr Gerry Murray has an analysis piece at The Catholic Thing which could be useful in your discussions about Amoris laetitia.

There are elements of Chapter 8 which are objectively unclear.  Many want clarifications, as is reasonable.  Some defend Amoris’ putative “clarity” with the tenacity of a terrier with a towel.  They proclaim the mantra: Just look at the Synods on the family if you want clarity.  The Synod Fathers spoke! Two-thirds majority! It must be the Spirit!

Fr Murray goes back to the voting of the Synod Fathers and looks at the vote tallies.  If some want to claim that Amoris is clear because of the work of the Synod, we should look at what the Synod really did, nicht wahr?  

Sample about paragraphs 52 and 53 (which dealt with controversial things we are now dealing with in the wake of Amoris):

[…]

Paragraph 52 received 104 “yes” (“placet”) votes, and 74 “no” (“non placet) votes. Paragraph 53 received 112 “yes” and 64 “no” votes. They did not receive the required two-thirds approval and thus were excluded from the final report according to the rules of the synod.

Pope Francis, however, gave instructions that the two paragraphs should be included. They were not published as an addendum with a note that Francis had ordered their publication. The only way a reader would know what really happened is by consulting the paragraph-by-paragraph vote tallies; but even then, there is no note specifying that a two-thirds majority of the voting synod fathers was needed for approval. The votes clearly showed that two-thirds of the 2014 Synod Fathers did not choose to continue discussing the matter of Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics at the Ordinary Synod of 2015.

Pope Francis disregarded all that when he decided to include the two paragraphs in the working document for the 2015 synod (Instrumentum Laboris, paragraphs 122-125). He has complete freedom to do this, of course. But their inclusion represents the pope’s own decision about what he wanted discussed in 2015. Francis had ordered their publication. The only way a reader would know what really happened is by consulting the paragraph-by-paragraph vote tallies; but even then, there is no note specifying that a two-thirds majority of the voting synod fathers was needed for approval. The votes clearly showed that two-thirds of the 2014 Synod Fathers did not choose to continue discussing the matter of Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics at the Ordinary Synod of 2015.
Pope Francis disregarded all that when he decided to include the two paragraphs in the working document for the 2015 synod (Instrumentum Laboris, paragraphs 122-125). He has complete freedom to do this, of course. But their inclusion represents the pope’s own decision about what he wanted discussed in 2015.

[…]

There’s more about these controversial paragraphs from the Synod’s Final Report.   

Why look backward at this?

If people want to discuss the merits of Amoris, let the discussion rest on facts.  The Synod had rules for what to include in the Final Report.  Paragraphs needed approval of 2/3 of the Fathers.  Some paragraphs got a simple majority but not a 2/3 majority.  Pope Francis –  who can do as he pleases – told them to include those rejected paragraphs.  Thus they were in the Final Report not because the Synod Fathers included them but because the Pope included them on his own authority.   He was entirely free to do that, but let’s be clear about it.

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20 Responses to The defense of ‘Amoris laetitia’ by recourse to the Two Synods on the family

  1. iprimap says:

    So the tallies of the votes of the Synod Fathers in 2015 were manipulated in a way similar to how tallies of votes in Democrat held strongholds were manipulated in the last election? Say it ain’t so!

  2. Joseph-Mary says:

    So the 2/3 vote was not received even with many of the sin-nod attendees hand picked and certain other ones barred from attending….

  3. Thomistica says:

    A very disturbing article:
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/climate-of-fear-in-the-vatican-is-very-real
    Note the statement by Ed Pentin, quoted in the article.

    Interestingly, the article claims that 20 or 30 Cardinals support the Dubia. Hopefully the have entirely legitimate prudential reasons for remaining silent. Say, to stay in the game.

    One for the Vaticanistas: are there enough Cardinals to vote in someone who will restore the legacy of JPII and Benedict?

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Ever more clear that the tactics of the left in both the sacred and profane precincts of worldly existence surely do echo each other. It speaks an encyclopedic amount regarding what is transpiring and by whom it is engineered.
    Roberto de Mattei’s contribution at Rorate Caeli this morning, while not about “Amoris Laetitia” specifically, does reflect upon its collateral effect and what that might bode for the life of the Church in the new year. Sober, somewhat grave, but not without hope certainly. Realistic and perhaps the best we can hope for in the shorter term.

  5. TWF says:

    Yes, critics who accuse +Burke and co of going up against the Holy Spirit Himself, as the author of the Synods’ decisions, fail to note that:
    1) The Pope personally appointed a significant number of the Synod Fathers
    2) The Pope tweaked the rules to get a certain end result

    While I fully profess the Catholic understanding of papal primacy, it seems to me somewhat contrary to spirit of synods that the reigning Pope “stacks the decks” with his own appointees. If Synods are meant to be representative of the global episcopate, they should be comprised strictly of those Fathers elected by the national conferences (and of course the primates of the Eastern Churches who are included ex officio to represent their Churches).

  6. Rich says:

    Why look backward at this?

    1) More are trying to assert that an interpretation of Amoris Laetitia Ch. 8 which allows Communion for the divorced and remarried is a reflection of what the synod recommended.

    2) These same people suggest that the above, supposed recommendation of the synod was supported by a 2/3 majority vote, which itself, they suggest, is a reflection of the will of the Holy Spirit.

    It is important to look backward at this since the idea that 1) the the synod recommended Communion for the divorced and remarried and 2) this recommendation was supported by a 2/3 majority vote of the synod are both being used as false premises to argue that Communion for the divorced and remarried is the will of the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t think it would be the Holy Spirit, however, who would put forward an argument based on falsehoods (cf. John 8:44).

  7. Ultrarunner says:

    A question now begging for an answer is, who wrote footnote 351, and WHEN was it added to the final document? Pope Francis is on record as having said, “I don’t remember the footnote.” This is quite telling. Perhaps Father Spadaro could answer the question.

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    Tucho Fernandez might have contributed 351. Why not, he hurled up most of the rest of it. No?

  9. arga says:

    Father, if you don’t mind my saying so, you are missing the big story here: MORE THAN HALF voted in favor of these paragraphs! Why, if the paragraphs in question are so self-evidently contrary to the truths of Church teaching, were they approved by these Church eminences, 58% and 63%, respectively?

    [No, that is NOT the “big story”. The “big story” is that – according to the RULES OF THE SYNOD ITSELF – they were rejected. It should not surprise us that some bishops go wobbly when it comes to immoral and improper notions. It has ever been so, just as dogs chase cats and water is wet.]

  10. jschicago says:

    So Austen Ivereigh believes 2/3 of bishops agreeing on a statement means it comes from the Holy Spirit?!?! According to Cardinal Newman, a majority of bishops at one time believed in Arianism or semi-Arianism.

  11. Mike says:

    Every pastor and shepherd worth the name, every Catholic, needs to start speaking forcefully and unequivocally against stacked Synods and Councils that are engineered to pull the Faith up by the roots, leaving myriads of the faithful in near-desperate perplexity about the state of the Church and of their souls.

    To be sure, we must pray and fast. But if we are starving for authentic faith and worship, it is an act of mercy to let our shepherds know that the resurgence of New Age “Catholicism” is intolerable, and to demand restoration of the Faith in the eternal Truth of Christ.

  12. Benedict Joseph says:

    How do individuals arrive at the idea that the truth is determined by the number of humans who favor an idea? Where does such a notion arise among Christians?
    The majority sent our Lord to His Cross.
    If Roman Catholicism has been so manifestly wrong for two thousand years, why would what they now pitch out as a corrective be confidently determined to be true?
    I don’t care how many bishops, clergy, laity say what is wrong is right. What Jesus Christ said is wrong is wrong.
    Any of us left to our devises can make reasonable argument for determining a host of bad behaviors virtuous. I know I could.
    Have we lost all self-awareness?
    Catholic doctrine held as true without the requisite blood, sweat and tears is a vacuous fairy tale. If we don’t sport “the marks on our bodies” [Galatians 6:17], it is just a comforting myth.
    Let’s go adult.

  13. un-ionized says:

    Benedict Joseph, there have been other times in Church history when the majority were wrong and they felt that faith was by popular acclaim.

  14. Benedict Joseph says:

    un-iojized, who intimated otherwise.
    In the age of propaganda turned into a fine art, an age where the truths of the Faith have been denied the “faithful” for over fifty years with the eradication of catechesis in the sixties, we are in a particularly vulnerable spot.
    Ecclesiastics maneuvering their positions to give credence to the utterly erroneous are dangerous in the current multi-mega instant media environment .
    This is not like anything in Church history.

  15. un-ionized says:

    Just said so. No big deal.

  16. un-ionized says:

    It is like anything in Church history.

  17. jhayes says:

    All 94 paragraphs of the Final Report of the 2015 Synod were approved by at least a 2/3 majority.

    The bishops voted on the document in their last deliberative session of the Oct. 4-25 [2015] gathering, giving each paragraph a simple yes or no vote. Each of the 94 paragraphs of the document were adopted by the assembly with the required two-thirds vote, 177 bishops of the 265 present for the voting.

    The three paragraphs dealing with issues relating to divorced and remarried Catholics were closest in the voting, receiving, respectively, 187, 178, and 190 votes.

    The issue about two paragraphs not receiving a 2/3 vote has only to do with the 2014 Preparatory Synod. Those two paragraphs were then discussed at the 2015 Final Synod and the conclusions reached in those discussions, as presented in the Final Report, received the required 2/3 majority.

    The argument in the article is that these issues shouldn’t have been discussed at the Final Synod because they didn’t receive enough votes in 2014. However, they were discussed and the conclusions in the 2015 Final Report did receive the 2/3 vote.

    [You are not paying close attention. The 2014 wording was dropped and the vaguer “fuller participation” wording was inserted, Hence the 2014 wording never got the 2/3 favorable vote.]

  18. arga says:

    Just sayin’, Father: we complain about “bad catechesis” in the parishes. And then more than half the bishops at a worldwide synod vote for stuff that any confirmation-class instructor is supposed to know is wrong. Man, are we in trouble.

  19. jhayes says:

    What I was pointing out is that this paragraph of the OP is not correct when it says that some paragraphs of the Final Report did not receive a ? majority

    If people want to discuss the merits of Amoris, let the discussion rest on facts. The Synod had rules for what to include in the Final Report. Paragraphs needed approval of 2/3 of the Fathers. Some paragraphs got a simple majority but not a 2/3 majority. Pope Francis – who can do as he pleases – told them to include those rejected paragraphs. Thus they were in the Final Report not because the Synod Fathers included them but because the Pope included them on his own authority. He was entirely free to do that, but let’s be clear about it.

  20. jhayes says:

    WordPress replaced my tw0-thirds glyph with a ? Showed OK in the Preview