Card. Burke’s reaction to #AmorisLaetitia !

The National Catholic Register has His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke’s reaction to the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia.

Here is a key bit with my emphases:

[T]he Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for His Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls “a more rigorous pastoral care.” The personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature of the document is also evident in the fact that the references cited are principally the final report of the 2015 session of the Synod of Bishops, and the addresses and homilies of Pope Francis himself. There is no consistent effort to relate the text, in general, or these citations to the magisterium, the Fathers of the Church and other proven authors.

More on this later.


The Cardinal makes a point that everybody should pay attention to.  I scratched around this in the post in which I raised the issue of the types of and weight of types of papal documents.

Card. Burke says in his piece wiht my emphases and comments:

The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching. Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation [NOTA BENE] is not an act of the magisterium (No. 3). [!] The very form of the document confirms the same. [It is a Post-Synodal Exhortation, and therefore it seems to be more closely aligned with the Synod than the Pope’s Ordinary Magisterium.] It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops.

Okay… let’s go see Amoris laetitia 3 with my usual:

3. Since “time is greater than space”, [I think that that means that there isn’t room in one document to solve problems.  Otherwise… I have no idea what that means.] I would [1] make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by [2] interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied”.

So… “I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium”.

Otherwise… “Pay attention.  There are problems that need to be dealt with, but I’ll deal with these problems in a non-magisterial way, namely, in this Post-Synodal Exhortation, which isn’t part of my Ordinary Magisterium.”

Another important bit containing the $64 Question:

How then is the document to be received? First of all, it should be received with the profound respect owed to the Roman Pontiff as the Vicar of Christ, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of both the Bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (Lumen Gentium, 23). [NB]Certain commentators confuse such respect with a supposed obligation to “believe with divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 750, § 1) everything contained in the document. [Remember: The Cardinal’s position is, and I think we have to take him as an expert on these matters, that the Post-Synodal Exhortation is not an act of Francis’ Ordinary Magisterium.] But the Catholic Church, while insisting on the respect owed to the Petrine Office as instituted by Our Lord Himself, has never held that every utterance of the Successor of St. Peter should be received as part of her infallible magisterium.  [So, we can take it or leave it.  Also, the document has only the strength that its arguments have and its consistency with the Church’s doctrine (and discipline which safeguards it) as officially promulgated.  If what the Pope writes for the Synod (because this document is aligned to the Synod as part of its Acta) as a private person (rather than in his role as the Church’s highest and official teacher on faith and morals), doesn’t harmonize with what is officially taught and the law that is officially promulgated, we can nod respectfully at it and set it aside without additional comment.]

The Church has historically been sensitive to the erroneous tendency to interpret every word of the pope as binding in conscience, which, of course, is absurd. [Right!] According to a traditional understanding, the pope has two bodies, [interesting!] the body which is his as an individual member of the faithful and is subject to mortality, and the body which is his as Vicar of Christ on earth which, according to Our Lord’s promise, endures until His return in glory. The first body is his mortal body; the second body is the divine institution of the office of St. Peter and his successors.  [This is why the Pope’s trappings of office ARE IMPORTANT.  And the Cardinal makes this point.]  The liturgical rites and the vesture surrounding the papacy underline the distinction, so that a personal reflection of the Pope, while received with the respect owed to his person, is not confused with the binding faith owed to the exercise of the magisterium.

Another key to interpreting Amoris laetitia and then, especially in the case of priests and bishops, speaking about it in public:

With the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the task of pastors and other teachers of the faith is to present it within the context of the Church’s teaching and discipline, so that it serves to build up the Body of Christ in its first cell of life, which is marriage and the family. In other words, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation can only be correctly interpreted, as a non-magisterial document, using the key of the Magisterium as it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (85-87). [Again… it’s not a document of the Pope’s Magisterium and it is only as strong as its harmony with the Magisterium.]

The Church’s official doctrine, in fact, provides the irreplaceable interpretative key to the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, so that it may truly serve the good of all the faithful, uniting them ever more closely to Christ Who alone is our salvation.

Be sure to read the whole of the Cardinal’s piece, but I wanted to underscore a few important points.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, why have you been using “#AmorisLaetitia” on your recent postings when you are not Tweeting?

    [This once I will permit a public comment on my editing, post and comment choices… because you are a fellow Ham. Quite a few people retweet my posts and, when they do, the hashtag will automatically appear as such. Rabbit hole forever closed.]

  2. Elizabeth D says:

    “Sancte Pater, si. Magister, no”?

  3. acardnal says:

    Thank you, Father. I am one of those who often ReTweet your posts.

    [Thanks! I deeply appreciate that!]

  4. Where the Bear is coming from, the reaction to Cardinal Burke has been negative. Bear completely disagrees. This was a calm, diplomatic, methodical and effective outline of the case what the reality is regarding AL. He came off as generous, confident and someone with stature. What a contrast to many other prelates we’ve seen! It is also a nudge of the argument toward our ground. The last person we want to be seen as a bomb-thrower is Cardinal Burke. (That’s what Bears are for.)

  5. Long-Skirts says:


    Took away the bells
    Took away the art
    Took away the songs
    Inspiring our heart.

    Took away the missals
    Took away the veil
    Took away our right to kneel
    At Communion rail.

    Scourged us with indifference
    Whipped with Worship, weak
    Crowned us with their humble words,
    “A more pastoral view we seek.”

    Now with untuned strings you dance
    Pass us on The Way
    Carrying our crosses on the path
    Of “long defeat”, we stay.

    Try to kill us softly
    With bashful, blushing, babble
    Condescending degrader dogs
    Then slap us as we scrabble.

    The Way, the Truth and our life
    “Is crux of all sedition.”
    But we are merely branches
    Rooted in Tradition.

    Branches weak and branches strong
    Branches propagate
    Branches full of Sacred Sap
    From Vine proliferate.

    A branch can bend, a branch can break
    Become dead wood to toss
    But He Who makes the things all new
    Made dead wood save…the Cross.

    So take away the bells
    Take away the art
    Take away our Catholic name
    Written in His Heart.

    For “What is in a name?”, you ask
    The rigorous rose you cheat ~
    “By any other name” I say
    Still, rigorous rose is sweet!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Excellent comments–shared on facebook.

  7. Maltese says:

    Nice poem, Long-Skirts!

    In trying to parlay with the world, the Church, instead of making itself relevant, risks making itself irreducibly irrelevant. Why does the world still listen with extended ear, and bated breath to the Pope? Because he still speaks with authority on moral matters. I think Francis is good for the Church–maybe—right now, but perhaps his successor can inject some more morality into the Church’s speaker-horn, which I think the world needs much more than an obfuscating non-magisterial, appearing-magisterial document.

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    I agree with the Bear.

  9. Maltese says:

    And trust me: the 99.99 percent of other voices out there–from presidents to prime ministers–speak like they have authority, but none has the voice of the Pope, and all will be lost in five or ten years. But the Pope’s voice endures; he must use it exponentially carefully.

  10. Ann Malley says:

    So, just like with the supposedly pastoral V2, the one that requires the mystical decoder ring of the hermeneuetic of continuity to justify intentional obfuscation and, dare-we-say, implied pacification novelty, we are to ignore this latest release only in so far as the message coincides with true teaching.


    Kind of like being reared in a dysfunctional home wherein the little ones are having to play adult in determining what things Dad says are true and what are the result of his alcohol problem or porn addiction. Either way, big sis is behind her now locked door having illicit relations with the boy from next door but little Johnny isn’t supposed to rock the boat by asking the obvious question or, worse, kicking Johnny in the knee. Just so long as the sins are committed on the premises “all is well”. But above all, don’t bring the matter to Dad unless you want to be spanked for dispelling the otherwise pretty picture of harmony. Now, go suck your thumb or find some other vice with which to occupy yourself. Then perhaps Johnny won’t be so high and mighty as to want to interfere with his sister’s visitors.

    But isn’t it cute Mom notes how Johnny holds onto all that old-fashioned male anger at wanting to avenge his sister’s honor and call his dad out for not doing his job? Darling. But that’s family. And youth, with all it’s IDEALISM passes so quickly.

    As for the “trappings of office” mayhaps its time we all looked to the reality that the trappings are being visibly rejected. Why? Because they are important. The one who should embrace said trappings is doing the opposite. An almost physical rebellion to mirror a psychological rejection of reality – like ignoring the spiritual reality of sacramental marriage. Kind of like if the father in the above scenario insisted on sleeping in the kids room wearing footsie pajamas and carrying around a comfort bear because his original childhood wasn’t to his likening and will be relived despite the reality. So sad. And the response regarding what to do…. so incredibly tepid.

  11. mschu528 says:

    Honestly, I’m getting sick of hearing about AL. I’ve not enjoyed reading it much, for sure, but, well — meh. Like Cardinal Burke says, it’s non-magisterial. As Catholics we are bound to be obedient to the Holy Father in doctrine, and to pray for his intentions, but not to obey his every whim. We are to love His Holiness, but not necessarily to like him.

    I’ve focused my attention today instead on the feast of St Leo the Great, and the beauty he renewed in the Church. The Council of Chalcedon under Pope Leo infallibly defined the two natures of Christ: both man and God: “This is the faith of the fathers … Peter has spoken thus through Leo!”

    After 2000 years of glorious religion, one little, minuscule, (as we say in the world of mathematics) “statistically insignificant” document is supposed to sour my faith? Nope.

  12. Fr. Z says: If what the Pope writes for the Synod (because this document is aligned to the Synod as part of its Acta) as a private person (rather than in his role as the Church’s highest and official teacher on faith and morals), doesn’t harmonize with what is officially taught and the law that is officially promulgated, we can nod respectfully at it and set it aside without additional comment.

    Well — and this is a serious question — why, if the Pope says something that doesn’t harmonize with official teaching and law, do we set it aside without additional comment? The damage done in such a situation is incalculable, because it’s the Pope: how many people distinguish between those documents that are magisterial and those that aren’t? Surely Truth must be defended, even when it is being contravened by the Pope, in whatever capacity.

  13. St. Benedict Save Us says:

    So after all that nonsense of the synod & Kasper this document is just the view or opinion of the Pope on the synod and is NOT a magisterial decree! Frankly, I am getting tired of all this. What’s going be the next ‘trending post from the Pope’.

    In all seriousness this is just as damaging to the church, if not more so, than if he had said communion to everyone. Now all those free thinking, happy clappy middle aged liturgy experts in parishes around the world, you know who I mean, will think they have the mandate from the Holy Father to keep on pushing from change. He could have shut the whole thing down but didn’t.

    Funny how the progressives, both Laity & Clergy, will ignore actual magisterial teaching but jump on the mercy, love & save the planet mini bus like 1960’s hippies.

  14. Rob83 says:

    Perhaps these events are a useful reminder by God to put a bit less emphasis on the person of the Holy Father, as it were, and more on the catechism. In the social media age, the high visibility of the pope can have its problems when the pope does things that could be misinterpreted. Even John Paul II and Benedict XVI had their media controversies, but Francis seems to have…something of a gift for attracting controversy, whether intended or not.

    I do like Burke’s approach, because it seems the right order – let the catechism and the Church’s teachings inform the reading of the PSAXAL, not the other way around. Some with their heads screwed on backwards seem to get the order mixed up.

  15. Gratias says:

    Catholic divorce and cohabitation are likely to stay forever.

  16. Imrahil says:

    It would be interesting whether it is Ordinary Magisterium or not. A post-synodal papal letter without the quality of Ordinary Magisterium is a thing unheard-of, but then, there’s Cdl Burke’s expertise and the arguments he brings, such as quotes to the effect of “not in a magisterial way”.

    That said, even if it is Ordinary Magisterium it’s not infallible. Only dogmas are infallible.

  17. Bosco says:

    How many Catholics would be able to articulate precisely what ‘non-magesterial’ teaching is or what papal pronouncements have little or no weight?

    AL was written with the main stream media in mind, knowing that such distinctions would never be drawn, that every liberal interpretation possible would be loudly trumpeted, and that your average Joe Catholic (who gets 99.9% of his understanding of the Faith from the secular media) wouldn’t know the difference.

    It strikes me as diabolically clever and managed. I am truly sorry that Cardinal Burke’s reaction was so terribly academic. A bit of spleen was warranted, I feel.

  18. quamquam says:

    With due respect to the great Cardinal Burke, I find his interpretation extraordinary in this instance. He may be a great canonist, but I can read English as well as he can, and section 3 of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ simply doesn’t say what he says it saying (i.e. that Pope Francis is supposedly telling us that everything that follows is non-magisterial). (And deciding whether something is magisterial based on the footnote references seems a long stretch as well. It is normal for Apostolic Exhortations to heavily reference the synodal Relatios, and the crucial Chapter 8 of ‘Amoris’ also references the Scriptures, the Catechism, St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas and St John Paul II.)

    We always considered all St John Paul’s Apostolic Exhortations to be documents of the Ordinary Magisterium, such as ‘Familiaris Consortio’ itself. I think the onus of proof is on someone saying that Pope Francis suddenly does not intend this for ‘Amoris Laetitia’. To me the obvious meaning of section 3 is that ‘Amoris Laetitia’ itself, even if it is a magisterial document, isn’t going to resolve all possible questions. This fits in very much with Pope Francis’ frequent emphasis on how many things need to be taken on a case-by-case basis rather than by general rule. So with this (at least very possible) interpretation in the running, the burden of proof that ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is completely non-magisterial (e.g. like Pope Benedict’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, or Pope Francis’ plane interviews or daily homilies) has not been fulfilled.

    ‘Humanae Vitae’ calls even simple papal ‘addresses’ magisterial (footnote 15, referring to Pius XII’s ‘Address to Midwives’). The Ordinary Magisterium has many shades of authority, all the way up to Encyclicals. (St John Paul II chose a mere ‘Apostolic Letter’, ‘Ordinatio Sacerdotalis’, to declare the Church’s teaching on women’s ordination was to be held definitively, but his teaching intention was clear.) Thus the CDF document ‘Mysterium Ecclesiae’ tells us that we must accept the teachings of Pope and Bishops ‘with an assent that is proportionate to the authority that they possess and that they mean to exercise.’

    Obviously ‘Amoris’ is not infallible dogma, to be accepted ‘with divine and catholic faith’. But going back to Lumen Gentium 25, the key passage is: ‘This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.’ So the mind and will of the Pope are crucial.

    But why be worried that ‘Amoris’ is magisterial, if, as Fr Z says, it is not theologically erroneous, and if as Dr Ed Peters says, it doesn’t change anything in Canon Law? It still might be debated (though to what purpose I’m not sure, after the fact) whether it was prudent and opportune. But I think we should emphasise its stronger points, and interpret it in line with previous Church teaching as Cardinal Burke says, rather than play into the liberals’ hands (or really, become liberals ourselves) by deflating people’s confidence in the Ordinary Magisterium as much as possible.

    And if ‘Amoris’ was thought to be clearly and certainly erroneous, then the Church herself tells us in ‘Donum Veritatis’ the limits (even for theologians, let alone the rest of us) on the manner in which assent may legitimately be withheld:

    ’27. Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. Respect for the truth as well as for the People of God requires this discretion (cf. Rom 14:1-15; 1 Cor 8; 10: 23-33 ) . For the same reasons, the theologian will refrain from giving untimely public expression to them.

    28. The preceding considerations have a particular application to the case of the theologian who might have serious difficulties, for reasons which appear to him wellfounded, in accepting a non-irreformable magisterial teaching.

    Such a disagreement could not be justified if it were based solely upon the fact that the validity of the given teaching is not evident or upon the opinion that the opposite position would be the more probable. Nor, furthermore, would the judgment of the subjective conscience of the theologian justify it because conscience does not constitute an autonomous and exclusive authority for deciding the truth of a doctrine.

    29. In any case there should never be a diminishment of that fundamental openness loyally to accept the teaching of the Magisterium as is fitting for every believer by reason of the obedience of faith. The theologian will strive then to understand this teaching in its contents, arguments, and purposes. This will mean an intense and patient reflection on his part and a readiness, if need be, to revise his own opinions and examine the objections which his colleagues might offer him.’

    I don’t see too much of this patient and humble attitude in the discussions going on all over the place at the moment.

  19. arga says:

    Burke’s legalistic noodling won’t change the fact that the pope has SAID that doctrine can be safely overridden. That is all that matters. How can you win an argument over this by declaring that “hey, it isn’t magisterial!”? Francis signed it, Francis said it, and he’s the pope. End of argument. Start the revolution.

  20. Speravi says:

    “Time is greater than space” seems to be a very important phrase to Pope Francis. It is mentioned in Lumen Fidei (57), Evangelii Gaudium (222-225), and Laudato Si (178). I was mystified the first time I read that section of Lumen Fidei and, frankly, I am still trying to understand just what is communicated by that phrase. It sure seems like there should be an easier and less esoteric-sounding way to communicate what he is trying to say.

  21. Kerry says:

    End of argument…? “Not so!”. I refute it thus, doctrine cannot be overridden.

  22. Ann Malley says:

    I’m for just ignoring the Holy Father. We have the Truth and tradition. Paying too much attention to the machinations of appeasement at the top keeps us from exercising due diligence in our daily lives.

    Catholics know what is right and what is wrong. Call it out when you see it, if it is your duty to do so. That’s an act of mercy. If the Holy Father doesn’t like it, too bad. He’s not exercising authority. He’s making a mess, something we’re all going to have to clean up eventually so we may as well get started

    Kind of like the aftermath of Dad’s bender. And enough of the nostalgia over V2 and trying to find what was good in it. That lovely incident just marked the official beginning of the drug and alcohol abuse. So putting lipstick on it at this point fools nobody, especially those children on the ground whose souls are getting joyfully abused by those who can.


  23. Brian K says:

    The 95 Theses were non magisterial too.

  24. quamquam says:

    Speravi, it seems to me that Pope Francis’ meaning in this phrase, ‘Time is greater than space’, is that it is more important to initiate processes (‘time’) that will hopefully bear greater fruit in an uncontrollable and unseen future, than to try to completely control and dominate the present reality (‘space’), looking only at short term-results – this might strangle the uncontrollable processes from the start. Maybe it is about trusting in divine providence, and that the Holy Spirit is guiding the path of the Church and the world in ways we cannot see.

    Perhaps the very phrase is an example of the principle at work – its obscurity prevented us from having instant understanding, but prompted us to remember it and think more about it. Like Our Lord’s parables.

  25. Ann Malley says:

    ….and yet Our Lord’s parables were clarified to those who followed Him. Francis speaking in riddles is somewhat like jumping off the cliff at the behest of the devil because, after all, it is said that the angels won’t let you dash your foot against a stone.

    Trusting in the Holy Ghost is to do the right thing and take the hit for it. Not doing the wrong thing or doing nothing or wasting a glut of $$$$ while pretending to be concerned for the poor only to produce an idiotic contradictory document that is only produced to give the appearance of thought and Catholic reflection. Our Lord admonishes us that our yes should be yes and our no be no. Christ’s allowing those who rejected the idea of eating His Body and drinking His Blood to walk away was the greatest testament to Truth – not the scrabbling of come back, come back. We need your $$$, I mean, we want the chance to save your soul.

    One needs to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before they can help another. And that is why those who peddle ambiguity are demonstrating their own confusion and subsequent inability to truly aid anyone in saving anything but perhaps the seat on the plane as they’re strapped in for a crash landing.

  26. Phil_NL says:

    I thought the PSAE was part of the Pastoral Magisterium.

    ‘nough said.

  27. LarryW2LJ says:

    I’ve made up my mind to “go with who I brought to the dance”. I was brought up with the Baltimore Catechism. I will stick with that and will endeavor my best to pass on those principles and teachings to my children and everyone I encounter, the best that I am able. If I do that, I will not go wrong.

  28. Papabile says:

    In the 43rd edition of Denzinger-Hünermann, we find major extracts from the text of John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio. I expect that in the 44th edition, we would find some of the same for this post synodal apostolic exhortation.

    I do not see how this cannot have a magisterial impact .

  29. tcreek says:

    I would think that if a papal document includes statements that confuses many of the faithful, on the face of it and on the whole of it, it cannot be magisterial. Christ did not confuse His Faithful in what they must believe.

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Time is greater than space.”

    Well, technically, time and space are not conjugate variables in quantum mechanics, so they are not comparable. The Uncertainty Principle relates the conjugate variables of time and energy or space and momentum. Now, one can write
    △ E △ T ≥ ℏ / 2 (where, △ means the measured uncertainty of the variable: △ E means how uncertain the measurement of the energy is) or
    △ x △ p ≥ ℏ / 2,
    but one cannot write △ E △ T ≥ ℏ / 2 (E and T do not commute, in mathematical terms).
    Now, △ T ≥ ℏ / (2△ E) and △ x ≥ ℏ / (2△ p),
    so △ T△ x ≥ 4( △ E△ p)^2

    so, I suppose that the uncertainty in time could be greater than that of the uncertainty in space. I can’t say anything about absolute time and space, however.

    Not that that means anything :)

    The Chicken

  31. Papabile says:


    By that standard, Humanae Vitae would not be magisterial. It seems to have confused numerous Catholics about the 4 licit reasons for use of the infertile period. Even though it was FOOTNOTED to Pius XII Allocution to Midwives.

    In fact, it seems to even have confused our current Pontiff who inverted that same allocution to suggest that one could use birth control defensively for eugenic reasons. (Most recent papal aeromegisterial statement.)

    Furthermore, some are confued about the primary and secondary ends of marriage, actually suggesting they no longer exist because Humanae Vitae did not use that language, even though Humanae Vitae FOOTNOTES it.

    Alas, perhaps it would be nice to be able to say Humanae Vitae was not magisterial and actually just return to Castii Connubi.

  32. Rben, OFS says:

    Ann: Catholics know what is right and what is wrong.
    Well catechized Catholics know what is right and what is wrong. Catholics with well-formed consciences know what is right and what is wrong. Looking at some of the responses from both the laity and (sadly) the clergy, it looks like there are quite a few people who either don’t know right from wrong or who do know but aren’t letting it stop them from doing what they want.

  33. tcreek says:


    I did not say it would confuse numerous “catholics” but “the faithful”. There is a noteworthy difference between a generic catholic and a faithful catholic.

  34. DFWShook says:

    The question I have is if Amoris Laetitia is not magisterial, then why bother write it?

  35. Janol says:

    “Time is greater than space”

    Googling that I discovered an interpretation of that and three other “axioms” of PF in an article by Drew Christiansen, S.J. enititled “The Church Encounters the World” in an issue of America magazine: Seems to me it would seem to support a syncretist view of religion — in the end all facets and diversities of truth will converge and be one.

  36. bourgja says:

    It is a magisterial document, albeit not an infallible one, and it does contain theological errors regarding sanctifying grace, intrinsically immoral actions, the indissolubility of a sacramental marriage, and the worthy reception of the sacraments. This calls into question the teaching authority of the pope. It is a very serious issue and needs to be addressed.

  37. Ann Malley says:

    @Rben, OFS

    Those “Catholics” be they clerics or lay folk who don’t get the basics are little babes who are lost at present. Part of growing up is learning, not just what to do, but WHY. If folks are lazy, it’s on them. Clerics, too. That is why sheep-shaming of “man up” and similar nonsense from clerics who are even unwittingly complicit in ignoring the reality of the ongoing DUMB Down are, in my book, the biggers part of the problem. Playing shepherd with half a guide book or the Idiots Guide to Speed Shepherding is dangerous.

    But again, adult Catholics know the truth….. because they seek it.

  38. Ann Malley says:


    “…The question I have is if Amoris Laetitia is not magisterial, then why bother write it?”

    To reinforce the magic show of synodality and perpetuate the myth that something real is actually being done. Kind of like using God’s name in vain. The name is used, but for no true purpose – it is sport, show, a pair of camel-sized phylacteries waved as proof of orthodoxy in front of a goggle eyed flock that has been inured with the lie that the more $$$ and time one spends is an absolute assurance of quality. Ever try to sell something at $5.00 a pop and see it sit on the shelf? Raise the price to $50.00 and put a sign over it that says, “Exclusive, one of a kind,” and everyone wants one.

    Kind of like having father say his after mass prayers for 15 whole minutes as some form of pious visual when, in reality, he’s mentally evaluating his stock buys for later that week or mentally registering which women wore low cut tops so as to speak with them later.

    It’s for show.

  39. chantgirl says:

    It’s a distinction without a difference to the vast majority of people. The feral cats are out of the bag, and it will be a huge job to collect them. So, infallible or not, the serious errors of the exhortation need to be publically corrected for the sake of souls who will be misled, and for the sake of handing on the Truth of Christ to the future generations.

    I respect Cardinal Burke’s gentlemanly tactic, but the reality on the ground calls for something more.

  40. Papabile says:


    I would argue Humanae Vitae ALSO confused “the faithful” (per your definition: not just Catholics). Specifically, I would argue that it confused them as to when recourse to natural methods is morally permissible, even though Paul VI footnoted it in Footnote 20 to Paragraph 16.

    In fact, Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives was so heavily footnoted in Humanae Vitae, I would argue that Paul VI made it his own.

    With that said, how many of “the faithful” do you really believe are aware that there are ONLY 4 reasons to have recourse to the infertile period.

    As I said previously, even the Holy Father (and I would hope you include him in “the faithful”) seemed to be confused about this when he seemed to state it was licit to have recourse to artificial methods for eugenic reasons with respect to Zika virus.

    Of course, I am sure you are aware that eugenic constitutes one of the only four reasons to have recourse to natural methods during the infertile period.

    Now, if HV could confuse the faithful on this, according to your standard, it would not be magisterial.

  41. Giuseppe says:

    Our local NPR reporter pronounced synod as SIGH-nod.

    She was right.


  42. tcreek says:

    I would argue that the “Faithful” understood very well the teachings of Humanae Vitae as it reinforced their belief in the constant doctrine that every marital act must be open to the procreation of human life. The encyclical was necessary because some priests, bishops and theologians were maintaining that the birth control pill would be morally permissible.

    One essential sentence was all that was necessary to reinforce the belief of the “Faithful” and confirm the doctrine.

    “The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. (12)” note 12 – See Pius XI. encyc. letter Casti connubi: AAS 22 (1930), 560; Pius XII, Address to Midwives: AAS 43 (1951), 843.

    I would submit that 99% of the “Faithful” were not confused about the substance of the encyclical and I doubt that many in the remaining fraction would be eager to debate the references to midwives, eugenics, and natural family planning.

  43. Praynfast says:

    Is it possible that Cardinal Burke’s article was directed mainly at priests who are looking immediate/urgent for Fatherly/Grandfatherly guidance with how to receive the document?

    Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the great Cardinal will know that he prefers to study a document at length before commenting on the words written in said document.

    His article was in regards to how the document should be received, rather than the actual contents of the document.

  44. Kathleen10 says:

    It’s exhausting to try to think of ways to politely put the many negative things I think about this document and this papacy. I can’t do it. It’s awful, on too many levels for me to dissect right now, but I do think the effects are going to be devastating for people’s souls. Basically one faction in the church is totally at odds with another faction, and the faction that is decidedly liberal has the absolute upper hand and the final word.
    I’m sorry, I admire and appreciate Cardinal Burke, and admit, I don’t know anything, I could be totally wrong on this. But oh, what we wouldn’t give for some thunder from one, two, twenty, or any number of Cardinals and Bishops, saying, this is WRONG, this is heresy, this is a departure from 2000 years of Catholic teaching! We have become as limp as noodles. Where are the men of fire!
    Is NOBODY in a position of real influence going to take this on? Is this how it goes, not with a bang but a whimper?
    Frankly, I’d rather see the church in schism than capitulating to the full on nonsense that is contained in that exhortation. In my insignificant opinion it is not minor because it is an exhortation. It is major for how it is going to be received and translated to the masses.
    “No one is condemned forever.” Feh.

  45. Tom says:

    “Otherwise… I have no idea what that means.”

    Thank you, Fr. Z. I was afraid I was just ignorant, clueless. I suppose I feel a little better that you also have no idea. Maybe it’s something Jesuitical (nonsense).

  46. kekeak2008 says:

    I’m a huge fan of Cdl. Burke, and I’m glad he released a statement. But doesn’t his argument jeopardize other documents released by previous Popes? St. John Paul II’s document Familiaris consortio is itself a PS-AE; I can see liberal catholics using his argument to undermine some of the work of JP2 and Benedict XVI.

  47. Papabile says:


    I asked MANY NFP teachers what the four permissible reasons are for recourse to the infertile periods are. Only two have ever answered me correctly. The most embarrassing occurrence was when I asked the diocesan NFP lead who addressed my pre-cana class. They suggested publicly that it was simply Catholic birth control and every couple should decide for themselves what reason they have for it.

    This directly contradicts the teaching of Humanae Vitae in paragraph 16, which footnotes Pius XII’s Allocution to Midwives. HV was nowhere near as clear as the Allocution, and numerous people misunderstand it. The issue of leaving each and every act open to procreation is separate from the four reasons that are grave enough to utilize the infertile period.

    And regardless of whether people wish to “debate” “midwives, eugenics, and natual family planning”, the truth of the matter is there are only four reasons for recourse to the infertile period per the Allocution.

    As Pius XII said, and Paul VI made his own through copious footnotes to the document: “Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to tile full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.

    Furthermore, the Faithful were only confused because the Pope established a commission to examine the question, and then Priests assured people they would be able to use it. There was some discussion among a limited set of theologians after the pill was released in 1960. Up until about 1963, virtually all the debate about it was confined to the latin language among theologians and conciliar fathers. There was not much, if any “confusion” among the lay faithful at that point. Then, in 1963, that’s when the Commission was actually established. The “confusion” developed after this. Your reasoning does not hold.

    I would include those people as “the faithful”. In fact, I would more generously include people as “the faithful” who were raised with a deformed catechesis, and yet are trying to follow what they think is true. Certainly the recent Pontiff’s seem to include them.

    There are plenty of documents from the Papacy that have confused “the faithful” in the past and they have never been questioned as non-magisterial.

  48. spock says:

    First off let me say that Cardinal Burke is a very great man whom I include in my rosary every day. That said, if this is not Magisterial teaching then seriously why do I care? We’ve been waiting months and months for this document to come out. All kinds of controversy over what it may or may not say and in the end we’re to look to the constant teaching of the Church which most of us know to a significant degree anyway. Kind óf like watching a baseball game after its been played and you already know the final score. What’s the point ? His Eminence has repeatedly said that we should get back to the point where we are not violating the law of non contradiction and he is very correct. Am I simply to interpret this document as a barometer to understand the feelings of modern Bishops? Let your yes be yes and your no be no as they say.

  49. frjim4321 says:

    Sure seems like “cafeteria Catholicism” to me.

    [Yes, Amoris laetitia does come off a bit that way.]

  50. Gerhard says:

    It boils down to honesty. An honest interpretation is as per Card. Burke. We all know that everywhere a blind eye to the truth will be turned in “praxis” (and the only reason we are using that word is because Card. Kasper ventilated it, so let’s stop using it, and use the normal word “practice” instead). The net result will be more and more devastating wars as punishment for sin.

  51. Aegidius says:

    “Praxis” is simply the word used in German where English usually sees “practice”. [It is used in English too.]

  52. frjim4321 says:

    “[Yes, Amoris laetitia does come off a bit that way.]” Our Esteemed Host

    Funny, a lot like Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. [In no way like Ordinatio sacerdotalis. OS is an Apostolic Letter with crystal clear language: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” Ooops. Sorry… I guess you were talking about your own approach to OS.]

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