German theologian Robert Spaemann on #AmorisLaetitia: Chaos and schism, God forbid!

UPDATE: Spaemann’s interview is now in English.  HERE

We are all suffering from Amoris defatigatio, I know.  But as the days and weeks pile up in the wake of Pope Francis Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and many and varying accounts and interpretations of the Exhortation emerge, it is evident that we simply have to stay on the topic.

The Exhortation seems to be creating deeper divisions out of already existing divisions.

Keep in mind my take away from the document insofar as it concerns people in “irregular” situations: The Pope has issued an “Exhortation”, an “urging, prompting encouragement”.   When the Pope exhorts, we must, at least, listen to what he has to say.  Putting aside for a moment the debate about whether or not Amoris laetitia contains a rupture with the Church’s teaching,  the Pope is, at least, urging those who are faithful to the Church’s teaching and law to even deeper compassion than they exercised before when dealing folks in “irregular situations”.  On the other hand, I hope that we can find in the Exhortation also an exhortation to those who are not particularly faithful to the Church’s doctrine and law – perhaps motivated by a false compassion – to change their ways and to be faithful to the Church’s doctrine and law and to exercise true compassion.

Now, to the harder question.  Does Amoris laetitia contain a rupture with Catholic teaching and discipline? Changes in sacramental discipline can only result in inevitable change to doctrine, for discipline hedges around and protects the doctrine it reflects.

It seems to me that a consensus is building that, yes, a break with Catholic teaching and discipline can be detected in the ambiguous language in Chapter 8. But, as many choose to read Amoris, we need to correct that ambiguity by reading that chapter in conjunction with other documents, such as Familiaris consortio.  That seems to be the approach of quite a few clerics (including bishops).  No right-minded Catholic one wants to find doctrine-splitting ambiguities in any Church document, whether of a Pope or other.  It may be that a game of mental Twister is undeway , especially by faithful clerics, so as to avoid the problems of discipline-shifting ambiguity while seeking to plant hands and feet only on the desired spots.  I confess that I am in that mode as I read Amoris laetitia: I sincerely want to embrace what is good in it.

Is that enough?

Maybe not.  After all, scripta manent.  It is a document, signed and released into the world.

Robert Spaemann, a theologian close to Ratzinger about whom I have written before, has given an interview about Amoris Laetitia to the German section of CNA.  When Spaemann speaks, we should listen.  If you don’t read German, you might read Italian.  HERE  I am sure that the whole interview with Spaemann will soon appear in English.

The most arresting statements Spaemann made.  First:

CNA: Handelt es sich hier also tatsächlich aus Ihrer Sicht um einen Bruch mit der kirchlichen Lehrtradition?

Spaemann: Dass es sich um einen Bruch handelt ergibt sich zweifellos für jeden denkenden Menschen, der die entsprechenden Texte kennt.

CNA: So, in your opinion, are we dealing with a break in the Church’s teaching tradition?

Spaemann: That we are dealing with a break results without a doubt for every thinking person who knows the relevant texts.

More Spaemann (my translation – my German is a little rusty, and perhaps some German-speaking readers can lend a hand):

CNA: What consequences do you see for the Church?

The consequences are already appearing: uncertainty and confusion from the Bishops Conferences all the way to the little priest in the jungle.  A few days ago, a priest from Congo impressed on me his perplexity in the face of this Exhortation and the lack of clear guidelines.  According to the relevant texts of Amoris laetitia, without further definition of “extenuating circumstances”, not only the divorced and remarried but all who are living in “irregular situations”, without efforts to put their sexual behavior behind them, that is, without confession and conversion, could be admitted to confession for other sins and be admitted to Communion.  Every priest who sticks to the heretofore valid sacramental discipline, can be hounded by the faithful and pressured by his bishop.  Rome can make the requirement that only “merciful” bishops be named, who are ready to undermine the existing order.  With the stroke of a pen chaos was  raised to a tenet (Das Chaos wurde mit einem Federstrich zum Prinzip erhoben.)  The Pope should have known that with such a writing, he would split the Church and lead the way to a schism.  A schism that would be not planted in the periphery but in the heart of the Church.  God forbid!

If I have not been precise in every detail, I have certainty gotten the essence of what he said into English.

Spaemann is, of course, only one voice.  He has his view.  However, note well that he is in the same theological, ecclesiological boat with (German theologian) Benedict XVI.  Spaemann watched how things have gone in Germany after the essential over-throwing of sacramental discipline.  He knows the minds of the German proponents of the changes to sacramental discipline.  Spaemann is really smart. Spaemann is not young: he personally experienced the tectonic shifts in discipline that have taken place over the last five decades.

Spaemann ends his interview with an exhortation to all priests, bishops and cardinals to defend the Church’s sacramental discipline and to profess it publicly… even if Rome does not issue clarifications.  In this he is in the same camp as Bp. Schneider (who is German, though he is a bishop in Kazakhstan).

The moderation queue is ON.


CNA’s English translation of what I quoted, above:

What consequences do you see for the Church?

The consequences are already foreseeable: uncertainty and confusion, from the bishops’ conferences to the small parishes in the middle of nowhere. A few days ago, a priest from the Congo expressed to me his perplexity in light of this new papal document and the lack of clear precedents. According to the respective passages from Amoris laetitia, not only remarried divorcés but also everyone living in some certain “irregular situation” could, by further nondescript “mitigating circumstances”, be allowed to confess other sins and receive Communion even without trying to abandon their sexual conduct – that means without confession and conversion. Each priest who adheres to the until-now valid discipline of the sacraments, could be mobbed by the faithful and be put under pressure from his bishop. Rome can now make the stipulation that only “merciful” bishops will be named, who are ready to soften the existing discipline. Chaos was raised to a principle by the stroke of a pen. The Pope must have known that he would split the Church with such a step and lead toward a schism – a schism that would not be settled on the peripheries, but rather in the heart of the Church. May God forbid that from happening.

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  1. ChrisRawlings says:

    The synodal process, and now the ensuing exhortation, has laid bare the entrenched divisions within the Church. That much is clear. Some conservatives rather optimistically guessed that Pope Francis was “flushing out the heretics,” or something like that, for the benefit of the rest of us. I confess that I have no clue, really, what he’s doing, but I don’t think he’s doing that. Intentional or not, though, it is clear that he has flushed out the divisions in the Church which are deep, profound, and touch on even the most elemental aspects of Catholic life. Though prelates will dutifully profess a generalized unity on these matters, that is hardly credible given what we are seeing.

    My sense is that conservatives are choosing to more or less let this pontificate run its course, with an expectation that the successor of Francis will be willing and able to issue the necessary clarifications to the controversies that this pontificate has presided over. Whether that’s a wise strategy or not is debatable.

    What is not especially debatable, though, is that a foundational crisis of identity, faith, and meaning within the Church has turned into a dumpster fire. Although they are all related, the abuse crisis, secularization, and the post-conciliar confusion together make this current crisis even more dramatic and consequential. You do get the sense—or, at least, I do—that the way this plays out will be very, very messy. I tend to think that Francis is simply trying to prevent that. The irony is that, unintentionally, he may be making such a resolution even more urgent and ugly.

  2. Peter Stuart says:

    When the Pope exhorts, we must, at least, listen to what he has to say.

    It’s the listening that has me asking “I reverted why?” every time the Holy Father speaks. When things need saying in this many words, with all this meandering and inconsistency, the value of continuing to listen is lost on me. It all just seems like so much mental abuse.

  3. lgreen515 says:

    Doesn’t the fact that mercy can only come after repentance solve any problems with section 8? All the ambiguity in the world cannot change that important fact. Repentance is turning away from our sin. So unless the Pope is saying that marriage is no longer indissoluble, which he says he is not saying, then I don’t think there is a problem. The church offers a way to communion–the divorced and remarried couple can live together as brother and sister. Maybe they will falter and fall. I know I keep repeating the same sins over and over. But at least they can be guided into the truth. I will be interested in what others have to say.

  4. kiwiinamerica says:

    Slice it, dice it, any way you like.

    Amoris Laetitia is rupture. It cannot be reconciled with Familiaris Consortio.

    From the Pope’s invitation to Kasper to present his “serene theology”, to the exclusion of groups like Voice of the Family from the Synods, to the rigged 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family with its false interim relatio, to last year’s Synod on the Family to AL……all of this was an orchestrated, premeditated attempt to make an end run around Familiaris Consortio.

    And they did it……………right in your face!

    So what ya going to do about it?

  5. jst5000 says:

    “But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. ” (1 Corinthians 5:11)

    “And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.” (Matthew 18:17)

    “I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them.” (Romans 16:17 )

    Perhaps, we are experiencing the punishment for not heeding these (and many other) warnings about letting the mortally sinful dwell amongst us without reproach.

  6. Mariana2 says:

    “Spaemann: Dass es sich um einen Bruch handelt ergibt sich zweifellos für jeden denkenden Menschen, der die entsprechenden Texte kennt.”
    That we are dealing with a break/rupture is without a doubt what every thinking person, who knows the relevant texts, must arrive at.

  7. martin.c says:

    Spanish translation of the full interview for anyone interested:

  8. Clemens Romanus says:

    Domine, miserere nobis!

  9. paterscotus says:

    As a priest I am guided by ch. 33 of Ezechiel – the “watchman” who is held to account for either his warning of danger or his failure to warn. For decades now the “traditionalists” (i.e, faithful Catholics) have been themselves warning that we have been steering toward the rocks. Now, with the publication of AL, the present danger is clear (0r should be except for her “frogs” slowly boiling). At risk are innumerable souls.

    We must resist.


    (Note: this is not me. I am not nearly as eloquent.)

  10. jhayes says:

    According to the relevant texts of Amoris laetitia,without further definition of “extenuating circumstances”, not only the divorced and remarried but all who are living in “irregular situations”, without efforts to put their sexual behavior behind them, that is, without confession and conversion, could be admitted to confession for other sins and be admitted to Communion?

    I haven’t read anything in AL that suggests that to me – if what it is saying is that people who are conscious of sinning mortally by living in “irregular situations” could validly confess without mentioning those sins.

    I think that what AL is pointing out is that the criterion for receiving the Eucharist is subjective rather than objective. Some people (even if not many) living in “irregular” situations are not sinning. After discussing their situation with a priest, they are free to receive Communion.

    As AL says: “it can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace…”

  11. Blas says:

    Dear Fr. Z. I have two questions. First: How can I be more compassionate with the couples in irregular situations? I know two in my family, and they are not looking for my compassion, probably they are looking for my approval in some way because they do not care to much of it. [Take upon yourself mortifications and penances for their sake. Pray constantly for them. Pray and fast. Perform acts of reparation on their behalf.]
    Second: How can read chapter 8 in conjunction with other documents, such as Familiaris consortio and do not feel like one of that persons closed to the surprise of the Holy Spirit, or trowing the Law to the people? [You open up the documents and read them and you conform your life to the Church’s teachings on faith and morals according to your state in life and… GO TO CONFESSION.]

  12. Pingback: Amoris lætitia II | Ora Te canentium

  13. tcreek says:

    The suffering of Pope Benedict must be intense. May he live till the next conclave to greet the new pope.

  14. Imrahil says:

    Well, you know, translating is a hobby of mine, so…

    ‘EXCLUSIVE NEWS: “A rupture from teaching tradition” – Robert Spaemann on Amoris laetitia

    Rome/Stuttgart, 28 April, 2016 / 9:05 AM (CNA Deutsch).

    St. John Paul II valued him as one of his counselors, Benedict XVI values him as one of his friends, and he is held to be the most important Catholic German philosopher of the last decades: Robert Spaemann. In an exclusive interview with CNA Deutsch [the German edition of CNA] the professor emeritus of philosophy gives a markedly critical reading of Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’s almost 300-pages-long post-synodal letter that was presented on April 8th.

    Q: Professor Spaemann, you have accompanied the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI with your philosophy. Many of the faithful are now discussion in what manner Amoris laetitia is to be read in continuity with the teaching of the Church and of these Popes. What is your opinion on this?

    Sp: For the largest part this is possible, although the direction allows implications that cannot be rendered compatible with Church doctrine. Yet Article 305 combined with Annotation 351, where it is observed that some of the faithful “in the midst of an objective situation of sin” can be admitted to the sacraments “for reason of mitigating circumstances” is a direct contradiction to Article 84 of John Paul II’s letter Familiaris consortio.

    Q: For John Paul II, what was this all about?

    Sp: John Paul II teaches that human sexuality is a “real-symbol of the dedication [“Hingabe”, which is an emphatic intensification of “love”] of a person as a whole”, und zwar [which means something like “namely” or “and this among other things”] “without any limits w.r.t. time or anything else”. Hence he frames it quite clearly in Article 84: Remarried dicorced people must abstain from sexuality if they want to go to Communion. Chancing the practice of the administering of the sacraments is not, hence, a “further development of Familiaris consortio” as Cardinal Kasper will have it, but a rupture with its essential anthropological and theological teaching on human marriage and sexuality.

    [Up to here, Prof. Spaemann has given statements of the contents of Familiaris consortio, Amoris laetitia. What follows now is Prof. Spaemann’s opinion, though he makes a good case that it is also John Paul II’s opinion; it is, however, his very point that Pope Francis is of a different opinion. – note by me.]

    The Church does not have the authority [“Vollmacht”, a “deputyish” authority] to approve of [literally, “sanction positively”] disordered sexual relationships by the administering of sacraments, forestalling God’s mercy in the process. It is immaterial how these situations would have to be judged on a human basis or on a moral basis. The door is here closed – just as it is in the case of woman priests. [For the “just as”, Prof. Spaemann is wrong; Familiaris consortio, other than (at least practically speaking) Ordinatio sacerdotalis, did not dogmatize. – Note by me.]

    Q: Couldn’t it be objected that, although the anthropological and theological considerations you mentioned be right, still God’s mercy is not bound to these limits, but builds on the concrete situation of each single man [and woman – “Mensch”]?

    Sp: The mercy of God concerns the core of Christian faith in the incarnation and redemption. Of course, God does have each single man [and woman – dito] in his view, in his concrete situation. He knows him better than this one knows himself. But Christian life is not a pedagogical event [“Veranstaltung”, which is a sort of an organized event] wherein to move towards marriage, as towards an ideal, as Amoris laetitia seems to suggest in many places. The entire area of relationships, specially of sexuality, is about human dignity [Spaemann is German – note by me], his personality and freedom.

    It has something to do with the body being a “temple of God” (1 Cor 6,19). Any violation of this area, however often it may occur, is consequently as well a violation of the relationship with God to which Christians know themselves to be called [same word-stem, in German, as in “vocation”], a sin against holiness, and ever in need of purification and conversion [or less litterally, repentance. The German has “Umkehr”, not the more technical “Konversion”].

    God’s mercy precisely consists in, ever again, making this conversion possible. Of course it is not bound to any limits, but the Church itself is bound to the proclamation of conversion and does not have the authority [Vollmacht again] to step, in administering sacraments, over existing limits and do violence to God’s mercy. That would be presumptuous. Clerics who respect the existing order consequently do not condemn [or less literally, “judge”] anyone, but observe and proclaim this limit to the [does he mean “necessitated by the”? But the original has “to the”] holiness of God. A salutary proclamation.

    Insinuating that they [the following is indirect speech and marked by a subjunctive] “hide behind the teaching of the Church” and “sit down [literally: set themselves] on the Chair of Moses” to throw “pieces of rock … on to the lives of men” (Article 305) – I will not comment on that further on. Let it just be noted that here, the respective passage in the Gospelis alluded to in a misunderstanding manner. Jesus does say that the Pharisees and Scribes sit on the Chair of Moses, but he emphasizes expressly that the disciples are to comply with what they say. Only they are not to live as they do (Mt 23,2).

    Q: Pope Francis has emphasized that one isn’t to focus on singular sentences of his doctrinal letter, but keep the whole of it in mind.

    Sp: Concentrating on the said passages in the text is, in my eyes, completely justified. With a papal doctrinal letter, one cannot expect men to rejoice over a beautiful text and overlook decisive sentences that change Church doctrine [! – note by me]. There isn’t, in fact, here anything else possible than a clear yes-no-decision[! – note by me]. Give Communion or refuse it – there is not anything in the middle. [! – note by me.]

    Q: The Holy Father underlines in his writing, and repeatedly, that noone must be condemned forever [“auf ewig”: or “for eternity”].

    Sp: I find it hard to understand what he means. That the Church must not condemn anyone personally, least of all forever [again “auf ewig”], is clear anyway – nor is the Church able to do so, thank God. But if it is about sexual relationships in objective disagreement with a Christian order of life, I should like the Pope to answer the following question: precisely [word inserted for better flow in English] after which time and under which circumstances does an objectively sinful conduct transform into one pleasing to God?

    Q: So are we indeed talking about a rupture of ecclesial teaching tradition?

    Sp: That we are talking about a rupture is something any thinking man must conclude who knows the texts in question.

    Q: Speaking independently of whether to agree or not [with Spaemann, the interviewer means, I think]: The question arises, how did all this happen?

    Sp: That Pope Francis is at a critical distance to his predecessor John Paul II was already on the horizon when he canonized him together with John XXIII for whom specifically let fall the second miracle [normally] necessary for canonizations. This was perceived by many, and correctly, as manipulative. It seemed the Pope intended to relatives the importance of John Paul II. [Well, whatever we think of the letting-fall the second miracle, I think Prof. Spaemann reads a bit much into this, but that’s just me.]

    But the real problem is a tendency in moral theology which is influential since many years, already with the Jesuits of the 16th century, which advocates for an entire situational ethics [“Situationsethik”, one of the three alternatives together with “Gesinnungsethik” and “Verantwortungsethik” in German philosophy and theology]. The quotes from Thomas Aquinas which the Pope gives in Amoris laetitia seem to support this direction. But it is here overlooked that Thomas does know objectively sinful actions that know of no situative exceptions; and they include all disordered ways of sexual conducts.

    Just like [the Jesuit theologian, note by me] Karl Rahner [! – note by me] did in an essay in the 1950s that contains all essential, still valid arguments, John Paul II rejected situational ethics and condemned it in his encyclical Veritatis splendor. With this doctrinal letter, too, Amoris laetitia breaks. We must not forget here that it was John Paul II which chose the Divine Mercy as his pontificate’s topic, devoted his second incyclical to it, discovered Sr. Faustina’s diary in Cracow and later canonized her. He is her authentic interpreter.

    Q: What are the consequences you see for the Church?

    Sp: The consequences are already on the horizon: uncertainty and confusion from the episcopal conferences down to the little parish-priest in the jungle [literally “primeval forest”]. Few days ago, a priest from the Congo expressed to me his preplexity in the face of this doctrinal letter and the lack of a clear guideline. According to the respective text-passages of Amoris laetitia in “mitigating circumstances” not defined any more precisely, not only the remarried divorced people, but all living in any “irregular situation” [is that really in AL – note by me] can be admitted, without the endeavor to leave their sexual ways of conduct behind themselves, to Confession of other sins and to Communion. Each priest that sticks to the sacramental discipline hitherto in force can be bullied by the faithful and pressured by his bishop. Rom can issue the guideline that only “merciful” bishops be nominated who are willing to water down the existing order. Chaos, with a stroke of the pen, has been raised to a principle. The Pope should have known that, taking such a step, he is dividing the Church and leads her in the direction of a schism. A schism that is not located at the periphery, but in the heart of the Church. May God prevent that.

    But there’s one thing I’m sure of: The target of this pontificate, to wit: that the Church overcome her self-referentiality to approach people with a free heart – by this doctrinal letter, this target has been made impossible to reach for an unforeseeable time. Also, a boost of secularization and a further reduction in the number of priests in many parts of the world are likewise to be expected. After all, it has been observable for quite some time that bishops and dioceses with an unambigious position in terms of faith and morals recruit the highest numbers [literally, “have the most offspring”] of priests. One might be reminded of the words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians, “if the trumpet does not sound clearly, who will then reach for the weapons (of the Holy Spirit)?” (1 Cor 14,8).

    Q: How should it, now, go on according to your opinion?

    Sp: Each single Cardinal, but also each bishop and priest is now requested to uphold the Catholic sacramental discipline within his area of responsibility, and to confess to it publicly. In case the Pope is not stoned to [haha, joke. The German original does have “breit”, which means stoned, but it is an obvious spelling mistake of “bereit”, ready] perform corrections, it shall be reserved for a later pontificate to, in an official manner, put things right again.

    [Thank you!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  15. Joseph-Mary says:

    Cardinals against cardinals and bishops against bishops: Our Lady warned us.

  16. Polycarpio says:

    It seems to me that the first thing to say is that the rupture in the Church, while it is a difference of opinion about the basic core principles that animate it, it is not a schism or a formal rupture. Most of the time, the Catholic compact holds: Kasper and Burke have not excommunicated each other, or formally declared anathemas. Certainly, the competent dicastery, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, deems both these prelates, and others with their respective points of view, in good standing. Occasionally, the two sides will accuse the other of formal heresy or warn of a looming schism, whether formal or de facto. But, it seems to me that, most of the time, such accusations are driven by a shift in the focus of the accuser. In other words, we can “read Francis through Benedict,” as Fr. Z. was fond of saying early in the pontificate, or we can consider every pontificate “a parenthesis” as he has taken to saying lately. It seems to me that every pronouncement by Pope Francis, and by every other pope for that matter, must be read not only with a “hermeneutic of continuity,” but also through a hermeneutic of harmony, meaning a standing presumption that there is not a formal schism, despite the fact that we have vigorously and passionately felt, competing views of the Church. And not to put too fine a point on it, it also seems to me that sometimes the confusion we experience stems not only from the imprecision of a particular statement, but also from the haste by some to look for heresy under every rock, as opposed to a firm faith in the institution.

  17. Imrahil says:

    correction: Spaemann locates the situational ethic Jesuits in the 17th century, not the 16th. (I must have been thinking that this century has years beginning with “16”).

  18. MGL says:

    Father, Catholics have been playing what you call “mental Twister” for some 50 years now, trying to focus on the good parts of Church documents–those that can be read in continuity with her eternal teachings–while ignoring or downplaying the ambiguous or questionable parts of the same documents. With the benefit of hindsight, how well has that strategy worked?

    I think Dr Spaemann gets it right on the mental-Twister question:

    Q. Pope Francis has stressed that we should not focus on only single sentences of his teachings; rather the whole should be kept in mind.

    A. Concentrating on the stated passages is fully justified in my eyes. It cannot be expected in a papal exhortation that people will rejoice in a pleasant text and ignore decisive sentences, which change the teachings of the Church. There is actually only a clear yes or no decision: to give Communion or not. There is no intermediary between them.

  19. thomas tucker says:

    Maybe jhayes’ interpretation is correct. I hope so. BUT, two things: what about the add on statment that point sout how difficult it si for couples to live in brother-sister relationships, and if it is really so clear and simple, then why isn’t it clearly and simply said in the document?

  20. Benedict Joseph says:

    Truly it is edifying in the extreme that so many are exhibiting concern and a real effort to understand the content and consequences of “Amoris Laetitia.” What a wonderful reality is laid open that there is indeed a deep and authentic characteristic in the Catholic soul to reverence Peter, to give him deference, to listen attentively to his teaching
    What a tragedy that this distinctive charism is taxed, if not abused, by such a poorly conceived document. If indeed it was poorly conceived. Was it not deliberately conceived? Is to ask such a question sinful? Are only certain members of the Mystical Body allowed to make their queries and unease known?
    It does not require a great scholar such as Robert Spaemann or a faithful ecclesiastic (and no small scholar himself) such as Athanasius Schneider to recognize the very real dilemma presented by the exhortation. Assuming the exhortation was accurately translated; given the hubbub that has arisen about it has not garnered any further comment from the Holy See than what they have offered, we must admit, being individuals of good faith and common sense, it says what it says. And that is a genuine authentic big problem. It appears to be a problem which significant individuals have no difficulty laying upon the shoulders of the laity. That is an even bigger problem.
    Docility in the face of “shaky theology” is nothing but cowardliness. It is the pose of the sycophant. It is not only unacceptable, but it appears sinful given that souls are in deep jeopardy. The motto of the heterodox boldly practice is disarm, demean and defeat. The enemy is within. Am I misinformed that Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid is denying Cardinal Muller an opportunity to present his new book within the Archdiocese? Am I misinformed that Archbishop terms Cardinal Muller an enemy of the Pope? Is this where we have arrived eleven years after the papacy of “Fides et Ratio,” the papacy of Divine Mercy?
    This present era is manifesting behavioral symptoms of Stockholm syndrome. It too must at least be recognized for what it is.

  21. Cosmos says:

    Jhayes, did you finish reading the paragraph you quoted? It states that even a Catholic’s knowledge of a rule is no longer considered enough to determine culpability…

    “301. For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised. The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation 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. As the Synod Fathers put it, “factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision”.340 Saint Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well;341 in other words, although someone may possess all the infused moral virtues, he does not clearly manifest the existence of one of them, because the outward practice of that virtue is rendered difficult: “Certain saints are said not to possess certain virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues”.342”

  22. Janol says:

    Spaemann says “The Pope must have known that he would split the Church with such a step and lead toward a schism…”

    According to the Holy Father’s theological advisor, ghostwriter, and close friend, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, the thinking, as disclosed in an interview published in the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera last May, is that a schism is not possible because the “people are with Francis and they love him.”:

    “CdS: Aren’t you worried that his pontificate will quickly be tossed aside after he’s no longer pope?

    — “No, there’s no turning back. If and when Francis is no longer pope, his legacy will remain strong. For example, the pope is convinced that the things he’s already written or said cannot be condemned as an error. Therefore, in the future anyone can repeat those things without fear of being sanctioned. And then the majority of the People of God with their special sense will not easily accept turning back on certain things.”

    CdS: Don’t you see the risk of “two Churches”?

    “– No. There’s a schism when a group of important people share the same sensibilities that reflect those of a vast section of society. Luther and Protestantism came about that way. But now the overwhelming majority of the people are with Francis and they love him. His opponents are weaker than what you think. Not pleasing everyone does not mean provoking a schism.”

  23. jhayes says:

    From Imrahil’s translation: According to the respective text-passages of Amoris laetitia[,] in “mitigating circumstances” not defined any more precisely,….

    AL doesn’t lack for explanations of “mitigating circumstances.” It has a section entitled “Mitigating Factors in Pastoral Discernment,” which goes on for several pages (#301 et seq). Perhaps the complaint is that this is an outline for a process of discernment to be applied on a case-by-case basis rather than a list of rules to be applied to all cases. In 305, Francis writes “Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God.”

  24. JARay says:

    There was a time when the heresy of Arianism was rampant throughout the Church. This is no longer the case, it was overturned. No matter how popular the present pope is (and I would question that assertion) I do not see Kasperism spreading throughout the Church.

  25. Justalurkingfool says:


    As an abandoned spouse, I am curious. Could you elaborate as to those “mitigating circumstances”, more specifically?


  26. jhayes says:

    Cosmos, “it’s a reference to Familaris Consortio #33: “she [the Church] knows that many couples encounter difficulties not only in the concrete fulfillment of the moral norm but even in understanding its inherent values.”

  27. JARay says:

    I see that there is a new international organisation which has been formed calling itself Veri Catholici and it is seeking to set up an international conference in Rome demanding the recall of Amoris Laetitia by the pope.

  28. jhayes says:

    The first quotation mark shouldn’t be there. Sorry.

  29. LeeF says:

    I read the article in German and then Imrahil’s translation above, and he did an excellent job. There are two passages that I think need to be focused on, apart from considerations of a break with Church teaching (using Imrahil’s translation above).

    “God’s mercy precisely consists in, ever again, making this conversion possible.”

    This is key, i.e. God’s Mercy consists in making a return/repentance/conversion of heart possible. NOT in giving sacramental recognition to continuing unrepentent sinful behavior.

    “There isn’t, in fact, here anything else possible than a clear yes-no-decision. Give Communion or refuse it – there is not anything in the middle.”

    While the end result is a binary decision, it is the process leading up to same that the liberals and possible the HF wish to qualify. And the funny thing is that Pope Francis has more than once talked against sophistry, and cased-based reasoning. Thus the body of his own words (or at least including those of others to which he affixes his signature), is not consistent within itself. On a personal moral basis, we would call that a lack of integrity.

  30. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Such sadness.

  31. Filipino Catholic says:

    Is it too late to wait for a “Pius IX moment” where something happens that drastically alters Francis’ orientation with respect to continuity and tradition?

  32. Ave Crux says:

    Father, thank you for “accompanying” us in the BEST sense of the word during these bewildering times. To have a priest address these things for us is a blessing.

    You indicate correctly that no right-minded Catholic would want to find doctrine splitting ambiguities in a Church document.

    Yes, while good, faithful and observant Catholics might find it necessary to do some mind-bending to make what doesn’t seem right in the document look right from another angle of “hermeneutic”,

    1) this certainly ought not to be necessary or even admissible with Papal documents, especially when intended to address and resolve matters of faith and morals and

    2) furthermore, for faithful Catholics to do so would be the Choir preaching to itself….

    It’s the ones who DON’T want to accept the moral teachings of the Church who will take the document on its face and leverage all the latitude they can out of the (not-so-ambiguous) ambiguity, and not care a whit for any kind of “hermeneutic” of continuity.

    Indeed, I think the (not-so-ambiguous) ambiguity is there precisely by design — so those who wish to do the latter have free range to do so.

    They were just clever in the way everything was phrased in order to effect the intended break with Church teaching while pretending not to have done so. If this were not true, the resulting “loopholes” and “exceptions in praxis” would have been just as securely closed off as they have been in past papal documents on marriage and the family.

    It’s time we accept the full reality of what is happening in our Church…..”an enemy has done this”….

    From an article on how this would be possible…

    “Ex-Communist and celebrated convert Douglas Hyde revealed long ago that in the 1930s the Communist leadership issued a worldwide directive about infiltrating the Catholic Church. While in the early 1950s, Mrs. Bella Dodd was also providing detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church.

    “Speaking as a former high ranking official of the American Communist Party, Mrs. Dodd said: ‘In the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.’

    “The idea was for these men to be ordained and progress to positions of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops. A dozen years before Vatican II she stated that: ‘Right now they are in the highest places in the Church’ … She also said that these changes would be so drastic that ‘you will not recognise the Catholic Church.’

    “Dodd gave voluminous testimony on communist infiltration of Church and state before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s. In a lecture at Fordham University during that time, Dodd unveiled what would seem to be an uncanny prophecy of future chaos in the Church…..”

    While the Church Herself can never be defective — those who have entered it — or remained in it — for the purposes of remaking Her in a more ungodly form can certainly wreak havoc.

  33. Ave Crux says:

    P.S. I am not by any stretch proposing that Pope Francis was among those initiated into the seminaries by the Communist Party — In fact, I don’t believe for a minute he is.

    But he was formed in the Modernist climate which resulted from this treachery, as were many of his confreres who are now leading the Church’s hierarchy.

    Under the influence of secular humanism and a false “mercy” inculcated during the 60’s at seminaries throughout the world, their Catholicism has become vitiated and suspect. They often don’t think as men with a supernatural grasp of God’s plan for the human race.

  34. Augustine says:

    Francis reminds me of Fra Angelico’s fresco in the cathedral in Orvieto, “The Last Judgment”.

  35. Pingback: Amoris Lætitia, Post Examen – Big Pulpit

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