Important analysis of #AmorisLaetitia : Who won the battle? (Seminarians – ALERT!)

16_04_14 go and sinIs Fatigue of Love setting in yet?

There has been a lot of commentary in the last few hard days about Amoris laetitia (aka Familiaris divortio).

What I have been trying to get across is that 1) Amoris did not change Catholic doctrine or law, and that 2) even though there are insinuations and serious problems not to be glossed over in the document which will cause division among those already inclined to division, 3) both sides are challenged in the exhortation to greater compassion and fidelity.

I received in email some comments about Amoris laetitia from a thoughtful source who has been keeping a close eye on the machinations of the Synods, et al., for years.  I have edited it heavily, while preserving the core.

Again, edited for public consumption, with my now oft-imitated treatment.  So, crawl back in through the window and off of the ledge… read on:

First, The Big Question: who won the battle?

The question refers, of course, to the battle between the Kasperites and Catholics [note the distinction] over the question of the admission of the civilly divorced and remarried (CDR) to penance and holy communion.  There are some corollary issues (pre-maritally cohabitating couples, same-sex couples, and simple adultery and fornication). But the Big Question concerns CDRs.  Prior to the opening of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, none of us knew that the Kasperites were going to use the CDR issue as the thin-edge-of-the-wedge, or, if you prefer, the Trojan Horse, that Archbishop Bruno Forte stealthily snuck into the Synod’s Interim Report after the first week of the 2014 Synod.  THAT was the moment when many of us knew that “homosexuality” was the bigger issue for the Kasperites, who were hoping that the sympathy that could be produced among bishops on behalf of CDRs was more likely to move the synod members to allow access to Communion on their behalf than was the “plight of homosexuals”. It’s like this: once a way had been found to admit CDRs to Communion, the Domino Effect would see to it that opposition to others, including homosexuals, would give way. NB: This is STILL the Kasperite strategy.

In answer to the Big Question, above, Catholics won the battle technically speaking, but the Kasperites won the battle in real terms.

Explanation: Read sections 297-312 of Amoris Laetitia. Technically speaking, the Pope does not spell out that CDRs can be admitted to the sacraments of Penance or Eucharist.  Try to understand just how important a victory this is for our side. We won. The Pope knows this. Kasper knows this. Heck, even the NCReporter knows this (aka National Sodomitic Reporter). Just plain forget all the exegesis of footnotes that you may be reading about on the internet. The Pope does not draw a straight line from X to Y. He. Does.  Not.  And he knows that he would have had to that just that in order to change Church doctrine and discipline. In the end, he could not do it and he did not do it. For a long time I feared that he would, and I was not alone.

16_04_14 sr lucy marriage familySome of you will rightly insist that this “victory” of ours is only a formal one (in the theological sense of “formal”). I agree. BUT… I’ll take it! Remember: This was NOT the outcome that Pope Francis along with Cardinal Kasper and Friends wanted. Since the Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals in February 2014, when Pope Francis invited Kasper to address the entire College of Cardinal, Kasper and Friends have wanted to change Church teaching (they maintained they only wanted to change its discipline). They wanted the “Kasper Proposal” – that adopts the Eastern Orthodox practice of admitting “repentant” CDRs to Communion – to be formally adopted by the Catholic Church. Pope Francis made it clear to everyone that he was backing the Kasper Proposal, and Pope Francis knows how to use his absolute power! For example, he personally chose over 1/3 of the voting members of both Synods, he personally chose those who wrote all of the Synod documents, he named as Cardinals a couple of Synod bishops who backed the Kasper Proposal during the 2014 Synod, he demoted Cardinal Burke after the 2014 Synod, thus depriving the Cardinal of an ex officio place in the 2015 Synod. And I could go on. Nevertheless, the Pope was denied this victory twice, first at the 2014 Synod and then at the 2015 Synod. It became clear to Pope Francis that the Kasper Proposal was going to divide the bishops and that the division would be rancorous. So he pulled back.

As I said, we will take this. [Darn tootin’!] It’s not everything we wanted. We wanted the ban on Communion for CDRs that is found in the 1981 Post-Synodal Apostolic Letter, Familiaris Consortio, n. 84, to be ratified. The Pope did not do that either. But … and this is a big but… by not formally retracting the teaching in FC 84, he let it stand. [Re-read that if you have to.]

Hence, Catholics can maintain that Church teaching and discipline have not formally changed.

Ross Douthat, in an intelligent piece in the New York Times (aka Hell’s Bible), puts the matter clearly:

“Now we have an answer, of sorts. In his new letter on marriage and the family, the pope does not endorse a formal path to communion for the divorced and remarried, which his allies pushed against conservative opposition at two consecutive synods in Rome, and which would have thrown Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage (and sexual ethics writ large) into flagrant self-contradiction.

“But what he does seem to encourage, in passages that are ambiguous sentence by sentence but clearer in their cumulative weight, is the existing practice in many places — the informal admission of remarried Catholics to communion by sympathetic priests.”

Douthat is correct that Pope Francis does seem toencourage the current practice in many places whereby CDRs are admitted to Communion in spite of the fact that official teaching of the Church forbids it. ….

But for now I want to get back to the Big Question.

We won technically, but in real terms Kasper won.

The Kasper Proposal in effect was incorporated in the Amoris laetitia through the back door.

Now in 10 languages!


That is not everything that Kasper and Friends wanted, and they must have mixed feelings just as the Catholics do, but for very different reasons. If I were a Kasperite, in my heart I would be saying that the Catholics won, because I would know that unless and until Church teaching (discipline) formally changes, I cannot insist that my proposal be adopted everywhere by law.Priests here, there, and everywhere will be free to refuse sacramental absolution and Holy Communion to individuals who flat out refuse to live in accord with God’s law. Bishops will not be able to force priests to adopt the still legally prohibited Kasper Proposal. [A point I made the other day.] Priests who adopt the Kasper Proposal are probably priests who have done so all along.

[This adds a dimension that is IMPORTANT for SEMINARIANS!  PAY ATTENTION!  Do I have your FULL attention?] When seminarians study marriage and sexual ethics and encounter Amoris Laetitia in the classroom they will know what to think about it in advance, thanks to faithful bishops, theologians and bloggers! [This is a key to our future.] AL actually makes bishops more impotent the more they embrace the Kasper Proposal because they will only be able to huff and puff about it (see Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago!). But priests are free to follow the Church’s teaching as expressed in Familiaris Consortio 84, teaching that was not formally changed by AL.  [That’s a WIN, friends.]

Herein lies the real weakness of the document called Amoris Laetitia.

IF Pope Francis were convinced that the Kasper Proposal is indeed fully orthodox in a Catholic sense, THEN why didn’t he INSIST that bishops and priests adopt it and why didn’t he spell that out? Why didn’t he expressly command that CDRs and others in “irregular” sexual situations be admitted to the sacraments of Penance and Communion, instead of just hinting at it? [QUAERITUR:]How is it merciful that persons whom the Pope claims are not living in sin be barred from the sacraments?

No, the logic of Pope Francis’ “theology” is that his version of mercy trumps all other considerations. So [NB] the fact that he does not take these steps, that all he can muster is a kind of wink and nod in the direction of admission to the sacraments, the fact that he could not expressly retract the law of the Church in FC 84 and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church means that Amoris Laetitia is [NB] in contradiction not with previous Church teachings, but with itself. And the weaker side in the Pope’s contradiction is the side that he personally favors.

That was probably a roller coaster for most of you.

The writer makes important points that everyone out there having a spittle-flecked nutty should ponder, preferably while breathing into a paper bag.   Of course grasping what the writer is arguing requires, 1) actually thinking about it, 2 ) the long view, an eye on the future, 3) remembering what happened over the last three years or so leading up to this Letter.

I urge people who don’t want to think, or who don’t want to consider the lead up and the view to the future, not to comment here or elsewhere.

The moderation queue is ON and I will prune comments that are not ad rem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. LarryW2LJ says:

    So in the end, AmorisLaetitia is kind of a Rorschach Test. “Look at this ink blot and tell me what you see?”

    The Catholics will point to the doctrine, and will see what has always been. The “Others” will point to the footnote and will see their butterfly.

    Oy! The silver lining, as you point out, Father, is that the rug can’t be pulled out from under faithful Seminarians. They can stay steadfast, and we will continue to pray that they will.

    I suppose it’s too early to be able to tell with any conviction, but I sure hope the “JPII and Benedict XVI Effect”, of bringing good, faithful, stalwart young men into the Seminaries is still holding fast.

  2. Dave N. says:

    “Priests who adopt the Kasper Proposal are probably priests who have done so all along.”

    This is widespread practice in this State especially for couples who want, but are clearly never going to get, an ruling of nullity. This practice will continue (spread? I don’t know…) because there is nothing in AI that calls out Pastors who are doing this to stop. If anything, just the opposite.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Thanks for this…and I shared it on facebook.

  4. iamlucky13 says:

    “In answer to the Big Question, above, Catholics won the battle technically speaking, but the Kasperites won the battle in real terms.”

    I suppose we could say, “Mission Accomplished” with a great deal of fanfare and photo ops on an aircraft carrier, but in reality, the battle has become one against a shadowy insurgency.

  5. scotus says:

    I thought that I understood all of that until he said that in real terms Kasper won. But he says:
    “If I were a Kasperite, in my heart I would be saying that the Catholics won, because I would know that unless and until Church teaching (discipline) formally changes, I cannot insist that my proposal be adopted everywhere by law.” How is that a real terms win?

  6. scotus says:


    But it also has this from a very unhappy bunny:
    Mary Hunt, Co-Director of Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

    “Amoris Laetitia is a study in ambiguity that gives new evidence for the use of the term “jesuitical”. Published under the name of the current Jesuit pope, the document is really several somewhat disjointed pieces — a biblical study, some reflections on families that border on New Age, restatement of institutional Church teachings on the topic, and some toying with change that does not amount to much of anything new.

    Effective contraception is still banned; same-sex marriage is still seen as completely different from heterosexual marriage. Those who are divorced and remarried are told in pastoral practice to do what they think is best in conversation with their local priest.

    Alas, the hetero monogamous ideal remains in place while lip service is paid to the remote possibility of other options. Clearly the input of lay people at the two Synods amounted to little or nothing. All in all, this is a missed opportunity for Pope Francis to demonstrate that there is anything new under the Vatican sun.”

    [Right! Homosexualists and promoters of lust do NOT like this document and they are disappointed with Francis, as are the promoters of ordination of women.]

  7. Thomistica says:

    Well, yes, it is indeed a good point to establish that bishops do not have sway over those priests who want to follow the tradition. On the other hand, what is the value of proclaiming a win or victory, if the situation is like one in which the enemy has breached the weak walls of the outer redoubt and his sappers are now closing in on the inner compound, and most of the defending officers have fled.

  8. CradleRevert says:

    I agree. While far from ideal, the exhortation was not nearly the disaster that many predicted (and that many continue to claim that it is). We can all sigh a deep breath and continue on promoting the Truth.

  9. Papabile says:


    I agree with the writer in a technical sense – that doctrine wasn’t changed – but we lost (if one can really put doctrine in a win/lose construct) in real terms.

    Here’s the issue. You are right about this being the long game, and remembering the process to get here.

    The problem is, I won’t expose my children to this. I won’t stand for it. I cannot come home as a Father – after Mass -and be constantly prying apart what the Holy Father said on this.

    And the thing is, while we haven’t heard much of the teaching of the Church on these issues in years – because everyone knew what it was – I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot about it in the near future.

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    whoever wrote that is wonderfully intelligent.

  11. kmkare says:

    This was actually the most uplifting thing I have read in a week. I feel like I just stepped up on a ladder and got a view outside of the walls of the city and can see the sunset/rise(?). Anyway, it was just a picture that popped into my head after reading this. I can feel some fresh air on my face. I know I have to go back down the ladder and face the ugliness to come, but sometimes, when it gets too bad, maybe I can get myself back up on that ladder of hope.

  12. Victoria says:

    Father, I am so glad you edited and posted this commentary. I, also feel that liberal bishops and priests have already been giving Our Lord to the CDRs. We Catholics still have the Magisterium teachings and the Doctrine of our faith to battle with. This exhortation could have been far worse. Praise God, Frances closed the door on gay marriage. Praise God that he did not try to speak with Papal authority. Yes, he “winked and nodded” but hasn’t that been his MO during his pontificate?

    My biggest concern is his desire to decentralize the Papacy. The Petrine office should be respected and elevated to the degree that Christ designed and demanded it should be. This is why I appreciated Cardinal Burke’s commentary….he brings that point to the forefront and puts into perspective the weight of the exhortation.

  13. Jason Keener says:

    While it may be true that a generous reading of this exhortation might lead one to conclude that the Pope did not formally alter any doctrine of the Church, it is clearly true that this Pope managed to seriously undermine the Church’s doctrines with this document. The Pope’s purposeful failure to clearly re-state the Church’s perennial approach on these hotly-debated matters will be a permanent black mark on the teaching authority of the papacy and a source of confusion for the faithful for many years to come. Unfortunately, I believe that is the long-view of this document in an increasingly secular world that will now see even fewer reasons to reform or take Catholicism seriously. Catholics should not have to twist themselves into knots trying to find an orthodox reading of the Pope’s teaching. A papal document shouldn’t allow Archbishop Cupich, Cardinal Schonborn, and Cardinal Kasper to now claim some kind of new door for the reception of Communion has been opened to those living in public adultery and homosexual relationships.

    I’m not writing any of this to be dramatic, but the contortions people are going through to spin this document in any kind of positive light is really grasping at straws. The readers of this blog might understand the nuances of this document or easily disregard it, but the damage has been done. An ordinary Catholic in the pew is not going to understand that no “formal” change in doctrine has been made or that we should not really consider this document a true part of the Magisterium per Cardinal Burke, etc., etc., etc.

    Finally, our efforts now should be focused on prayer, penance, and making it known to the pastors of the Church, including the Pope, that we have grown considerably disillusioned and unhappy with the direction of this papacy. This may all sound overly-negative, but it’s the sad reality of the situation wherein we now find ourselves.

  14. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I will take the fact that AL does not do all the things the KasperKamp want it to do as evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work demonstrating what it means to safeguard the infallibility of the Holy Father, when he speaks on matters of faith and doctrine. We are not guaranteed holy popes, prudent popes, learned popes … but that His Holiness will not teach truth as error or error as truth.

    When Laudato Si came out, I asked my pastor for an examination of the scope of Papal infallibility. He sent me an article by Msgr Clifford Fenton. I highly recommend that those who wish to be faithful to what the Church has always taught read people like the good Monsignor, and also the Drs. Von Hildebrand, Abp Sheen and St. Francis de Sales. Oh…. and let’s make acts of reparation both for our own personal sins and for those of others. Maybe, Fr. Zuhlsdorf, you would publish the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart?

  15. jameeka says:

    In a strange indirect way, the legacy of Pope Francis may well be his leading the trying-to-be-orthodox Catholics to learn our faith and the magisterial documents a LOT better, thanks to “faithful bishops, theologians and bloggers!”
    (I am attempting to see the work of the Holy Spirit in all this)

  16. A generally encouraging write-up. One quibble, though significant, around the assertion that “This was NOT the outcome that Pope Francis along with Cardinal Kasper and Friends wanted.”

    It seems presumptuous at best, uncharitable at worst, to assume that Pope Francis has aligned himself with Cardinal Kasper’s desire to change Church teaching. We might ponder the possibility (certainly many are clinging to it), but the author’s very point seems to undermine that assertion.*

    Until proven otherwise, let us trust that Pope Francis is doing his best to be a faithful Catholic and a worthy pope (inasmuch as we flawed mortals can).

    *I hope that it is clear that I am trying to avoid the same presumption or lack of charity myself here. I don’t know the heart of the author or anyone outside of myself. I raise the concern to highlight the danger.

    [We have in our hands the documents that Pope Francis has signed and promulgated. It is fair to conclude that what is in those documents is what he wants to communicate to us.]

  17. JARay says:

    According to what I read, Cardinal Burke claims that Amoria Laetitia is not magisterial and hence may be ignored by the Faithful. [I don’t think that Card. Burke is saying that the faithful may or should “ignore” it. But everyone should be careful not to read into is what isn’t there.] Again, according to what I read in Rorate Caeli, [Just a thought… put into the scales… the great expert Card. Burke v. the great experts at … Rorate? At least Burke signs what he writes.] Pope Francis really wants this to be magisterial and hence the Faithful are not free to ignore it. He has repeatedly said that he is actually acting in his role of chief Shepherd and his words are meant as teaching. He has not specifically laid this down in Amoris Laetitia because he does not want to appear to deny Church Teaching but that is what he actually wants to do. He does not want to declare what is, actually, living in sin, as being sinful; so he calls it “irregular partnerships”. It is a deliberate deception.

  18. tioedong says:

    everyone is worried about the feelings of the divorced and/or remarried. What about the victims of marriage? Or non marriage, since easy divorce in the US/Europe led to cohabitation instead of marriage being accepted?
    And how mercituf is it to children who are left behind when fathers happily move on to a new bimbo, assured by the church they didn’t sin when they deserted their first family?

    did the document include anything like the idea of duty in it? the Confucian idea of filial piety stresses proper relationships and the idea that duty, not emotions, is the core of family, “Confucius revived and broadened to apply to fundamental relations in society. In essence, he brought a sense of religious reverence or piety to the relationships of everyday life. ”

    any of this in the letter?

  19. McCall1981 says:

    Fr, what do you think of this? Kasper (while in the midst of falling all over himself to say AL “changes everything”), also says AL “doesn’t change anything of church doctrine OR OF CANON LAW”. I was very surprised to see him admit that it doesn’t change canon law at all.

  20. Benedict Joseph says:

    Yes, indeed, that was quite a ride and despite the fact that I don’t like roller coasters it did have its moments. That being said, and accepting the well phrased argument for its logic and because it provides me with a consolation neutralizing the sting of “Amoris laetitia,” that consolation does not long endure.
    Theological reflection need always present the truths of the faith in the clearest and most coherent language available. This document has not been successful on that level and because of that inadequacy it is not successful at all, but for creating confusion and giving ground to those who would deconstruct Roman Catholicism with a vengeance.
    The Holy Father and his collaborators are painting an unflattering portrait of themselves for the ages. Are they unable or simply unwilling to produce a document that does not require any number of cognitive, linguistic and psychological gymnastics to make it understood and correspond with the Magisterium? In other words, an intelligible document. While the deepest mysteries of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony do remain ineffable, the two hundred and sixty-four pages of “Amoris laetitia” appear to preclude any appeal to being dumbstruck in the face of the mystery.
    If all of us are continually affecting the pretense that all is well, it is serving Jesus Christ, His Church, and the individuals responsible very poorly and is consequently an offense against right Faith, firm Hope and perfect Charity. Despite the cultural elevation of the academic to the Olympian pantheon, it has not replaced the revelation of Jesus Christ. If the clerical class cannot find enough personal satisfaction in its vocation to evangelize the world, be assured the adoption of the façade of an academic debating society is no consolation prize for them as individuals or for us whom they serve. If you don’t like the responsibility that comes with your position, step aside.
    Double speak always has the fragrance of deception. Long enough has this snout has been sporting a clothes pin. The pin is now off, permanently, and consigned to the line for its intended purpose.

  21. Aquinas Gal says:

    The Kasperites win in real terms is only good to the extent that priests are unfaithful to Church teaching and counsel their flock accordingly.
    So the real goal for Catholics is to:
    1) Pray for priests
    2) Pray for good vocations to the priesthood
    3) Pray that the moral relativism of our era will be overcome by truth.

  22. Rob83 says:

    I would say the Kasperites have won in temporal terms for the moment, although they are on the road to making spiritual losers of themselves and others in the process.

    This seems to be another entry in the war on the meaning of words. Formally, nothing in Church teaching has changed. But the Kasperites are well aware that words are just words unless they are enforced. So their strategy will be to not formally deny the prohibition of CDRs while permitting and encouraging in all ways possible short of formally endorsing it, reasonably certain that no sanction will come their way for this while Francis is in charge. Whether they are so bold as to immediately expand this to open homosexuals and others with a wink and a nod is uncertain, but I fully expect they will do as much as they think they can get away with.

    That is likely to be a disaster for Church unity, both within nations and among the nations. Even in nations with a lot of Kasperite bishops, there are likely to be a few who opt for the Catholic position, meaning that the de facto rules change depending on where one lives, diocese to diocese and parish to parish (i.e. one might guess that things in the Diocese of Madison will be rather different than the nearby Archdiocese of Chicago while the present incumbents are in place). And as with the Anglicans, one suspects that the African Catholic bishops collectively will be none too pleased at their Kasperite confreres in the West over this and won’t take it sitting down.

    Even assuming there is a rather quick shift-0 and the Cardinals elect someone who sides with the Catholics on this, AL will still be around. Kasperites will forever be citing AL if it is not retracted or repudiated, but condemning the document very likely causes the mother of all storms as the Kasperites shriek to their media friends about how Pope Piux XIII is trampling on the mercy of Francis.

    I don’t think it’s unrealistic that the Germans might go into schism, with a lot of sympathizers willing to follow them, but even if they don’t, the Church is going to have to go through a lot of suffering to purge the Kasperite poison. I know the “biological solution” has been mentioned here before as a natural resolution to these sorts of problems, but the events of the last 3 years seem to have put a much longer timeline on that solution. Maybe this is a robust last gasp by the dying Spirit of Vatican II, unleashing the pent up fury of 35 years waiting for its day in these last 3 years, but maybe it foreshadows the coming smaller Church Benedict predicted.

    It almost seems as if the spirit of the 500th anniversary of Luther is going to be “celebrated” by repeating that disaster, albeit this time in a spirit of Deformation.

  23. MWindsor says:

    I almost hate to bring this up, but it’s been bugging me since this whole thing started. The quote from St. Lucia of Fatima above – combined with “…Pope Francis made it clear to everyone that he was backing the Kasper Proposal”. Does that not put the pope himself on the side of darkness?

    I’m not bashing. I’m sincerely confused by all this mess. I haven’t kept up well with all this as I have work related issues just now. But what I have heard makes me tremble, that the pope himself could fall so far. Obviously, we were protected by the Spirit in that he did not take this where he wanted it to go, but…he wanted it to go there!

    Honestly, I don’t know what to think about this man. With the distinction above, the old joke – “is the pope Catholic? ” just got quite disturbing.

  24. Long-Skirts says:

    Amoris Laetitia Made Simple

    I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long
    Like a worn out recording of a favorite song
    So while she lay there sleepin’ I read the paper in bed
    And in the personal columns, there was this letter I read
    If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
    If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
    If you like making love at midnight in the dunes of the cape
    Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape
    I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean
    But me and my old lady had fallen into the same old dull routine
    So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
    And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half bad
    Yes, I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain
    I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne
    I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon and cut through all this red tape
    At a bar called O’Malley’s where we’ll plan our escape

  25. steve51b31 says:

    Thank you Fr. Z !
    I have been casting about, searching for TRUSTED analysis together with the historical background and insights for this entire push. This helps immensely!
    I don’t claim to have the insights needed in these issues. My only hope and prayer is to remain knowledgeably faithful to Christ!

  26. LeeF says:

    Great analysis by Father’s friend and commentary from Father himself. This was the only opening in this pontificate and likely the next, for the issue of homosexuality to be discussed. It almost can’t be brought up on its own, and the Kasperites used up their only shot. This is the way it always goes, one horror is just the precursor to another. Right after the Supreme Court gave the “progressives” a win civilly, the next horror started being talked about in some (“progressive”) newspapers, i.e. plural marriages.

    We have already seen that there has not been a swell of vocations as a result of Francis, so hopefully the damage will be limited there in the future and we will get courageous orthodox new priests who hold the line. [I hear – yes, this is anecdotal – that applications for seminary have fallen.]

    This doctrinal victory despite Pope Francis’ own seeming wishes, is what the action of the Holy Spirit looks like. The Deposit of Faith is secure. As to priests who intentionally misread AL, that is on their souls.

  27. Ave Crux says:

    Father, this is profoundly disturbing. The very fact that our victory is *only* technical (still arguable based on the examples the Pope himself specifies for praxis in Footnote 351 which was intended to “clarify” his guidance) makes the victory all the more of a trouncing.

    AL clearly [Not “clearly”. That’s part of the problem.] indicates in Footnote 351 that the Pope wishes those in irregular sexual unions to participate in Confession and Holy Communion. It is there in writing for all posterity.

    How is it any kind of victory for faithful Catholics and most especially the poor priests on the front lines who will now be martyred – pushed between a rock and a hard place (their liberal bishops and the CDRs, et al.) — by demanding individuals who have them blacklisted and sent off to Siberia because they won’t give them these Sacraments.

    It’s just another way to crucify what remains of our good priests, and to tear the Church apart from within by the broiling dissension it will give rise to from country to country, diocese to diocese, parish to parish, family to family.

    How is this in any way at all a victory except in ink on paper — and even that does not hold water (Footnote 351)?

    Furthermore, how is it any kind of victory that AL will now be used to drag our dear Eucharistic Lord through an ongoing, sacrilegious tug of war at the center of all this, where those who spurn His words for the sake of sex can now receive Him as often as they wish so they appear respectable and “included”, or even act as godparents (who will give scandal to those they sponsor), or Lectors, or even Eucharistic Ministers?

    How can even one sacrilegious Communion clearly sanctioned by a Church document (thus, is an unspeakable affront to God, Whom the Church is bound to honor and defend) which is not “technically” perfected concerning Footnote 351, ever be considered even remotely a “victory”?

    We were soundly defeated in every way, and our good and best priests will now be pillaried and tormented in the course of trying to uphold Catholic doctrine because of this document — to say nothing of our dear Lord, Whose Sacred Body and Blood will be used as a social badge of honor by those who remained attached to their sexual sins and self-indulgence.

    Even the CDRs have lost, because they will suffer great detriment from receiving these Sacraments sacrilegiously, and will not receive from the Church the urgency of a call to conversion.

    Only satan has won….that’s very clear.

    It is a disservice to the Faithful, to the Church and — most of all — to God Himself, to pretend it was a “technical” victory while in practice it is a license to disregard the Laws which God Himself imposes on us, making both them and Christian Marriage seem unattainable “ideals”.

    To speak in these terms is truly Pharisaical — because it so much as pauses to weigh the importance of the “letter” of the law before its binding import, which is the *only* thing that matters to God.

    This is a defeat that will reverberate throughout Eternity and go down in history as one of the greatest infamies ever committed by any Pope for all time.

    It can only be wondered now how much longer God will wait before His indignation comes down upon our heads. I pray it is soon, if such be His Holy Will.

    Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

  28. ChrisR says:

    Thank you for your post Fr Z.
    It is really the case of a battle against occult forces, a rebellion inside the Church. Division, confusion, lies.
    A doctrine such as it is developed in Amoris Laetitia places the individual conscience above the law, a preference for one’s own counsel over the the revealed Truth. Neither sparse truths nor feel good verbiage can redeem this document. In cauda venenum.
    Once upon a aevum, a creature decided to prefer himself over God: “Non serviam” Our first parents did the same when they chose their own preference over the law given by God.
    This pope has shown his contempt for God’s law as it was expressed in the Mosaic Law, accusing God of contradicting himself (ref. pope Francis position on the death penalty). Now he’s made the apology of Juda.
    Putting oneself above the express Will of God is luciferian in nature.
    Division, confusion, lies. Somebody is making his father happy.
    On a final note, the proud finds it more vexating to be ignored than to be opposed. Cardinal Burke reaction to AL shows he knows what he is dealing with.

  29. Bosco says:

    “Writing in the letter: ‘Set ye Urias in the front of the battle, where the fight is strongest: and leave ye him, that he may be wounded and die’.” 2 Samuel: 11:15

    David did not directly order that Uriah be put to death, but in the letter he wrote to his minions he compassed it. So too, I believe, that while AL does not directly (perhaps) ‘change’ Catholic Doctrine, it permits or directly intends its ultimate evisceration.

    I am no rad or trad. I pray for the Pope every day, but this AL is beyond the pale.

  30. Orlando says:

    So in practical terms , Pope Frank spent three full years of his pontificate sowing confusion and dissent , to produce a document that clarified nothing , confused everyone and will be quickly forgotten and consigned to the dust bins of the Vatican library. However all was not lost, the last three years have flushed out and galvanized who the true defenders of the faith are among the episcopate and who the are the wolves in sheeps clothing. [The mask is off.] This period will not be forgotten when the next conclave comes around. Satan and his minions have bin unmasked.

  31. Riddley says:

    I get the distinct feeling that this latest sally by the Kasperites is their last throw of the dice, and that they know it.

    The Church’s changing demographics mean that the rather aged liberal generation are using Francis’s papacy to work what mischief they can before the rising tide of orthodox and traditional young priests and bishops makes them irrelevant.

    But (to switch metaphors) this august document could serve as a sort of booby-trap, like a tripwire left in an abandoned Normandy village by the retreating Germans after D-Day. Unless upcoming priests make an effort to educate themselves about it they are going to come under pressure from older ones and, inevitably, from the faithful.

    But still, I’d take a few tripwires any day if it meant retaking Europe.

  32. Andreas says:

    The ‘thoughtful source’ noted that, “Bishops will not be able to force priests to adopt the still legally prohibited Kasper Proposal. Priests who adopt the Kasper Proposal are probably priests who have done so all along.” In this regard, it remains unclear to me how one can separate practice from doctrine and law, theoretically the foundation upon which practice is derived and built. The notion of appending a sideways glancing ‘wink and nod’ whilst proclaiming the law and, thereafter, failing to enforce said laws and doctrines can only reinforce those who would wish to fracture that foundation and strains the credibility of those charged with leading and guiding. The risk is that with time, unenforced doctrine could fall into desuetude; a goal apparently for some devoutly to be wished.

  33. SimonR says:

    A thought comes to mind from reading all the various orthodox Catholic blogs: Has Pope Francis lost the confidence of the ordinary Catholic faithful?

    I say that because I notice so much careful criticism of the Pope after the publication of the Exhortation, it makes me wonder aloud the above question.

    Of course, we recognise Francis as the Successor of Peter and Pope, but it seems that we cannot follow him.

    [Perhaps what we are seeing is a return to a more balanced view of the sort of deference and respect Catholics should have for the Roman Pontiff.]

  34. Blas says:

    I do not agree with that analysis. AL is exactly what Kasper needed and wanted a confusing document that allow him(and the german church) to do what they want and letting the other side discussing if it change or not the Church teaching. If Francis papacy is long enough the majority of bishop and cardinals will be kasperites and AL will be read as Kasper does.
    Of course this is excluding a Divne intervention.

    [You disagree… but you didn’t make much of an argument. And you missed a main point!]

  35. cajuncath says:

    While the pope has not officially changed Church teaching,, not that he really ever could, this nonetheless seems like a very tragic and disturbing document. It seems like a fairly low bar to say that we have the freedom to continue to follow Church teaching.

    The pope has explicitly rejected basic moral understandings, as he has said that all who are divorced and remarried without annulment are not to be considered to be in mortal sin. But they clearly are. He certainly favors some of these people being able to receive the Eucharist and seems to implicitly green-light this practice in the document.

    Yes, in fairness, this document could have been worse. But it still remains tragic and disturbing.

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  37. Augustine says:

    What if doctrine is not the same to Francis as to you? What if Francis does not consider doctrine to be the perennial truth, but merely an attempt at reaching it? What if Francis is not a Thomist scholastic, but a Hegelian or Marxian modernist to whom orthodoxy is merely a thesis which must be dialectically confronted with its antithesis, heterodoxy, in order to achieve a synthesis, a pastoral approach (v. What if Francis states doctrine and, in the same breath, a dissentious situation and then hints at a pastoral approach which compromises the doctrine in virtually everything he says in public? What if faithful Catholics, spoiled by the historical aberration of two consecutive popes who could teach the doctrine in spirit and truth, are misjudging Francis as being cut from the same cloth as his immediate predecessors? What if then such Catholics feebly cling to just the doctrinal part of Francis’ statements while dissenters follow through with them? What if then the faithful Catholics lose the war, while deluding themselves about having won the battle as if the war had been won, since dissenters, lay and clergy, get from Francis’ statements a call to action and to occupying ever more posts in the ecclesiastic bureaucracy?

  38. Chris Garton-Zavesky makes an excellent point, above. What we are experiencing, before our very eyes, is just how our dogma of infallibility, and God’s providence in general, work themselves out in the Church.

    Accepting for the moment the cited, unnamed correspondent’s premise that Pope Francis wanted to change the Church’s doctrine. (I am not prepared to make that assertion my own.) In the end, however, he did not. He “could not.” Indeed, not!

  39. tcreek says:

    From the Edward Pentin blog.
    An Italian priest philosopher speaks on Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family. – ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Is Vulnerable to ‘Every Malevolent Interpretation’.

    I believe that the concluding paragraph of a much longer article goes to the heart of the “problem” with Amoris Laetitia.

    – It cannot but generate still more confusion in the faithful the fact that a Pope speaks of the moral law – already codified by the Church for centuries in dogmas and canonical dispositions — as something “abstract” which cannot be applied to “concrete” situations. Worse yet, he speaks of “concrete” situations which today would be different from those of yesterday, for which reason it would be legitimate to do today the contrary of that which the solemn and ordinary magisterium of the Church had prescribed up until yesterday. In reality, the only difference between yesterday and today which might be significant for pastoral care is that many faithful have a conscience clouded by religious ignorance and by vices, and for this reason they do not perceive any more their sin as a voluntary infraction of the moral norms, or they are not able to apply correctly the moral rule (natural and evangelical) to their personal situation.

  40. PA mom says:

    “who won the battle?”

    If the final battle is IN the families (which certainly seems clear in terms of current events), then there are millions of battles being fought. Surely many can be won if we are all trying.

    Church teaching remains unchanged, another apparent miracle for the Church but critically important.

    I just finished praying the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena, which has specific intentions of troubled families, struggle with additions, pastors and bishops (and my own family), and I intend to try to help spread it and pray it again. How can a man who encourages that devotion be assumed to be in favor of changing Church doctrine? Prayers are answered and the marriage is healed.

    Pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, and try to help spread it. Be at the bedsides of the dying praying it as Jesus requested.

    And trust in Jesus.

  41. Absit invidia says:

    Kasper and his minions in high places aside, things are only going to get worse for the Catholics in the field. Parish council members, teachers, pastors will use this as a cudgel against anybody willing to stand up for the Church’s longstanding teachings on homosexuality, divorce/remarriage, and contraception. The document will be exploited and used with great effect to publicly shame, bully, and intimidate your average everyday faithful Catholic out of any position and standing they may have once had in their parishes.

  42. Ed the Roman says:

    I am not happy to say this, but I will ignore much of what HH says on the grounds that he has not consistently made anything clearer for me.

  43. Christ_opher says:

    It seems like some people which are normally referred to as the left are turning the year of mercy into the year of murky or even the year of confusion. Deniers of the truth in the faith or truth benders or liars is maybe a better term than the left.

    When listening to Blessed Mother Teresa, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Pope Benedict and Saint Pope John Paul II the great they could always convey truth in an uncomplicated and reasoned form. When I have tried to understand what this document is trying to say ( AL ) I am confused. Thank yous to Father Z and posters on here who have taken the time to explain what this document is really stating.

  44. RAve says:

    “Again, edited for public consumption, with my now oft-imitated treatment.”

    zisk z?sk v. zisked, zisk·ing, zisks To analyze and highlight (a published passage about theology, philosophy, or culture), especially in point-by-point or line-by-line fashion on a blog. v.intr. To zisk a passage. [After John Zuhlsdorf, Roman Catholic cleric, whose blog entries feature line-by-line analysis and highlighting of documents and articles; a particularized form of fisking.] [image of this definition]

  45. cenlacatholic says:

    The unspoken takeaway here is that the Pope along with the Kasperites are openly attacking the Church by pushing practices which contradict the Church’s doctrine. I don’t know what it will take before faithful, party-line Catholics admit this.
    Good analysis, Father.

  46. tufty says:

    Since Pope Francis gave his very first interview every comment states, “Well, at least he didn’t change doctrine.” The fact is, of course, no Pope can change doctrine. Everyone who knows anything, including the Pope, absolutely knows this. But the fact remains almost everything the Pope says undermines doctrine, conflicts with doctrine, undermines long held beliefs and teaching about faith and morals, undermines morality itself. The Pope never, ever comes down on the side of stricter adherence to morals or discipline or order. And so really what kind of a Pope is that? But it doesn’t seem to make any difference because no matter what this or any Pope says or does there is no one in the Church who is going to oppose him formally as should be done. When you talk about wins and losses ask yourself this, the only important question: do you think that Catholics will be able to make better moral decisions as a result of this exhortation, or do you think that it has a weakening effect on a Catholic’s ability to make the correct moral choice? After all, there really is a correct moral choice, isn’t there? In every non-neutral situation there is the objectively right and the objectively wrong thing to do which has existed since the time of Christ. That is what was always taught. Is that what the Pope taught? As long as people keep scrambling around trying to find something defensible in what the Pope does, he remains free to continue subverting the truth and promoting the loss of souls.

  47. Christ_opher says:

    Having been on the other side of the fence e.g. no communion, no confession but mass, adoration is available this explanation from a good Priest helped to develop a better understanding of how the truth of the faith is the truth. If AL had concentrated on the reality that every Catholic is welcome at mass but there are truths that need to be followed and explained the reasons it would have helped to bring Catholics back to the mass.

    The other problem with AL is that Jesus wouldn’t write or speak in this confusing way where somethings seem to be open to a personal interpretation so why are complicated and confusing documents like this produced?

  48. “[We have in our hands the documents that Pope Francis has signed and promulgated. It is fair to conclude that what is in those documents is what he wants to communicate to us.]”

    That is fair, and I agree wholeheartedly. What isn’t fair – and potentially a morally risky proposition (assuming the worst about another) – is the presumption of knowing Pope Francis’ intentions beyond what he has written. Dr. Edward Peters wrote not too long ago about reading into silence as some form of evidence of the Pope’s stance – concluding that silence is best understood as being simply silence.* The same point would be well-applied to our reading of Pope Francis’ exhortation.

    *”Silence is not much evidence of anything, so why suggest otherwise?”

  49. Semper Gumby says:

    Fatigue of AL indeed. Great posts and comments over the last week.

    Mt 24:13, Mt 28:20.

  50. Ave Crux says:

    Excellent input from one who lived it. Thank you.

  51. martin.c says:

    Dear Father, as an seminarian myself, let me tell you a couple of things: [?]

    “Read sections 297-312 of Amoris Laetitia. Technically speaking, the Pope does not spell out that CDRs can be admitted to the sacraments of Penance or Eucharist. “

    Let’s use reason (that’s why we study philosophy for four years, starting with aristotelian logic). …

    [Okay… I’m ending this here, sonny. Send me a note. Philosophy, eh?]

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