A must read Open Letter to Pope Francis about Amoris Laetitia

I wrote about this in another post here today. Upon reflection I’m posting about it again to make sure that more people will see it.


Third, this is an examination of erroneous claims some are making on the basis of Amoris laetitia ch. 8.  First Things has a summary of an Open Letter To Pope Francis by John Finnis (emeritus professor of law and legal philosophy at the University of Oxford and Biolchini Family Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame) and Germain Grisez (emeritus professor of Christian ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University).  It is, quite simply, brilliant.  HERE  This piece includes a link (a little hard to see) to the Letter itself, which is longer and not easy.  HERE

Friends, this is important.

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  1. Thomistica says:

    It is imperative for the Cardinals who submitted the Dubia to issue a fraternal correction and do it *now*.

    If the four Cardinals are awaiting a broader base of support, this is in my view a really big mistake. The fraternal correction may help broaden that base of support, but even more importantly deter the next pontiff from perpetuating all this confusion. That future pontiff needs to understand the risk of a formalized rift in the Church that Amoris Laetitia may precipitate.

    Hopefully their fraternal correction will strongly reiterate that it is outside the compass of any pontiff to revise eternal truth, plus include advice to the laity about holding fast and not becoming discouraged. Also, the correction should provide a critique of the past two synods and how the latter did not license or endorse in any way the problematic content of Amoris Laetitia.

    We already know that the Pope and his circle are entirely unwilling to engage the many theological and philosophical arguments that have now appeared in plethora of articles by highly articulate clergy and laity, preferring instead to resort to ad hominems and vague Hegelian word salads reflecting trendy themes in Continental theology and philosophy. As always, ad hominems are the last resort of those without plausible arguments to defend their positions.

    They’ve had their chance to make their case, they haven’t (because they don’t have a case), and “dialog” is now otiose.

    Let the chips fall where they may. Most importantly, pray for all involved, including the Pope.

  2. donato2 says:

    The event that will bring this crisis to a head, or end it, is when the Pope, whether it be Pope Francis or a future Pope, breaks the silence and answers the dubia. It is important that Catholic leaders, both lay and clerical, continually reassert true Catholic teaching on these issues in the meantime, however long the meantime might be.

  3. Huber says:

    This is all actually quite extraordinary. Has there ever been a time when lay faithful have had to publicly publish letters to a Pope to correct errors in public accusations?

    We have Cardinals submitting dubium, we have The Remnant writing an accusation, now this open letter, and still no answers in the fog of confusion.

  4. iamlucky13 says:

    Reading the preface to the summary (haven’t read the full letter), my thoughts are repeatedly, “Duh. That’s just basic logic.” And yet, watching the reaction to the Exhortation, it’s clearly not so basic.

    For example:

    “Furthermore, if an apparent inconsistency emerges after careful interpretation, a teaching statement that is not definitive is misused unless it is understood with qualifications and delimitations sufficient to make it consistent”

    For the 8 positions themselves, while A-E are necessary to address and readily justify this letter, I have not heard anyone argue F (consensual sex is never sinful) from Amoris Laetitia, and don’t recall anything in it which could be support such an argumentt. G (marriage is dissoluble) and H (hell is at worst a remote consequence) could potentially be argued as secondary conclusions from the specific “pastoral practices” suggested in Amoris Laetitia, but I’ve yet to see anyone do so, and unlike those pastoral practices themselves, the exhortation does not directly suggest G and H as far as I recall.

  5. ksking says:

    The link to the letter is dead. Have they taken down the original letter?

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    It appears the letter is inaccessible from First Things (hopefully, that does not portend bad tidings). Very few things are lost on the Internet, however. Hopefully, with his permission, I found a copy at Germain Grisez’s site:


    The Chicken

  7. Cornelius says:

    They indict interpretations of AL, but not AL itself, which is precisely the source of the bad interpretations. They’ve failed to grasp the nettle. They’re addressing themselves to symptoms and pretending there’s no underlying disease.

  8. Mike says:

    Hitting people over the head with, or about, Modernism or increments thereof gives me a headache just to watch. Let us pray presently, swiftly, to have done with the whole wretched exercise.

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    I wrote to First Things about the broken link, and a Junior Fellow got it fixed. They are now using http://www.twotlj.org/OW-MisuseAL.pdf .

  10. tskrobola says:

    As mixed up as AL is, I don’t see how the lay faithful can play a formal role in sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

    Even if a truly faithful and holy group of laypeople were to rise up against errant/unclear teaching and cause it to be corrected (which frankly seems impossible to me)…..if this proves to be necessary and effective, it will only embolden the leftists against this Pope and any future Popes when they teach the right things.

    Of course I agree with the substance of the dubia, and I think we need to stand up for the truth among our family/friends/parishioners and so on, but frankly I don’t see how **formally** fighting the Pope helps the short or long term cause….seems to me that the devil has the control of the “big levers” of the media, money and power in the world and will transform any formal corrective process against AL as a means to thwart all good teaching in the future.

    We’re better off just praying our hearts out, doing what we can at the local level, supporting our good parish priests and our good bishops as much as we can, and waiting for this wicked generation of bishops to pass on and hope that the next generation can get things turned around.

  11. Charles E Flynn says:


    It may be that the two distinguished scholars are engaging in subtlety, by accusing Pope Francis himself of nothing, but noting that the “Amoris Laetitia” document might be abused. Consider this analogy:

    Dear Pope Francis,

    It has come to our attention that you have invented nitroglycerine. Upon giving this matter serious and prolonged reflection, we believe it is our obligation to bring to your attention the fact that it is theoretically possible that someone else might mishandle the nitroglycerine, catastrophe resulting.

    Your humble servants, etc. etc.

  12. greg3064 says:

    @ Cornelius

    They indict interpretations of AL, but not AL itself, which is precisely the source of the bad interpretations. They’ve failed to grasp the nettle. They’re addressing themselves to symptoms and pretending there’s no underlying disease.

    There’s an important distinction here. They are critiquing uses of AL and specific theses. They are absconding entirely from the question of interpretation, which is something of a rabbit hole.

    That said, I don’t think it’s true that they are ignoring the underlying disease or pretending that nothing is wrong with AL. That AL occasions such misuses–and part of what they are doing in the letter is showing how it does–is obviously a critique of the document itself. They are not committing to any interpretation of AL, so they don’t critique its substance directly.

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