First, take note of Austen Ivereigh’s lengthy (and rather whiny) interview with Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro. HERE He’s sooooo misunderstood! And he tells us about that at jesuitical length. They start out with unlikely though entertaining explanations about his recent hijinx with Twitter and then he goes into a defense of the controversial parts of Amoris laetitia. He goes and goes and goes!
Next, check out the latest comments from the once-nearly-ubiquitous John Allen. No, no… not the story entitled, “How a clown could help the pope engage today’s populist tide”. (I didn’t make that up.) Rather, look for…
Despite the insistence of papal allies that everything is clear about ‘Amoris Laetitia’, there’s an important segment of the Church that doesn’t believe that’s true. Whether they’re a minority doesn’t matter – they can’t simply be dismissed, because they include senior figures in the hierarchy.
What are we to take away from all this? For now, two conclusions seem clear.
First, despite the insistence of papal allies that everything is perfectly clear about what the deal is with regard to access to Communion, there’s an important segment of the Church that just doesn’t believe that’s true. Whether they’re a minority or a majority doesn’t matter for the moment – they can’t simply be dismissed, because they include senior figures in the hierarchy. [Even were they relative unknowns, their written dubia deserve respect for what they ask.]
By the way, Spadaro’s willingness to engage in an exchange with Ivereigh represents something that hadn’t been done so far, which is to respond directly to the four cardinals. In itself, that’s arguably an acknowledgment there are questions that still need to be answered.
Second, unless and until Pope Francis delivers a binding magisterial response, the forecast is for local control. We’ve already seen various bishops deliver clearly divergent responses about what the implications of Amoris will be in their dioceses, and there’s nothing to suggest that won’t continue in the absence of a clear and indisputable papal declaration.
There are a lot of really smart people in the Church who want clarity about a great many things in orbit around Amoris laetitia, ch. 8.
I have conversed with a lot of really smart people about this. They, as I am, are convinced that nothing short of another papal document from Francis will suffice. At the very least the CDF could issue responses to dubia, which Pope Francis would have to order published.
If Amoris laetitia is a magisterial document, then a penned note to a committee of bishops in a conference in Argentina means, effectively, nothing. If an Austrian cardinal gives opinions about the nature of the teaching and its coherence with previous papal magisterial documents, we can shrug and continue to wait for a response that matters. I think it will take a papal document to bring clarity to another papal document.
Is it possible that the Holy Father wants the sort of confusion and division that is going on right now? If so, I am mystified as to his motive. Cui bono? It this an example of the principle cunctando regitur mundus? Just wait everyone out until, finally, you have your way. However, the written word is pesky. It has a way of sticking around. Just to keep the Latin adages going, scripta manent. And it’s corollary is verba volant. That’s why we need a papal document to clarify the papal document that, by a reasonable reading, seems directly to contradict other papal documents of the recent past. Or else, is this a kind of … experiment? “Let’s let the two sides clash and bang and see what come out!” That doesn’t seem very wise to me, and, so, it is unlikely. When this started to rev up, I and others observed that those who tend to be faithful to the Church’s cult, code and creed will continue to be faithful. On the other hand, those who have a less then easily identifiable relationship with cult, code and creed and who have tended to do exactly as they please hitherto, will probably continue to do exactly as they please in the future. Except: now they will claim approval – not clearly enunciated in law or doctrine, but by creeping antinomial, anti-intellectual, faux-pastoral incrementalism. After all, if it isn’t written down and issued in the right way, but just sort of happens until people stop asking questions about it, then … what is it?
Why is it reasonable to want a clarification? Because this controversy involves more than just who can receive (can. 916), and who can be given (can. 915), Communion. And it is more than about adultery. It’s about all manner of grave sins.
The issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried (and all manner of sinners with no firm purpose of amendment) cannot be divorced from key questions. What… who… is the Eucharist? What does Communion mean? Who is Christ, who taught us about indissolubility, about the Eucharist, about Himself? Was Christ wrong? If you think so, then you must not believe in Christ’s divinity. If that’s the case…if Christ isn’t the Eternal Word, consubstantial with the Father, God made man… then what the hell are we doing?
Remember: hard cases make bad law. When you read the wifty offerings of those who think that Amoris laetitia is clear as a bell, and if you can’t understand that then you must be lacking in “mercy” or “knowledge of Christ” or “intellect” or … pick some other stone to throw… keep your eyes peeled: they will appeal to sad, hard cases.
The moderation queue is ON.