There is a bit of hard reporting and analysis at Crux today which merits close attention.
Also, at the end, I have a face-saving solution for everyone regarding the Five Dubia and controversy about Amoris laetitia Chapter 8.
Here is some helpful text criticism. My emphases and comments:
Ethicist says ghostwriter’s role in ‘Amoris’ is troubling
It turns out that the most important footnote in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ may be one that’s not there, because a key passage of the document is lifted almost verbatim from a 1995 essay in theology by Archbishop Victor Fernandez — raising troubling questions about Fernandez’s role as ghostwriter, and the magisterial force of his ideas. [Did you get that?]
[Editor’s note: In this essay, Professor Michael Pakaluk of the Catholic University of America examines the role of Argentine Archbishop Victor Fernandez, a theological adviser to Pope Francis, in Amoris Laetitia, the pontiff’s document on the family. [NB] Crux invited Fernandez to respond, and his comments appear at the bottom of the article.]
The most important footnote in Amoris Laetitia may not be, as many suppose, one dealing with access to the sacraments for Catholics in “irregular” situations. Instead, it may be a footnote that’s not actually in the document but which should be, since one of the sentences in Amoris is lifted nearly verbatim from an essay published in 1995 in a Buenos Aires theological journal.
The sentence, from the notorious chapter 8, is this: “Saint Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well; 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.’” [Cf. Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 65, art. 3 ad 2 and ad 3].
One must see the Spanish to see the plagiarism clearly. In Spanish, the Amoris sentence is this:
“Ya santo Tomás de Aquino reconocía que alguien puede tener la gracia y la caridad, pero no poder ejercitar bien alguna de las virtudes, de manera que aunque posea todas las virtudes morales infusas, no manifiesta con claridad la existencia de alguna de ellas, porque el obrar exterior de esa virtud está dificultado: ‘Se dice que algunos santos no tienen algunas virtudes, en cuanto experimentan dificultad en sus actos, aunque tengan los hábitos de todas las virtudes.’”
And the corresponding sentence from that 1995 theological journal is this:
“De hecho santo Tomas reconocia que alguien puede tener la gracia y la caridad pero no ejercitar bien alguna de las virtudes “propter aliquas dispositiones contrarias” (Summa Th., I-IIae., 65, 3, ad 2), de manera que alguien puede tener todas las virtudes pero no manifestar claramente la posesion de alguna de ellas porque el obrar exterior de esa virtud esta dificultado por disposiciones contrarias: “Se dice que algunos santos no tienen algunas virtudes en cuanto tienen dificultades en los actos de esas virtudes, aunque tengan los habitos de todas” (Ibid, ad 3).”
And here is the footnote that should be there, but isn’t: “Victor M. Fernandez, Romanos 9-11 : gracia y predestinación, Teologia, vol 32, issue 65, 1995, pp. 5-49, at 24. Cf. Victor M. Fernandez, La dimensión trinitaria de la moral II: profundización del aspecto ético a la luz de “Deus caritas est”, Teologia, vol 43, issue 89, 133-163 at 157. Evangelii Gaudium 171.”
One must add the bit about Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the joy of the Gospel, because the same sentence was used there too without attribution, and one must also refer to another article by Fernandez, with yet another version of the sentence.
Naturally, I use the term “plagiarism” in its material, not formal sense.
You and I will suspect that Fernandez, now an archbishop and close friend of the pope and said to be the ghostwriter of Laudato Si, was also the ghostwriter of Amoris chapter 8 and parts at least of Evangelii Gaudium. In the sentence cited above, he was simply helping himself to his own, earlier writings.
A little farther along, there is a table showing texts side by side so that you can see the concurrence/dependence. I did this recently with another deceptive work. HERE
The writer has some conclusions. Here is one of them:
The first is that Amoris needs to be “taken back to the shop,” to have various flaws removed or corrected. I have already pointed out how footnote 329 misquotes Gaudium et Spes, and that it must deliberately misquote that document to advance its implicit argument.
Do I hear an “Amen!”?
Think about this for a moment. When documents are released, there is usually a press conference during which the document and its context and intent are described by the head of the dicastery that most concerns it, along with some experts. However, the text that is initially released is a provisional text. The text is harden and set in stone when it is eventually published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, which publication is the official instrument of promulgation for the Holy See. It is an interesting exercise to do “text criticism” with these documents, to compare the version from the time of its release and press conference to the version that appears later, sometimes months later, in the AAS. You can find many changes to the text. The changes are often stylistic. Sometimes they are substantive, as in the case of St. John Paul II’s Ecclesia de Eucharistia. There was a major (fishy) screw up in the initial version, corrected in the AAS, concerning the words “pro multis” in the form of consecration. HERE The mistake was corrected.
However, think about what this post-release correction means for students and scholars and pastors of souls! There are people who quote only from the translations that were issued at the time of the initial release. They don’t check the AAS version – the official version – which might be different.
As I write this, the AAS has been completed and posted online for 2015. HERE They have not released any of 2016 yet, at least online. Amoris was dated 19 March 2016 and it was released on 8 April 2016.
And so, if anyone in Rome wants to “save face”, as it were, correct Amoris laetitia Chapter 8 in the official version in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis and let everyone know that the official version has been corrected.
There’s still time!