Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) has a post about a conference about Amoris Laetitia held at Jesuit-run Boston College. The report has an aggressively tendentious title: Conference weighs how ‘Amoris Laetitia’ rejects ‘infantilization of laity’
First, consider some of the speakers: Cardinal Blase Cupich, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna and San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a theologian at Manhattan College, Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, Jesuit Antonio “2+2=5” Spadaro, C. Vanessa White, a theologian at Catholic Theological Union, etc. Great, right? What could go wrong?
It is hard to assess the usefulness of conference from a news piece written by someone with a clear agenda, but we can glean a few things from the quotes.
One thing that emerged is that they are pushing the primacy of “experience”. This means that if your experience prompts you to do X, well, that must be okay even though the Church teaches that X might even be intrinsically evil. Your “experience” authorizes you to do X. Furthermore, the clergy’s role must then be to affirm your choice and accompany you as you pursue it. I think I got that right.
Leaving aside completely Cupich’s talk, …
Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a theologian at Manhattan College, said Latino reception of Amoris Laetitia “cannot be understood” outside the historical legacy of the colonial system in the Americas. “
Oh, Sure. Right!
She also said:
Imperatori-Lee said that in Francis’ call for better respect of decisions laypeople make in their lives, Latinos see the pope “pointing to the infantilization of laypeople and families that is so commonly a feature of colonization.” [colonization?]
“The infantilization of the laity has its historical roots in a view of laypeople as objects of clerical control: pay, pray and obey, or as Pius X notes in [the 1906 encyclical] Vehementer Nos, ‘the right of the laity is to allow itself to be led,’ ” she said.
Imperatori-Lee said Francis, however, sees the family as “the protagonist of its own destiny.”
“Couples become the subjects of their history, even as pastors and confessors retain a role of accompaniment and listening,” she said.
I’m pretty sure that this is code for: You don’t have to listen to the Church if you don’t want to.
“The replacement of conscience is an act of domination, again colonization,” she said, paraphrasing Peruvian theologian Gregorio Pérez. [I wonder what theological school he could be aligned with.] “It is an abuse of power. The formation of conscience, on the other hand, is life-giving ministry.” [I’m not quite sure who that Gregorio Pérez is, but I suspect it could be this guy.]
I think this means that if a priest or bishop teaches something clear about what the Church teaches concerning faith and morals, that is an attempt to “replace” the conscience and is, therefore, a symptom domination, like colonization (which must, I guess, be really bad… colonization must be evil). I’ll bet that the speaker thinks that “formation” of conscience means something like affirming whatever people think with your fingers crossed that they’ll get it right on their own… but if they don’t, affirm them anyway. You don’t, after all, want to be a colonizer.
C. Vanessa White, a theologian at Catholic Theological Union, focused on how the black Catholic community has understood the exhortation. To prepare for her talk, she sought input from other black Catholic theologians and lay ministers on how the document had affected their parishes.
“Sad to say, most of those who responded say there has been little impact,” said White.
One lay minister told her: “When Amoris Laetitia first came out it was discussed briefly … but there wasn’t an overall interest from the parish to read the document in its entirety.
That’s more like it!
And there’s this. What to make of this?
Cathleen Kaveny, a theologian and civil lawyer at Boston College, spoke about how the church considers people who have been divorced and remarried without first obtaining annulments.
Kaveny used her dual professional background to examine how the church might turn to U.S. civil law as a resource for a re-evaluation of how it sees remarriage as a continuing kind of adultery. [US civil law as resource… Does that mean theological locus? What about laws that permit abortion? Aren’t there still some sodomy laws on the books? What about the Ohio law that it is illegal for five women to live in the same house?]
She cited a case in which the Supreme Court decided that prosecutors pursuing a case against polygamists could not charge them with separate counts for each year they were married because the crime had to align with the “lived experience” of the people at question. [There it is. “lived experience”. But wait! The good stuff is coming up!]
“Jesus clearly disfavored adultery,” Kaveny concluded. [Disfavored. Interesting word choice. I can picture Christ now, biting his lower lip like Bill Clinton and then accompanying the adulterers with a hug and smile.] “It’s clear that he rejects divorce and remarriage as contrary to the original will of God. [Get ready for the poison…] But nothing in Jesus’ words or conduct demand that the sin involved in divorce and remarriage must be conceptualized as a sin that continues indefinitely, without the possibility of effective repentance.” [What this means, I think, is that at a certain point the adulterous union ceases to be a sin without any changes or amendment of life. I think that what she meant.]
“To impose such a requirement in every case is not merciful,” she said. “And mercy is the ultimate touchstone for the divine lawgiver.” [Mercy means never having to say “I’m sorry.”]
“We do not need to disturb Jesus’ teaching in order to refine and develop it in these ways, in ways that moral theologians and canon lawyers have always done,” she said. [Because we now have US civil law to help us out!]
Look. This is a biased report in the worst excuse for a catholic source you can find. It is hard to know what really happened there from this mishmash of quotes. However, I’ll bet you all the money in your pocket that it was help to promote a specific agenda and that no one walked out wondering what it was.
The moderation queue is ON.