People are swift these days to talk about their “rights”. I sometimes get a little nervous when “rights” are invoked in the Church, because often “rights” means “I didn’t get what I wanted”. Clarity is needed regarding “rights”.
At his excellent, daily-check blog, canonist Ed Peters looks at arguments over the Filial Correction. He lays it out well. My emphases and comments.
On arguments that may be, and sometimes must be, made
I have taken no position on the Correctio Filialis. I know and respect some of its signatories as I do some of its critics but, as the document itself seems to fall within the boundaries of Canon 212, [§1 “Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.”] I say, ‘Have at it folks and may the better arguments prevail’. That said, some recent arguments against the Correctio are, in my view, subtly deficient and, time permitting, I will reply to them.
But even before that, I wish to reply to an attitude I perceive emerging against the Correctio,[Leveled by some also at the Five Dubia™.] one that attempts to dissuade Correctio supporters from their position by alleging a disastrous— but supposedly logical —consequence of their being right, [ironic, no?] something along these lines: If Amoris laetita and/or Pope Francis and/or his Vatican allies are really as bad as the authors of the Correctio seem to believe, then all petitions, Dubia, and corrections will do no good. Prayer and fasting would be more advisable.
Setting aside that several of these scenarios are not asserted in the Correctio and that the evidence concerning some others is not yet in, underlying this doomsday-like retort of the Correctio is, I think, a certain despair about the importance of argument itself in this matter. At the very least, such a bleak conclusion disregards the duty of certain Catholics[NB: He did not say, “Catholics”, but rather “certain Catholics”.] precisely to engage in such debates.
Canon 212 § 3 has been invoked by those supporting the Correctio to point out that the Church herself recognizes [here we go] the right of certain persons “to manifest to sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful”, namely, those persons who possess “knowledge, competence, and prestige” in regard to the matter under discussion. Indeed. But Canon 212 § 3 says something more.
Canon 212 § 3 states in regard to persons with special knowledge, competence, and prestige in regard to ecclesiastical matters, that they “have the right and even at times the duty” to express their views on matters impacting the well-being of the Church (my emphasis). The duty. Not just the right. [Get that?]
Thus to the extent that some qualified signatories and/or supporters of the Correctio have realized a duty (expressed in law) to address these matters, they are not simply acting under the protection of law (as are those exercising a right), they are acting in accord with its directives (as do those under an obligation). Now, to be sure, Canon 212 is not self-interpreting and several prudential considerations must be considered when applying it. But in its very terms is the expression of a duty incumbent upon certain Catholics who are qualified by their education, experience, and Church positions to make serious arguments on matters impacting the Church. And I see no exception in the law for those whose positions might imply the existence of other problems for the Church or for those who arguments seem unlikely to be acted upon.
Cdl. Caffara said “only a blind man could deny there’s great confusion, uncertainty, and insecurity in the Church.” Much of that confusion turns, obviously, on the meaning of technical terms and on the content of intellectual assertions. Those blessed with advanced training in such technical terms and intellectual assertions may be, and at times should be, at the forefront of these debates.
And, yes, all participants in these debates should be engaged in extra prayer and fasting.
So, some well-prepared Catholics sense their duty to raise questions. The responses from authorities and critics?
“Shut up!”, they explain.
The moderation queue is ON.