Amoris Laetitia and Lets Pretend

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In regard to Amoris Laetitia most Catholic commentators have been playing a huge game of Lets Pretend.  What has sparked this game is the fact that Amoris Laetitia is a stark departure by Pope Francis from what was previously taught by the Church.  Afraid of admitting this obvious fact, most Catholic analysts have been bending themselves into pretzels pretending that nothing has changed, for fear of the unsettling implications that looking at reality head on will raise.  I am unable to join in this game of Lets Pretend.  Facts are facts and it is always harmful, and untruthful, to attempt to ignore them or wish them away.  Father Brian Harrison also is refusing to join in the game of Lets Pretend:



In allowing exceptions to the ‘no-Communion’ law for those in invalid marriages, Pope Francis is acting against the clear and constant bimillennial teaching confirmed by Pope St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio #84, and reaffirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1650 and 2390, last sentence). Also under St. John Paul II, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, in its Declaration of June 24, 2000, has asserted unequivocally that the exclusion of such Catholics from the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist flows from divine law, so that no human ecclesiastical law can change it, since it’s irrelevant whether the subjective imputability of remarried divorcees might in some instances be diminished. Why is this irrelevant? Because, says the Declaration, the admission to Communion of those who are publicly living in a situation which Jesus himself calls adultery will send a clear message that the Church doesn’t really take too seriously this teaching of our Lord about the indissolubility of marriage. And this will inevitably cause scandal (in the theological sense of leading others into sin). Pope Francis briefly mentions this document; but only by uncritically using the selective and deceptive citation found in the 2015 Synod Relatio (#85). Thus, both the Relatio and Amoris Laetitia omit altogether the main point of the 2000 Declaration, which is that the obligation of priests and other ministers to refuse Communion to civilly remarried divorcees “is by its nature derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws: the latter cannot introduce legislative changes which would oppose the doctrine of the Church” (section 1).

Also, this Declaration points out that logically, a concession to some remarried divorcees on the grounds that their subjective conscience may not be gravely guilty will open the way for further concessions, on the same grounds, to many who are living publicly in other objectively immoral situations. For instance, now that some civilly remarried divorcees are to be admitted to sacramental absolution and Communion, will not at least some same-sex couples have to be admitted these two sacraments on the same grounds (i.e., ‘diminished imputability’)? 

Are we now supposed to believe that Pope Francis alone is right on this issue, and that all his predecessors, including the still living Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and the Catechism promulgated by St. John Paul II, have been wrong and ‘unmerciful’ in allowing no exceptions in this area? If so, why should we believe that? Doesn’t it seem more likely that just one pope is wrong, and that all the other hundreds of popes have been right?

Go here to read the rest.

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  1. “The Church” has not been taking marriage seriously when on one hand she says marriage is indissoluble and then hands out many tens of thousands of ‘annulments’ irregardless of the fact of consummation and the begetting of children. And now, of course, those that still want to go the annulment divorce route should have it quick and easy. Tell me that is not like no fault divorce. But why even bother with that when no impediment is there to communion anyway.

    I sponsored a dear lady into the Church this spring. She and her husband live as brother and sister. My sister-in-law went to Mass every weekend and did not go to communion for over 30 years because she married a divorced man who at long last went forward with the ‘annulment’ of his first (and likely valid) marriage.

    When they asked Our Lord why Moses allowed divorce, the answer was because of the hardness of hearts. I guess we have returned to that.

  2. Hard-working diocesan tribunals help sincere and faithful Catholics, cradle or convert or revert, to receive to the sacraments after divorce and remarriage. I have personally experienced this profound demonstration and application by His Church of Jesus’s great justice and mercy.

    They mock God who abuse the process of nullity in any way, whether by deceit or cynical bureaucratic sleight of hand, and deprives us imperfect human beings of an abundant stream of grace.

    Pope Francis! Cardinals Kasper, Marx, and Schonborn! Don’t do us any “favors”!

  3. @Donald R. McClarey Cf. Pope Francis & The Synod on the Family 2015 STAND CONDEMNED!
    Please take a look and see how you would word it from a legal standpoint? I would appreciate it. Please also if you would be kind enough to get in touch with me via Contact |THE WAR, my blog. I have something I would like to share with you.
    Cf. This comment of mine to the request from Bp Conley in his Op-Ed Dialogue, and the ‘Joy of Love,’ from the heart of the Church, Friday, 15 April 2016. It is up to us the Laity:

    Newman’s first book had been The Arians of the Fourth Century. He turns now to one of the great lessons he had learned in his researches for that book, “that in that time of immense confusion the divine dogma of our Lord’s divinity was proclaimed, enforced, maintained, and (humanly speaking) preserved, far more by the Ecclesia docta than by the Ecclesia docens, that the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism…” (12) Most of this section of Newman’s article consists of quotations from ancient authorities to show that the Nicene dogma was maintained during the greater part of the fourth century “1. not by the unswerving firmness of the Holy See, Councils, or bishops, but 2. by the consensus fidelium”. – NEWMAN ON THE LAITY
    Rev. Michael Sharkey | EWTN

  4. Your premise is wrong from the very first sentence: “In allowing exceptions to the ‘no-Communion’ law for those in invalid marriages,…”

    You cannot point me to a sentence in AL that allows this. The Pope did not write such a thing. Sure, there is an ambiguously weird footnote, but that is all, and it certainly does not say that the divorced and remarried can now take communion.

    So your whole case falls apart. Go ahead, point out to me exactly where in AL the Pope specifically allows divorced and remarried to take communion. You can’t.

  5. The Pope disagrees with you Jim:

    “On the flight returning from Greece, Pope Francis was asked if the Apostolic Exhortation contained a “change in discipline that governs access to the sacraments” for Catholics who are divorced and remarried. The Pope replied, “I can say yes, period.” The Pope then urged reading the presentation of Cardinal Schönborn for the final answer to the question, calling Schönborn a “great theologian who knows the doctrine of the Church.”

    Schonborn’s presentation boiled down Pope Francis’ more than 60,000 words in the exhortation to 3000, but in that short space made sure to include the “smoking footnote” being seen as the opening of the door to Holy Communion to Catholics living in second unions where annulment from the first union was not possible. The position contradicts Pope St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    In his presentation of the Exhortation, Cardinal Schonborn said:

    Naturally this poses the question: what does the Pope say in relation to access to the sacraments for people who live in “irregular” situations? Pope Benedict had already said that “easy recipes” do not exist (AL 298, note 333). Pope Francis reiterates the need to discern carefully the situation, in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio (84) (AL 298). “Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God” (AL 205). He also reminds us of an important phrase from Evangelii gaudium, 44: “A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties” (AL 304). In the sense of this “via caritatis” (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given “in certain cases”. But for this purpose he does not offer us case studies or recipes, but instead simply reminds us of two of his famous phrases: “I want to remind priests that the confessional should not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (EG 44), and the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (EG 47).”

  6. While there is a real pronounced effort to deal with the pastoral problem of many, even most, Catholics: widespread use of contraception, widespread sex outside of marriage, widespread cohabitation, widespread divorce and so on and so on.

    There is a veritable lack of effort to treat the root cause of the problem, namely -the widespread use of contraception which has led to all these problems and many many more. The irony of proposing pastoral solutions to what is actually a massive pastoral problem caused by a lack of pastoral action is profound.
    Real mercy demands that our clergy preach the truth of Humanae Vitae with it being BOTH a push and pull: 1. the goodness of it and 2. the sin of not following it.

  7. Marriage preparation and advising the spouses during the marriage are properly pastoral functions. That preparation and advice usually includes, or should include, a thorough discussion of the Catholic understanding, and the prospective spouses’ understanding, of sacramental marriage.

    However, determining the canonical validity of a marriage (i.e., according to the Code of Canon Law) is a *juridical (not a pastoral) process* requiring a *juridical* investigation and findings.

    Once the couple is contemplating separation and/or divorce, or civil divorce has been finalized, one of the spouses may seek information from the local diocesan tribunal which will lead them through the process. Some dioceses refer the petitioner to someone in their parish for help with preparing the initial paperwork.

    Most Catholic clergy, religious, and laypersons are not trained to advise persons regarding the canonical validity/invalidity of a marriage in crisis, or one that has already ended in divorce. The role of these parish resources is to assist the petitioner in organizing and writing their story in exhaustive detail.

    Determining whether there are grounds for nullity may apply in a particular case is not a matter of pastoral guidance. Widespread mis- (and even dis-) information and honest misunderstanding persists among Catholic non-professionals. Ideally, the spouses have access to *qualified* canonists (attorneys who specialize in the practice of canon law) and/or well-trained and experienced advocates who work for the tribunal. Every case is assigned to a judge and an advocate for the marriage itself. The petitioner has his/her own advocate. If the respondent participates, they are entitled to a qualified advocate.

    From the very beginning of the process, tribunal procedures and fees are *not* standardized, and the resources available/assigned to the spouses vary *widely*,* from diocese to diocese. In addition, every single case is analyzed independently and confidentially. No one but tribunal professionals have access to all the evidence in any one case.

    Like the car commercials say, “Closed course. Professional drivers. DO NOT ATTEMPT.” Non-professionals, and especially persons who have never been through the process themselves, who attempt to generalize about nullity do a *grave* disservice to spouses in crisis, their families, and the Catholic Church.

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