I know I shouldn't read emails before Mattins but I do. This morning I was a bit surprised to find I had been sent from three sources, not people I actually know, a PDF of the embargoed Papal Exhortation, all three were the English translation, which would indicate a common source. Later, when I had finished Lauds, a friend, and then journalist also wanted to discuss the document, they too had received the document, so much for Papal secrets.
It doesn't strike me as being a terribly interesting document, perhaps the difference with this exhortation, is the way in which it has been given to the press, and most especially the way in which the press has been prepared for it before hand. Most papal exhortations have already been forgotten, I think I am the only priest in my diocese to take seriously Pope Benedict's exhorting us to retain the use of the communion plate, for example. The very length of this document is a source of confusion, search and you will find what you will, oh for the day when papal documents were brief and clear, rather than of manifesto proportions. Whilst dictators speeches dragged on for page after page, Popes could say something revolutionary in a brief address.
Others will provide an analysis but I fear that as Fr Zuhlsdorf points out people will interpret it according to their preferences, either positively or negatively, but for many it will make no difference, who will wade through its two hundred pages? The bottom line is that those who shouldn't receive communion will still come up and do so, it is the pastoral reality of Catholic life today. And yet the document itself tells us that doctrine and pastoral practice are to be interpreted according to culture. This, if Cardinal Kasper was right, is revolutionary character of Amoris Laetitia; since Nicea the Church has sought to bring into unity, now that seems to be reversed, time will tell.
I think the crisis in the Church is one of integrity. Benedict interpreted it as a crisis of the disintegration of the liturgy, following the idea that we believe what we say and do in the liturgy, lex credendi lex orandi. It stems of course from the 2nd Commandment, that if we keep Holy the name of God, nothing we do in the name of God should be trivial or false, that our "yes means yes and no means no". The ending of our prayers, "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ ..." turns them into a sacred oath. Lies and obfuscation have no place in the Christian life. There must be something very different in way Christians speak, most especially bishops and priests, Christ after all spoke with authority, unlike the religious and political leaders of his day. His words were witnessed to by God himself, the Father and the Spirit witness to Him as the Truth. It is as the Truth that Pilate is incapable of recognising Him, and therefore as the Truth that He is condemned and crucified. Those who are on the side of Truth listen to His voice, because He is the Word of God, the Son of the Father, full of Grace and Truth.
The child abuse crisis and consequent episcopal cover-ups revealed the Church or rather its leaders as being without integrity, as being far from the truth, in fact many were shown to be downright liars. If we are to witness to the truth of Christ we need to be men and women of total integrity, the knotty wood of the Cross is the great sign of integrity, it is through our trustworthiness as witnesses to the resurrection that others are called to believe, if the Church cannot be trusted we cannot be faithful witnesses.
Perhaps it is not just in the Church but in society in general that there is a problem with the truth, manipulation by politicians, journalists, spin-doctors, political correctness, language manipulation all in one way or another create an environment of mistrust in which communion/communication between human beings breaks down. Its the tower of Babel situation there are so many voices crying out but no-one can hear what is being said. The Church is supposed to be different, making out of many nations one people, with one certain truth, down the centuries the Church has sought truth, the One Truth, now it seems to me that the Church is following the world, that bishops are emulating politicians, that we are not so much concerned with truth as its application or spin, that we no longer see truth as person but a commodity.