Friday, April 08, 2016

Amoris Laetitia‬ and truth

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.


Anil Wang said...

You are correct of course. Priests and bishops will keep doing what they've always been doing, with the exception that some priests and bishops can now point to the Pope for support, and others will face a backlash from the laity for not "being inclusive".

Thankfully, as you have said, the exhortation is too long to read, so it will largely be ignored.

The sad thing is, encyclicals and exhortation have gotten so long for no apparent reason. I'm not just talking about Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI's encyclicals were far verbose and repetitive, especially when compared with encyclicals like Humane Vitae and all encyclicals before. The same can be said about the new Catechism. I have read the whole thing, but the prologue, and parts 1 and 2 really need to go on a diet since they are extremely verbose and repetitive. It's no surprise so few people have read it. Even the Compendium is too long for what it states and the writing is so stiff (thankfully the writing of the new Catechism wasn't so stiff, otherwise I couldn't finish it).

Yes, I know the writings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and the new Catechism can be edifying and I am thankful for them but the problem is that verbosity and repetitiveness tend to foster sloppy thinking and weaken the impact of what you have to say. While Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were meticulous geniuses who could stay on track despite verbosity and repetitiveness, the average person can't. IMO, this is why Pope Francis has gone off the rails. He's bought into the academic culture of verbosity and repetitiveness and ambiguity and that has resulted in sloppy thinking and safety (since it's easier to hide in voluminous works rather than a single crisp paragraph).

We need a Pope who has a simple mind (in the good sense) that means what he says and says what he means in the fewest words possible without going off into a long winded dissertation. Someone like Jesus, who didn't mince words. IMO, that is the only thing that will save the Church now.

John Fisher said...

“can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.” hahahah
Objectively they are but subjectively they might not grasp it... malformed consciences and few say it. The point was made that the State through laws has condoned and cultivated regular unions. The secret of the post Vatican II Church be ambiguous, contradict yourself and let people cherry pick so everyone is happy!!!! Yeahhhhh Not happy

Православный физик said...

I happen to agree with you Father, very nicely put....I've downloaded the document for I tell my students, it's better too say less than to drag on with points....I'll probably get to reading it, sometime before the year is over.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Between 1978 and 1980 four significant World leaders emerged: Pope John Paul, Ronald Reagan, Mrs Thatcher and the Ayatollah in Iran. Just as the EU referendum indicates that Mrs Thatcher failed, Trump exists because of the failures of ‘Reaganism’. In a similar way, the synod and this report have emerged because of the failures of the John Paul papacy and the post-conciliar period as a whole. Only the Ayatollah succeeded in implementing a vision for his country which continues to work as per design. In other words, Pope Francis’ papacy is merely rubber stamping the on going self-destruction of the Church, at a local level, a process which began decades ago.

As for the exhortation. It is nothing more than Sybil interrupting Basil by telephone (forcing him to down tools and cross the lobby to answer as he was in the middle of hanging up a moose’s head) to remind him to hang up the moose’s head.

What has been the point of all of this?

Terry Nelson said...

I love that episode Sadie! I loved it when the Major thought the moose was talking to him.

Nothing to worry about.

John Vasc said...

I hope our priests and (dare one hope) bishops will be resolute in the face of the ghastly ambiguity with which this document has been presented and interpreted in the media.
'...In future matters of sexuality will be not be dictated from Rome but decided by the individual conscience' was how the BBC Radio News ended up portraying it tonight, after a day of wavering reporting - and we were treated to an 'explanation' from (quelle surprise) Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna. May God forgive him.

Nobody will read it, but semi-detached Catholics will convince themselves they now have carte blanche. Heaven knows how many souls may be lost by those who swallow this misleading farrago of nonsense.

Marcus Josephus said...

The Christian world, once again, is a world was slipping back from Christianity into one of those "sensible" synthetic religions.

"Athanasius… stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, "whole and undefiled," when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius - into one of those "sensible" synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away." ~ C.S. Lewis' introduction to On the Incarnation

John Fisher said...

I think after reading the criticisms of the document its time for Pope Francis to go. How long do we have to endure a Pope what can't even grasp his duty is to submit to the Catholic faith. Haven't we had enough? Paul VI misused his authority to attack the Church itself. He was part of the Bugnini faction that exploited Pius XII sickness and authority to further their agenda. Paul VI thought he was answerable to God alone. The Council was like this document. ambiguous and afterwards who cares we can use it as a prestext to do whatwe want. JP II intellectually got the Faith but it was divorced from worship and he felt he had to uphold a party line Re Vatican II because not doing so would undermine authority. Benedict XVI sought to re-establish continuity. Now we have Francis a true disciple of Bugnini and a conglomeration of contradictory beliefs. Truly part of the problem not a solution. The secret it confuse with detail and exemptions. Falsify the past and say contradictory things so everyone can do what they want by cherry picking. Catholics pick Catholic doctrine Modernists ambiguity and dissipation using fluffy language. They go so far as to misrepresent Christ of the Gospels. Francis has to go... he has to leave. I know he does not care about honesty but just being pleasant and a pop star like JPII.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Is the Church set to churn out a doctoral thesis everytime it hosts a meeting in Rome? This is getting ridiculous. We need to move back to electing trained diplomats as Popes. This experiment with academics has run its course.

Politicians who start out in university politics emerge thirty years later on TV still recycling the same speeches they were giving as teenagers. Academics are the same in so much they communicate by "papers". The never really mature intellectually having become enslaved to a format.

Francis said...

The question I keep asking myself is can the next Pope get the Church back onto the JP2/Ratzinger track via documents and proclamations which neatly "clarify" the messages from Francis? Provided this is possible, we are OK.

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

Well stated and very insightful. I was particularly taken by your observation:

"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 would suspect that the most profound obstacles will present themselves for the priest who wishes to instruct and effectively evangelize (as he must always) his parishioners and those in his charge in the Truth of Christ, 'Truth' now having been broadly defined as theology derived from a particular 'culture' (even, I suspect micro-cultures within a given area such as the culture of Brighton, etc.) and no longer a function of the Word of Christ and Catholic doctrine preached throughout the millennia.

This relativistic approach to doctrine, masquerading as mercy and pastoral concern is, to my mind, the antithesis of the Jesus'prayer in the Gospel of John 17:21-23:

"That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one: I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me."

I wonder if anyone will come away from a read of this exhortation convinced that the Catholic Church possesses Unity in the fullness of the Truth revealed by Christ.

There was no need for either Synod. None. The reasons for convening them are anybody's guess, but if you will forgive me, my intuition tells me that it was pure mischief afoot from the very start.

With the release of this exhortation my heart recalls this passage of Jeremiah:

"Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not." Jeremiah 31:15

Scelata said...

Bless you, Father, your blog never fails to provide rich and nourishing foor for thought and food for the soul.
To this, all I can say is, "ain't it the truth?"

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Jacobi said...


. I have now taken some time to read the document carefully.

. The first thing to note is that this is in no way infallible.

. It is ambiguous and "all things to all men".

. Kasperism therefore can take from it what it wants and open heretical schism is now inevitable in the Church in Germany

. The Church's teaching is unaltered. Adultery is a mortal sin, adulterers receiving Holy Communion are committing mortal sin as are those assisting them.

. Another Council will be needed to sort out the mess

All in my humble opinion of course as a reasonably intelligent, knowledgeable, experienced and considerate, orthodox Catholic of the World.

John Fisher said...

Antonio Socci has hit the nail on the head and points out a strategy used for the last 60 years. Prevarication and ambiguity are institutionalised. Time for Francis to go. He is pushing the boundaries just to see if he can get away with it. I think the Papacy needs to be slapped back into its place repeating the Gospel not "preaching a gospel different from that which you received".

“But let your speech” Jesus commands “be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.” (Matt. 5, 37).

"Was Cardinal Kasper right when he announced “the great revolution” a month ago? With the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris laetitia is Bergoglio overturning the Magisterium of the Church, thus putting himself above the words of Christ and God’s commandments?

With words he says he is not changing doctrine. But with facts he has today opened up to something that until now has been forbidden by Holy Scripture and the Church.

An operation of “double-truth” is hidden in the ambiguity of vague and misleading declarations. Why? Is it to camouflage the “revolution”, given that the law of God cannot be overturned in the Church?

Yes, it is. However, mostly with cautious gradualism: the ‘boiled frog’ strategy is being applied to the Church. A frog thrown into a pot of boiling water would jump out immediately. If, instead, it is put into a pot of tepid water which is gradually heated up, it ends up being boiled without being aware of it."

Nicolas Bellord said...

"The reasons for convening them are anybody's guess, but if you will forgive me, my intuition tells me that it was pure mischief afoot from the very start."

I am afraid the reason is perfectly obvious - to promote a very liberal view of sexuality and use every trick and manipulation to achieve that aim. The Synod resisted but Pope Francis has overruled them. The sight of Baldisseri and Schoboern grinning like a couple of school boys who have broken into the tuck shop says it all. It is a dishonest document and should be sent back for extensive revision.

Sandpiper said...

The document enshrines situational ethics. It is at once banal and terrifying as is much that is evil.

Pablo the Mexican said...

" It is for the priest administering the body of Christ for three reasons. First, because, as stated above, enshrined in persona Christi . Now, in the same way it was Christ himself who consecrated his body at dinner, so it was he who gave it to feed the others. It corresponds to the priest not only the consecration of the body of Christ, but also its distribution.
Second, because the priest is an intermediary between God and the people (Heb 5.1). So, in the same way that it is up to him to offer to God the gifts of the people, so he would also corresponds deliver to the people the holy gifts of God.
Third, because out of respect for this sacrament , nothing touches not is consecrated, therefore the body as the chalice are consecrated, like the priest 's hands, to touch this sacrament. So, nobody is allowed to touch him, outside a case of necessity, as if, for example, it fell to the ground or any other similar case. "

Stephen Turton said...

I wonder if the crisis of integrity is really a crisis of humility before truth so that we can't see it ?

JARay said...

This document is riddled through with Modernism. It has been couched in terms which ennable even the most "liberal" of catholics to go on believing that they are faithful Catholics whereas they are only "cino" (Catholics in Name Only). It is a disgraceful document and my most earnest prayer for our Holy Father is for him to disappear without causing any more trouble. Sadly, it seems, this Modernism is rife amongst many of our Pastors. Many of the appointments which Pope Francis has made are real causes of alarm.

John Fisher said...

"Let us rebel against “the dictatorship of relativism” which is destroying Catholicism and our civilization." This article is at rorate caeli

"To be sure, the Bergoglian “modernism” of today brings to mind the image of an eighty year-old woman running around in a mini-skirt and stiletto heels, exposing her bosom to all and sundry. Also on social issues, Bergoglio rehabilitates the fossilized slogans of those abominable “red-light” 1960s, now at the age of catheters and Alzheimer’s. Then the Bergoglian pages on Eros which are a clumsy amateurish copying (with errors) of the theological and pastoral masterpiece by John Paul II, who, in his catecheses on Genesis and the body, linked together splendidly the “Eros” and “Agape” in Christian marriage."

"So Bergoglio is “revolutionizing” i.e. turning the Church upside down, as Ross Douhat in the New York times wrote last November, when he indicated the existence of a “plot to change Catholicism”adding that “now the principal plotter is the Pope himself”.

It is now official. Today, after the publication of this revolutionary text, is the “day after” for the Church. What was considered impossible has happened. The Apostolic Exhortation is an open act challenging two thousand years of Catholic teaching".

Bergoglio is doing to doctrine and discipline what Paul VI did to the liturgy. Not perpetuating and reinvigorating it but destroying. There is no past and what is new and modern is always better! The real issue is a misuse of Papal authority.

Jacobi said...

My understanding is that the three documents issued by Pope Francis so far, that is Evagelii Gaudium, Laudto Si, and Amoris Laetitia are not binding infallible documents addressed at the whole Church and binding on the Faithful.

As such they must be treated with respect and contents seriously considered but any sincere Catholic who disagrees with them is free to do so and say so.

If that understanding is not correct I would be happy to be so informed.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jacobi, Quite right, read what I've put up today

Jacobi said...

Thank you Father. Our thought crossed!

Liam Ronan said...


I propose the following preamble to the official text of any such future papal documents:

"The following letter, document, exhortation, etc. is not a binding infallible document and, while addressed to the Church, it is not binding on the Faithful.

As such, while its contents are to be given respectful consideration, any faithful Catholic who disagrees is free to do so and say so."

epsilon said...

Please may i draw attention to the Chant Cafe request on your blog list on the right Father and readers. I notice only 8 people have responded to a great cause that is surely dear to everyone who follows Fr Ray Blake:
polyphony chant at world youth day

Nicolas Bellord said...

Liam: As a retired lawyer I would suggest a disclaimer e.g. "Following the teaching of this document is entirely at the risk of any member of the laity and no liability whatsoever will be accepted if he finds himself in Hell or serving an unduly long period in Purgatory as a result of so doing".

Liam Ronan said...

@Nicholas Bellord,

Contract law, eh, Counsel? Worthy of Stephen Vincent Benet's "The Devil and Daniel Webster".

I would recuse myself from hearing any of these cases were they to come before me. Contract law is a sticky business unless there is a full meeting of the minds. As you must know, the devil is in the details.

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