Saturday, September 30, 2017

To Sign or Not to Sign #2

I was speaking to a brother priest, another who is deeply concerned about the state of the Church today, the bullying and turning away from the plain teaching of Jesus Christ and scripture. He said he too was asked to sign the Correctio, he hadn't because he simply didn't have time to read Amoris Laetitia.

He said that although St John Paul had written some long documents, that Amoris Laetitia was as long as all the existing Papal documents up to the reign of St John Paul. It is true. It took me over two weeks to read A L whereas Humanae Vitae can be read in less than an hour, Pastor Aeternus in half that time. My friend deeply aware of the need for intellectual rigour said that he thought the great problem for him was that parts of it were incoherent.

I suspect many of our Pastors, even Cardinals simply haven't read this document either and yet promote what "they understand" the document to say. or what their Episcopal Conference says it says, or what their favourite 'Catholic' newspaper, or heaven preserve us of what the noisiest journalist says. It is similar to Benedict's remark about the two Councils - the Council of the media and the true Council.

The Pope encourages this sloppiness by referring people who question its meaning to Cardinal Graf von Schönborn or 'Tucho' or some obscure Conference of Bishops, like Malta. The situation isn't helped when it appears that the Pope himself might actually not comprehend, or even have studied what has been written for him and what the problems are - when questioned on the controversial footnote he actually replied that he couldn't remember it. I would like to quiz a few prelates on the Thomism of the document.

I am sure all the signatories of the Filial Correction have read AL, what concerns me is whether those who have expressed themselves online both for and against it have done so or even possess a copy. I can understand many without a theological formation are seriously uneasy about the political, theological, intellectual or even the sartorial (maybe 'style' might be a better term) direction the Pope is taking the Church - this should not be treated lightly, it is part of the sensus fidelium - the gut instinct of the Church, which is often ignored (churches, convents, seminaries being empty is one sign of it).

What I am trying to say is that just because someone like my friend has not signed the Filial Correction does not mean he is against it, he would certainly support those who have signed but more is desired for formally and publicly correcting a Pope or another Successor of the Apostles than mere fellowship or even a gut instinct. The Church of Jesus Christ is not a mob, the great flaw of Pope Francis is that rather than gathering the flock he is scattering it, sending many to wander in the desert or runaway in confusion and fear.

There is another aspect best seen in the Mueller/Burke take on the matter, Burke sees the error as needing corrected by the Church's law NOW, Mueller by the Church's theology LATER (probably the next Pontificate) both agree there is a problem what they disagree on is the method by which it is to solved.

Despite not signing the Dubia I suspect many Cardinals want it answered and feel the Church is suffering until it is, however that does not mean they are willing to condemn the Pope publicly, though they might be very glad that Cdl Burke and the three have done so, just to show there is a problem but reasonably feel they will act in the next Conclave in the not so distant future rather than today.


Oakes Spalding said...

Many many faithful Catholics do not like this pope. And they have every reason to - it's no sin, in my opinion. But in my view the Correction is not about the man per se but his words and the effect of his words. These MUST be corrected, and the authors lay out meticulously and clearly precisely what's at issue. So I think people get it completely wrong if they think about it as an attempt to punish the pope or begin some theological version of impeachment or whatever. But the words matter. The faithful must not be mislead. So since the pope has refused to correct them - after being given every opportunity, the dubia being the most obvious example - the task has fallen to other Catholics.

And you make a great point about the length of the document. Personally, I think the length is intended to be intimidating. You don't want to be too critical of passage xyz because you think you missed something earlier on that explains it, or you think it MUST be profound because it's so long, or whatever. Or maybe Tucho is just one of those people who has the scribbling fever. :)

Gadfly said...

Here's a time saving method to read anything Pope Francis writes:
A) Read the opening and closing paragraph first.
B) Ignore the doctrinal content and read the practica directives.
C) Always read the footnotes.

If you follow these three simple rules you will grasp the gist of the document in under an hour.

Unknown said...

"The situation isn't helped when it appears that the Pope himself might actually not comprehend, or even have studied what has been written for him and what the problems are".

Whilst you may be right, Father, my view is tha this is simply not excusable. As to whether people have read it or not, many experts have and none of its defenders have been able to offer a credible or convincing response. Speaks for itself. God bless you.

Master Dickey said...

What Fr Blake has written in these two posts about fear of signing the Filial Correction is brilliant. Along with Cardinal Mueller's comments in the NC Register about fear in the Curia and the Pope being deliberately mislead by supposed friends in the Vatican, these posts by Fr Blake will have more influence than the Correction itself. I wish he were a priest here in Dallas. And now we hear today that the Pope has reappointed Cardinal Burke.

Highland Cathedral said...

I haven't read AL but I have read the whole of EG and large parts of LS (or was it the other way round?) so I would agree that the Pope's (or whoever writes these documents) style is turgid, verbose, long-winded and often incoherent. As a former teacher of Economics I found the references to Economics woeful. I'm sure my pupils would have found it easy to have torn huge holes in many of his statements. Thankfully, papal infallibility or even the ordinary magisterium, does not extend to matters pertaining to Economics. What I did find was that a particular statement or idea was repeated several times in the same document. Was this because the writer had short-term memory loss or because the document was written by several people all of whom were told to include certain ideas? I don't know, but it certainly adds to the time it takes to read these documents. But once bitten twice shy and having had more than enough verbosity and incoherence from EG and LS I haven't bothered to read any further documents published by Pope Francis.

Anonymous said...

@Master Dickey- It doesn't say whether the Pope has reassigned Cardinal Burke as the head of the Apostolic Signatura, his former position.

I think I also read that the famous Cardinal Daneels is also assigned there...possibly to nullify Cardinal Burke?

Finally, I wonder if Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Burke in order to divert the Cardinal's attention away from the Fraternal Correction which we, orthodox laity are hoping for.

gemoftheocean said...

I dunno. But I do know that when I was 7 I knew that you couldn't receive communion if you hadn't confessed and were sorry for your mortal sins. Too bad Francis doesn't appear to know that.

Anonymous said...

As far as I understand the issue, it isn't about what AL may or may not say, as such, - most seem to agree that it is ambiguous - but about the way the Pope has either passively or actively allowed it to be interpreted. It's also about statements and comments he has made about Luther, which are also widely being take in a way that contradicts Catholic teaching. The Filial Correction is calling him out for a failure in his duty to defend the faith on these vital points. Perhaps that is indeed something best don by those who have studied the issues carefully. But it would be a distraction to focus solely on the text of AL rather than on the way it is being received with apparent approval from on high.

Anonymous said...

My mistake: it isn't Cardinal Daneels who is assigned to the Apostolic Signatura.

Lurker #59 said...

Regardless of the Pontiff, encyclicals are often written in part or in whole by others. Thus a certain divergence between Encyclical and preaching of a Pontiff can exist. That said, that in now way excuses Pope Francis to say 'go ask someone else what my document says'. Clear sign that either he doesn't know the argument or doesn't have the ability to argue it.

It is my view that AL wasn't intended to be read. It is a massively unwieldy document that is not accessible --- not because is spends its time in lofty and learned ideas (for example, Ratzinger's Principles of Catholic Theology is a difficult book for even the theologically minded) --- but because, as others have pointed out, the muddled confusion of the text, its themes, and structure.

As a Protestant Convert, who has read various such documents, muddled long winded texts are usually a clear sign of a lack of, shall we say, 'biblical clarity'.

AL exists to implement 'Idea X', which is why Pope Francis wrote/had it written. I'd argue that the document isn't so important as 'Idea X' because it is very clear that Pope Francis wants "Idea X" to be implemented. AL is just the vehicle for that.

Criticizing AL, getting in depth to what it says or doesn't say, and even correcting/rescinding the document isn't going to do a thing about "Idea X" because "Idea X" is already loosed and implemented. To an extent AL is a Tar-Baby that people are going to get hung-up on while "Idea X" spreads. To fix the problem, you need an anti-AL that also mandates the rooting out of "Idea X" from the theology and practice of the Church.

The Dubia and Correctio Filialis though are more concerned about 'Idea X' than AL. This is good. Correctio Filiatis is a bit more upfront about positing what 'Idea X' is or appears to be in practice. The Dubia respectively asks what it is and leaves it to Pope Francis to spell out what 'Idea X' is.

This is the ingenious part about the Dubia and Correctio Filialis: The average lay Catholic who neither has the time nor ability to plow through AL is now freedup to raise the question of not what does AL actually teach, but rather point out that those who are acting in the name of AL and PF are afflicting the individual personally in a way that is not congruent to the Catholic Faith. The average lay Catholic now has a right to demand that Pope Francis fulfill his Office in confirming the brethren in the Faith precisely because they are adversely affected by the implementation of AL, REGARDLESS of this implementation being contrary to or in accordance with AL, REGARDLESS of whether or not AL is heretical or not.

So should one read AL or not in order to sign? Doesn't matter because the problem is no longer an academic problem of what the document says or not, but rather a pastoral problem that demands action on the part of Pope Francis.

And there is nothing wrong or disrespectful for telling Pope Francis that you need his help to squash that which is damaging Christ's Church.

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father Blake,

I have a problem accepting that AL will be corrected by the next pontificate. Suppose the person who was the 'ghost writer' of AL becomes the next Pope?

As for AL itself I am only a layman, but one does not have to be an ENT specialist to detect the smell of rotten eggs.

Anonymous said...

WRT the position that the matter should be left to the next Pope, there are several issues with this:
(1) If no-one says anything, the next Pope has little cover for making the correction and a lot of pressure from the Francis appointed people to leave things pass.
(2) If no-one says anything, good Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious, and Laity will begin to doubt their opposition and begin to rationalize "the new position" since so many people who know more than them accept it and few people in the know opposite it.
(3) "The new position" is used to punish the faithful.
(4) Combining all the above, "the new position" might be used in the next conclave to exclude cardinals cause cardinals not to vote for a Pope who opposes "the new position".
(5) The faithful are confused and a generation might be lost and some might leave the faith.

Given the above, a correction must be done, even if it is only a positive affirmation of what's in the fillial correction. By this I mean, take the existing correction and strip out any reference to the Pope or AL and just leave the Catholic Doctrine which is being affirmed. Both Cardinal Muller and Cardinal Burke would have no problem signing such a document since it affirms what they have already publicly affirmed, and personally I don't think a priest can be called faithful in any sense of the word if he would not affirm at least that document even if they have not read AL.

WRT the length of AL, I agree. As much as I love Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, most of their encyclicals are just too long to read. Pre-conciliar encyclicals were clear, to the point, and easily readable so there was no excuse for a faith Catholic not to read it. Not only that, because they are so short, it is easy to keep them logically consistent. One of the apologetics that the Bible comes from God is precisely that such a long collections of documents over 2000 years with so many authors is consistent. If it were man made, it would be like the Hindu scriptures which are about as consistent as Protestant confessions of faith.

The essence of all post conciliar encyclicals is not voluminous...the bulk can be summarized in a few pages of text with no loss in content. This makes them much harder to be made consistent.

There are two reasons for this difference. The first is that pre-conciliar encyclicals are declarative and descriptive whereas modern encyclicals are apologetic so they include a lot of arguments in favour of the positions so they are necessarily 2 to 50 times longer than they would have otherwise been. There was pre-conciliar apologetics, but that was separate and tailored to the time period and audience reading. IMO this was good. Not only did this make pre-conciliar documents more crisp, it also made reading them easier. For instance, if I agree with Catholic Doctrine, why must I go through pages and pages of Pope Benedict accepting the affirmations of critics of the Catholic faith and even siding with the doubts they have before I get to the message he's trying to affirm that it doesn't matter because the truth is compelling and makes these objections irrelevant. I pick on Pope Benedict XVI here, but I can easily go after Pope John Paul II, the Vatican II documents, and especially Pope Francis.

Unknown said...

The Thomism of AL is of Thomas the Tank Engine, not St Thomas Aquinas.

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