Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Maltese Straw that breaks the Church's back

Everyone knows about the debate over Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia, and whether it is ambiguous in places, and whether it needs to be clarified. Many -- four prominent cardinals in particular -- have publicly asked for clarification, saying that without clarification, the ambiguities in the document will invite distortions or even implicit denial of constant Catholic teaching and practice. Others have responded by dismissing, and in some cases, ridiculing, this concern.

Well, it appears a document from the bishops of Malta may have gone exactly where Cardinal Burke and others' worst fears dreaded.

From the "Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia,
just issued, we find this paragraph:
Paragraph 10: If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).

If so, then why shouldn’t the following likewise be true:

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship same-sex attracted person who is living in a ‘same sex marriage’ manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).

Or indeed, why not:

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship any person persisting in a state of mortal sin who manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).

In short, doesn't this mean that all those who, in confession, says they are committing mortal sin of any sort, and because they believe they are "at peace with God" about it, they won't change that behavior, they are to receive absolution, and then can receive communion?

In other words, priests must grant absolution in such cases? What happens if a priest refuses to do so?

Are you telling me this isn’t a break from Catholic teaching?

Tell me what I'm missing here. Specifically, please explain how this is not in direct conflict with the Catechism, paragraph 1650, and the explicit teachings of Pope Benedict and Pope St. John Paul II.

(Note: I understand many people are upset about this, and are upset with Pope Francis over this. Injudicious comments will be deleted. Expressing unhappiness at the pope's decisions is one thing; calling the pope a heretic is something else. Be wise, be charitable, please.)

Update: I see my friend Father Zuhlsdorf has addressed this, and he links Canon Law expert Ed Peters.

14 comments:

Thomas Tucker said...

I won't say the Pope is a heretic, but I will say that he has failed, in his role of Pope, to safeguard sound doctrine and defend the unity of the Church. This was published in the house newspaper of the Vatican, which implies the Pope's approval. If he admonishes and refutes the statement of the Maltese bishops, I'll retract my comments.

TLM said...

If this isn't a reason to ANSWER THE DUBIA, I don't know what is!! Those closest to the Pope have been quite publicly condemning of the Cardinals' Dubia but in reality, the Dubia is a charitable invitation to the Pope to CLARIFY A.L. so that this so called 'confusion' stops. And yes, the four Cardinals were afraid something like this would happen, and how right their fear was! The Dubia is a LOVE GESTURE so that the Pope can steer the Church in the right direction. It's his Encyclical, and only He can do it. I'm hoping this situation may be a blessing in disguise, but with what we've seen and heard go on, I'm not holding my breath. Some say a schism cannot happen, but if this kind of thing continues, I don't see how it CAN'T. The Bishops of Malta are CLEARLY outside of the Church already! Talk about Diabolical Disorientation! Sheesh!

rcg said...

We seem to have a case of the exception becoming the rule. There is also a mistake being made to couple the confidence we have in the mercy of our Lord with confidence in ourselves.

Chris Garton-Zavesky said...

I'm not sure what to make of this, but I find it puzzling, to say the least.

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist


"An informed and enlightened conscience", if that expression means anything remotely Catholic, provides an empty set. If a person has an informed and enlightened conscience, he can't believe that his divorced-and-remarried-living-more uxorio is proper..... by definition.

I read about this article at Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog, since I've never visited this site before.

northernhermit.blog said...

I will be patient. I suspect the Pope will answer that Dubia in good time, but I also suspect he will wait until others draw their own conclusions, voice their opinions, and give their answers first. I am reminded of the way Aquinas might answer a question. The Pope is smarter than me.

Marc Puckett said...

Thank you for your straightforward language here, Father. Can it be that the Pope wants X in Philadelphia and Y in Malta and, indeed, thinks that such a state of affairs is healthy? I just shake my head, I don't understand; one refrains in the secular venues from the least criticism of the Sovereign Pontiff but I have to admit that I've stopped defending his Holiness in this matter of the ambiguous parts of Amoris laetitia. What a world!

Anonymous said...

and the variation for the German church tax payer:
If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a baptized Catholic who sees his church tax spent on anti-Catholic errands and thus quits the legal entity collecting the so-called church tax manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist

Father Edwin Palka said...

Well put, Father. I hope you don't mind me "stealing" this for my own parish bulletin!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Palka:

Only if you fix my errors!

Susan said...


What does this mean for those of us who want to adhere to the Magisterium and the true teachings of the Catholic faith? If this issue is not resolved consistent with 2,000 years of our Lord's teaching, what are the faithful to do?

If my parish priest teaches and encourages doctrines that are not Catholic, do I

a) try to find a priest and parish that does teach the Catholic faith?
b) remain in my parish and ignore any teaching contrary to Catholic faith?
c) leave the Church entirely and worship as if I were away due to illness?
d) confront my priest and try to get him to change his mind?
e) some other alternative or option?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Susan:

My counsel is to go easy. Don't try to game every scenario.

R Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R Williams said...

If it is up to ones own conscience to decide if they are in a State of Grace or "believe that he or she are at peace with God" why bother having a Priesthood or even the Church! I think God just told me not to attend Mass any more... it's a waist of time, since my conscience now trumps The Church. Absolutely diabolical!


Ya know... according to a popular, now Bishop, all people will be saved anyway. This thinking has always made me ask.. if we are all saved anyway, then why follow any moral law, Church doctrine or preach the gospel? This all would be a wast. Why be a Catholic priest if you don't believe.. are they so institutionalize that they don't leave because they couldn't make it on there own?

Come Holy Spirit..... I'm scared of the diabolical minds in today's Church.

Sorry for the rant... I entered The Church 6 years ago because of the unity and the belief that it is the One True Church. Because of the chaos and disfunction evangilzing the One True Faith to those outside, seems ridiculous.

R Williams said...

If it is up to ones own conscience to decide if they are in a State of Grace or "believe that he or she are at peace with God" why bother with the Preisthood or even the Church! I think God just told me not to attend Mass any more... it's a waist of time, since my conscience now trumps The Church. Absolutely diabolical!


Ya know... according to a popular, now Bishop, all people will be saved anyway. This thinking has always made me ask.. if we are all saved anyway, then why follow any moral law, Church doctrine or preach the gospel? This all would be a wast. Why be a Catholic priest if you don't believe.. are they so institutionalize that they don't leave because they couldn't make it on there own?

Come Holy Spirit..... I'm scared of the diabolical minds in today's Church.

Sorry for the rant... I entered The Church 6 years ago because of the unity and the belief that it is the One True Church. Because of the chaos and disfunction evangilzing the One True Faith to those outside, seems ridiculous.