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Leave The Debate Over Amoris Laetitia To The Theologians

September 7, AD2017

pope francis, pope, papacy, seat of peter,

It’s almost enough to make a good Catholic want to become a hermit.

The Amoris Laetitia (AL) controversy – the dubia, the Maltese Fiasco, and the German Bishops’ AL guidelines – have all made for some riveting reading in recent months. And the controversy does not appear to have an end in sight.

Now a new concern regarding AL has been raised by Catholic philosopher Dr. Josef Seifert. In a paper entitled “Does pure Logic threaten to destroy the entire moral Doctrine of the Catholic Church?” Seifert questions the logical implications of passage 303 of AL.

But take heart, big theological/doctrinal issues, simply because they are important, always get resolved.

It was almost inevitable that something controversial would happen sooner or later. As a theologian, professor, and author Tracey Rowland pointed out recently, in an interview about her new book Catholic Theology, Vatican II resulted in a fairly major split in the approaches to principles of fundamental theology.

Differing Opinions

According to Rowland,

“By the early 1970s the academic theologians who attended the Council divided into two quite definite camps, known in academic short-hand by the names of their flagship journals: Concilium and Communio.  I agree with Philip Trower that these two groups have been engaged in a ‘theological star-wars’ over the heads of the faithful. The fall-out from the stellar battles lands in parishes but Catholics who have not studied theology are unable to identify the origins of the bits of “space-junk” they encounter.”

“As a caricature,” said Rowland,

“one could say that the Communio theologians look at contemporary cultural movements from the perspective of the magisterial teaching of the Church while the Concilium types look at the magisterial teaching of the Church from the perspective of contemporary cultural movements.”

But it doesn’t end there. Thomists comprise a third group of theologians, she says, and “within this branch, there are several significant sub-sections.”

And to complicate matters even more, there is also Liberation Theology, which Rowland categorizes as “a more radical form of the Concilium style theology.” And there’s also a People’s Theology group.  This is “a form of liberation theology which is Peronist rather than Marxist.”  According to Rowland, Pope Francis favors the People’s Theology approach in some of his teachings.

Foundational Fault Lines

And, as she states in the introduction of the book, it can get very confusing:

“This makes it somewhat harder for the average undergraduate or seminarian to understand why what they learn in the morning lectures may not, in fact, sound like anything they hear after lunch. The whole territory of Catholic theology is highly fragmented and there is little agreement about methodological principles and issues that are classified as central to the subject of ‘Fundamental Theology.’  The conflict at the Synods on the Family (2014 and 2015) was symptomatic of this.  Foundational fault lines include the understanding of the relationship between nature and grace, faith and reason, history and dogma, logos and ethos and the correct principles to be applied to biblical hermeneutics.”

Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D., who holds both a Ph.D. in Theology and is Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland, agrees with Rowland’s assessment. The former doctoral student under Joseph Ratzinger, in an article at Catholic World Report asks, “Can the Apostolic exhortation help bridge the chasm that, since 1968, has divided moral theologians in matters of sexual morality?”

Not Winning Converts

But instead of leaving theology and doctrine up to the Magisterium and the theologians, too many Catholic writers and reporters are busily writing articles questioning Pope Francis’ beliefs, or proclaiming that the Church is in a “religious civil war.” Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture says the church is rushing to a crisis because of “This Disastrous Papacy.”

It’s doubtful such articles are going to win over any converts. And they are certainly not doing the Catholic Church or the faithful any favors.  They could even be leading some Catholics to question the teachings of the Catholic Church, or even to abandon their faith altogether.  If so the writers of such articles may be culpable in leading people astray.  But still, they persist.

Life after Amoris Laetitia

According to many pundits, the tension in the Church today is palpable. Catholics everywhere are on pins and needles wondering if, when, or how Pope Francis will respond to the dubia.  But is this really the case?

Maybe some percentage of the 22% of Catholics who attend Mass every week and who try to stay informed about Church Doctrine are concerned. But for the 78% of Catholics who are not even attending mass with any regularity, AL, and the controversy is probably not even be a blip on their radar screens. For the majority of Catholics, life probably continues post-AL much the same as it was prior to AL.

There can be little doubt that far too many Catholics today are sadly ignorant about what the Church teaches and why. Confusion following Vatican II, poor Catechesis, the ideology of moral relativism that emerged following the 60s, or the anti-Catholic /anti-Christian secularism being espoused by so many in the media and in the education system, could all be contributing factors. But the bottom line is far too many Catholics today disagree with Church teaching on abortion, euthanasia, contraception, fornication, cohabitation, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and the newest stupidity – transgenderism.

Moral Relativism

Tell some of these dissidents that sex before marriage, cohabitation or contraception is sinful and the response you’re liable to get is, ‘Well, that’s your opinion. I happen to disagree.’ That’s moral relativism at work.

One ‘Catholic’ I know has so bought into the LGBTQ activist claptrap that when I asked him if he realizes the Bible teaches that sodomy is a sin, he replied, ‘do you mean to say that you believe something that’s in a book that’s 2,000 years old is really relevant today?’ Apparently, he has forgotten that the Bible is the Word of God.

A State of Confusion

In 1981 Pope St. John Paul II wrote in paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio,

“. . . the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage [emphasis added].”

Some have questioned the part of this statement that is in bold type, saying that it is neither very profound nor very pontifical. ‘Besides, if we let these people take Communion it might confuse the faithful’ is not exactly the kind of reasoning one would expect from someone as scholarly as Pope St. John Paul II.

Error and Confusion

But chances are that Pope St. John Paul’s fears had materialized even as he was writing. Too many of the faithful today are very much, and have been for many years, in “error” and in a state of “confusion” about the indissolubility of marriage – and a number of other doctrines as well.  At least 78% of Catholics are certainly confused about a very basic teaching: the importance of going to Mass on Sunday.

To put this into perspective, 57.9 million Catholics out of 74.2 million Catholics in the U.S. are not attending Mass on Sunday with any regularity. And it’s even worse in Europe.  But let’s not be overly concerned about this.  Instead, let’s nit-pick AL, an exhortation that may actually help some of the 11 million divorced and remarried Catholics in the U.S. find their way back to the Church. It may even get parishes to revitalize their Pre-Cana Marriage Prep counseling programs, which may help stop this number from increasing.

Ratzinger’s Concerns

As Robert Royal noted during a Panel Discussion on Amoris Laetitia held at Assumption College on Oct. 27, 2016,

“Look marriage is in a bad way, and we all know this.  One of the clear things that Francis is trying to do is to apply the medicine of mercy, particularly in the west.  I was very struck during the Synod at how different the problems were in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America.”

It’s possible that the much-discussed footnote #351 in AL is merely referencing the same concerns expressed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in 1994.

As Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Professor of Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, points out, the controversial Footnote #351 in AL may be a reference to #3 c. in Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1994 essay, as then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by Divorced and remarried members of the faithful:”

“Admittedly, it cannot be excluded that mistakes occur in marriage cases. In some parts of the Church, well-functioning marriage tribunals still do not exist. Occasionally, such cases last an excessive amount of time. Once in a while they conclude with questionable decisions. . . . “

Still, says Fastiggi, “If Pope Francis has these rare cases in mind it would be helpful if he could make this clear.”

How Do We Respond?

Canon Lawyer Ed Condon, in an article for the UK’s Catholic Herald, says the real message of AL has been obscured.

“Amoris Laetitia was intended, above all, as a document in praise and in defence of marriage. So Pope Francis must be frustrated that an ongoing row over the document could end up defining his pontificate.

. . .

“Unfortunately, this great pastoral message has been systematically obscured by those who want Amoris Laetitia to say something it simply doesn’t, and who are trying, with the zeal of medieval alchemists, to change the gold of Church teaching into the dross of the Kasper proposal.”

But while the theological/doctrinal debate goes on, how do we, as laypeople, respond to a divorced and civilly re-married loved one or individual who says, “The Pope said that I can receive the Eucharist, without the resolution to live in continence”?

It is certainly not wrong to point out that

“AL says that only in certain, very specific instances, can a divorced and civilly remarried or cohabitating individual be permitted to receive the Eucharist. Such instances have to take into many factors, including conscience, and in the case of a divorced and civilly remarried individual, the validity of the first marriage.  You should talk to a priest about your specific situation.”  And in the case of divorced and remarried person it would also not be inappropriate to ask, “Have you applied for a Declaration of Nullity, and if so, what’s the status of your application?”

The Bigger Picture

And until the controversy surrounding AL gets resolved, what are we as Catholics to believe?

The answer to this question is that we should believe what the Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). And maybe having a copy of YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) for our children and teenagers, and making sure they read it, is not a bad idea either.

Our job as lay people is not to nit-pick papal exhortations or weigh in on matters best left to moral theologians. Let the Magisterium and the theologians deal with questions of doctrine.  It’s what they do.  Our job is a lot simpler – live our faith, evangelize to the best of our abilities, and get ourselves and as many others as possible into heaven.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Gene M. Van Son is retired after spending 35 years in the automobile business working for two of the Big 3 Automakers as a writer and editor, and then as a project manager in the areas of satellite communications and wireless technology. Originally from the Chicago area he has now resided in the Detroit area for more than half his life. He is a cradle Catholic who attended a Catholic grade school, high school and university. He has been married for 42 years to the love of his life, who is a certified Catechist, and they have three sons. He is now putting his BA in Journalism to use researching and writing about topics and issues that interest him. In addition to writing for Catholic Stand he has also had articles and essays published at www.AmericanThinker.com and at www.crisesmagazine.com .

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  • Michael Parker

    God needs hearts to accept and stand for the truth

    http://holylove.org/messages_printer.php?msg_id=10296

    Messages to all Priests http://holylove.org/files/priests_united_in_holy_and_divine_love.pdf

    The Way to Heaven through the United Hearts http://holylove.org/way_to_heaven.php

    Topical Studies http://holylove.org/topical_studies.php

    Bishops endorsing Holy Love Ministries

    http://holylove.org/endorsements.php

    http://holylove.org/testimonies.php

  • Guy McClung

    Dear Gene, Your article has served well to engender a great, informative discussion of AL. I think this is what the Church had in mind in both the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium ,and in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, dealing with the laity’s right and sometimes duty to express concerns, not only to the Church hierarchy, but to the faithful. Guy McClung, Texas

    Code of Canon Law:
    “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which [the laity]
    possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the
    sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the
    Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful,
    without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward
    their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”
    (Canon 212 §3)

    Lumen Gentium:
    The laity have the right, as do all Christians, to receive in abundance from their spiritual shepherds the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the word of God and of the sacraments (Cod. Iur. Can., can. 682.). They should openly reveal to them their needs and desires with that freedom and confidence which is fitting for children of God and brothers (and sisters) in Christ. They are, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church .

    • Larry Bud

      On the other hand, I think it’s only proven that many of you like to argue about matters which do not affect you and over which you have absolutely no influence. Which was the author’s point. I think.

  • ranger01

    Go home dear pewsitters. There is nothing to see. You are confused and worry too much. It is so above you heads, please not to mention it.

    Sorry, dear author, we get it. We understand BS when we see it. When people want to be clear in their message they write clearly. The bishop of Rome cannot/will not do so.
    This pope is trying to pass off his rambling, vague jesuit-speak as deep thought. He has not the mental horsepower for deep thought.
    So many of us now have no trust in the Vatican. Zero. And A/L is the perfect example of why that is.

    • Gene Van Son

      Thank you for proving the point of the article.

  • James Lancaster

    Gene,

    Peace of Christ be with you. I appreciate the article written and it caused some firing of the synapses (believe it or not) and I figured I ought to put it down to see what your thoughts are.

    I am someone who dearly loves and tries to study the Church, the Church Fathers, theology (moral and understanding the divine), and (some) philosophy. I think where this article causes some angst primarily in the thesis of it (as I understood it): “do your best and let the older wiser heads think through this”. I’m not sure I particularly buy that line all the way for two reasons.

    Firstly, we need to learn how to think, not just be spoon-fed, so that if we come up against something the Church does not explicitly define, we can think our way through it.

    Secondly, we are called to be participators in the Church, and that doesn’t just mean during the liturgy. We are to correct priests if they are wrong, and yes, even the bishops. Whether they let “collar-blindness” get in the way or not, the readings this Sunday were abundantly clear. We must admonish the sinner, and teach the ignorant, both as works of mercy.

    As for the content of your article, I have a thought. You state (comments) that the issue is a secondary issue. The particular
    matter of reception of the Eucharist in this particular case may be
    pigeon holed, but others have brought up that the premise can be applied
    across the board, and so is a serious “first-line” issue of salvation.
    If applied as Malta et. all. desire to apply it, we have wanton
    sacrilege of willful ignorance or even intentional disobedience. If
    applied as an issue of man and woman, desiring for a stable household
    for the children they already have, try to live as brother and sister,
    and through human weakness, fail, they can due to the lacking of the
    third requirement for mortal sin: full consent. It needs clarified, and
    the Holy Father is not officially doing so. When
    asked specific questions on it, the Holy Father declines to comment.
    This silence is what is causing the confusion when a few simple
    sentences could clear up the entire thing. Due to this silence, I cannot
    but think that the Holy Father means something other than that
    particular (rightly orthodox) definition of how those in a relationship
    (with kids) could live to keep the family together and refrain from
    relations.

    I look forward to your response (if you so choose to do so),

    Yours in Christ,

    James

    • Gene Van Son

      James, may the peace of Christ be with you as well. First of all, I did not say “let the
      older wiser heads” think this through. I am, however, saying that theology and doctrine are inextricably intertwined, and folks with PhDs in moral and systemic theology (many of them Cardinals, Bishops, and priests) do not agree on what footnote 351 is saying or not saying. How can us ordinary laymen contribute in any meaningful way to this debate? We can’t.

      Yes we do need to be able to think, no argument there, and yes we are called to admonish the sinner and teach the ignorant. I believe I responded to how we can do this in the article in the case of divorced and remarried persons.

      You say that I said the “the issue is a secondary issue,” but that is not what I said. I said what is being discussed are “secondary objects of infallibility.” There are four levels of doctrine in Church teaching and this falls under the classification of “secondary objects of infallibility.”

      You also say “others have brought up that the premise can be applied across the board,” and this is true, but still others have said that there is nothing in AL that is not in keeping with Church
      doctrine. Thus the debate that is taking place.

      I agree that the Pope’s silence is a concern. No one knows why Francis did not meet with the Burke et al, and no one knows the reason for Francis’ silence on the dubia. Possibly in his mind the clarification has already been given by Cardinal Muller. But we still have all kinds of speculation taking place, such as your statement “I cannot but think that the Holy Father means something other . . .” And this is one of the points of my article. Speculation by us ordinary layman about AL or about what is going on in the Magisterium is not just pointless, it is perhaps detrimental. It is not bringing anyone to Christ and it is not doing the Catholic Church any good.

  • Lilian Rogers

    And furthermore, when my husband lost his mind in a midlife crisis and divorced me 14 years ago, I continued to be faithful to our vows, giving good example to my children who all are married now. I want them to see that no matter what, a vow is a vow for better or worse. We are called to holiness, not compromise with this toxic Culture of Death.

    • Guy McClung

      Dear Lillian Rogers, Just added you to my list of heroes. God bless you and yours, and always keep y’all safe in the palm of His hand. Guy McClung, Texas

    • Me

      Amen, Lilian.

      I, like you, have been faithful……….since 1990, when I was summarily discarded with the permission of the Catholic Church.

      I was faithful before. My wife is the only woman I have ever slept with.

    • Guy McClung

      Dear Me-You too, now on the hero list; so difficult in today’s world to do this true faithful hero thing. Guy mcClung, Texas

  • Lilian Rogers

    The link to this article explains why we don’t want to be Pharisees. Allowing a priest in Confession to decide if an adulterous couple can receive Communion is pharisaical. I treasure the priest who told me in Confession, “You’re living in sin!” All the other priests who knew I wasn’t married in the church winked at my receiving Communion. When Fr. Luke shared the true teaching with me, I repented, we lived as brother and sister until we fixed our marriage. The fruit of that was my husband converted and I became a real Catholic and we had a real marriage. Leaving people in error, darkness and sin is not merciful.

    https://onepeterfive.com/the-new-pharisees-who-today-is-putting-up-obstacles-to-evangelization/

  • Jo Warsch

    AL is a point of contention as the Head of the Catholic Church has not clarified questions rightly raised, since this document appears to contradict the Word of God, and the teaching of the holy catholic Church. What Jesus taught about marriage and sin cannot be contradicted – by anyone – including the current Shepherd. Four of the Church Militant, Cardinals most faithful, requested such clarity on AL. INSTEAD ? He has tweeted about the Super Bowl, admonished Trump, airlifted Muslim families on a private jet whilst rejecting persecuted Christian families, ignored the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to project “Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home”……the list goes on….. rather that clearly proclaim that to receive Holy Communion we need to be in a state of grace, OR, simply meet with the four faithful, of whom two are now deceased. (mmmmm, is that not convinient.) The Pope is appointed to bring souls into the faith and usher them worthily into the presence of God. His work is NOT to take money from George Soros, promote scandal and sodomites (eg. the St. Gallen “Mafia,” the cocaine-fueled homosexual orgy in an apartment of the Holy Office and the USA’s own sodomite promoter, now vatican secretariat responsible for Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre as well as the Holy See’s website and the pope’s Twitter handle, @Pontifex: Fr. James Martin) and their deconstruction of the Church, promote the climate change agenda, bring abortionists into the Vatican to taint the teachings of Mother Church on the Sanctity of Life…..this list TOO goes on. What are we to think, Mr Van Son ? “Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalls, your brethren who are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8). I am, as are
    many of the faithful, a struggling sinner who is watching and praying for the Pope(s) and pondering if
    possibly Pope Paul VI was right, when he stated on 29th June1972, that “the smoke of satan has infiltrated the Church.” Please, Lord God have Mercy on all of us and lead us home. Mother Mary, spread your mantle over your son Jesus’s Bride.

    • Gene Van Son

      Jo, you are correct that footnote 351 in AL is a point of contention, and that Pope Francis has not responded to the dubia. I don’t know why he has not, and neither does anyone else. There is such a thing a ‘Vatican politics’ and perhaps this is what is taking place. You might also want to take a look at the two articles I provided links to in my second reply to Robert (above). And note too, what Santon909 points out (above): “There are some websites devoted to driving the hysteria, where the Pope is called a heretic, etc. These people are enhoying thinking they are saving humanity, they get a rush out of it. They go over the top.”

      As to ‘what we are to think,’ the Catechism is very clear on how we are the think, act, behave and believe. And in regard to all the negative remarks about Pope Francis, I think the CCC offers a lot of guidance here as well.
      #2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
      – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
      – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
      – of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
      2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
      Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may
      be saved.

    • BXVI

      [2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
      Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.]

      Or you could refuse to meet or discuss the issue with them and instead issue bromides about how they are Pharisees who don’t know Christ and who oppose the Holy Spirit. And you could suggest that they are possibly mentally ill. Of course, you could do so without “naming names” but in such a way that everyone knows exactly who you are talking about. And then you could grant a lengthy personal audience to an obscure journalist who recently wrote that they are actually tools of Satan. That’s another way to handle it.

    • Jo Warsch

      It is appropriate to apply all of the above to the manner in which the Pope has treated the faithful and our Cardinals. Shame on you for believing there is any substance to post from the Cathecism in response to the obvious questioning of the satanic attack from within.

  • handydan

    You guys can “reference” all you want to. The simple fact remains AL kinda sorta allows people living in mortal sin to receive the Sacred Body of Christ and not feel guilty about it. THAT is really bad. We have been dealing with too many gray areas. There is good and bad. Keeping it simple removes a lot of questions about the legality and validity of things. Peace and God bless.

    • Gene Van Son

      Your statement “AL kinda sorta allows people living in mortal sin to receive the Sacred Body of Christ and not feel guilty about it” is not accurate. AL says divorced/ remarried people should talk
      to a priest about their specific situation and the priest will discern whether or not they are able to receive communion. They will also have to go to confession.

      The debate in AL is over mortal sin. The CCC 1857 says “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” AL is saying there may be cases amongst the divorced/remarried where one or more of these conditions is not present. If that is the case there is no mortal sin. This is what Ratzinger’s 1994 letter is in reference to.

    • BXVI

      Gene –
      How do you square the idea that the sin of adultery must be mortal in order to exclude one from the Eucharist with CCC 2390: “…The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion”? What part of “always” and “excludes” is not clear?
      This is because St. John Paul II and Benedict did not base exclusion from the Eucharist exclusively on the fact that adultery constitutes mortal sin (which, in limited circumstances, it may not). AL attempts (and I would say, fails, if interpreted properly) to overturn or undermine this teaching of the Catechism (which by the way was issued under an Apostolic Constitution and described as “a sure norm” for teaching the faith). Pope Francis has made it clear that he does not believe what the Catechism teaches on this point and that he wants to change it.
      All of the grotesque machinations and manipulations surrounding the synod (how scandalous that 13 prominent cardinals from around the world had to write to the Pope accusing him of rigging the process!) were geared toward achieving this result. Even at that he was unsuccessful; so he over-rode the rules requiring 2/3 majority for the key paragraph and included them in the final document anyway. Then he writes AL but pretends not to remember the key footnote!?!

    • Gene Van Son

      BXVI, your “how do you square” question and subsequent statements pose a debate on moral and systemic theology. No gonna go there! I am only pointing out (above), that this is what the debate is about. Quite frankly I’m still at a loss to explain how my Catholic relatives in Chicago got a dispensation to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day this past Lent while I did not!

      Your comments on the Synod are getting into Vatican and Church politics, which are also behind the ebb and flow of the different schools of thought in theology. But I
      think calling the machinations and manipulations “grotesque” is a bit much. I’m not a Vatican insider but such machinations are not new. From what I’ve read, both Vatican I and II had their share of ‘goings on’ behind the scenes. All the more reason for us laypersons to ‘let it go’ and just do our best to live our lives according to the CCC.

    • BXVI

      No, my “how do you square” question points out a blatant inconsistency between what the current Pope apparently teaches and what the Catechism says. What does one do when the current Pope clearly rejects what the last two popes definitively taught and what is set forth in the Catechism? I know, I know…”let it go and just do our best” while our betters sort through it.

    • Gene Van Son

      While I admire your resolve in sticking to your guns regarding what you see as the “blatant inconsistency between what the current Pope apparently teaches and what the Catechism says” I do have to disagree. I’ve written over a half a dozen articles over the last couple years refuting the outrageous claims some websites seem to enjoy making (a couple here, and four or five for American Thinker). I have enjoyed
      our discussion, but I do have to move on. Take care and may God be with you.

  • Larry Bud

    Before the Internet came along, did you know what the Popes were talking about? DId you read encyclicals? Did it really affect your day to day life or the quality of your faith?

    Then why does this stuff matter now? I just don’t get it.

    • If you don’t remember the olden days literate people read books, newspapers, magazines, church bulletins, snail mail letters, listened to radio and TV, sermons, public talks….

    • Larry Bud

      Yes, they did lots of things. Arguing about the Pope was simply not among them, however.

    • One advantage of modern communications is that assertions by commenters can easily be verified.

      “The publication of the encyclical marks the first time in the twentieth
      century that open dissent from the laity about teachings of the Church
      was voiced widely and publicly.

      Within two days of the encyclical’s release, a group of dissident theologians, led by Rev. Charles Curran, then of The Catholic University of America,
      issued a statement stating, “spouses may responsibly decide according
      to their conscience that artificial contraception in some circumstances
      is permissible and indeed necessary to preserve and foster the value and
      sacredness of marriage”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanae_vitae#Response_and_criticism

    • Larry Bud

      I think you completely misunderstood my comment. Take a deep breath and try again. I’m saying that ordinary Catholics like you and me, can read papal documents and choose up sides and argue and fuss until the cows come home…

      and it just doesn’t matter. All the opinions on this web site, added together and wrapped up with a neat little ribbon, count for _absolutely nothing_.

      Surely there must be more productive things we can do.

    • Breathing deeply….

      You asked of the laity; “did you know what the Popes were talking about? DId you read
      encyclicals? Did it really affect your day to day life or the quality
      of your faith.”

      That is what I answered.

      If you believe that opinions on this site are useless, I would suggest that you stop commenting. Unless that understanding is for everyone else but yourself.

    • Larry Bud

      You cut off the first part of my question. I’ll ask it again:

      Before the Internet came along, did you know what the Popes were talking
      about? DId you read encyclicals? Did it really affect your day to day
      life or the quality of your faith?

      By “you” I mean “you”. H.L. Duncan. Not some theologian whose job may be to read and critique such things.

      The answer is “no”. You, H.L. Duncan, in the years before the Internet, did not read papal writings nor argue about them. Because you had no way to do so, and besides that, it was not your role to do so.

      Nor is it your role to do so now. It doesn’t accomplish anything.

      As for your final suggestion, I’ll comment wherever I like. Thanks for the suggestion though.

    • I understand why you don’t recognize reading as important. Thanks for the discussion.

  • Zeke Clinton

    It’s hard to leave these matters to obfuscating experts when the distortions of doctrine to undermine Church teaching are so obvious. If we could trust the revisionist theologians it would be different.

  • samton909

    Well, that’s a novel take on things. Pope issues highly controversial mish mash of an apostolic exhortation. People can’t tell what he is saying. People understand that he is trying to undo doctrine in some ways, because he keeps hinting at that, badgering people, insulting them, etc etc. No one has ever seen such a Pope. Even the little people, the non theologians, can tell the Pope is trying to be Slick Willy, and get away with changing Catholic doctrine without changing Catholic doctrine. This is pretty much a first in Papal History, or at least in the last couple hundred years of papal history. But you want us to shut up so that these changes can be made, and the church grievously wounded, so that Francis can undo the magisterium of John Paul II etc. The trouble is, there are a lot of people who get this stuff, it is not something that only High Lords and Masters can understand.

    The one causing division and driving people away from the church is the Pope, not the people who question his weird pronouncements and insults and rambling confusing statements on virtually everything. It is not those who question him that are to blame.

    • Gene Van Son

      You seem to be reading an awful lot into what I wrote that is not there. This is what is happening with AL as well. Since I replied to you above, I will only say here that I am not attempting to divert attention from AL. If you read that, you are proving my point that people read into things what they want to. The 78% stat for people not attending Mass regularly is from CARA, not Pew. But having some familiarity with how survey questions are formulated and how surveys are conducted, I have my doubts that 45% of Catholics do actually go to mass on “most” Sundays. But that, too, is speculation.

  • Robert

    Sorry Gene
    I am no theologian, just a very ordinary struggling Catholic. However, I do attend Mass regularly and I do believe in the teachings of the Church as revealed in the catechism. The confusion and division wrought by this pope are obvious to anyone with half a brain. He has been asked to clarify but has no intention of doing so, it appears. I pray every day for God to clear the decks of all those currently undermining Church teaching and to bring it back to unity with clear, unambiguous teaching. The laity, especially those struggling to be faithful to the truth -non theologians like like me -who make up the vast majority of Catholcs, deserve nothing less. I am saddened and deeply depressed by the confusion and division that marks this disastrous papacy. I cling to God’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail

    Robert

    • Gene Van Son

      Robert, see my reply to Santon above. Maybe it will add some clarity. Like you I pray every day as well — that God will give Francis the wisdom to guide the Church according to God’s will. .

    • Robert

      Gene
      As an ordinary Catholic who wants to follow the truth and not be misled by either the extreme left or the extreme right I follow the catechism which in turn is faithfully based on the church’s magisterium. When I read extreme views from theologians on either side of the theological spectrum I can confidentially dismiss whatever deviates from what the magisterium, guided by the Holy Spirit, decrees. I don’t need to be a trained theologian. I don’t need to know all the varities of approaches to Catholc theology. I just need to know what the church actually teaches and as a responsible person do my best to conform.

      My problem with Pope Francis is that whatever his actual agenda, he has dropped dogmatically charged clangers all over the place. I haven’t the space to go into them all in this response but they can be easily found. With regard to AL, there is obvious confusion and better and more informed Catholics than I have respectfully asked the Pope to clarify certain highly important aspects of AL that have been interpreted diffently by leading prelates in various parts of the world. So far he has completely ignored all of those requests.

      Our leading prelates, including especially the pope, have a duty to explain and uphold church teaching with courage and clarity. The vast majority of Catholics are unfamiliar with deep theology nor have an interest in it. They seek clear direction. At the moment they are not getting it. And I am speaking of fundamentals like conscience, the family, marriage, sexuality, access to the communion, forgiveness, the meaning of mercy…the list is long and growing. Some time down the track God will act and straighten things out. I pray earnestly that He acts very soon.

    • Gene Van Son

      Robert,
      it sounds like you and I are actually on the same page – follow the CCC and try
      to live your life according to the teachings therein. But I think the “vast majority of Catholics” probably do not even own a copy of the CCC.

      Be that as it may, you should know that Pope Francis has not “dropped dogmatically charged clangers all over the place.” Pope Francis has not said anything that is contrary to dogma or even hinted at trying to change dogma. (Dogma consists of those truths that are divinely revealed. They cannot be changed.) He has also not tried to change any teachings that fall into the category of “secondary objects of infallibility. And much of what he has said has been twisted, taken out of context, or “read into” by the pundits. (You might want to take a look at “Francis is not the Left’s Pope” — http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/06/francis_is_not_the_lefts_pope.html
      and “Misreading Pope Francis” — http://www.catholicstand.com/misreading-pope-francis/.)
      Footnote 351 in AL is really the only “clanger” he’s dropped, and that is what
      is being debated right now. But again, what is taking place right now is a clash between the various schools of theology that’s been going on for 50 years.

    • Robert

      Hi Gene

      While I do not wish to carry on this debate any longer than necessary, my comments about Pope Francis and his disrespect for doctrine was not an idle one. While I agree that he has not directly challenged any doctrine and is unlikely to – his attitude to doctrine is cavalier and dangerous. Indeed, he insults those who strongly adhere to it. They are, he claims, rigid and even pharisaical.

      Space doesn’t permit me to go into every nook and cranny but if you check out Life Site news and an article entitled “The A-Z list of concerns with Pope Francis” you will see hard, incontrovertible evidence of Pope Francis’ outright recklessness with regard to established church teaching.

      We ordinary Catholics, who lack degrees in theology – and obviously we make up the vast majority of Mass attendees- don’t need to study esoteric arguments on this or that particular theology, we just need clear, unambiguous teaching on faith and morals. We are not getting it from this pope or his left leaning minions!
      God help us.

    • Gene Van Son

      Robert, you might want to
      consider looking for an alternative source for information if Lifesitenews is
      your go-to site for “news” on Pope Francis.
      I check out Lifesite every once in a while just for kicks. They do not run “hard,
      incontrovertible evidence of Pope Francis’ outright recklessness with regard to
      established church teaching.” I remember
      the A-Z editorial. It was filled
      with innuendo and conjecture. They ran
      an article a couple days ago saying that Pope Francis signaled he would accept
      civil unions. It too was pure conjecture. They seem to like to ‘spin’ the news
      when it comes to Francis. I sometimes
      think they look to Dan Brown and his Da Vinci
      Code as a model for how put unconnected events and facts together. There are a number of other sites that love
      to spin the news as well. Incendiary
      headlines mean more traffic and higher ad revenue.

    • BXVI

      [But again, what is taking place right now is a clash between the various schools of theology that’s been going on for 50 years.]
      Yes, and the apparent point of that footnote is that the interpretation of Vatican II that was held and enforced (for lack of a better word) by St. John Paul II and Benedict was wrong and were here to fix it by reversing course and imposing the competing view.

    • ranger01

      @Robert
      Your post is completely clear and entirely reasonable.
      It is the man who uses the words ‘coprophagia’ and ‘coprophlia’ that needs to respond to those (still breathing) Princes of the Church, loyal servants of the previous two popes, learned theologians, who have asked reasonable, legitimate questions via the historically correct process to the Vicar of Christ.
      The author knows this, of course.
      We can all see through the smokescreen of Francis and his lieutenants. But the very last thing they want is clarity.
      Bet on it.

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  • Gene Van Son

    Would you be so kind as to tell me what is the ‘crisis’ of which you are speaking? The fact that some very small percentage of divorced and remarried Catholics may be allowed to receive the Eucharist is not a crisis. Despite what the doomsayers are saying, AL has really not created a decisive moment or an unstable or crucial time for the Church. Catholics are NOT leaving the Church or abandoning their faith or becoming confused because of it. It may even be bringing some divorced and remarried Catholics back to the Church. AL is a bump in the road. It will get resolved. In the meantime, the Church continues as it has done for 2,000 years.

    The real crisis the Church is facing and has been facing is dissidence. Some 78% of Catholics don’t go to church on Sunday, 64% of Catholics say homosexual behavior is not morally wrong, almost 90% of Catholics say artificial birth control is not morally wrong, and almost half of all Catholics say there is nothing morally wrong with abortion. This is the real crisis the Church is facing.

    Neither you nor I can influence the debate over AL or change Catholic Doctrine. We are not the Magisterium. We can however, strive to become more devout and holy in our own lives and bring others to Christ.

    We may not have theologians today like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bede, St Catherine of Siena, St. Jerome or St. Robert Bellarmine (just some of the 36 theologians who are Doctors of the Church by the way), but there are some really learned and wise ones around. Leave the debate to them.

    • BXVI

      1. [Would you be so kind as to tell me what is the ‘crisis’ of which you are speaking?]
      See, George Seifert (philosopher very close to St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict), who has written that AL is a nuclear bomb that will destroy the entire edifice of the Catholic Church’s moral teaching if it is not withdrawn or revised.

      2. [The fact that some very small percentage of divorced and remarried Catholics may be allowed to receive the Eucharist is not a crisis. Despite what the doomsayers are saying,]

      First of all, it is a crisis because it destroys the Church’s credibility. If ambiguous footnotes in an apostolic exhortation can be used, with papal approval, to overrule the clear and definitive teaching of the Church that was very recently reaffirmed by St. John Paul II (Familiaris Consortio, 1981) and Pope Emeritus Benedict (Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007) and as explicitly set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see, especially, 2390) concerning one of the 10 Commandments and in direct opposition to the words of Jesus Christ himself then nothing is stable and nothing ever will be again.

      And, ultimately this is not about communion for adulterers, it is about overruling Humanae Vitae and about communion for actively practicing homosexuals. The logic of Amoris Laetitia applies equally to both of them. This has been planned and dreamed of for a long time by those who despise the teaching of the Church (reaffirmed by St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor) that some acts (such as using artificial contraception, engaging in fornication, sodomy or adultery) are always evil and can never be approved or condoned. They had a strategy and they have implemented it. They took the most sympathetic case they could think of (abandoned spouse, remarried, with children who will starve if she refuses sex to her new partner) to establish the principle that will permit all these things. You are naïve if you think otherwise.

      3. [The real crisis the Church is facing and has been facing is dissidence. Some 78% of Catholics don’t go to church on Sunday, 64% of Catholics say homosexual behavior is not morally wrong, almost 90% of Catholics say artificial birth control is not morally wrong, and almost half of all Catholics say there is nothing morally wrong with abortion. This is the real crisis the Church is facing.]
      I totally agree with your points here, except to say the crisis will be compounded, not alleviated by Amoris Laetitia.

      4. [Neither you nor I can influence the debate over AL or change Catholic Doctrine. We are not the Magisterium. We can however, strive to become more devout and holy in our own lives and bring others to Christ.]
      That’s not true. We have a voice. We are not the “children” or “sheep” of the pre-Vatican II Church. We are not only entitled, but required to speak up.

    • Gene Van Son

      1.I referenced Seifert in the 3rd paragraph of the article. It’s Dr. Joseph Seifert by the way, not George Seifert. To the best of my knowledge he is the only one questioning passage 303. He Is a philosopher questioning the logic of the statement, not moral theology, and he is stating only his opinion. The fact that he thinks it’s a nuclear bomb does not make it so.

      2.No, it does not destroy the Church’s credibility, if in fact footnote 351 is simply a reference to Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict XVI) 1994 essay.

      Also, No, it is not about communion for actively practicing homosexuals and it is not even about communion for adulterers either. You are buying into a lot of speculation that is just that.

      3. And I disagree that “the crisis will be compounded, not alleviated by Amoris Laetitia.” So we have a difference of opinion. Are you a doctor of moral theology or just an ordinary lay person like me?

      4. It is absolutely true. Certainly we can voice our opinion, but neither your voice nor mine is going to carry weight in the debate.

      5.There is an absolute link between the theologians and the Magisterium and doctrine. If you do not understand this you should read Dr. Rowland’s book. Many Cardinals are, in fact, theologians, as were the Doctors of Church. And this is where the debate belongs. That is what I am saying in the article. I’m not telling you to be a sheep, as you seem to think. I am simply suggesting that while this debate takes place over AL we should all try to live our faith according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    • samton909

      1) Seifert is not the only one. 45 of them issued a statement about AL, Many more have questioned it. Do not downplay the problems here. Very few bishops have come out with a Pope Francis interpretation. Very few defend him on AL, because they know it is a bag of snakes and they don’t dare touch it. Many, many have questioned AL

      2) The notion that footnote 351 is somehow a reference to Ratzinger is total speculation. No serious person has even suggested that.

      Yes, all of the principles laid out by AL could be used to also allow homosexuals to take communion. There is a lot of homosexual activity going on in the Vatican suddenly. Fernandez is strange with his kissing book etc. Timothy Radcliffe joins the Vatican Father James Martin elevated to be consultant, etc. Gay orgies there, etc etc. Changes were made to seminary acceptance rules so that homosexuals can now sneak in.

    • Gene Van Son

      Santon, you and BXVI and Robert may not be aware that Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control, Humanae Vitae, created the same kind of ‘firestorm’ AL has. It was going to tear the Church apart, Catholics would be leaving the Church in droves, and so on, and so on. The ‘liberal/progressive’ Bishops, Cardinals and theologians reacted to it in much the same way ‘conservative/traditional’ Bishops, Cardinals and theologians are reacting to AL. Many outright disregarded its teaching. I actually had a priest (back in the 70s)
      tell me it would be OK for my wife and me to use artificial birth control if
      our conscience was okay with it. And this, in a way, is the point of this article: the emergence of the differing ‘camps’ of theologians following Vatican II, has been having an impact on the Church, for the last 50 years. But the Church is still here. I’m not saying ignore it. I’m just saying look to your own soul and leave theology and doctrine to the theologians and Magisterium.

      People can ‘read into things’ whatever they want to depending on their point of view, and they are doing just that with AL.

      In regard to your point #1, Francis has just as many defenders as he does
      detractors. If you are only reading what conservative Catholic websites are saying you may not be aware of that. In regard to your #2, yes it is speculation,
      just as your statement “all of the principles laid out by AL could be used to
      also allow homosexuals to take communion.” Dr. Fastiggi said he is speculating.
      And that is exactly what is taking place in this controversy – everyone is
      speculating. But you are way out of line to suggest that Dr. Fastiggi is not “a serious person.” Look him up. He is a good man who doesn’t seek the limelight, but his credentials are impeccable.

    • BXVI

      As to his #2, it’s not speculation at all. The principle that is established applies to all sin, not just adultery. It’s pure logic. No speculation necessary. I suppose it is “speculation” in the sense that it remains to be seen how the extension to other sins that will actually occur, but it would require logical incoherence (which, I admit, is a hallmark of the current papacy) to contend that the “exception” created for those who in conscience believe “with moral security” that the Lord is calling them to continue in sin would not extend to any kind of sexual sin, specifically contraception, fornication, sodomy, even incest. We all know that there is already a “study group” put together by the Pope to re-evaluate Humanae Vitae for its 50th anniversary.

    • Gene Van Son

      Yes, it is speculation. In the case of a divorced and remarried person wanting to take Communion, the individual would still have to talk to a priest and go to confession before receiving. The priest would need to discern the individual’s specific situation and contriteness. The same would hold true in any other situation
      as well. Priests practice discernment every day, so this is really nothing new. And once again, if footnote 351 is referring to those very specific instances that Ratzinger references in his 1994 letter, this discussion is moot.

    • BXVI

      Not in San Diego.
      Not in Malta.
      Not in Germany.
      Not in the Philippines.
      All of these are places where it is now left exclusively up to the individual. No need to discuss with a priest. A free-for-all.

    • Gene Van Son

      No, that is not entirely correct. Let’s take Malta as an example. Here’s a link to
      the decree from the Archdiocese of Malta —
      http://ms.maltadiocese.org/WEBSITE/2017/PRESS%20RELEASES/Norms%20for%20the%20Application%20of%20Chapter%20VIII%20of%20AL.pdf
      The discernment process requires talking to a priest and Confession.

    • MarcAlcan

      And you don’t even see how ridiculous that is?

      You are in an objectively adulterous relationship and you think you can just go to confession then go home and commit adultery and on and on without a firm pupose of ammendment?

      Like I said above, you really are kidding yourself.

    • BXVI

      The difference is that Humanae Vitae upheld the Church’s historical teaching; it did not attempt to undermine or nullify the Church’s prior teaching. Amoris Laetitia does the opposite; it uses ambiguity and obfuscation to try to reverse the definitive and authoritative historical teaching of the Church, and of the immediately preceding Popes.

      And when Pope Francis scornfully belittles and condemns those who dare to question this reversal as rigid Pharisees and “doctors of the law” with “hearts of stone” who “resist the Holy Spirit”, etc. then you know what? He’s basically saying that about St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict, because they were presented with the same question and gave a definitive “no”. It is highly uncharitable and very scandalous to imply that anyone who holds to what the Catechism teaches is a Pharisee.

    • Gene Van Son

      You are correct that there is a difference in the teaching between HV and Al, but
      that is not the point. The point is the same in both instances — “a crisis” was supposed to have been created that would tear the Church apart. It did not happen then and it is not going to happen now.

      Also “scornfully belittles and condemns” is awfully strong language. This is exactly why I am suggesting that we ordinary laypeople keep our opinions to ourselves instead of adding fuel to the fire. I don’t know Francis and neither do most of the
      folks that are interpreting what he is saying. It’s possible that in Francis’s mind he is gently chiding them. As Catholics we are supposed assume the best about someone, not the worst.

    • BXVI

      Strong language, but true language.

    • Gene Van Son

      Many “reporters” today have no problem inserting their own opinions into news articles. When I was in J-school I was taught that this is verboten. Columnists, of course, are free to insert their own opinions because they are being paid to write opinion pieces. Some seem to get carried away, however, and even let their sense of self-importance go to their heads. Be wary of anyone who sprinkles descriptive adjectives throughout their writing, especially when they are writing about someone they do not know personally.

    • Cannonkat

      It has ALREADY torn the CHurch apart and to argue that it hasn’t is gross dereliction of truthfulness. Germany says AL allows those who continue their adultery without an annulment to have communion. Poland says the opposite, that this is a theological heresy that contradicts 2,000 years of CHurch teaching. ANd this division extends to Canada vrs Brazil, Argentina & CHile and so on – right across the globe. “There are none so blind as WILL NOT see.” Your article promotes complacency and relativism and is a disservice to Holy Mother Church.

    • Cannonkat

      “leave it to the theologians:” Archbishop Fulton Sheen couldn’t disagree with you more, who said the catholic laity has a God-Commanded DUTY to stand up to a false shepherd when they are teaching an evil – and in this case on the most fundamental of catholic teaching: on the Holy Sacraments of Penance and Holy Matrimony. Your article is full of relativism. You can’t equate Humanae Vitae, which upholds orthodoxy with AL which is liberal, modernist, and heretical.

    • MarcAlcan

      The firestorm crated by HV was because Paul VI stuck to what the Church has always taugh. The tsunami that has overtaken the Church was caused by the Pope’s ambiguous teaching which he REFUSES TO CLARIFY. So clearly, you can see his intent.

      It is so easy to remove the confusion. That it persists is by the will of the Pope.

    • BXVI

      Hah hah, yes, Joseph Seifert, not George the San Francisco 49ers coach of the ’90s.

      I may be overblowing the “crisis”, but I think you are minimizing it. The crisis is not ultimately about Amoris Laetitia, but Amoris Laetitia has brought it to a head. The crisis is over fundamental differences concerning what the Church is, and should be, after Vatican II.

      I am really having trouble seeing how we can “flip a switch” after 50 years of Magisterial teaching that advanced the Communio / Thomist viewpoint and with the advent of a new “administration” adopt the Concilium or Teologia del Pueblo / Liberation Theology point of view that had been discredited and marginalized by prior popes. And then try to actively discredit, undermine and marginalize the Communio / Thomist perspective advanced by the popes of past 50 years.

      I don’t think this is the time for anyone to sit on the sidelines and keep quiet. I do agree that we should all try to live our faith according to the Catechism in the meantime. Which means according to the teaching as it existed prior to Amoris Laetitia, since Amoris Laetitia does not directly refute the Catechism, and the Catechism has not (yet) been amended.

    • Gene Van Son

      So we actually agree to some extent. You said, “The crisis is not ultimately about Amoris Laetitia, but Amoris Letitia has brought it to a head. The crisis is over fundamental differences concerning what the Church is, and should be, after Vatican II.” I think if you re-read the article carefully you will see I am saying almost the same thing. But I don’t think the word “crisis” fits the situation. It wasn’t a crises back in 1968, and it’s not a crisis now.

      It’s more than just the Communio / Thomist, Liberation Theology, and Concilium viewpoints (and as Rowland points out in her book, Francis is not a Liberation theology proponent, but he does favor the Peronist People’s Theology, in some instances). And when it comes to Thomism, Rowland lists a couple dozen different ‘branches’ of Thomism in her book. So it seems that there are quite a few different
      viewpoints and schools of thought when it comes to systemic and moral theology. The internet and a Pope who is not a traditional Thomist is now bringing all this to light. But it’s been going on for 50 years.

    • BXVI

      I’ve ordered Rowland’s book; it should arrive today. To me, however, it seems pretty obvious that Pope Francis and his allies are trying to undermine or “walk back” the re-affirmation of the Church’s traditional teaching on intrinsic evils and the ecclesial consequences of persistence in objective grave sin (at least on sexual matters) that was made by St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict (as reflected in the Catechism and Veritatis Splendor).

    • Gene Van Son

      Be forewarned, Rowland’s book is not an easy read. As to Pope Francis trying to “walk back” certain traditional teachings on sexual matters, only time will tell. My own take is that “soften” may be a better word. The good news is that the heart of our faith – dogma – cannot be changed. It is the “secondary objects of infallibility”
      that are being debated these days. And keep in mind that whatever Peter and his successors bind on earth and loose on earth will be bound and loosed in heaven, so if we live our lives according to the CCC we should make it to heaven.

    • MarcAlcan

      Be forewarned, Rowland’s book is not an easy read.

      Meaning you thnk that BXVI is an intellectual lightweight. Anyone who loves Pope BXVI must have read Pope BXVI. One capable of reading of Benedict can surely manage Rowland.

    • Cannonkat

      The problem is not only AL, but what lay behind it: failure to discern the evils that Antipope Bergoglio is promoting. And as such, you are aiding and abetting it. This “pope” was elected by plot, contradicting UDG by JP II, who pronounced that the results of such a “coup” will be “null and void.” And new information has come to light that Benedict XVI was pressured into resigning, who also put theological abnormalities into his resignation (ideas like a two-headed papacy is substantial error). He resigned in “theological error.” On many counts, both the resignation and the subsequent election of a destroyer (predicted by the Saints’ prophecies) are rendered “null and void,” “ipso facto,” “latae sententiae” “Immediately,” said JP II in his Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Grigis (read it: he predicted the deceiver bergoglio in advance and annulled his election). Bergoglio is an Antipope and a deceiver, a false shepherd and a self-convicted heretic & schismatic. “My sheep will not listen to the wolf, the hireling, but to the voice of their Shepherd!”

      “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they
      possess, they [i.e., Christian Faithful] have the right and even at
      times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on
      matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their
      opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice
      to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their
      pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”
      (1983 CIC 212 §3) – the Code of Canon Law, 1983

      “To the extent there is credible evidence of the above referenced
      allegations, the 2013 papal election of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio
      (Pope Francis) is INVALID pursuant to paragraph 76 of Universi Dominici
      Gregis.” — A Doctor of Canon Law

      Here is an essay arguing some of my points, recommended by the retired Bishop of Corpus Christi: https://abyssum.org/2017/03/27/election-of-francis-pursuant-to-universi-dominci-gregis/

    • Cannonkat

      “buying into speculation?” national conferences that are splitting the Church practise on Holy Matrimony belie your “head in the sand” efforts at irresponsible denial. AL is the spearhead of a twisted theology currently in the works in the vatican to turn the flock into a one-world, global, new-age pantheism and ultimate self-worship. the apostasy that is inherent in AL is fully apparent to the discerning.

    • samton909

      You are right in that some have overblown the crisis, and claim that the church is falling apart, etc. There are some websites devoted to driving the hysteria, where the Pope is called a heretic, etc. These people are enhoying thinking they are saving humanity, they get a rush out of it. They go over the top.

      However, nearly everyone can see that AL is immensely troubling. There is nothing like it in recent church history. Parts of it are psycho babble, parts are apparently in contradiction to church teaching, parts of it seem to desire to wipe out the magisterium of JP II. Some see it as a stalking horse for other issues, because once they crack church doctrine open and change it at will, there are many other things that can be considered OK to do under its reasoning, specifically gay things. It seems that somebody wrote it to someday allow for many other changes based on this weid “you only need to give God the best you are capable of at the time” sort of nonsense.

      The fact is that many who are engaging in the debate are extremely knowledgeable about Catholic doctrine and have studied it for years. They present arguments, and they are backed up by some of the best theologians in the business, so they are very well qualified to make such statements. But you are also correct that some websites are hunting after conspiracies and heretics etc, so those people should tone it down a bit.

    • Gene Van Son

      It appears that we agree more than we disagree. Yes AL has some problematic statements in it. But there is a lot of good stuff in it as well. I’ve read it three times and chapters 1-7 are quite good.

      I would very much like Pope Francis to respond to the dubia, but at the same time I think Burke, et al, were wrong to go public with it. The Church really does not need more controversy..

      As to whether the “ambiguous” statements in AL are intentional, poor sentence
      construction, errors in logic, bad scholarship, or translation issues, is hard to say. But I do think clarification will come at some point. In the meantime, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is our guide to our faith.

      As I stated in my reply to Jo (below) I think we should let the CCC be our guide here:
      2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as
      possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
      Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to
      another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

      Was releasing the dubia or the letter from the 45 theologians to the public a “suitable”
      way to correct the pontiff? I tend to think not. But here we are.

    • A discarded husband and father

      You are completely insane to miniaturize this crisis.

      I lost everything because the Catholic Church is encouraging unilateral divorces with its annulment carrots and has for numerous decades. My kids were given to another man who was accepted into the Catholic Church as he slept and continues to sleep with my wife. This was known to the Catholic Church beyond doubt. It still is. Every bishop and parish priest the lovers have attended has and continues to support public and permanent adultery and the Catholic Church knows all of this at the very highest levels and has for decades.

      I know what I am speaking of. There is NO SUCH THING as justice within the current Catholic Church. It is Satan central.

      There is nothing to discuss.

      There are no clergy with guts enough to address what I have seen and to hold the Catholic Church, fully, to account. It has been an integral part of profound injustice and I can demonstrate it. And Jorge KNOWS THIS!

    • Cannonkat

      same happened to me, my brother, except there were no kids to have to observe the shame. just think on this: the bride of Jesus Christ has also left her betrothed husband and gone into apostasy and now is accepting “the things that I hate” (Rev 3). SO now, all you can do is to “consecrate yourself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary” and take up living like a religious – and share the holy gospel of Our Lord! The end is near. “I stand at the Door. If any man hear My Voice, open the door, and we shall supp together.” Even so, Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus!

    • MarcAlcan

      Surely you are kidding yourself? A small percentage? The camel is a one piece camel. Let the nose in and the rest follows.

      I think you are in denial.

      If there is schism and Catholics falling away and being led into error, the responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the Pope. He’s had more than a year to clarify and all he has done is castigate the conscientious objectors and get rid of those who criticize him. Talk about mercy. That certainly is a different kind of mercy.

  • BXVI

    Really? Your answer to this crisis is “Tut, tut, little sheep, go back to sleep and let your betters deal with this”?

    • Gene Van Son

      See my reply below.