After Father Matthias Gaudron of the SSPX district in Germany published a strong critique of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (here is the full English translation), two more statements have recently been officially presented by DICI, one of the websites of the Society of St. Pius X. Furthermore, two additional statements have just now been published on the website of the SSPX’s District in the United States. Taken together, there have thus been five SSPX priests publicly expressing their strong opposition to Amoris Laetitia.
The first article which we will discuss here is written by Father Alain Lorans and is entitled “Put into Practice Before the Ink is Dry”; and it shows how, very soon after the publication of Amoris Laetitia, several ecclesial voices of authority in different countries – specifically in the Philippines and in Italy – came out with a local declaration that they will now be giving the Sacraments to the “remarried” divorcees. Fr. Lorans says:
The ink is not yet dry on the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which allows “pastoral exceptions” that authorize divorced and civilly remarried persons to receive communion, but it has already been put into practice as a matter of urgency.
As an example, he quotes a voice from Italy:
In Italy, Msgr. Alberto Carrara, editor of the diocesan bulletin of Bergamo, wrote on April 14: “Divorced and separated persons who have remarried can be readmitted to the sacraments. This is one of the innovations of Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation Pope Francis wrote following the two synods on the family.”
Fr. Lorans observes that, since the Second Vatican Council, the traditional doctrine “is not directly contradicted, nor openly attacked: it is simply circumvented, as one gets around an obstacle, in the name of pastoral practice.”
The second article now published by the SSPX is authored by Fr. Christian Thouvenot and is entitled: “After the Synod: Indissolubility Called into Question.” After repeating the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage as an indissoluble bond that is open to life, and after criticizing the Instrumentum Laboris for the 2015 Synod for its ambiguity in describing marriage as a bond of happiness, and less as a bond of obligation and duty, Fr. Thouvenot addresses some problems that are contained in Amoris Laetitia.
While stressing that there are some profound parts in the document, Fr. Thouvenot highlights those parts that are troubling, inasmuch as they seem to condone or conduce to sin and they do not call to a deep and sincere conversion those couples who do not now live according to God’s laws. He first observes that “the inversion of the ends of marriage [in Amoris Laetitia]is worthy of remark, where the procreation and the education of children seem eliminated in favor of the love of individuals” and then states:
As for unions that realize this aspect of Christian marriage “in at least a partial and analogous way,” “the Synod Fathers stated that the Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage” (ibid. [¶ 292]). This comes down to closing one’s eyes on the sinful nature of these extra-marital relations, in order to tolerate them in hopes that the partners will [gradually]journey towards “the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel” (¶ 294).
Thouvenot then makes a morally strong statement when he says about Pope Francis himself:
Never has the Vicar of Christ shown such complaisance towards situations so opposed to Catholic morality and Christian marriage. How is it possible that baptized persons in civil unions or simply cohabiting, otherwise known as living in sin, can reflect the love of God? God, whose sanctity is offended by such behavior where the flesh dominates the spirit? Is this love worthy of the children of God, worthy of an eternal crown from Him?
By way of support for his claim, the author points to the problematic parts of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, where the pope finds very soft words for those living in sin, and he thus continues:
But how can public sinners “live and grow in the Church,” if not by separating [in order]to end the scandal, or at the very least, if there are children, living as brother and sister? But this is not stated. Worse, in concluding a consideration that excuses them from all personal wrongdoing (see ¶s 300 – 305), the Pope even affirms that “because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin –which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end” (¶ 305). This help, according to footnote 351, includes the confessional and access to the Eucharist. The Pope is therefore saying that the divorced and remarried can receive the sacraments in some cases. If they lived in perpetual continence and no longer sinned, this could be considered, every risk of scandal having been avoided; but this is neither said nor even considered: the Pope is speaking of [undefined]irregular situations to which the moral law cannot apply as they are (¶ 305).
I propose to conclude this short introduction to Thouvenot’s text with regard to Amoris Laetitia with the two following statements that come with trenchancy at the end of his article:
Unfortunately, as soon as he enters into the “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” Pope Francis seems to set aside doctrine—along with its corresponding discipline—in favor of a deleterious praxis.
Today, the divorced and “remarried,” as well as cohabiting couples, whether or not they have engaged in a civil union, are the objects of solicitude of a lax pastoral approach that strongly risks encouraging them to remain in their openly sinful situations—to the great scandal of faithful Catholics, ever more disoriented by the new conciliar religion.
Comparably strong is an article by Father Denis Puga, who calls Amoris Laetitia a “subversive teaching,” and another one just written by Father Jean-Michel Gleize. At the end of this overall review of the lucid and forceful statements by the SSPX, I shall limit myself now to an excellent quote by Fr. Gleize:
The Pope’s words here are of unparalleled gravity, because by the practice they authorize in the name of “an approach which ‘carefully discerns situations,’” they strike a deadly blow to divine law itself. If put into practice on all the points set forth above, this pastoral Exhortation will be concretely no more and no less than an exhortation to sin; in other words, it is a scandal. After recalling in theory in the opening chapters (¶52, 62, 83, and 123) the Church’s unchanging doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage and the efficacy of supernatural grace, the document encourages the denial of this same doctrine in practice. And let no one rush to point out that in ¶299 the Pope says that “any occasion of scandal” must be avoided, because it is undeniable that having allowed such confusions, his words cannot but lead to scandal.
I’ve been trying to find out more precisely what Cardinal Müller’s position is on the Exhortation — I was already aware that in the few days immediately prior to its publication, he reminded people of the simple fact that “communion for adulterers” is forbidden.
I was unaware til just now that he gave a detailed 20-page doctrinal critique of the Exhortation to the Pope prior to publication – http://www.revue-item.com/10774/amoris-laetitia-des-cardinaux-sopposent/ (no text of that confidential internal document) – that the Pope was seemingly required to integrate to a certain degree into the final text.
If you’ve the Spanish, he also in the past days has made a public intervention against theological dissidence before the Bishops of Chile – http://infocatolica.com/?t=ic&cod=25305 – where he quite clearly blames those theologians or Bishops who might imagine that their obedience is solely to the infallible doctrines, and that they could otherwise say whatever they want, as if the non-infallible teachings and Tradition of the Church were political fair game in a manner of “theological positivism” :
16. Como sabemos el disenso teológico puede tener diversos aspectos. Su forma más radical pretende el cambio de la Iglesia según un modelo de protesta inspirado en lo que se hace en la sociedad política. Cada vez con más frecuencia se cree que el teólogo sólo estaría obligado a adherirse a la enseñanza infalible del Magisterio, mientras que, en cambio, las doctrinas propuestas sin la intervención del carisma de la infalibilidad no tendrían carácter obligatorio alguno, dejando al individuo en plena libertad de adherirse o no, adoptando así la perspectiva de una especie de positivismo teológico. (cfr. Ibíd., 33). Es importante lograr que quienes se mantienen en ese disenso, sepan que «en estos casos el teólogo evitará recurrir a los medios de comunicación en lugar de dirigirse a la autoridad responsable, porque no es ejerciendo una presión sobre la opinión pública como se contribuye a la clarificación de los problemas doctrinales y se sirve a la verdad (Instr. Donun Veritatis, 30).
I think this critique applies equally to those theologians and Bishops who falsely claim that Amoris Laetitia might somehow have “changed” the Deposit of Faith as to those who seek to exploit any situation of confusion to launch political attacks (of whatever nature) against Rome, against the Pope, or against the Holy See.
Nevertheless, the fact that Cardinal Müller was able to have the text of the Exhortation changed on the basis of his own critique of the Pope’s original unpublished version does help explain why, thus far, he has remained silent about all this ongoing drama.
Still — I see from my searching that the Cardinal was received in Audience by the Pope yesterday, that I’d like to see as hope that a clearer doctrinal clarification against the confusion of some may be presented ASAP.
Are you sure that Cardinal Müller was really “able to have the text of the Exhortation changed on the basis of his own critique of the Pope’s original unpublished version”, as you say? Because quite honestly, if we look at the result, it could only have been in part that the Pope conceded to integrate the good Cardinal’s desired changes to bring AL into line with Catholic doctrine and dogma.
Anyway, his intervention certainly would explain the Cardinal’s silence on the matter thus far.
If you’ve the Spanish, et cetera
Yes I do, and this article was very good. “Non-infallible teachings” and anything touching on “Church Tradition” are certainly not “fair game” of course.
However, I think there are problems applying this to those clerics and/or theologians who are already ‘teaching another Gospel’ after reading AL. It could just be deceitful wishful thinking*, e.g., Cardinal Kasper (perhaps)… or it could be a case of a total misunderstanding caused by the ambiguousness written into its texts.
Rather than theologians and Bishops saying that AL has changed the Deposit of Faith (though, yes it’s true, some are saying that, and it is a truly alarming assessment), from what I can gather, most are limiting their evaluation (at this stage) in saying that the Church’s teaching has not been clearly defined in this document, with the obvious serious consequence of permitting dissenters to interpret it otherwise.
For this reason there has been such an enormous amount of electronic ‘ink’ spilt since it came out. Result? Chaos!
Let’s face it: the AL Exhortation is fuzzy and ambiguous in the opinion of the vast majority of Catholics, both clergy and laity, on the most important thing everyone was wanting to know – ‘Will the Pope allow for a way round the divorced and remarried (without an annulment) to receive the Holy Eucharist?’ – even if for you, dear Jabba, there is no problem, and the only changes are the “pastoral approach”, seeing it as otherwise totally in line with Magisterial teaching.
* “Wishful thinking” and deceiving oneself in consequence, is sadly a very common human failing. We do not realise it ourselves a lot of the time, but our weak fallen natures will so often allow us to be tempted to reject the cross (the hard way) and take the easy (sinful) way out of difficulties.
Are you sure that Cardinal Müller was really “able to have the text of the Exhortation changed on the basis of his own critique of the Pope’s original unpublished version”, as you say?
According to the French source, yes.
Cardinal Müller is one of two people that the Pope MUST listen to on questions of doctrine (the other being the Pope’s personal theologian).
Doesn’t mean the Pope doesn’t have the final word.