Francis praises major Humanae Vitae dissenter in rebuke of ‘white or black’ morality

ROME, November 24, 2016

By Pete Baklinski at LifeSiteNews

pope_francis_and_bernard_haring_810_500_55_s_c1Pope Francis has praised the 1960s German moral theologian Bernard Häring, one of the most prominent dissenters from Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, for his new morality which the pope said helped “moral theology to flourish.”

“I think Bernard Häring was the first to start looking for a new way to help moral theology to flourish again,” he said in comments, published today by La Civiltà Cattolica, that were given during a dialogue with the Jesuit order which was gathered for its 36th general Congregation on October 24, 2016 in Rome.

Pope Francis gave his comments while answering a question about a morality he has often spoken about based on “discernment.”

“Discernment is the key element: the capacity for discernment. I note the absence of discernment in the formation of priests. We run the risk of getting used to ‘white or black,’ to that which is legal. We are rather closed, in general, to discernment. One thing is clear: today, in a certain number of seminaries, a rigidity that is far from a discernment of situations has been introduced. And that is dangerous, because it can lead us to a conception of morality that has a casuistic sense,” he said.

Francis criticized what he called a “decadent scholasticism” that his generation was educated in, that provoked what he called a “casuistic attitude” towards morality.

Image

Pope Francis addressing Jesuitss General Congregation in Rome on October 24, 2016. 

“The whole moral sphere was restricted to ‘you can,’ ‘you cannot,’ ‘up to here yes but not there,’” he said.

“It was a morality very foreign to ‘discernment,’” he said, adding that Bernard Häring was the “first to start looking for a new way to help moral theology to flourish again.”

Fr. Bernard Häring (1912-98) was a key figure during the Second Vatican Council, where he applied the principle of the evolution of dogma (as found in the nouvelle théologie) to morality. According to Professor Roberto de Mattei, this “new morality” championed by Häring ultimately “den[ied] the existence of an absolute and immutable natural law.”

Häring was first appointed an “expert” at Vatican II and then later became the secretary of the Commission on the modern world, where, according to de Mattei, he became one of the primary architects of the document Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope), part of which deals with marriage.

According to de Mattei, a vicious battle was waged during the crafting of this document between the progressive and traditional minorities over procreation in marriage.

“This battle went beyond the pill to include the ends of marriage. At issue was the very basis of natural law itself,” he said in a talk given at the Rome Life Forum in 2015.

The progressive element, backed by Häring, eventually prevailed upon Pope Paul VI to leave aside the question of contraception in the document, according to de Mattei.

“The most surprising aspect of Gaudium et Spes, however, is the lack of any presentation of the traditional order of the ends of marriage, the primary and the secondary….The institution of marriage, therefore, is defined without any reference to children and only as an intimate community of conjugal life. Moreover, in the succeeding paragraphs, conjugal love is discussed first (paragraph 49) and procreation second (paragraph 50),” said de Mattei.

After Paul VI released Humanae Vitae in 1968 where he taught unequivocally that “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of human life” and called the use of contraception “intrinsically wrong,” Häring spent his energy in criticizing not only Paul VI, but also Pope John Paul II, for their stances on birth control and other sexual issues.

Image

Pope Francis addressing Jesuits’ General Congregation in Rome on October 24, 2016. 

Häring was eventually investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in the 1970s for his 1972 book Medical Ethics, where he presents a concept of health that would allow a couple to use contraception if they deemed it the best means to help them fulfill their total vocation, a principle condemned in Humanae Vitae.

Häring became the mentor of Charles Curran, a dissident Catholic priest who aggressively condemned the Church’s teachings on matters such as abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. Curran, who was also investigated by the CDF in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was officially prohibited by Pope John Paul II in 1986 from teaching at any Catholic school and was stripped of the title ‘Catholic theologian.’

Francis called it an “important task” of the Society of Jesus that they “form seminarians and priests in the morality of ‘discernment.’”

It was using the method of “discernment” in response to the Zika virus scare earlier this year that Pope Francis appeared to condone the use of contraception for married couples living in affected areas as the “lesser of two evils.” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed the pope’s words the following day, stating: “The contraceptive or condom, in particular cases of emergency or gravity, could be the object of ‘discernment’ in a serious case of conscience. This is what the Pope said.” Critics said the pope’s move contradicted previous Catholic teaching (see herehere, and here).

Pope Francis also spoke about the morality of “discernment” in his April exhortation Amoris Laetitia more than thirty times, using the term as a key to opening the door to Holy Communion for Catholics living in adulterous situations. Immediately following the “smoking footnote” 351, in which critics say the pope allowed the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion, the pope writes that “discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits.”

Four cardinals have recently asked the pope to clarify key passages in the exhortation, asking him a set of five yes-or-no questions regarding the indissolubility of marriage, the existence of absolute moral norms, and the role of conscience in making decisions. They went public with their “dubia” last week after the pope failed to reply.

During his dialogue with the Jesuits, Pope Francis noted the progress that has been made in moral theology since the days of “you can, you cannot.”

“Obviously, in our day moral theology has made much progress in its reflections and in its maturity,” he said.

CP&S comment: This is as baffling and concerning as Pope Francis championing the cause of Hêlder Camara.

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Francis praises major Humanae Vitae dissenter in rebuke of ‘white or black’ morality

  1. bvsg says:

    Jesus was pretty black and white….but of course this man knows better….the universe according to Francis

  2. kathleen says:

    Yes, this man, Häring, is no “moral theologian”, but an undisputed dissenter from Catholic teaching!
    What is Pope Francis thinking, hobnobbing with the likes of such heretics, and even praising them? (Whilst he sends into a type of exile all his good and faithful Cardinals and aides!!)

    There is a wise saying in Spanish that Francis must know: “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres”.
    The translation would go something like: “Tell me who you walk around with and I’ll tell you who you are”. !!!

  3. GC says:

    kathleen, I think we have to accept that the current chap in the pope-suit means us all to revisit the 70s. Well we did all that and been there. Well, sort of, yeah, just a bit of it, ok.

    Next please ! Enough of old fuddy-duddies, the 70s conformists, we’ve moved on.

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    The Pope : I note the absence of discernment in the formation of priests. We run the risk of getting used to ‘white or black,’ to that which is legal. We are rather closed, in general, to discernment. One thing is clear: today, in a certain number of seminaries, a rigidity that is far from a discernment of situations has been introduced. And that is dangerous, because it can lead us to a conception of morality that has a casuistic sense

    This is nonsense on sticks.

    1) The formation of priests in these times is NOT based on black & white legalism — we live in the 21st Century, not the 19th

    2) Meanwhile, the casuistic is precisely the tempering of Law by Mercy — “rigidity” is directly contrary to the very purposes of the casuistic

  5. johnhenrycn says:

    The hippie pope strikes again.

    Discernment is a crap concept when it means conniving to cover sin.

    Discernment is a precious concept when it means asking God who we are meant to be.

    What can Catholics do if they’re worried about their blood pressure or if they don’t like being called heretics and apostates by PF’s Fan Club? Not much, I guess, except ignore him and hunker down for the duration. all the while praying for him of course.

  6. joe says:

    I think Bergolio is trolling us but I don’t know why

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    How long before we can expect to see that Hans Küng clown character waltzing up to PF’s digs in St Martha’s House? I hear the papal room(s) and adjoining reserved areas there are not quite as humble as some think, but that might be idle speculation. This now ended Year of Mercy has been torture for faithful Catholics (not necessarily more faithful than PF’s Fan Clubbers, mind you) who do not appreciate his Chinese-like inscrutability.

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    Perhaps Benedict XVI is still pope – forced to resign against his will, in which case he is still pope – and the past few years are just a nightmare.

    (Hey, Jab&Gin – spare me your thousand word screeds with no paragraph breaks)

  9. Toad says:

    “I hear the papal room(s) and adjoining reserved areas there are not quite as humble as some think, “
    …That they are, in fact, as luxurious as those of Bishops or Cardinals? Eh, JH?
    Disgraceful.

    I enjoy this pope. He upsets people. Makes ’em think.

    “…his man, Häring, is no “moral theologian”, but an undisputed dissenter from Catholic teaching!
    Maybe he thinks Catholic teaching is sometimes wrong.

    In which case, what’s he supposed to do?
    …Or is our definition of a Moral Theologian someone whose views agree with ours?

    [A moderator: No Toad. A Catholic Moral Theologian should always work within the framework of the Deposit of Faith contained in the Magisterium of the Church.]

  10. kathleen says:

    Jabba states:

    1) Meanwhile, the casuistic is precisely the tempering of Law by Mercy — “rigidity” is directly contrary to the very purposes of the casuistic

    2) The formation of priests in these times is NOT based on black & white legalism — we live in the 21st Century, not the 19th

    And JH states:

    Discernment is a crap concept when it means conniving to cover sin.

    Discernment is a precious concept when it means asking God who we are meant to be.

    Very well said, boys! Nails firmly and squarely on heads.😉

    And we all agree with GC:

    Enough of old fuddy-duddies, the 70s conformists, we’ve moved on.

    Should someone not inform Pope Francis of this? He doesn’t seem to know!

  11. Toad says:

    “Enough of old fuddy-duddies, the 70s conformists, we’ve moved on.”
    Quite right, GC. This is the 21st Century.
    We do things differently here.
    The idea of Pope Ftancis being an old fuddy-duddy is certainly a stimulating one.
    …Although surely we all yearn for him to do or say something utterly outrageous, for once, don’t we?
    Just to “ginger things up,” a bit.
    Maybe order altar rails universally restored?

  12. GC says:

    kathleen, perhaps some may think I am fetishing about the collapses of the 70s and fearing a reoccurrence of them just as we seemed to be progressing a little. After the Council we were lead to believe that there would be great growth in the Church. Alas!

    I’ll let these American Redemptoristine sisters (nuns?) (the red nuns) tell their own story. The Redemptoristines were cloistered contemplative nuns, of course, following a rule given them by St Alphonsus. In the 60s and 70s they started to “discern”, as they say, and with the following set of remarkable consequences:

    Vocations continued to be plentiful until the mid-sixties, but with the fresh wind of the Second Vatican Council blowing in the Church, many Sisters began to have second thoughts about their call. Our numbers dropped rapidly with frequent departures and fewer entrances. At the same time, these post-counciliar years were a time of renewal and adaptation, a time of deepening and broadening our knowledge and understanding of the many aspects of our life as contemplatives. To facilitate this we formed a Region with our Redemptoristine sisters in Ontario and Liguori, Missouri and began to build a joyful unity at our meetings.

    As the 20th century approached its end, it became clear that we would probably always be a small community compared to that envisioned when the monastery was built to accommodate 40 sisters. With the support and cooperation of the Redemptorists, we began a long discernment process which culminated in a new, smaller building being constructed on the same site. The new monastery accommodated up to fourteen Sisters, was handicapped accessible for the benefit of our elder Sisters, and filled with light from many picture windows which also reveal the beauties of nature on every side.

    In 2012 the Redemptorist Congregation sold Mount St. Alphonsus. We have searched long and hard for a new home and the journey is not over. We remain in transition, appeal to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in an on-going process of discernment.

    There are also Redemptoristines in Australia, in the Hunter Valley up river from Newcastle, New South Wales, in the countryside near Maitland.

    They have this to say:

    The community is unique in being the only English speaking community of nuns that still wear the full length red and blue habit and observe a traditional religious way of life: Daily Mass, Papal Enclosure, the Divine Office seven times a day, meditation, work, spiritual reading, penance, holy silence and happy recreation are faithfully and joyfully observed in this hidden life of service to the Lord.

    They pray for the church, for souls, and the whole world.

    True to their motto they live the memory of Christ “Viva Memoria.”

    Holy humility, it seems, prevents them from telling us more about themselves.

    Let us discern.

  13. GC says:

    Holy charity forbids me calling you an old fuddy-duddy, dear Toad.

  14. Toad says:

    (Oops. Try that again)

    “Holy charity forbids me calling you an old fuddy-duddy, dear Toad.”
    For heaven’s sake why, GC? There are few – if any – nomenclatures (as opposed to sordid old “names”) I’d prefer to be labelled by you.
    …A positive compliment. Much nicer, and kindlier, than “Perdition-bound, demented, old heretic.”

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    GC: I linked Redemptoristines – and lo! – found that they used to have a monastery in Barrie, Ontario, where I grew up during the 50s and 60s. The only (I believe) Catholic Church in that small town, as it then was, back then was St Mary on Mulcaster Street, later torn down to make more room for the County Courthouse parking lot. The new St Mary on Amelia Street ( a rather boring modern structure, but with a sweet statue of the Holy Virgin in its parking lot) is the very first Catholic Church I entered (on Immaculate Conception Day, 2003) after deciding that I must convert. One of my best friends (RIP) who went on to become a missionary (Christian Brethren) once drank a bottle of sherry late one night in the confessional booth at the old St Mary – I don’t know what possessed him to do that, except sherry was our poison of choice back then – but this was back in the day when Catholic Churches were left unlocked 24/7. Fond memories of Barrie, St Mary and my friend, Colin.

  16. GC says:

    JH, it says a Northern Ireland immigrant, claiming to be associated with the Ku Klux Klan, tried to blow up that rather nice looking church in 1926 with dynamite. He only partly succeeded.

    The new church you speak of was opened in 1969 and, in fact, the property on Amelia Street was that of the Redemptoristines of Barrie, who had moved out in 1966 to go to Keswick, Ontario. The Redemptoristine monastery in Australia was set up by nuns from Barrie in 1965. I am not sure what eventually happened to the ones left in Canada, as it looks like their monastery in Keswick was later sold off too in the 70s. This all sounds sadly familiar.

    [I think sherry was very cheap in those days, JH . . . and still is, except for the real Spanish stuff, like Tio Pepe]

  17. johnhenrycn says:

    Interesting background, GC. It’s a small world, after all:

  18. GC says:

    Oh yessiree. There you were, JH, as a young tear-away then in Barrie, Ontario, while the Redemptoristines of Barrie went off to found a brand new monastery in New South Wales. And enough sherry was being bottled to interest your old friend right there in the wine country of the Hunter Valley to which the Barrie nuns repaired in 1965. Small world all right. (I must confess to a certain small fondness for sherry myself in my younger days. But all things in moderation, including that thing called moderation. Moderation in moderation.)

    The New South Wales nuns are still doing it all, as far as can be discerned, but the Barrie/Keswick nuns seem to have melted away. Their other worryingly dwindling foundation in New York state also seems to have been going through endless discernment for the last fifty or more years – or so they tell us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s