Wednesday, 15 February 2017

SSPX: a flawed proposal?

When he issued the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI also wrote an accompanying letter to the bishops of the world. That letter explained the intentions behind the juridical provisions of the motu proprio itself. It is worth noting two points from the letter:

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question. Firstly, in responding to the concern that the greater provision for celebration of the Extraordinary Form would call in to question the Liturgical reforms since Vatican II:
This fear is unfounded.  In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy.  The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration.  It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”.  Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.
And secondly, Pope Benedict clearly demonstrated an expectation that it is the Missal of Paul VI, and not that of John XXIII, that should unite parish communities:
...the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.  The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.  The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal. 
Summorum Pontificum appears to me to have had two unfortunate consequences, neither of which were intended when it was promulgated. The first, which was largely transitory, was that Catholics with no attachment to the Extraordinary Form felt that they had to "take a stance", one way or another, with regard to the Extraordinary Form, when the living of a Catholic life demanded no such thing. This has largely dissipated with the passage of time (though a train of thought among Traditionalists is perhaps bringing it to the fore again). The second has been the legitimacy given to a subsequent promotion of the Extraordinary Form, more or less over and against the Ordinary Form, within the Traditionalist movement, and from within the Traditionalist movement to the wider community of the Church. The initial "headline" back in 2007-8, and maintained today, was the continued use of the term "Traditional Latin Mass", with its inherent suggestion that, juridically speaking, the Extraordinary Form was more "traditional" than the Ordinary Form, when the letter to bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum , in speaking of two forms of the same rite, indicates that the one form is as "traditional" as the other. This has reached its ultimate destination in the recent efforts of Dr Shaw to claim the Extraordinary Form as the (only) place to find authentic Catholicism (here), something that I do not think was at all envisaged by Benedict XVI.

In summary, the Traditionalist movement has taken Summorum Pontificum as legitimising a promotion of the Extraordinary Form in  a manner and a context that has no justification whatsoever in Summorum Pontificum and the accompanying letter to bishops themselves.

So what will happen if the Society of St Pius X is allowed to become a Personal Prelature and its situation with respect to the universal Church is "regularised"? Bishop Fellay's recent television interview, which gave rise to speculation about this possibility, is now online with English subtitles (my sample viewing suggests that the subtitles are very accurate to the original French); and this post, though it draws largely on a different interview, appears to me to correctly present the position of Bishop Fellay articulated in the television interview.

Bishop Fellay suggests that a number of things are already in place as far as the every day life of the Society of St Pius X is concerned that represent a degree of "regularisation" of their situation: the permission of Pope Francis that allows their priests to validly / licitly confer absolution in the Sacrament of Penance, and a certain recognition of the (strictly speaking illicit) ordination of priests by local dioceses in the place of ordination are examples. The new situation of the Extraordinary Form created by Summorum Pontificum is also relevant here, in a way that is entirely consonant with the intentions expressed by Pope Benedict in his letter to bishops. But Bishop Fellay is equally clear with regard to the Society's non-negotiables - see from about 07:20 onwards in the television interview and the paragraph "A Battle of Ideas" in this post. In summary, with regard to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council that have been controverted by the Society over the years, there is no movement on the part of the Society whatsoever. The question for Bishop Fellay and the Society is whether a suggestion that these controverted points can in some way not be considered essential as part of what is termed "Catholic" would allow them, from a "regularised" position within the Church, to continue to fight their position over and against that generally accepted in the wider Church and upheld by the conciliar and post-conciliar teaching office of the Church. Though Bishop Fellay sees some signs of this possibility being offered, he appears far from certain as to whether or not it will materialise in a full reality. Given how clear Bishop Fellay is in the interview, it is surprising to me that the speculation about a possible "regularisation" has gained as much traction in the media as it has.

Why do I find the prospect of a "regularisation" of the situation of the Society of St Pius X concerning?

Given the lack of movement of the Society over controverted issues, any "regularisation" is going to legitimise to the wider Traditionalist movement the notion that certain key teachings of the Second Vatican Council are in some way "optional" as far as being Catholic is concerned. (We are not talking here of developments after the Council that are contrary to the substance of its teaching, but of the teaching itself.) Should the Holy See be explicit in ruling this out, it appears to me unlikely that the Society will accept regularisation. Should, in the interests of charity and the promotion of communion and to avoid a rejection of the proposal by the Society, some form of "future discussion" be allowed within the process of regularisation, the precedent of the response to Summorum Pontificum and the more recent advocacy of the Extraordinary Form as the locus of authentic Catholicism, is that the Traditionalist movement will in any case conclude that the controverted issues are "optional" and seek to drive a coach and horses through the attaching conditions, to the confusion both of their own adherents and others (though I suspect that Bishop Fellay himself, on the basis of what I have seen in his television interview, has an intelligence and integrity that would not lead him to encourage such a misapprehension).

Whilst - irony of ironies - one might wish to position the controverted issues at a lower or higher place within a "hierarchy of truths" as the basis for possible future discussions between the Society and the Holy See after "regularisation", and therefore arrive at an evaluation of how central they are to being "Catholic" as a step to "regularisation", that does not make the teaching of the Council optional. But there is a nicety in this that the Traditionalist movement is unlikely to respect.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.

Pope Francis opens his message for Lent 2017 with a call to conversion:
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive...
He ends it, encouraging us to renew our encounter with Christ:
Dear friends, Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. 
The heart of Pope Francis' message is an exegesis of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, an exegesis which put me in mind of the kind of exegesis that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI might have offered.

The encouragement to "serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need" prompted another thought on my part. In this message it is reflected in the needs of the person of Lazarus, and in this short exhortation at the end. But, during the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis' particularly modelled the practice of the corporal works of mercy by his Friday visits. I felt that he was trying to teach us that what, in Amoris Laetitia n.306, is referred to as the via caritatis, is at the very heart of the living of the Christian life and the journey into the life of grace. Pope Francis was trying to enhance the value given by the Church to living this way of charity.

My reading of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia is that the discernment and pastoral accompaniment of those whose marriage situations are "irregular" or reflect human weakness is primarily focussed on recognising which of the dimensions of the way of charity can be undertaken within the limits of the particular situation. If we share with Pope Francis a high valuing of this life of charity then, for those in difficult marriage situations, we can also value the accompaniment offered by Amoris Laetitia to take part in this life as allowing them to make substantial progress in the life of grace. The question of access to the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion becomes an incidental question to the core question of living the via caritatis (though one can see how progress in the via caritatis can bring one closer to experience of these sacraments).

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Trumpled underfoot ....

Whilst Catholics might have welcomed the presence of the new Vice President of the United States at the annual March for Life, and the commitment to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who oppose the practice of abortion (Aside: remember that Presidents who have been supportive of legalised abortion have done an analogous thing in appointing justices who would support their own stance on abortion, so there isn't anything unprecedented in President Trump's actions in this regard or with regard to abortion funding), Catholics should find it much harder to support his provisions with regard to refugees in the latest executive orders.

Those provisions put the United States in direct and immediate breach of its obligations under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 14.(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
The United States is also a party to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, by way of being a party to its 1967 Protocol, which indicates practical steps in the implementation of Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The obligations under this Convention are summarised at the Wikipedia page . It is quite clear under the Convention that any decision not to accept the refugee status of an asylum seeker should be an individual decision and not a generalised one applied to whole groups or categories. It is also clear that particular measures should not be based on the nationality or country of origin of a refugee. The executive orders, which deny entry to the United States for refugees from particular countries, clearly prevent those refugees from exercising a right that is theirs under international legal provision.

The ethical principle underpinning both the Universal Declaration and the Convention is that of respect for the dignity, and therefore the rights, of persons precisely as persons and without regard to any other circumstance that may accrue to persons in particular situations. Poor Donald seems to be somewhat inconsistent here - defending the dignity of the unborn (cf Article 3 of the Universal Declaration) but treating with disdain the dignity of the refugee.

The justification on the grounds of national security is as blatantly false as is poor Donald's claim of electoral fraud. We shouldn't buy it. That the United Kingdom will soon welcome poor Donald on a state visit is embarrassing to say the least. But Catholics will be caught in a dilemma - we might want to protest his steps with regard to refugees, but will find ourselves alongside those who also want to protest his steps with regard to abortion.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Prayer for Christian Unity

The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity has passed in my usual parish with little more than an honorary "nod" in the Prayer of the Faithful on Sunday. Locally, inter-denominational services to mark the week have been generally discontinued, as a result of low attendances.

One of the Collects in the Missal that can be used for a Mass "for the unity of Christians" reads as follows:
Almighty ever-living God, who gather what is scattered and keep together what you have gathered, look kindly on the flock of your Son, that those whom one Baptism has consecrated may be joined together by integrity of faith and united in the bond of charity.
In the first instant, the Octave prompts us to reflect on the nature of the unity of the Church, perhaps as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church n.813:

The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit." The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body." The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity." Unity is of the essence of the Church:
What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church."

The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity also brings to my mind the address of Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne, during his meeting with representatives of other Christian denominations. In that address, Pope Benedict drew attention to the significance of Baptism as the source of a shared sense of fraternity arising from dialogue between Christians of different denominations, suggesting that we should not underestimate this significance:
I feel the fact that we consider one another brothers and sisters, that we love one another, that together we are witnesses of Jesus Christ, should not be taken so much for granted. I believe that this brotherhood is in itself a very important fruit of dialogue that we must rejoice in, continue to foster and to practice.
Among Christians, fraternity is not just a vague sentiment, nor is it a sign of indifference to truth. As you just said, Bishop, it is grounded in the supernatural reality of the one Baptism which makes us all members of the one Body of Christ (cf. I Cor 12: 13; Gal 3: 28; Col 2: 12).
Together we confess that Jesus Christ is God and Lord; together we acknowledge him as the one mediator between God and man (cf. I Tm 2: 5), and we emphasize that together we are members of his Body (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 22; Ut Unum Sint, n. 42).
Based on this essential foundation of Baptism, a reality comes from him which is a way of being, then of professing, believing and acting. Based on this crucial foundation, dialogue has borne its fruits and will continue to do so.
Pope Benedict went on to suggest a way towards that "integrity of faith" and "unity in the bond of charity" to which our Collect refers. There is a particular reference to the situation of ecumenical dialogue in Germany in 2005, but the thoughts expressed are just as relevant today:
May I make a small comment:  now, it is said that following the clarification regarding the Doctrine of Justification, the elaboration of ecclesiological issues and the questions concerning ministry are the main obstacles still to be overcome. In short, this is true, but I must also say that I dislike this terminology, which from a certain point of view delimits the problem since it seems that we must now debate about institutions instead of the Word of God, as though we had to place our institutions in the centre and fight for them. I think that in this way the ecclesiological issue as well as that of the "Ministerium" are not dealt with correctly.
The real question is the presence of the Word in the world. In the second century the early Church primarily took a threefold decision: first, to establish the canon, thereby stressing the sovereignty of the Word and explaining that not only is the Old Testament "hai graphai", but together with the New Testament constitutes a single Scripture which is thus for us the master text.
However, at the same time the Church has formulated an Apostolic Succession, the episcopal ministry, in the awareness that the Word and the witness go together; that is, the Word is alive and present only thanks to the witness, so to speak, and receives from the witness its interpretation. But the witness is only such if he or she witnesses to the Word.
Third and last, the Church has added the "regula fidei" as a key for interpretation. I believe that this reciprocal compenetration constitutes an object of dissent between us, even though we are certainly united on fundamental things.
Therefore, when we speak of ecclesiology and of ministry we must preferably speak in this combination of Word, witness and rule of faith, and consider it as an ecclesiological matter, and therefore together as a question of the Word of God, of his sovereignty and humility inasmuch as the Lord entrusts his Word, and concedes its interpretation, to witnesses which, however, must always be compared to the "regula fidei" and the integrity of the Word. Excuse me if I have expressed a personal opinion; it seemed right to do so.
At this time , with the martyrdom of Christians never far from the headlines, the observation of n.84 of Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, that a witness to death represents a perfection of communion between Christians, gains added relevance:
In a theocentric vision, we Christians already have a common Martyrology. This also includes the martyrs of our own century, more numerous than one might think, and it shows how, at a profound level, God preserves communion among the baptized in the supreme demand of faith, manifested in the sacrifice of life itself. The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met. I have already remarked, and with deep joy, how an imperfect but real communion is preserved and is growing at many levels of ecclesial life. I now add that this communion is already perfect in what we all consider the highest point of the life of grace, martyria unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ who shed his Blood, and by that sacrifice brings near those who once were far off (cf. Eph 2:13).

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Reflecting on Trump and the Womens March ...

There is an aspect of the election and inauguration of Donald Trump to be President of the United States that I am not sure I have understood. Increasingly, that election (and the Brexit vote in the UK and No vote in Italy) are being characterised by the term "rising populism". However, what interests me more than this characterisation is the message that Donald Trump's election might have for the notion of "progressive politics". Does that phenomenon being characterised as "populism" represent a coherent and viable alternative to "progressive politics" or is it in reality a passing fad that will exhaust its appeal when it fails to deliver to the extent that it promises?

Rita, at tigerish waters, comments on the Womens March under the title What is it all about?, and I suggest that you read her observations. It raises the question as to whether or not the "progressive politics" to which many subscribe is really understood and shared by them.

The "Day by Day" feature in Magnificat for today has pointed me towards a homily preached by Pope John Paul II in New York in 1995. The full text at the Vatican website is here. The homily, in the context of the United States of America, addresses the question of what genuinely constitutes the "progress of the peoples", and, in doing, so offers a correcting insight to the themes of Donald Trump's inauguration speech. At the same time, it also offers a challenge to the advocates of "women's rights" who marched on Saturday.
The theme of this morning’s Holy Mass is the "Progress of Peoples". This is an appropriate issue in the context of my visit to the United States for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the United Nations Organization. The Pope’s presence at that international forum is in fact an act of evangelization, aimed at serving the progress of humanity in the great family of nations which that World Organization represents.
The "progress of peoples" is closely connected with the proclamation of Christ’s message of salvation and hope. Of this salvation Isaiah speaks in the first reading: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone" (Is. 9: 1). This darkness stands for the spiritual darkness which sometimes envelops people, nations and history itself, in its desolate mantle. Certainly the twentieth century has witnessed such periods of gloom. The two World Wars were times of great darkness which plunged peoples and nations into immense suffering. For many people, the twentieth century continues to be a time of terrible anguish and torture. From the depths of such sad experiences the human family searches for a path of justice and peace. ...
It is precisely through the Gospel of the Cross and through his Resurrection that Christ lays the foundations for the advancement of God’s Kingdom in the world. The presence of this Kingdom opens to us the dimension of eternity in God, and discloses the deepest meaning of our efforts to improve life here on earth.  People everywhere thirst for a full and free life worthy of the human person. There is a great desire for political, social and economic institutions which will help individuals and nations to affirm and develop their dignity (Cf. Gaudium et Spes, 9).
What kind of society is worthy of the human person? The Church responds with the unique perspective of salvation history. She proclaims the truth that the Word of God, through whom all things were made, was himself made flesh and dwelt among us. He entered the world’s history – our history – as a man, a human being, a divine person; he took on our history and made it complete. By his Resurrection he became Lord and was given full power in heaven and on earth. Thus through the power of his Spirit, Christ is now at work in our hearts and in our world. The Spirit instills in us a desire for the world to come, but he also inspires, purifies and strengthens those noble longings by which we strive to make earthly life more human (Cf. ibid. 38).
Dear Friends, we are gathered together in this enormous metropolis of New York, considered by many to be the zenith of modern civilization and progress , a symbol of America and American life. For more than two hundred years people of different nations, languages and cultures have come here, bringing memories and traditions of the "old country", while at the same time becoming part of a new nation. America has a reputation the world over, a reputation of power, prestige and wealth. But not everyone here is powerful; not everyone here is rich. In fact, America’s sometimes extravagant affluence often conceals much hardship and poverty.
From the viewpoint of the Kingdom of God we must therefore ask a very basic question: have the people living in this huge metropolis lost sight of the blessings which belong to the poor in spirit? In the midst of the magnificent scientific and technological civilization of which America is proud, and especially here in Queens, in Brooklyn, in New York, is there room for the mystery of God? That mystery which is "revealed to the merest children" (Mt. 11: 25); the mystery of the Father and the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit; the mystery of divine love which is the source of everything? Is there room for the mystery of love? Is there room for the revelation of life – that transcendent life which Christ brings us at the price of his Cross and through the victory of his Resurrection? ...
In practical terms, this truth tells us that there can be no life worthy of the human person without a culture – and a legal system – that honors and defends marriage and the family. The well-being of individuals and communities depends on the healthy state of the family. A few years ago, your National Commission on America’s Urban Families concluded, and I quote: "The family trend of our time is the deinstitutionalization of marriage and the steady disintegration of the mother – father child – raising unit... No domestic trend is more threatening to the well-being of our children and to our long-term national security" (Report, January 1993). I quote these words to show that it is not just the Pope and the Church who speak with concern about these important issues.
Society must strongly re-affirm the right of the child to grow up in a family in which, as far as possible, both parents are present. Fathers of families must accept their full share of responsibility for the lives and upbringing of their children. Both parents must spend time with their children, and be personally interested in their moral and religious education. Children need not only material support from their parents, but more importantly a secure, affectionate and morally correct family environment.... 
The truth which Christ reveals tells us that we must support one another and work together with others, despite cultural, social or religious differences. It challenges us to be involved. It gives us the courage to see Christ in our neighbor and to serve him there. And, in imitation of our Divine Master who said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome" (Mt. 11: 28), we ought to invite others to come to us by stretching out a helping hand to those in need, by welcoming the newcomer, by speaking words of comfort to the afflicted. This is the goodness in which the Holy Spirit confirms us! This is how you – women and men; young people and old; married couples and singles; parents, children and families; students and teachers; professional people, those who work and those who are suffering the terrible burden of unemployment – this is how everyone can make a positive contribution to America and help to transform your culture into a vibrant culture of life.  

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Quick thoughts on the Maltese Bishops' Guidelines on Amoris Laeitita-UPDATED

1. The original text is published in English and in Maltese. The English text can be downloaded from the website of the Catholic Church in Malta. The paragraphing and numbering make it much easier to read than the text as published in Italian in Osservatore Romano. It should be noted that the Italian represents a translation from an original released initially in two other languages. I am not able to comment on the Maltese text.

2. Note the observation in the preamble to the Guidelines themselves that:
It is important that the following guidelines be read in the light of the indicated references.
The references which occur in the Guidelines are to the text/footnotes of Amoris Laetitia itself.

3. Much of the Guidelines document does follow closely Amoris Laetitia itself. The Guidelines nn. 5-8 provide a good example of this, particularly the suggested examination of conscience, which is not going to be a soft touch in any circumstances.

4. The Guidelines at n.3 clearly indicate that those who are cohabiting should be encouraged towards living the full reality of marriage. Those at n.4 are clear in suggesting that, for those who are now living in a new union and where a reasonable doubt is seen as to the validity or consummation of their original marriage, should be directed to seek a declaration of nullity or dissolution.

5. Paragraph 9:
Throughout the discernment process, we should also examine the possibility of conjugal continence. Despite the fact that this ideal is not at all easy, there may be couples who, with the help of grace, practice this virtue without putting at risk other aspects of their life together. On the other hand, there are complex situations where the choice of living “as brothers and sisters” becomes humanly impossible and gives rise to greater harm (see AL, note 329).
...needs to be read in the light of a footnote - number 329 - to Amoris Laetitia that does not characterise living as brother and sister as "humanly impossible" nor make any comparative judgement as to greater or lesser harm:
John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 84: AAS 74 (1982), 186. In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living "as brothers and sisters" which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, "it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers" (Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes n.51).
[It is incidentally useful to also follow through and read the texts of Familiaris Consortio n.84 and Gaudium et Spes n.51, to gain the full context of the references being made to them in the footnote. The context of the phenomenological observation about the endangering of faithfulness and the good of the children suffering is very different in Gaudium et Spes than in Amoris Laetitia, though that does not invalidate the referencing.]

6. And the problematical n.10. The English makes use of the term "cannot be precluded" where the Italian of Osservatore Romano uses a term which, in my translation is, "cannot be prevented from". There is a very subtle difference here. The English text suggests "cannot be ruled out from" rather than "must be allowed to" - which is, in essence, what the controversial Amoris Laetitia footnote indicates. (I am not able to comment on the Maltese text.)
If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).
The Italian text from Osservatore Romano:
....non le potra essere impedito di accostarsi ai sacramenti della riconciliazione e dell’eucaristia....[...they cannot be prevented from approaching the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist...]
And, of course, read the paragraph in the light of the three indicated references to Amoris Laetitia, particularly the text of n.300. Reading it out of that context gives a completely different impression of the intent of the bishops of Malta with their guidelines.

I would observe that:
 - the Maltese bishops are giving an instruction here to their pastors with regard to the admission or otherwise of the faithful to the sacraments; they are not saying that it is for the faithful in these situations to come to their own decision
- the situation of not being precluded from the sacraments only arises when objective conditions are met, and not just from the subjective sense of peace with God of the faithful (and perhaps the reference to peace with God should be read, too, in the sense of the situation for making a good choice of state of life of the Spiritual Exercises, rather than in a purely subjective sense); the conditions include love for the teaching of the Church; and the conditions arise within a process of discernment, whose terms are indicated in previous sections of the Guidance
- it is quite misleading, and, it appears to me, deliberately mischievous, to simply headline coverage of the Maltese Bishops' Guidelines as unconditionally admitting those in second unions to the sacraments.

[ This characterisation at EWTN , for example, seems to me quite false, however learned its author or acclaimed the site publishing it:
The bishops of Malta, in a document that can only be called disastrous, repeatedly invoking Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, have directly approved divorced and remarried Catholics taking holy Communion provided they feel “at peace with God”. Unlike, say, the Argentine document on Amoris which, one could argue, left just enough room for an orthodox reading, however widely it also left the doors open for abuse by others, the Maltese bishops in their document come straight out and say it: holy Communion is for any Catholic who feels “at peace with God” and the Church’s ministers may not say No to such requests.]

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Aunty on Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Mueller on Francis and Benedict XVI

I do think Aunty has expressed an approach to Amoris Laetitia that I share - and has probably expressed it more clearly than I could, and with the benefit of a lived experience that I do not have.

See The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...

The view that I have already expressed on this blog is that, if Amoris Laetitia is read for what it actually says, rather than for what commentators think others might think it says, it is fine both from the doctrinal point of view and from the point of view of pastoral practice. See the first paragraphs here and here.

The original source, in Italian, of Cardinal Muller's remarks is here. Cardinal Muller's remarks about Amoris Laetitia occur at the end of a wider conversation, starting at about 06:00 in the video clip, considering Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in relation to each other. Cardinal Muller argues that, though they have their own individual personalities and life experiences, it is wrong to put them in contrast with each other. We should accept the missions of both the Pope Emeritus and Pope Francis to the Church, "both are a gift to the Church". Cardinal Muller highlights one example where Pope Francis takes up a theme from Pope Benedict - the idea that evangelisation does not involve an imposition of the Gospel but an effort to draw or attract people to the Christian faith.

I like the idea of a "hermeneutic of continuity" between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis!