The Holy Father had clearly been waiting for me. I expect it does get lonely in Ashmole, especially since the canvas of Henrietta Maria the other side of the doorway mysteriously disappeared (Hannover Rats at work?); and Japanese tourists may be rather limited company for erudite canonists. He began the conversation without delay: "Libellus ille pinguis Amoris laetitia ... meministi quae dixit Callimachus de magno libro magno malo ... quid tu de illo sentis? Estne scandalosus?" "Perlegi, Domine", I panted (I had climbed the staircase with only one pause), "perlegi locum quemdam in Sancto Alphonso ubi ille quaedam de Scandalo protulit." He smiled. I decided to take encouragement from this and to strike while the iron was hot. "Scandalum activum est dictum vel factum (quo nomine etiam omissio intellegitur) minus rectum, praebens alteri occasionem ruinae spritualis. ... per se dicitur, quando directe intenditur alterius ruina ... per accidens dicitur, quando indirecte ... omne Scandalum activum directe ..."
"Satis satis satis", he interrupted me, with the impatience of a mind which is always at least three moves ahead. "You've done your lesson; you've read S Alphonsus. I'm very impressed. Scandal, you tell me, is grievously sinful, even when it is indirect. You are familiar with I Corinthians 8:9 ... where the Apostle is speaking about indirect Scandal. I hope you appreciate the significance of those words of S John Henry Newman about the evils of Sin; and clearly, Scandal ... in its sense of providing any occasion of sin to another ... cannot but itself be sinful. Ergo te rogo ... Amoris laetitia ... peccatumne scandali illi commiserunt qui Exhortationem illam composuerunt ... et quanti id aestimas quod ibi cernis esse scandali peccatum?"
"Well", I said, temporising, "I think the guilt of the drafters must have been that of indirect Scandal, because they clearly were not intending directly to encourage Christifideles to live adulterously in a sic dicto 'second marriage' ... ". I noticed his eyebrows lift slightly. He murmured
"Were there, by your casuistry, any aggravating features?"
"I believe, Holy Father, that the gravity of the Scandal may have been the greater because of the considerable influence which those words might prudently be expected to exercise upon others ... and because of the seriousness of the sins involved ... adulterium vix parvi aestimatur ... et in Catechismo nostro hodierno legimus grave esse Scandalum cum ab illis efficiatur qui munere teneantur ad alios docendos; legimus quoque de lupis agnos specie simulantibus ... rei quoque huius fama multis suasit Ecclesiam Catholicam suam doctrinam seu mutasse seu mox mutaturam esse ... "
"Satis! Et quid, dic, sentis de pontifice ipso Romano qui quondam in aeronave rogasse dicitur 'Quis sum ego qui iudicium proferam?' De pathicis et de mollibus amplexibus eo tempore sermo habebatur. Ibine cernis Scandali peccatum?".
"Da veniam, Sanctissime, da veniam!" I cried. "Parce misero! Quis in Romanum pontificem me constituit iudicem?!"
"Responsio bona, care ... sed tu, quibus legibus uteris in temetipso iudicando?"
After a moment I said, very quietly so that only he could hear, "hos d'an skandalisei hena ton mikron ..." He lowered his eyelids a little as if signaling to me to stop talking. I fell silent. He looked at me without speaking for quite a while, and then ... for quite a while after that. Finally, with immense gentleness, he said:
"Testamentum tuum Graecum prope tene et tacitum custodi, fili dilectissime. Verbum Dei periculosum est in istis tuis diebus periculosioribus."
Nutus aequatur nictui?