24 May 2016


There is an immensely scholarly discussion of Amoris laetitia by the immensely scholarly Dr Anna Silvas, a Romanian Catholic, Classicist, Semiticist, Patristic scholar, on the website of Fr Glen Tattersall's Extraordinary Form parish in Melbourne, newmanparish. Perhaps some able person could kindly supply a link to it. I think I would dissent only from the second sentence of her second paragraph. (There are a few typos.)

I do rather wonder whether the 'Traditionalist' communities have been as clear in their reactions to Amoris laetitia as they should have been. "Tradition" does not simply mean an aesthetic preference for the (not entirely satisfactory) liturgical books of 1962. We need someone to resurrect the the term integriste, and its meaning! Where are the "Ecclesia Dei communities"? And what about those prelates who supply "eye candy" pickies on some traddy liturgical blogs? Are they not Successors of the Apostles and sharers in the Universal munus docendi? Do they have to be so scared? Who's afraid of the ...

Fr Glen is to be congratulated. I don't think he's afraid.


mark wauck said...

Below is the link, preceded by Fr Tattersall's intro:

Dr Silvas currently resides in Armidale, NSW, and is a member of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, in union with Rome. She is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of New England, Australia, and also a Professorial Adjunct Professorial Fellow at the Australian Catholic University, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her undergraduate studies were in Greek and Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic/Syriac. Her research has concentrated on late antiquity, particularly on the Cappadocian Fathers, the development of Christian monasticism, the spirituality of ascetic women in early and medieval Christianity. Her published works include translation of ancient literature as well as monographs. Her magnum opus was a first critical edition of the Syriac Questions of the Brothers. She has also been associated with the JP Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, where she is a sessional lecturer in the Catholic Tradition of sexuality, marriage and family.


mark wauck said...

Re the Ordinary Magisterium, the ultimate authority--Catholicism For Dummies--provides what I find to be a convincing account: What Are Extraordinary Magisterium and Ordinary Magisterium?

According to the authors, essentially "anything authored by a pope" is part of the Ordinary Magisterium--"when the pope reinforces, reiterates, or restates the consistent teaching of his predecessors and of the bishops united with him around the world." The authors provide a list of document types in descending order of authority:

Papal Bulls

Papal Encyclicals

Papal Briefs

Apostolic Exhortations

Apostolic Constitutions

Apostolic Letters

Motu Proprios

and they add this helpful note:

"The Cardinal Prefect [of CDF = Mueller] is the pope’s watchdog to investigate all suspected cases of heresy (false teaching) and to explain official church dogma."

The authors offer no suggestions on how to view situations in which a pope exercises the ordinary magisterium in what appears to competent observers to be discontinuity with the past, and appeals to someone other than the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF as the official interpreter. Perhaps Fr Hunwicke could comment from the standpoint of the theological status of the Roman Curia.

Joshua said...


Chazalami said...


Donna Bethell said...

This piece is certainly informed by deep and wide scholarship, but it is written in a simple and clear manner accessible to anyone. And Dr. Silvas shares in our host's call for clarity from the shepherds. Only one bishop, Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, has issued a critique of AL and asked the Holy See for clarification, particularly by adding the language from Familiaris Consortio 84 that the divorced and remarried may not receive Holy Communion unless they are observing perfect continence. He has done the spadework. All a bishop has to do is say: "I join Bishop Schneider in asking the Holy See to provide this necessary clarification to avoid all ambiguity."

Of course, there will be no such clarification. Dr. Silvas is right when she writes: "To me,the entire tenor of Chapter Eight is problematic, not just #304 and footnote 315 [sic]. As soon as I finished it, I thought to myself: Clear as a bell: Pope Francis wanted some form of the Kasper Proposal from the beginning. Here it is. Kasper has won."

Jacobi said...

I am a traditionalist in the sense of continuity. I attend both the Gregorian Mass ( when I can ) and the New Pauline Mass, normally.

Amoris Laetitia is a letter by a Pope and has to be treated with respect. It is not an infallible document, nor is it intended to be.

Any informed Catholic who disagrees with any of its content, may do so.

It's all really quite simple and I wonder why everyone is getting so upset about it - particularly when the whole caboodle is going down the plug-hole in other respects?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mark

Wikipaedia informs us the Apostolic Constitutions are the highest kind of ... Makes sense to me; the Assumption was defined in an AC ...

mark wauck said...

Father, I agree (of course) that the "ultimate authority" (Catholicism for Dummies) has matters mixed up--to be polite. My real point is that of Ed Peters, as was hashed out fairly thoroughly in your Is the Magisterium safe under Pope Francis? All teaching acts of the Church are magisterial, but their authority depends on circumstances, as Lumen Gentium 25 makes semi-clear.

Of interest is why various bishops and conferences of bishops feel entitled to take a document such as an Apostolic Exhortation and treat it as license to change fundamental practice of the Church, even in such a way as to arguably compromise Apostolic Tradition re marriage and the sacraments. I am of course, thoroughly incompetent to speak on these matters, but ... a blog comment is, after all, a rather unpretentious forum, is it not?

So, my take. It appears that the progressive faction at V2, with the young Ratzinger as one of its stars, saw the Constitution on the Church as restoring, or advocating the restoration of, what they regarded as structures more consonant with those of the early Church: synodal, patriarchal, collegial, etc. In the heady years immediately following V2 the young Ratzinger wrote extensively on this subject. Here are two articles that discuss these views of the "early" (i.e., pre-CDF) Ratzinger: Governance in the Legacy of Vatican Council II and FROM RATZINGER TO BENEDICT. Things, including Ratzinger's views on Church structures, changed after Ratzinger came to Rome to head CDF--by 1986 and 1992 the reformed, "restorationist" Ratzinger was openly questioning the status of bishops' conferences and other post V2 developments. So much so that "progressive" theologians who had formerly been close to him now regarded Ratzinger as a traitor to the great cause of "renewal."

I think that in this context progressives--invoking V2 and its spirit--view synods and the Apostolic Exhortations that are issued in their aftermath as having significantly more authority than they would traditionally be accorded. Thus, we now see "conservative" canonists scrambling to downplay the authority of AL, while progressives appear to be treating it as the Spirit speaking to the Church (in "the spirit of V2"). Francis, of course, plays the ambiguities in the situation for all they're worth, for his own reasons--to change the facts on the ground.

mark wauck said...


After I wrote the preceding comment I came across this article by Massimo Faggioli: The Ecclesiology of Pope Francis's Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. To put it bluntly, as Faggioli does, "Amoris Laetitia's view of the Church is collegial and synodal." So, if the Church is inherently synodal, it follows that any document issuing pursuant to a synod, even a previously somewhat ordinary Apostolic Exhortation, now takes on far greater importance. This is why I've been saying that arguments based on the traditional degrees of authority to be accorded to various types of papal expressions are missing the real point. V2 changed a lot, and anyone who thinks that JP2 or B16 somehow magically turned the clock back ...

Andreas Meszaros said...

The division or ‘ranking’ of Pontifical Documents changes with the passage of time. In our day, the order is given more or less (not universally agreed upon) as follows:

Litterae encyclicae
Epistula encyclica
Adhortatio apostolica
Epistula apostolica
Litterae decretales
Litterae apostolicae ‘motu proprio’ datae
Constitutiones apostolicae
Litterae apostolicae seu brevia apostolica
etc.; ten further categories including ‘nuntii televisifici’

So far, there is no ‘colloquium percontativum in aeronavi datum’.

Due to certain developments the Adhortationes Apostolicae gained importance in recent pontificates (Paul VI to present).

Note that Constitutio Apostolica ‘Pastor Bonus’ of June 1988, states inter alia:

Art. 39 Secretaria Status proxime juvat Summum Pontificem in Eius supremo munere exercendo.

Art. 42 Eiusdem etiam est:
1) componere et mittere Constitutiones Apostolicas, Litteras Decretales, Litteras Apostolicas, Epistulas aliaque documenta a Summo Pontifice ipsi commissa.

Thus the new “ranking”, if any, should be based on this new arrangement because “Officium Cancellariae Apostolicae in Romana Curia uti tale esse desinit (Motu Proprio ‘Quo Aptius’ 1973 Paulus VI Pp).

Donna Bethell said...

The Church might be collegial and synodal, but two Synods were manipulated, scolded, had their mail stolen, their documents written for them, and their votes ignored, and still didn't come up with what's in AL: classic Jesuitical situation ethics and the wink, wink go-ahead for the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion.

And that is the prime concern. Whatever the magisterial authority of an apostolic exhortation or the respect owed to the person and office of the pope, what should we do in a situation, as Mark Wauck has put it, "in which a pope exercises the ordinary magisterium in what appears to competent observers to be discontinuity with the past, and appeals to someone other than the Cardinal Prefect of the CDF as the official interpreter"?

mark wauck said...

@Rose Marie

Yes, there is some irony in the progressive narrative, isn't there? I'm sure Fr Hunwicke is all too familiar with this vision of the Church.

Donna Bethell said...


And to compound matters, isn't Familiaris Consortio also a post-V2 post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation? But it has fallen from favor. I think the really telling aspect of AL, especially Ch. 8, is how many times it cites Pope Francis. Progressives cite others when they agree with them (maybe not accurately if they actually don't). Otherwise, they cite themselves.