I wrote this at the beginning of December last year. The Maltese Bishops, all two of them, have just spectacularly confirmed the suspicion that led me to write it ... how I love being proved right!
What I suspected was this: that the more heterodox members of the episcopate, in their need to force an extreme hermeneutic onto the grey areas of Amoris laetitia, would have to rely exclusively upon the footnotes. I share, incidentally, what I understand to be Cardinal Mueller's view; that firmly established doctrine and praxis can hardly be overturned without a most explicit declaration that this is what is being done. And, what I suspect to be Cardinal Burke's opinion, that those parts of AL which do not simply affirm what is already clearly taught, cannot be Magisterial.
So this is what I wrote: --
I wonder if anybody has ever seen a theological consideration of the question whether Footnotes ... either in Conciliar documents or Papal ones ... are, or can be, or cannot be, Magisterial?
Furthermore, if anyone has Acta Apostolicae Sedis and Acta Sanctae Sedis sitting cheerfully beside their desks, it would be the work of a moment for them to spot when Roman documents started to appear with footnotes.
I see, in the front of my hand-missal, that Divino afflatu (1909) has footnotes, but only such as identify quotations. (These can hardly be Magisterial; either they provide mere bibliographical facts or, if erroneous, are simply proofs that curial clerks might possibly fail accurately to verify references.) So my query may fall into two parts:
(1) when did such formal documents start to have any footnotes; and
(2) when did they start to have footnotes of any greater significance than references to identify quotations?
The Codex Iuris Canonici, the Ritus Servandus, the de Defectibus, manage without footnotes ... I think ...