6 December 2017


So PF's letter to a bishop in Argentina has been published in the AAS. Naturally, people are worried about the status which this might confer on it. Does it turn the letter concerned into a Magisterial document to which we are obliged to exhibit respect (obsequium)? And all that.

I am not going to get into questions such as the different weight to be accorded to different levels of papal documents; or how to construe a papal document which either obviously or apparently contradicts another document of the same Magisterial level. You can find that sort of stuff elsewhere. And the great Father Zed has done the Church Militant another immense service by printing a detailed analysis of the situation by a noted canonist. The gist is: even an Apostolic Letter printed in AAS does not cancel Canon 915 (unless it explicitly and in due form says that it does).

We are in a new situation under PF, and new hermeneutical methods are both needed and implied. I offer some thoughts ... you might call them the tentative reactions of a Plain Simple Man.

It is an objective and undeniable fact that Amoris laetitia has been interpreted in diametrically  contradictory ways. Some bishops, some conferences, take the view that it has changed nothing of the teaching contained in previous Magisterial documents. Some bishops, some conferences, believe that it has opened up the possibility of giving the Sacraments to unrepentant public adulterers. A sound and common sense principle is A doubtful Law is no Law.  As Cardinal Mueller has pointed out, in a very grave matter a change can only be made in law or doctrine by an explicit statement, with accompanying reasoning, making clear beyond all doubt that a change is being made. Sending Von Schoenborn down to a Vatican News Conference to smile sweetly at Diane Montagna and say "It's a Development!! Read Newman!!!" hardly meets this criterion.

If Amoris laetitia itself is of no effect, clearly a letter (even if it subsequently appropriates to itself the grandiose term 'Magisterial') which purports to interpret AL, can hardly rise much above the level of nugacitas.

Vatican I defined that ex cathedra statements of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable ex sese and not e consensu Ecclesiae. By implication: it has not been defined that lesser papal statements are ex sese irreformable. Thus, it is lawful to take into account what conferences and individual bishops say in interpreting Amoris laetitia. That document is reformable and any force it may eventually after a few decades acquire will depend on the consensus of the Church.

A fortiori, the same is true of the note that Cardinal Parolin has so unwisely attached to the text of "the Argentine letter" in AAS. One of the cheapest and nastiest tricks of the current regime is its facile habit of plastering labels reading "Holy Spirit" or "Magisterium" onto any ill-considered novelty it wants to force down the throats of its unwilling fellow Christians.

Another objective and undeniable fact: although instructed by his Employer to "strengthen your brethren", PF has not replied to Dubia, even when submitted by patres purpurati. Quite obviously, it cannot be argued that he has taught, clearly, explicitly, and as definitive tenendum, any of those contents of the document Amoris laetitia which have caused such puzzlement.

In other words, the Petrine Ministry appears currently to be in the state which Blessed John Henry Newman neatly described as Suspense. I suggest that a general pastoral conclusion to be drawn from all this is that ordinary straightforward Christians have better things to do with their time than worrying about the precise status of ambiguous statements. Better, richer, more God-given things. Qualia essent ...

Open a bottle of wine.

Compose a limerick in English about Cardinal Kasper.

Do the Times Latin Crossword in under five minutes.

Play forfeits with your wife/husband.

Incorporate into a 'Vergilian' eclogue (with goats and shepherdesses galore) Cardinal Mueller's recent brilliant apercu that the Church is not a Field Hospital but a Silicon Valley.

Recite the Quicunque vult and make an Act of Faith.

Cram yourself full of baklava and/or halva.

Listen to the Kyries of the Missa Papae Marcelli.

Go to Ashmole and commune with Menander or Benedict XIV or both.

Walk down the river from Sandford Lock to Abingdon and count the species of waterfowl.

Convert the encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis into Homeric hexameters.

Shoot a magpie or two or three or four.

Find a priest who will take a stipend to offer the Mass Salus populi for the Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

Kai, as Aristotle might have put it, ta loipa panta.


Fr PJM said...

Dear Father, it has been a long time since you shared an encounter with Benedict XIV. Perhaps soon...?

philipjohnson said...

Brilliant Father brilliant.You have helped me to cope with the bewildering antics of this Regime-and not to worry too much.Thanks!

Louis Gasper said...

Suspense. Exactly. Not sede vacante, but suspense of a certain function.

Andreas Meszaros said...

Ne negligatis Patris Hunwicke blogum legere
singulis diebus mane aut vespere
Oh quanto ille verborum lepore,
disserendo de liturgico decore,
demonstrat quomodo oportet errores corrigere

Donna Bethell said...

Thank you, Father, for giving me something productive to do. The first two assignments are complete and I offer the result of the second. If it isn't perfect, I can only offer the excuse of the first.

Cardinal Kasper in God's Providentia
Wrote books cum doctrina absentia.
Though the Pope praised his thoughts,
Four Cardinals had doubts
They were eodem sensu eademque sententia.

Woody said...

Attend the Divine Liturgy in an Eastern Catholic Church (during which, Francis, the Pope of Rome, will be commemorated several times) and read the holy Fathers.

Woody said...

But also, dear Father, if the Pope is the supreme law giver ( on earth), is not his determination, as expressed by his, er, henchman, that the document is magisterial, of legal effect?

Now, back to the Fathers.

John Patrick said...

I would probably go the Baklava route, except that whereas when we lived in Pennsylvania there was a talented Greek Pastry Lady down the street, here in Maine there is a lack of Graeciae domina opus pistorium valentissimum so I may have to find an alternative.

To this simple minded non canon lawyer not versed in the Magasterialness of various documents, seems to me that Mt 5:31-32 still applies as well as 1 Cor 11:27 so that seems to settle it in my mind, unless the Vatican has repealed the authority of scripture.

Bos Mutissimus said...

There once was a Cardinal named Kasper
Who elicited an Ecclesial gasper
He claimed matrimony
Was near-half baloney
So a wife’s straying man might unclasp her

Anonymous said...

All of this "mess" created by Francis results in diminishing respect for the CHURCH, which diminishes respect for the papacy.

Which is why I see Pope Francis as the first "Sedevacantist" Pope; that is, a Pope who by his stress on "synodalism" and "decentralization" {all imposed on the Church using a centralized, dictatorial, autocratic authority, naturally!} allows chaos to reign and by flippantly and cynically using disingenuous methods {e.g. the current AAS issue} to effectively change Church teaching {and thus destroy respect FOR Church teaching and the papacy as well}, he will leave a gutted papacy after his reign is over. The Pope who leaves the See effectively empty of respected authority, devoid of integrity and power: A "Sedevacantist" Pope. This may be intentional or not. THAT I am not sure of. but the results cannot be denied; Francis is crushing the integrity of the papacy and creating a vacuum of serious leadership.

I believe it could all backfire, tho, if one, single, good, CATHOLIC man {yes, an actual Catholic, fancy that...} is elected Pope either immediately after him or at some point down the line.

Of course the Church will break up because the heretics won't stand for a non-Lutheran running the show, but that will only formalize what already exists inside the Church today; internal, informal schism with heretics likely the majority.

Who gets the buildings is anybody's guess.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

There once was a man from Flores
Who can not be said to ever bore us
When he’s on a plane
It all becomes so insane
passengers consider bailing out the doores

Simon Platt said...

I think I'll recite the Quicunque vult and make an Act of Faith. Before I encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis into Homeric hexameters, at any rate. Long before.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you Father. I did find the helpful commentary on Fr.Z's blog. I am sure you're right that this internet age of instant information about everything that happens in the world and the Church is not necessarily a helpful thing. The enemy can use so much to harry and disturb our spirits. Yet it seems strange to have to ignore the Pope and the Vatican unless and until some unmistakably Magisterial pronouncement or intervention is made, but I suppose that is how most people interacted with Rome over most of the centuries. I do have a sense of peace and trust underneath the turmoil. There are those who cite these events in support of questionable local policies and it is good to have a coherent response to give. And there are also younger generations who look to me for answers. To them I can only say that God is allowing these deeply troubled times for the sake of some wonderful triumph to come and we must stand firm and wait for the dawn to break, and not to lose faith or joy in him no matter how bad it appears to get.

DeHereticoComburendo said...

A Cardinal Kasper from Heidenheim,
Having failed to become Pope had to bide his time.
But when Jorgey arose,
He said “Here I goes!”
And imposed a Synodical party line.

Anonymous said...

n Deutschland a Cardinal named Kasper
Is spreading his views to disaster.
He could be stopped by Francis,
if there were no romances,
but for now we must suffer this gasser.