In yesterday’s piece, I explored why most of those who reject Pope Francis’s teaching about sacraments for divorced and remarried Catholics in Amoris Laetitia are resistant to the idea that they are dissenting from Magisterial teaching, and why it’s vital for them to see themselves as orthodox.

Most of their argumentation centers on the content of the teaching, its possible interpretations, and comparisons of Amoris Laetitia with prior teaching and discipline of the Church. I do not doubt that much of this is done sincerely, with the best intentions, and in good faith. While I disagree with them — I believe Amoris Laetitia can be justified on its own terms and reconciled as a legitimate development in continuity — I do not doubt that other Catholics have great difficulty accepting it. I do not question that many of them are convicted that it is absolutely impossible.

This piece, like yesterday’s, does not attempt to present a challenge their arguments against the content of Amoris Laetitia. That’s the subject of another discussion. The purpose of this piece is to address the implications of their position in light of what Amoris Laetitia actually says, its magisterial status, and what our response should be, according to Church teaching.

Put simply, this is what I am asserting:

  1. Pope Francis, through Amoris Laetitia, has clearly taught that in certain cases, in the context of pastoral accompaniment, those who are divorced and civilly remarried (and have not made a commitment to live as brother and sister) may receive the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.
  2. Amoris Laetitia is a magisterial document, as are the guidelines of the bishops of Buenos Aires and the response letter from Pope Francis (text of the guidelines and letter here).  
  3. As official acts of the Authentic Magisterium, even though they are not infallible or ex cathedra teachings, these teachings of the pope require the religious submission of the intellect and will, “in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.” (Lumen Gentium 25)
  4. Many Catholics, in an attempt to avoid their obligation as stated in #3 above, have tried to undermine and twist facts #1 and #2. The Catholic Church has set out clear guidelines for the faithful with regard to the reception of the teachings of the pope, so some Catholics have presented arguments that the pope has not taught what he’s clearly taught, or that his magisterial teaching is not magisterial.

Regarding my first assertion, the typical argument is that the actual meaning of Amoris Laetitia is unclear. Some claim that Amoris Laetitia can be read in a way that allows no change at all. This reading, they say, corresponds completely with the earlier teaching. Since the document can be read either way, they say, it is essential that it’s read in continuity with the prior teaching. The document is ambiguous, and it’s impossible to understand it’s real meaning. They often bring up that the confusion could be settled if Francis would only respond to the dubia, or clarify what he meant.

This argument might be persuasive if Francis had simply released Amoris Laetitia and made no further comment. It might hold water if the gestures and words of Francis and those close to him gave us no clue about his intent, or supported the more traditional reading.

Unfortunately for them, claiming that it’s ambiguous is wishful thinking. The plain reading of the chapter in question — especially when read in correlation with the guidelines of the Buenos Aires bishops and Francis’s letter in response to them — is not unclear.

Those close to Francis, including Cardinals Schoenborn and Ouellet, Archbishops Fernandez and Scicluna (the former widely believe to be the principle ghostwriter of the exhortation), Cardinal Coccopalmerio (who wrote a book on the subject, originally published by the Vatican Press), and numerous others have interpreted it with the understanding that the sacraments can be given in certain cases. And of course, we can’t forget the preface by Francis himself to Stephen Walford’s book (the book also has an imprimatur by Cardinal Tobin and the endorsements of three other Cardinals, in which each attests to the magisterial fidelity of the book).

Lumen Gentium teaches that the pope’s “mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

If you need more evidence, Pedro Gabriel presented a convincing case in a piece a few months ago that it’s impossible to read Amoris Laetitia in a way that does not allow for the change in discipline towards some who are divorced and remarried.

Does an honest reading really suggest that Pope Francis’s mind and will in the matter is unknown or unknowable? How many more times will Francis have to demote Cardinal Burke before it becomes unclear that his reading does not align with the will of Pope Francis?

 

My second and third assertions, that Amoris Laetitia is magisterial and therefore demands the religious submission of the mind and will by the faithful, should be self-evident. It is an official teaching document, promulgated by the pontiff, in an exercise of his role as Vicar of Christ, to the Universal Church, on matters of faith and morals. To make matters even more clear, the directives of the Buenos Aires bishops were explicitly designated as “Authentic Magisterium” by Pope Francis. The letter to the Buenos Aires bishops was raised to the magisterial status of an “apostolic letter.”

As we’re taught by Lumen Gentium, the magisterial weight of a teaching corresponds to the “manifest mind and will” of the pope. Disagreeing with an act of the magisterium, even when you believe you have an airtight case against the teaching, does not make it unmagisterial. Yet, incomprehensibly, many have attempted to argue against its status just the same.

The Catechism makes very clear the authority of the pope on these matters:

100 The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.

There are no asterisks or escape clauses here. No one, not even a cardinal, has any authority to challenge what the pope teaches is an authentic interpretation of God’s Word. If a bishop is not teaching in communion with the pope, then his teaching is not authentic.

There is no Church teaching that allows for non-popes to override or render null the doctrinal and disciplinary authority of the pope.

Of course, this follows logically from what the Catechism teaches about papal primacy:

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

“Full, supreme, and universal power … unhindered.” Not ambiguous. No escape clauses. This of course is built on the biblical principle laid out in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Peter is the Rock upon which Christ built his Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

The CDF taught in 1998 that the pope is the guarantor of “a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God against arbitrariness and conformism.” There’s no “unless” or “until” behind this principle. The Church teaches that we are to look to the pope for assurance of doctrinal orthodoxy.

Pope Leo XIII expresses this teaching clearly in an 1890 encyclical:

“What we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff. Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.

What those who reject Francis’s teaching are essentially saying is, “Don’t trust what the Church says about the pope’s authority to teach on these matters, trust me instead.” They’re undermining the ecclesial unity of the Church even before they’ve begun to undermine a single teaching.

 

Which brings us to the fourth assertion.

As I said before, I am not challenging the reasons that a Catholic might have to reject a teaching. Consciences are to be respected. Rather, the purpose of this piece is to clarify what such a response means with respect to Church teachings about the magisterium. It is clear what Amoris Laetitia teaches, the status it has as a magisterial document, and the obligations of the faithful in response to it.

In summary, what the Church teaches and its authoritative weight is beyond our control. Amoris Laetitia says what it says and it is what it is. What we can control is how we respond to the teaching. This leaves Catholics with two options with regard to Amoris Laetitia:

1) Accept that the Church has spoken and do your best to submit your mind and will to this teaching of the Church, or

2) Be honest about your inability to accept a teaching that the Church has promulgated magisterially. It’s not the first time a good, faithful, and devout person has dissented from an act of the magisterium, and it will certainly not be the last. But it does nobody any favors to imagine that the Church has not officially taught something when it has.

 

Mike Lewis is a writer and graphic designer from Maryland, having worked for many years in Catholic publishing. He’s a husband, father of four, and a lifelong Catholic. He’s active in his parish and community. He is a founding editor for Where Peter Is.

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38 Responses

  1. Justin says:

    For my part, I asked him two questions that are close to my heart. First, I explained my curiosity about the efficiency of a structure organised around small dicasteries in the context of a universal institution to which billions of people belong.

    “After, I asked for clarifications on the theme of communion for the divorced included in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s second apostolic exhortation.

    “Many in the Church have doubts and are uncertain. Such confusion and division also frighten me, but the Holy Father told me: ‘Chapter VIII cannot be decontextualised. It is only the end of the exhortation. Chapter IV is more important, where its principles are explained.

    “For Pope Francis, the question cannot be reduced to whether divorced people can receive communion or not?’ Rather, the question is: ‘How can we reach them, [and] assist them from a spiritual point of view?’ Unfortunately, sometimes there are different approaches between academics and those involved in grassroots pastoral outreach. Pope Francis belongs to the latter group” – Archbishop William Goh (Singapore) Peace be with you.

  2. Peggy McConnell says:

    A man leaves his wife with 5 small children, the baby was 5 days old, and marries another. Such pain was caused. I do not agree with Amoris Laetitia.

    • LisaM says:

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting divorce is fine. We all know the severe damage children suffer from marital break up, or marital dysfunction. We owe our children better. There are circumstances, however, that one recognizes the damage they have caused, recognizes that they never should have pursued another marriage, and recognize that their marriage and children suffered greatly as a result. Then comes the time when they ask, how can I correct this? Maybe they have children from their new union. Maybe their ‘new ‘spouse’ is ill and needs care, maybe their ‘new’ spouse sees nothing wrong. These complicated situations, when a Catholic has come to understand their error(sin), cannot end it without causing greater harm. He/she may be willing to live as brother or sister, but their ‘spouse’ is not. Life is complicated, and sin has many ramifications. Pope Francis has recognized that someone may be completely remorseful of their sin, and wanting and willing to try to fix it as best they can, but cannot without causing greater harm to others. I understand completely Amoris Laetitia , and welcome it, It is required by our faith to search for it’s meaning, and to recognize that if we do not understand it, we continue searching until we do. That goes for all Catholic teaching on faith and morals. Some is complicated, and requires serious thought, some is easy, and some understand one thing but not another. We all face that from time to time. But if we accept it is the teaching of the church, we find the truth in its meaning.

    • M says:

      But may I say, with reverence for so much suffering, and acknowledgement of the evil inflicted by such a man- still, Amoris Laetitia doesn’t imply that particular man, in that situation, should be allowed Communion. However, there are certain irregular situations that leave people of *goodwill* in a “catch 22” situation, where they are “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t” go to confession and Communion. Situations where, things are complicated and not the person’s fault or intention- but to prevent a greater evil they must stay in the marriage. In a situation like that- as I understand it- AL allows a priest to discern together with the person, in the context of ongoing spiritual direction, or “accompaniment” -may be able to have confession and Communion. It is similar to to situation where one spouse insists on using contraception, even secretly, and the other spouse is dead against it. The spouse that is dead against it should not be excommunicated. There would be no mercy in that position.

  3. J. Valenti says:

    Do we owe submission of mind and will to current Papal Magisterium or to the words of Jesus Christ and the constant teaching of the Church over millennia? This is the dilemma we as Catholics face today. The matter is not quite as simple as the author suggests.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      I am laying out what the Church teaches about the magisterium and how the Church says Catholics are to respond to magisterial teachings.

      The Church has asserted that AL is consistent with the words of Christ and that we owe it assent.

      That’s the entire point. The Church officially says that Amoris Laetitia is entirely orthodox, and rejects arguments that say otherwise.

      That’s what’s on the table.

      You might argue with it or disagree with it, but it fulfills all the official criteria for being magisterial teaching, and therefore, according to the Church, requires religious assent.

    • Marthe Lépine says:

      But “the words of Jesus Christ” are that He is with His Church and will be until the end of times, such that Papal Magisterium is protected from error. There is no conflict between the two, thus no dilemma facing Catholics today.

  4. J. Valenti says:

    What you’re saying is that I must close my mind to the unmistakable and clear meaning of the words of Jesus Christ Himself as reported by the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Church Fathers over the centuries as well as all Popes before Francis are in agreement in opposition to the Francis “magisterial” teaching.

    Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly. Is it possible that a Pope can teach heresy? Has there never been a Pope who has taught heresy?

    • Mike Lewis says:

      What I’m saying is that there appears to be a conflict between your beliefs and what your Church is asking of you. Objectively speaking.

      I do not doubt the sincerity of your convictions, but the Church has clearly taught that AL is consistent with the teachings of Christ. I am asking you to acknowledge the truth that your position is inconsistent with what the Church has authoritatively taught.

  5. Linda says:

    As soon as a reference was made to Coccopalmeiro, I completely lost interest in what was said regarding AL.

  6. Dennis Mello says:

    Popes have taught heresy and the past and have been corrected. The pope is to guard the deposit of faith NOT to change it. They are NOT to encourage people to sin. You are in error.

    • Mike Lewis says:

      What is the Church’s teaching on assent to the magisterial teaching of the pope?

      I am not engaging in whataboutism. I am simply laying out clearly what the Church teaches in Amoris Laetitia and its magisterial status. You may disagree, but that is (by definition) dissent.

  7. Kevin Davis says:

    The innovation in AL seems to be — to put it as succinctly as possible — that you can know something to be objectively immoral (in this case, having sex with someone who is not your spouse) and yet continue to do so without incurring culpability and therefore permitted to receive communion. Am I wrong? I am fully aware of mitigating circumstances, but the innovation is that those mitigating circumstances are explicitly known and adjudicated as permitting the act. How is this development and not rupture?

    • Mike Lewis says:

      Two things, briefly:

      1) You are correct that knowledge is not the primary mitigating factor of the sinful act discussed in AL. The main factor in these cases is whether the act is done with full consent. The Catechism lays out a number of criteria that mitigate culpability of grave acts (and these are cited in AL).

      Some arguing against AL assert that the culpability is not a factor at all – that the objective situation of an invalid marriage makes any exception intrinsically impossible.

      2) AL does not permit the act. What AL permits is the reception of the sacraments for some who commit the act, and only when they are not full culpable for the sin. This is a key difference. (Though some reject the difference as irrelevant.)

      • ONG says:

        Excellent rational pro-magisterium apologetics, Mike. (And nice website in general about the problematics of today.) Recommended already!

      • Kevin Davis says:

        Thanks, Mike. I think you’ve made the best explanation and defense (along with Pedro Gabriel’s piece) about AL, both in terms of what it actually teaches (and I agree that the text is actually not that ambiguous about introducing a new discipline for D&R Catholics) and how this new discipline can be understood as a development of prior moral teaching about mitigating factors. Nonetheless, I still have a hard time with “full consent” being mitigated in these circumstances. Except for matters of duress and coercion, the Church has always taught that objective moral truths can be fulfilled by the faithful, however difficult. AL even goes so far to say that a moral wrong can be the best that one can give in the light of other goods (e.g., the children). Once again, I am not aware of any such teaching in the Church prior to AL.

        It is not surprising that blogs like this seem to be a rather small minority in the Catholic digital world. It’s basically you and some of the Patheos bloggers. Meanwhile, Patrick Coffin, Taylor Marshall, Raymond Arroyo, Ross Douthat, and other important Catholic media guys (to say nothing of 1P5, CM, etc.) are adamantly opposed to this new discipline in AL, among other things in this pontificate. Coffin and Marshall even use the language of being “red pilled” during this pontificate (as they discussed in an interesting YouTube video recently). Of course, none of this makes you wrong and them right. I’m just making an observation — which you are probably fully aware anyway — about how this is going down in Catholic news media and social media. Anyway, I appreciate hearing your perspective in defense of AL and Francis, because it’s pretty hard to find people like you to dialog with about these complexities.

        • LisaM says:

          Honestly Kevin, my biggest clue that I was following the correct blogs and reading truthful articles was the tone of those speaking/writing. One only needs a day or two of surfing Lifesite News, Raymond Arroyo, etc, etc and notice the difference. For some who claim to be ‘orthodox’ and ‘true’ Catholics, they have certainly missed the basic teachings of Christ: Kindness, seeing the best in people, do not gossip, etc are strikingly absent in many of their articles, and a harsh, judgmental tone of voice, is shockingly present. I just asked myself one day, would Christ act that way? Is that how he would speak of our Pope? I think not.

          • carn says:

            “Kindness, seeing the best in people, do not gossip,”

            Where is that present on wherepeteris?

            I have some training concerning when evidence proves something and when it doesn’t prove something and for example just makes something likely or a possibility to consider or to look more closely into.

            Of course, lifesitenews and similar are often lacking in that area and think that something is sufficient proof although it is not sufficient and would just be sufficient to justify further investigations (for example both what Vigano offered and what people offered against Vigano is only sufficient to justify further investigation, as no side offered sufficient proof for their version).

            But wherepeteris is not very much different; calling people for being dissenters, when one actually fails to understand their argument is also a lack of kindness and a lack of seeing the best in people.

            Both sides in this debate fail.

          • Mike Lewis says:

            Carn – I went to great lengths to be respectful of the consciences of those who dissent from AL. For example:

            “I do not doubt that much of this is done sincerely, with the best intentions, and in good faith. While I disagree with them — I believe Amoris Laetitia can be justified on its own terms and reconciled as a legitimate development in continuity — I do not doubt that other Catholics have great difficulty accepting it. I do not question that many of them are convicted that it is absolutely impossible.”

            I make it clear that I do not doubt your good intentions or that you are convinced in conscience that you are doing the right thing.

            And I mean it, sincerely.

            I am simply pointing out that this position is not consistent with magisterial teaching on papal authority and/or does not represent an accurate interpretation of the document.

            This is a de facto situation of dissent from the magisterium. My case is presented in charity and doesn’t doubt that they mean to be faithful to the teachings of the Church. But I also have to be truthful. According to the rules laid out by the Church regarding assent to the magisterial authority, their position makes them dissenters.

          • Kevin Davis says:

            Lisa,

            There is certainly something to be said for the tone and manner in which one conducts his criticisms, but I would caution that “kindness” and “seeing the best in people” — as a sort of litmus test — runs the danger of a therapeutic deflection of the serious questions. The serious questions, to quote myself, are like this: “Except for matters of duress and coercion, the Church has always taught that objective moral truths can be fulfilled by the faithful, however difficult. AL even goes so far to say that a moral wrong can be the best that one can give in the light of other goods (e.g., the children).”

            Moreover, I would not lump all of the Francis critics in the same pile. Coffin, Marshall, Arroyo, Douthat, etc., were all initially supportive — or, at the very least, not openly critical and defiant of Pope Francis. That changed over the course of the past five years. Whereas One Peter Five, The Remnant, LifeSite, and Church Militant (albeit CM only recently began to openly criticize Francis) were suspicious of Francis from the beginning and now represent the most adamant of Francis’ critics. So, there are some distinctions to be made. There’s a spectrum among Francis’ critics. Yet, it does seem that the spectrum is narrowing, and Francis critics are by and large mutually supportive and affirming of each other. The latest news is that Cardinal Cupich will co-lead the February meeting to handle the sex abuse crisis. Seriously. At this point, can anyone seriously blame Francis’ critics? I am honestly trying to understand Mike and people like him, but the counter-evidence is overwhelming. Utterly overwhelming.

          • Mike Lewis says:

            Yes – I will agree that the critics of Francis are across a wide spectrum. Going from “Francis is confusing sometimes” to “Francis is evil and an antipope.”

            It is difficult to pinpoint exactly who I’m addressing when I write a piece. In this particular case, I had several people in mind – not 1P5 and other radicals, but voices who are often critical, but may also hold that “AL can be read in a way that means nothing has changed.”

            For me, the dividing line is whether Francis has taught doctrinal error. Before answering that, we actually need to be on the same page about what Francis actually taught, and at what level of authority.

            I am completely sympathetic if you disagree with AL on a prudential level: if you think it is unwise, might be easily abused, is inferior to the previous discipline and approach, and could be applied incorrectly and out of context, I might very well be sympathetic to your position. Assent doesn’t require you to like a magisterial act, simply to accept it.

            There are some, however, who deny that AL says what it says, and insist that the accurate interpretation is impossible because it’s erroneous. Or they openly insist that a position other than the pope’s must be substituted, because the pope’s position isn’t orthodox.

            This piece was written to debunk both of those arguments.

          • carn says:

            “I went to great lengths to be respectful of the consciences of those who dissent from AL.”

            But you claim they are guilty of dissent.

            Unless you consider “involuntary” dissent to be possible, you thereby claim they knowingly decided to dissent. Which would be a sin.

            Something which in my eyes would call for proof, which i think you lack, as you lack understanding of why they have their problems with AL.

            Some indication for this, is in my view obvious from Walford’s widely acclaimed first article regarding the debate:

            https://www.lastampa.it/2017/06/27/vaticaninsider/open-letter-to-the-four-dubia-cardinals-nIsyPMFIjp2M5wjLZ1CHJO/pagina.html

            “In relation to your other four dubia, I am confused as to why you have felt the need to ask them.”

            Yes, exactly; he doesn’t understand why those 4 further questions arise; but that doesn’t keep him from suggesting that the dubia cardinals are wrong:
            “I will end by humbly asking you to reconsider your position on this issue.”

            If i do not understand 80% of what someone does/says regarding some matter, i might still consider what someone else does as wrong; but i should be well aware that i might something relevant at least for that someone.

            “you are convinced in conscience that you are doing the right thing.”

            My conscience absolutely requires me to submit to whatever the Church teaches regarding dubia 2, 4 and 5. My conscience cares little about the other two.

            But as the Pope was asked and as the Pope has not and likely will not answer, i can only guess what the correct answers would be (and anyone beside the Pope answering only replaces me guessing the correct answers, with me guessing who provides the correct answers; some improvement, but not much) and try to work with that; which does not satisfy my conscience, as my guess is not that reliable.

            “This is a de facto situation of dissent from the magisterium.”

            I dissent from the magisterium, cause i want to have some questions resolved by the magisterium?

            Note, as i do not care much one way or another about dubium 1, the question whether that dubium was officially resolved by the magisterium will not change much.

            And as far as i see, nothing relevant was officially provided regarding dubia 2, 3 and 5; not even some indication that it is pointless to ask, as the answers are as they always have been or whatever.

            My current working assumption by the way to 2, 4 and 5 is: Yes. Yes. Yes.

          • Mike Lewis says:

            Of course involuntary dissent is possible. That was the whole point of the piece.

            They might think other interpretations of AL are possible, or they might be mistaken about what the magisterium asks of them.

          • Pete Vickery says:

            You’re absolutely right Lisa. This site is extremely well mannered and the contributors are courteous and patient with all objectors. It is a breath of fresh air. The knowledge of the faith that the contributors have is incredible.

        • Marthe Lépine says:

          It seems to me that you are missing one of the THREE conditions making a mortal sin. You get the grave matter, and the knowledge. But you seem to be confusing “fully free consent” and full consent. In other words, there can be circumstances when a person is not fully free to choose whether to act or not to act, in spite of knowing that such action is objectively sinful. Or again, there is some obstacle to the possibility of choosing not to do some action, such obstacle to be discerned through spiritual accompaniment, not to be decided by the person without the advice of a priest.

    • Fwiffo says:

      Pius XI said in Casti Connubii that if one spouse wishes to follow church teaching on contraception and the other insists on using it, the first partner is not required to abstain “when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows perversion of the right order…there is no sin.” There is not much detail here because he’s just making a quick aside, but it seems like an application of impaired consent, and for a presumably repeated action too (paragraph 59).

      Moral theologian John Ford was a key member of the “minority group” that led to Humanae Vitae, so hardly a liberal. A few years before Vtican II he wrote about mitigated culpability with regard to sexual sin. It’s quite interesting and even addresses the question of receiving communion. (Scott Smith is a good person if you want someone to talk to, by the way – he’s thoughtful, carefully fair-minded, and answers e-mails).
      https://reducedculpability.blog/2018/01/14/chapters-8-to-11-extracts-on-reduced-culpability/

      • Mike Lewis says:

        Yes, I know Scott, and we have discussed AL at length. His research and writing on AL have been quite valuable and we link to him on our “Resources” page.

        I agree with you that there are many reasons to justify AL using Catholic principles and moral theology – although there are some for whom no reasons will justify it.

        Which, as a result, puts them in opposition to the magisterium and the pope.

      • carn says:

        The crucial issue is, that such a person:

        “Pius XI said in Casti Connubii that if one spouse wishes to follow church teaching on contraception and the other insists on using it, the first partner is not required to abstain”

        is not in control of the actual problem (e.g. what legitimate means does a husband have to the wife from taking the pill? stealing it? replacing it?) AND can have at the end of confession full intent that the grave matter does not repeat (e.g. husband has intent to encourage wife to stop taking the pill and declares his readiness to abstain if a further child would currently cause complications; he can have intent to stop sinning at the end of confession).

        That of course does fit to some things covered by AL (e.g. civil partner upon which the woman is very dependent due to children threatening to stop support in case she resists sex; she certainly can have intent at end of confession for sex with that man not to happen again, even if she considers it rather likely that she will have sex with him again).

        But does not fit other things, which supposedly are covered by AL (e.g. one example in Walford’s new book, which is about a civil couple with children and knowledge that they should live as brother and sister and which already attempted to do so but consciously concluded that this option puts a too great psychological strain upon them and would threaten the well being of the children; how these can have at the end of confession intent not to have sex with each other after consciously deciding that currently continuing to have sex with each other is a mystery for me and i think for many others)

    • Fwiffo says:

      Pius XI said in Casti Connubii that if one spouse wishes to follow church teaching on contraception and the other insists on using it, the first partner is not required to abstain “when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly allows perversion of the right order…there is no sin.” There is not much detail here because he’s just making a quick aside, but it seems like an application of impaired consent, and for a presumably repeated action too (paragraph 59).

      Moral theologian John Ford was a key member of the “minority group” that led to Humanae Vitae, so hardly a liberal. A few years before Vtican II he wrote about mitigated culpability with regard to sexual sin. It’s quite interesting and even addresses communion. (Scott Smith is a good person to talk to, by the way – he’s thoughtful, fair-minded, and answers e-mails).
      https://reducedculpability.blog/2018/01/14/chapters-8-to-11-extracts-on-reduced-culpability/

  8. LisaM says:

    Kevin, Carn,
    If I were on a Jeopardy episode with either one of you, on the topic of the Catholic faith, I would stumble on the first question, and lose hands down. My love of God, and of our Church is real however. I’ve always stuck with the basics; These are the teachings of the Church, understand them, and try to live by them. I’m a late comer to knowing there was an anti Francis sentiment out there, and only found out through family, and being surprised by some of the comments I was hearing. My very first response to the initial criticism was “what are you worried about, Christ promised there will be no error in faith and morals…”. That was met with silence. Not long after, I heard about AL, and how ‘outrageous it was” My first reaction was, that doesn’t make sense, what’s wrong with it…?” So I read it fully, and read over some parts to get a better understanding. (I don’t believe that those who were criticizing it to me have read it yet, even though they are far more knowledgable about the Catholic religion than I) But the part that I loved most is the part that many are struggling with, yet for me, it was YES!!!, Christ’s love is shining through!!! For me, I never really fully understood, but I accepted, Pope JP II’s requirement that the couple live as brother and sister, since that required BOTH to be in agreement, and sin, forgiveness of sin, communion with God, etc is of course individual.
    My journey to discover what is the problem with Pope Francis has been truly eyeopening for me. I sadly discovered that ‘rules’ seemed more important than practice, and on some level, it has appeared to me that people are skipping the basics of our faith because they are not open to the possibility that they may be missing something.
    I agree fully that we cannot put all anti-Francis people in one category. I will say however, that I have commented on two conservative sites; on one, I asked why everything Pope Francis says is seen in such a bad light, and it was deleted. On another, asking a similar question, I was asked if I was a child of Lucifer, and “will you admit it?”
    It hurts me deeply that we are divided, and angers me greatly that our priests and bishops are so divided. It saddens me that we can see how we are ‘losing’ all the important battles………abortion, euthanasia, all the moral Catholic teachings…..and refuse to see that we need to open our hearts and ‘live what we believe’, not just think it……that is all our Pope is asking. Too bad so many of our priests and bishops are not listening 😦 We need them to get out their with the people, and stop waiting for us to come to them.
    Thanks to WherePeterIs and If I Might Interject for offering a different perspective, and what I believe is in line with our faith. I’m also learning a lot too, and I enjoy the debate, as that helps strengthen my faith as well.

    • carn says:

      I tried to reply to your nice post, but it didn’t get through.

      Thanks for you post and a few interesting points therein (to which i do not reply for lacking knowledge what would be accepted and what not)

  9. L. Daily says:

    A fundamentalist mindset by nature has trouble with the complexities of relationship, human or divine. I often ask my theologically rigid friends if they raised their children with the same one-size-fits-all mentality they impose on God. AL invites pastors to hear and receive the unique experiences divorced and remarried persons with the compassion and intimacy of a loving parent.

    And yes publically dissenting Catholics do need to look carefully at their formation for a refresher.

  10. L. Daily says:

    An observation: ‘Progressive’ dissent seems a response to Magisterial teaching deemed exclusionary, of self or others. ‘Fundamentalist’ dissent is almost always in response to teaching that seeks to reach out and include others, but is not limiting to this type of dissenter.

  11. QED says:

    At this point it appears to me that people are so certain in their understanding that they are right and the pope is wrong that they are willing to gamble their eternal salvation on their understanding. Can any Catholic who is not invincibly ignorant of papal primacy do what many Catholics are doing today and yet save their souls? It makes no sense to reject anything the Magisterium teaches unless you know withi absolute, unquestionable certainty that it is false. Such is not the case, for there are legitimately orthodox ways to interpret AL.

    If the Magisterium has taught heresy, why be Catholic anyway?

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