Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Correctio and dissent against Humanae Vitae

As I noted in my last post, the Correctio Filialis has continued to stimulate a level of debate which, among other things, vindicates the supposition of the signatories that the debate would benefit from a document of this kind: something fairly long, fairly technical, hard-hitting, but respectful. We have confronted both sides of the debate on Amoris laetitia with views and documentation which invite and even oblige them to increase their undersatanding of the issues.

It is hard to know how this debate looks to hitherto uncommitted Catholics. What must be evident to them is that, following the 800,000-strong 'Filial Appeal' not to change the teaching, the 'dubia' of the four Cardinals, the the open letter of Profs Finnis and Grisez, the appeal to the Cardinals of the '45 Theologians', and so on, opposition to the liberalising agenda on Holy Communion and divorced and remarried Catholics is not going away but, if anything, rising to a cresecendo.

Furthermore, this opposition is being taken increasingly seriously at extremely high levels of the Church, and it seems to have been the Correction which has brought this about: perhaps by virtue of being the last straw on the camel's back. Increasinly weightly people are being wheeled out to criticise the Correction, such as Rocco Buttiglione and Mgr Fazio of Opus Dei. Even more siginficantly, without weighing in on the debate itself, both Cardinal Müller and Cardinal Parolin (the Secretary of State, commonly regarded as the most senior person in the Church after the Pope), have suggested that what is needed is debate: not, as one might have imagined, that what is needed is the ignoring, sidelining, or punishing of those giving voice to our concerns.

Some critics of the Correction, such as Austen Ivereigh, have compared it to the campaign against Humanae vitae by theologians wanting to allow the use of contraception, in 1968. The comparison is indeed an interesting one. One the one hand, the anti-HV campaign demonstrated how a small number of intellectuals can make a huge difference to the application of official policy in the Church, given certain conditions. One of the necessary conditions is wider sympathy; another is the incapacity of Rome after Vatican II to embark on the kind of crackdown which Pope St Pius X waged against modernists in 1910.

But here is a contrast. By issuing Humanae vitae, Pope Paul VI nailed the Church's colours to the mast. He made it clear not only that the prohibition on contraception was the policy, but that it was the unchangable teaching of the Church. His teaching was merely reiterating what the Church had always taught. Amoris laetitia is a very different document, and those worried about it are defending, not attacking, the Ordinary Magisterium. The more intelligent of Amoris' defenders realise that they must insist that this has indeed not been changed. This puts them in a bind.

You cannot be criticised, ultimately, for supporting the teaching of the Church. The worst that can be said about the substance of criticisms of Amoris, therefore, is that this criticism exagerates or misunderstands what it says. That being so, the argument inevitably leads to the same conclusion as the Correction itself: there should be a formal clarification.

This is why it is so interesting that Cardinals Müller and Parolin are calling for dialogue, which for them is a simply a polite way of asking for clarification. Indeed, a formal dialogue might even provide the necessary face-saving opportunities to make a clarification politically possible, perhaps under the next Pope. Those behind the liberalising agenda know, however, that any clarification means closing the gap between what Amoris appears to allow, and the previous teaching and practice of the Church, in favour of the latter.

The reason for this is that once you get a group of serious Catholic theologians into room to talk about it, everyone has to admit that neither teaching nor disciplinary practice is open to change. The teaching on the nature of the Blessed Sacrament and the Indissolubility of Marriage is part of the Deposit of Faith. The practice in Confession of not absolving unrepentent sinners is intrinsically related to its nature as established by Divine Law. The practice of refusing public sinners communion is also a matter of Divine Law, as reiterated famously by the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts as recently as 2000.

Ok, does anyone disagree? Would anyone like to try the experiment? Then join with the signatories of the Correction and the Dubia Cardinals in begging Pope Francis to issue a authoritative clarificatiom.

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  1. I hope I am not being impertinent, but I found interesting a quotation in the comments section of Josef Seifert's recent "First Things" article.

    Underneath the piece, one Andrew Meszaros provides some thoughts of St. Jerome. Mr. Meszaros supplies both the Latin and English; I'll supply the English:

    "What is this high presumption of not responding to those who have questions about the faith? To treat such a multitude of brethren and monks like some public enemy? The Son of God, having left ninety-nine sheep in the mountains, suffered beating, cross and whips, for the sake of one lost sheep which he carried on his shoulders to heaven. You, blessed father and a fussy bishop, rich to yourself and wise to yourself and noble and learned to yourself alone, you despise with raised eye brows and a suspicious look your fellow servants redeemed by the blood of your Lord? Is that what your learned from the Apostle’s teaching: “ready always to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you? (1 Pet. 3:15) Pretend that we are looking for an opportunity, under the pretext of faith, to start arguments, to encourage schism, to urge quarrels. Take away such opportunity from those who seek it, and upon having resolved all the knots that are being plotted against you, you may clearly demonstrate, that the disagreements had nothing to do with dogma." (S. Jerome: Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum)

    I had not seen this writing of St. Jerome's before now. Possibly it is well known to most, but I thought I would share it here.


  2. If this were were a game of chess [only this is very deadly with eternal consequences], one wouldn't be playing only from a defensive position waiting only to counteract the moves of the other.

    We also have to anticipate what the other side [the devil's] is doing and think ahead of what moves they are plotting because it is better to foil them before their plans become , well there I said it, "concrete".

    An example:

    They want to give communion to the divorced and civilly remarried [eventually to all who ask - the Pope is on record as saying this] without such people observing the condition in place before Amoris Laetitia.

    We have to think and ask, if we were them, what are the obstacles in our way? To me, there are two:

    1) Doctrine. Which I believe they think just repeating continuously "doctrine has not changed" or saying "this is just a pastoral response to people in the concrete situation" [divorcing pastoral practice from doctrine] will be enough to overcome this obstacle.

    2) The Law [Church/Canon Law]. I have presented here [] how I believe they are proceeding to overcome this obstacle.

    1. I think you are quite correct to focus on the application of Canon 915.

      The great false premise underlying the debate about AL and its application is that the Church refuses Communion to the D&R on the basis that they are in a state of mortal sin, and, therefore, if it can be shown that some of these are not in mortal sin, through a process of discernment, then they should be admitted to Holy Communion.

      Of course the Church has never refused the D&R on the grounds that they are in mortal sin, because nobody can see into the hearts and minds of people coming forward to receive Communion and know what their spiritual state is. Rather, their exclusion is entirely predicated on the grounds that they are "obstinately presevering in MANIFEST grave sin" (Can 915) i.e. in this case they are "public permanent adulterers." The degree of imputability of guilt for that sin is quite irrelevant as far as Canon 915 is concerned. To admit somebody to Holy Communion who is objectively and publicly in that condition is forbidden because of the sin of scandal and that their state of life is a grave contradiction of the demands of the Gospel.

      I expect the way they will try to get around this is by either redefining the sin of scandal and showing that divorce and remarriage is no longer a cause of scandal to the faithful, or they will attempt to do violence to the Gospel and re-interpret it in ways in which the Church has never before considered. Francis demonstrates on a regular basis that he can twist Scripture to make it mean whatever he wants it to mean at any given moment.

    2. Thank you very much Deacon Augustine and let's give thanks to God who has brought this to light and exposed the motives of their hearts. [Cf. 1 Cor 4:5].

      They are into Magic [Magick really. They are occultists; Luciferian] so that's what is called sleight of hand.

      Looking back, my blog post was uploaded on First Saturday, October 7, 2017, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. I can't really claim any credit for any of this. I just hope I have been and continue to be a docile instrument ... please pray for me and my family.

      Please help spread the word around and thereby expose to light their works.

      God bless you and yours and his works at your hands.

    3. PS Thank you for thinking what their next moves might be. Work on counteracting them with God's help. Godspeed.

    4. Dr Edward Peters must have been reading our minds because today he has published this post on Canon 915:

    5. And right on cue:: Cf. Canon law must serve Vatican II vision of the church, pope says Cindy Wooden October 9, 2017, CNS | CRUX –
      See my comments [once they are published] below his post on CWR. I have to give him credit because he was doggedly on this at least last couple of years. I believe God wouldn't have gotten met to where I am if I hadn't challenged him []. We are part of the One Body and all works for good.

  3. Anonymous3:45 pm

    The practice in Confession of not absolving unrepentent sinners is intrinsically related to its nature as established by Divine Law.

    There is a problem, though. The 'pastoral' practice of absolving unrepentant sinners goes back to well before Vatican II, and is not a new or novel thing with the publication of Amoris.

    The Vademicum for Confessors in 1997, under John Paul II though not signed by him personally, authorized absolution of penitents who were unrepentant on contraception.

    The various Sacred Penitentiary and papal audience rulings on usury in the 1800's authorized absolution of unrepentant interest-takers, when those unrepentant usurers rationalized their behavior by appealing to either (1) the fact that they made mutuum loans to businessmen (condemned as an excuse by Vix Pervenit) or (2) by the fact that the 'law of the prince' authorized a certain percentage of interest.

    The correction isn't just overdue, it is long overdue. Amoris isn't the camel's nose in the tent: it is the other end of the camel coming into the tent.

    That doesn't make the current round of clarification any less urgent, but it is important to have a full and adequate grasp of the situation. Pope Francis is not an innovator. As the first Jesuit pope he is simply completing the centuries long Jesuit project of fighting the Protestant heresy by embracing it.

    The Jesuit approach (or, more fairly, a prominent Jesuit approach) has always been to downplay the moral law as a way of making the Church seem more familiar and appealing to non-Catholics, especially Protestants. If pervasive everyday practice is contrary to the moral law as traditionally understood then what has to change is our understanding and application of the moral law, to accommodate everyday practice and get these people into the spiritual and sacramental life of the Church. The important thing is Catholic unity, and if the moral law is a cause of disunity then that implies a problem with our understanding of or application of the moral law.

    Jesuits have been doing this for centuries, and the fruits of this approach are manifest. We are all Jesuits now.

    1. Thanks.

      There were certainly problems with confessional practice in the past. It is important to keep in mind however the difference between absolving those guilty of objectively sinful behaviour which they are not confessing because they do not believe it to be sinful, and those who, in the words of Amoris, 'know well the law'.

      The first is a problem, but a problem which needs to be addressed outside the confessional, by preaching. The second is (or would be) a sacrilegious abuse of the sacrament. (I say 'would be' because it's not clear if the sinners in question would ever actually go to confession.)

    2. Fighting the protestant heresy by embracing it? Indeed, that is the implication of Hull's "The Banished Heart" and in praxis it is quite evident from the design of the new Jesuit churches as opposed to that of the pre-reformation ones. The Counter-reformation in many ways is as much part of the problem as the answer.