Written by Christopher A. Ferrara
Archbishop Chaput has just come out with pastoral guidelines for the implementation of Amoris Laetitia (AL) in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The guidelines unswervingly maintain the Church’s bimillenial discipline precluding the admission to Confession and Holy Communion of public adulterers who divorce and civilly “remarry” and decline to cease their adulterous sexual relations:
With divorced and civilly-remarried persons, Church teaching requires them to refrain from sexual intimacy. This applies even if they must (for the care of their children) continue to live under one roof. Undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly-remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist.
Good for Archbishop Chaput! But how does he anchor this reaffirmation of Church discipline in a document, AL, that clearly undermines that discipline with page after page of seditious ambiguity, hardly limited to footnote 351? He does it this way: “As with all magisterial documents, Amoris Laetitia is best understood when read within the tradition of the Church’s teaching and life.”
Best understood? Why not only understood? In fact, why is the phrase “best understood” in this sentence at all? Why does the sentence not read simply: “As with all magisterial documents, Amoris Laetitia is within the tradition of the Church’s teaching and life.”
Of course we know the answer: AL was written to allow precisely the opposite “best understanding” of its provisions. Thus Pope Francis’s designated definitive interpreter of his document, Cardinal Schonborn (who is not worth the effort of repeatedly inserting an umlaut), declares, contra Archbishop Chaput, that the “best understanding” of AL is that in “some cases” the divorced and “remarried” may be admitted to the Sacraments. When asked what is meant by “some cases,” Schonborn replied, in essence, “that’s for me to know and you to find out.” Or, as he put it with a politician’s ambiguity: “I believe that the Pope is obligating us here, for the love of the truth, to discern the individual cases both in the internal forum and in the external forum.”
Right. Schonborn further opines—again in a manner exactly opposite to what Archbishop Chaput affirms—that “now we must read the previous statements of the magisterium about the family in the light of the contribution made by AL.” That is, Chaput says we should read AL in light of the Magisterium, while Schonborn, the Definitive Interpreter, says we must read the Magisterium in light of AL.
Both Chaput and Schonborn agree, however, that the document is Magisterial. On the other hand, Cardinal Burke says that the document is not magisterial, but only a collection of the Pope’s “personal reflections.” Here too we have exactly the outcome intended by the compilers of AL: confusion, but all tending in the same direction, that is, the piecemeal dissolution of the Church’s sacramental discipline.There is no need to take my word for it. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, one of the more staunchly conservative American bishops, clearly knows the score:
Upon reflection, it’s become pretty clear that Pope Francis’ document on marriage and the family, ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is marked by ambiguity, and that’s intentional on the Holy Father’s part I think.
That explains why, in just the last couple of days, we’ve had very different interpretations of the document from two prominent leaders of the Church – Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna. And from many other commentators as well.
The good news is, that because of this ambiguity, people can do just about whatever they want. The bad news is, that because of this ambiguity, people can do just about whatever they want. Go figure!
Read more here: The Remnant Newspaper – Amoris Laetitia Divides and Conquers