On the carousel of comments

On the carousel of comments

by Sandro Magister
April 12, 2016

The deliberately vague, polyvalent form of many passages of “Amoris Lætitia” finds confirmation in the incredible diversification of comments.

It should suffice to cite three conflicting ones from among the thousand that the post-synodal exhortation has prompted.

On one side is an enthusiastic Alberto Melloni – the Church historian who is also the current leader of the progressive “school of Bologna” – who hails the exhortation as the “epochal” act that has definitively liberated marriage from the “juridical-philosophical cage” of the Council of Trent with its “cold and lifeless doctrine”:

> Francesco e la riforma dell’amore

On the other side is Juan José Pérez-Soba, a professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Pontifical Lateran University, according to whom instead, just as in the “Relatio finalis” of the synod, neither in “Amoris Lætitia” is there any explicit admission of the divorced and remarried to communion, contrary to all the expectations:

> “Amoris lætitia” no es un cambio de doctrina, sino una invitación para un camino nuevo

In the middle is Robert Royal, founder and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, who applauds the exhortation for its “vigorous defense of Church teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, the education of children,” but at the same time criticizes chapter 8, which “hesitantly and ambivalently would like to depart from the Church’s constant teaching since the beginning, on communion for the divorced and remarried”:

> “Amoris lætitia”: A Tale of Two Documents

But these are words. Moving on to facts, it must be taken into account when Melloni writes:

“Francis says to those priests who have given communion to the divorced and remarried with knowledge of what they were doing that they have not acted against the norm, but according to the gospel.”

In various regions of the Catholic world, in fact, communion is given to the divorced and remarried without a problem. And now this practice is finding in “Amoris Lætitia” the approval that was expected for it on the part of the highest authority of the Church:

> The New Catholic Truce

Much more unsettled, instead, will be the position of those among the faithful and pastors who have followed until now the way set down by the magisterium of the Church.

With regard to them, here is a brief commentary that appeared on April 8 on the blog Settimo Cielo:



The eighth chapter of the exhortation “Amoris Lætitia,” on the divorced and remarried and related matters, is the one that is most astonishing.

It is an inundation of mercy. But it is also a triumph of casuistry, although this is so execrated in words. With the sensation, after reading it, that every sin is excused, so many are its attenuating factors, and therefore it vanishes, leaving room for meadowlands of grace even in the context of objectively grave “irregularities.” Access to the Eucharist goes without saying, it is not even necessary for the pope to proclaim it from the rooftops. All it takes are a couple of allusive footnotes.

And those who have obeyed the Church until now and have identified with the wisdom of its magisterium? Those divorced and remarried who with such good will and humility, for years or for decades, have prayed, gone to Mass, given their children a Christian upbringing, done works of charity, in spite of being in a second and non-sacramental union, without receiving communion? And those who have agreed to live with the new spouse “as brother and sister,” no longer in contradiction with the previous indissoluble marriage, and have thus been able to receive the Eucharist? What about all of them, after the “free for all” that many have read in “Amoris Lætitia”?

There is in the exhortation a footnote – another one, not the two extensively cited ones that hint at communion for the divorced and remarried – that reserves for those who have made the decision to live “as brother and sister” not a word of comfort, but a slap in the face.

It is said to them in fact that in doing this they could do harm to their new family, because “if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers’.” The implication is that the others do better to live a full life as spouses even in second civil marriages, perhaps even receiving communion.

Seeing is believing. It is footnote number 329, which improperly cites in support of its rebuke nothing less than the conciliar constitution “Gaudium et Spes,” at no. 51.

Get AQ Email Updates

Leave a Reply