“The Joy of Love”: Truth in the Service of a Lie Featured
Written by Patrick Archbold
Now that Amoris Laetitia, the long awaited post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation has been released, the real debate is over. Don’t misunderstand me, the document itself, as it is digested over the next weeks, will certainly undergo much-needed debate about particular passages. Obviously, there are several key paragraphs that raise immediate concern and these can and should be debated.
Yet, I think that much of that debate will be hampered because of the working assumption that goes into such debates, a key assumption that papal positivists, many conservative Catholics, and the revolutionaries are counting upon. That assumption upon which the groundwork of the revolution is laid is that the words on the page actually mean things and, conversely, don’t mean other things.
So while others will necessarily engage in the line by line deconstruction of the document, I would like to move a little higher and look at the structure and language of the document.
Sometimes we become so used to something that we can no longer see it, or at least discount its importance. In this instance, I reject the premise of the debate, namely, that the intent and effect of the Apostolic Exhortation are directed and limited by the words on the page.
This is no mere accident created by jumbled thinking and, as Michael Matt stated it, “a tediously long and verbose piece of poorly-written and thought-out amateur post-modern-deconstructionist sociology.”
This tedious and jumbled verbosity is no accident, it is the method itself. It is intended by its author to confuse, distract, and cloud with senseless questions and elaborate arguments. The purposeful ambiguity and mind-boggling contradiction is a strategy aimed at achieving an end; that end is to introduce concepts and methods that are contrary to the faith in such a way that plausible deniability is maintained, confident that those willing to build upon, in practical ways, those concepts and methods that are contrary to the faith, will be unrestrained by the caveats and contradictions.
This, of course, is nothing new. But the revolutionaries in the Church will continue to use this methodology because it works. For heaven’s sake, here in 2016 we still have many mainstream theologians and Catholic pundits who loudly proclaim that the documents of Vatican II are wonderful, it was just the implementation that went wrong. There are conservative Catholics who shrug and scratch their heads at all that is wrong in the liturgy that was never directly called for in Sacrosanctum Concilium.
They all make the same mistake, they limit the intent and effect of the documents to just the words on the page. They pretend that a simple Catholic-sounding caveat like “this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church, (AL 300)” somehow negates and undoes all the ill-effects of the Jesuitical word-stew that surrounds it. It doesn’t, because it is not intended to. It is there to negate and undermine the critics. I mean, we all know this. We know this is how they operate and have operated for 50 plus years. So why do we have to pretend otherwise when debating the document. Are we to pretend that any priest or prelate that is willing to offer sacraments to the publicly unrepentant will not find in this document’s numerous calls for discernment and mercy all the justification he needs? Are we to pretend that when they do these things that the Pope of the Vatican bureaucracy will be quick to say, “No no, stop. You can’t do that!” Of course not.
The revolutionaries are happy, gloating even, because they know that they have all they need to proceed, given ample cover by so many passages of Amoris Laetitia that they cannot be named here. Are we supposed to pretend that any of the few Catholic-sounding caveats of Amoris Laetitia will in any way retard the institutionalization of sacrilege openly desired by leading members of the hierarchy?
So this all brings me back to my most basic critique of Amoris Laetitia. The purposeful and methodical ambiguity and contradiction that is the infrastructure of the Apostolic Exhortation is a pernicious form of deceit. In the simplest terms, it is a lie. As such, and it pains me greatly to say it, it is a shameful and sinful act on the part of the Pope.
If it is helpful to pick apart any particular passage of the document to negate in any small part the ill-effects of that passage, it is a worthwhile endeavor. But we should never lose sight of the fact that ill-effects are not limited to what is on the page. It was and is intended only as a lie, even if sprinkled with truth in service of that lie.