By Phil Lawler | Nov 30, 2016
Many gallons of ink—or maybe I should say millions of pixels—have been spent in analysis of the heated debate over Amoris Laetitia and the dubia raised by the four cardinals. Among the most useful analyses (leaving aside several that have already been posted on this site) are these:
Ross Douthat of the New York Times takes note of the undeniable fact that, faced with the dubia, “His Holiness Declines to Answer.” Douthat agrees with me that this silence is tactical:
For now, he seems to be choosing the lesser crisis of feuding bishops and confused teaching over the greater crisis that might come (although who can say for certain?) if he presented the church’s conservatives with his personal answers to the dubia and simply required them to submit.
For the Catholic Herald, Father Mark Drew reflects on “How the ‘dubia’ drama will end,” and concludes that before the confusion over moral principles is resolved, the world’s bishops will need to weigh in on the question, perhaps even at an ecumenical council. For now, he writes:
The Pope is in a difficult position. If he were to state that the principles taught by St John Paul II were no longer part of the Church’s teaching, he would cause a theological earthquake.
Father James Schall offers his considerable wisdom on “The Concern“ for Crisis magazine, reminding us that Catholics do not accept the notion that faith and reason are in opposition. Nor do we believe that moral laws can be set aside in the interest of some sort of practical wisdom. The application of moral law may be difficult, but setting aside the moral law is dangerous.
The sinner can always, as Aquinas intimated, give some sort of reason for what he does. There is no such thing as an absolutely “evil” act. Evil always exists in some good that can be articulated, and even praised. On the other hand, we too must “discern” spirits that are leading us away from our own good and from God. How we observe the commandments are signs of the direction in which we are going.
Responding to the intemperate statements issued by some of the Pope’s most perfervid defenders, the reliable canon lawyer Edward Peters observes that it is unreasonable to suggest that prelates should be punished for asking questions, and in any case, “Cardinals in the Church have rights, too.”
Finally, writing on a more general topic for The Catholic Thing, David Warren regrets that bishops have all too often been silent on important moral questions. Warren contrasts this silence with the courageous stand that Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, the “Lion of Münster,” took against the Nazi regime, and laments what he sees now as “The Silence of the Lions.”
The faithful are told, by this silence or (more often) incoherent mumbling, that when it comes to the witnessing of Christ and Christ’s teaching, they are on their own.