That Troublesome Tank on the Lawn…
[Hat-tip to Canon212: “Dear few faithful bishops of FrancisLand: Lying about Amoris Laetitia is a sinful and poisoned defense of marriage”]
Torch of The Faith News on Wednesday 15 February 2017
A Few Good Men
Anyone who has been reading this blog for long enough will know that we have frequently highlighted the good things being done by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury and Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth. Their defences of Holy Matrimony and of Christian civilization have consistently been a welcome light of orthodoxy here in the British Isles.
Last weekend, Bishop Davies clearly intended to build on these achievements through a homily that he delivered at Shrewsbury Diocese’s annual Celebration of Marriage day.
Rooting his teaching in Our Lord’s clear words ”What God has united, man must not divide” (Mk.10:9), His Lordship took the opportunity to defend the indissolubility of marriage and to affirm the beauty and constancy of the Church’s perennial teaching in this area.
Given the present climate in both Church and society, this sermon was as courageous as it was uplifting to those who heard it.
Bishop Davies’ homily added to the defence of marriage that he wrote last April; when he wrote a solid pastoral letter reassuring his flock that Amoris Laetitia does not change Church teaching on Holy Matrimony.
Again, in common with the pastoral guidelines issued by Bishop Egan around the same time, that message can be seen as nothing short of courageous in a time when so many false ideas are being so violently promoted.
May God bless Bishops Davies and Egan for all that.
A Spiritual Health Warning Needed
These things being said, when I read Bishop Davies’ homily this week, I did find myself reflecting on a paragraph that I first posted here last Friday.
That paragraph read: ”It was good that Bishop Egan interpreted Amoris Laetitia in an orthodox manner last April… However, the acceleration of events now shows that it has always been the wrong course of action to suggest that Amoris Laetitia is unproblematic; and thus to blame only its interpreters for promoting errant teachings and practices. The longer that approach persists, the more disingenuous it comes to appear.”
I mention this again because, as marvellous as Bishop Davies’ latest homily is, His Lordship used several direct quotes from Amoris Laetitia to underscore his points on the indissolubility of marriage.
It is important to acknowledge that every single one of those quotes is perfectly clear and orthodox.
The problem that I see here, is that by drawing attention to the ”good bits” of Amoris Laetitia as a defence of Holy Matrimony, without issuing a corresponding warning about its hugely problematic sections – those which are the subjects of the outstanding Dubia – must be seen, at the very least, as a spiritually risky venture.
To illustrate my meaning, let me offer two images: In the first, imagine a tour guide recommending a beautiful coastal walk, without issuing any caveats about those parts of the path that led through dangerous terrain, or were liable to collapse into a deep ravine.
The second illustrative image comes from a time when I was travelling in Croatia with some friends. A guide told us of a beautiful vantage point out in the countryside beyond our hotel. During the night we set off through hills covered in thick grasses in order to be present at dawn to experience the majestic sunrise. What the guide had not told us, because she did not think we would actually seek out the vantage point for ourselves, was that the terrain that we crossed in the dark was littered with poisonous vipers! Our guardian angels must have been working overtime, because we did not come to any grief. Still, it would have been nice to have known of the dangers to which we were exposed…
Why a Warning is Needed
I was so encouraged by Bishop Davies’ latest defence of Holy Matrimony that I was tempted to just let these things pass. No-one wants to criticize those who are so clearly on the side of the angels. However, there are also many souls who are in grave danger of being misled by those troublesome parts of Amoris Laetitia. You know, those parts that have been quite deliberately crafted to allow for the indissolubility of marriage to be undermined in the first place!
That danger was greatly exacerbated yesterday when Cardinal Coccopalmerio had his disgracefully heretical book launched for him in Rome. So vile are its sacrilegious errors that it is not surprising that he did not want to answer any questions in person…
It is a fact of spiritual warfare that the devil seeks and exploits our weaknesses.
That inclusion of the ”good bits” of Amoris Laetitia without reference to the seriously dangerous bits can be seen to be a weakness, which is in danger of exploitation.
Perhaps, then, we should not be surprised to see none other than Austen Ivereigh exploiting that very weakness via his Twitter account today.
Regarding Amoris Laetitia, a questioner asked: ”Both Bishop Egan and Maltese Bishops ”accept”, but interpret differently. Which interpretation’s (sic) correct?”
To this Ivereigh claims: ”The Maltest bps are in accord with the authorative interpretation of AL defined by the pope.”
Of course Ivereigh typically overreaches himself here, because Francis’ letter to Modernist bishop friends in Buenos Aires can hardly be described as an ”authorative interpretation” that is in any way ”defined” by Francis.
See how Ivereigh is trying to make it look like Francis has issued a dogmatic definition binding on all the faithful here?
Of course, as Ivereigh should know, Francis has done nothing of the sort; because he can do nothing of the sort.
In this, we see that Ivereigh is to orthodox Catholic Apologetics what a sawn-off leg is to walking.
Still, as much as it grieves us to have to say it, Ivereigh’s attack on the approach taken by Bishops Davies and Egan demonstrates that this attempt to focus only on the good is a dangerous weakness that can be exploited.
Everyone now has to publicly admit the problematic parts of Amoris Laetitia and vocally support the Dubia.
Ivereigh’s exploitation of this weakness shows that pretending not to see the enemy will not only fail to discourage that enemy, but it will actively encourage that enemy to make greater strides.
That Tank Won’t Leave On It’s Own
Last week, I suggested that Amoris Laetitia can be understood in terms of a tank parked on one’s lawn, with the barrel pointing in through the front window. I also said that attempts to ignore it were akin to debating the patterns the half-tracks had made in the flowerbeds.
Ivereigh and Coccopalmerio’s interventions this week make it clear that we cannot ignore this threatening tank, or its potential devastation, by pretending that it actually makes a nice garden feature; or even that it serves our purpose for us.
To make fully clear what I am saying, let us hear the words of Pope Leo XIII from Satis cognitum in 1896: There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit barely the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition.
My Lords, you are good men who have given us all so much encouragement in the Faith. We want to encourage you for this. It is because of your consistent orthodoxy that many lay people do become confused when they see the problems in Amoris Laetitia; and then see that you present only the solid parts without acknowledging those seriously problematic parts. Those who are subverting the truth rightly see this as a weakness which they can exploit, to the further confusion of the faithful. My Lords, please come out publicly and call for the Dubia to be answered. Countless souls depend on it.