Amoris Laetitia and The Great Façade
by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 13, 2016
The publication of Amoris Laetitia has provoked an entirely predictable cyclone of competing opinions ranging from “nothing to see here,” to “not magisterial,” to “catastrophe” to “revolutionary.”
Every one of these opinions is correct. Which means — and this should be no surprise to any observer of the post-conciliar epoch — that what we have here is a massive new addition to The Great Façade of non-binding ecclesial novelties, not one of which was ever seen in the Church before that great epoch of enlightenment known as the Sixties. The trick, you see, is to promulgate the latest novelty and let people think it binds the Church; and then, even though it really doesn’t, it does. Pay no attention to the truth behind the façade!
And now this: 256 meandering pages of musings on “the Joy of Love.” A veritable book filled with jumbled thoughts, some good Catholic points, innumerable banalities, and positively misleading citations to John Paul II and Saint Thomas Aquinas, employed as the very linchpins of a sophistical argument for “pastoral discernment” that would allow Holy Communion for “some” public adulterers in “certain cases” — a bomb detonated in footnote 351, as Cardinal Baldisseri was pleased to inform us after the explosion. Speaking of those the Church has always viewed as public adulterers in faithfulness to the words of Christ Himself, Baldisseri announced at the introductory press conference that “the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note [footnote 351] that the help of the sacraments may also be given in ‘certain cases’.”
And what could be humbler than overturning the bimillenial sacramental discipline of the Church while ignoring all Church teaching to the contrary? This is the very essence of papal humility! From the top of a Mount Olympus of verbiage, Francis hurls humble revolutionary thunderbolts whose only justification is what he would like to see, even if it flatly contradicts the teaching of his two immediate predecessors, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Code of Canon Law, the 1994 declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, by the way, all of Tradition on the impossibility of admitting divorced and “remarried” persons to the Sacraments while they continue in their adultery.
And so, as Francis declares toward the end of this astounding production:
I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness… (308)
Yes, it’s for real. Francis “sincerely believes” that “Jesus wants” the Church to provide pastoral care that does leave “room for confusion.” True, the divine declaration “Whoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery” might seem to require “more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion” about what constitutes adultery. At least Benedict XVI, John Paul II and every Pope and Council before them thought so for nearly 2,000 years.
But that was then, and this is Francis!
As Francis would have it: “it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.” No longer! “Jesus wants” something new today. Francis sincerely believes this. Did Jesus tell him so? Well, one must say that this seems rather doubtful. More likely, Francis told himself what “Jesus wants.” Which is just as good, isn’t it, since the Pope is supposed to be the Vicar of Christ. But, in this case, more like the Oracle of Rome. Evidently, the Oracle says “Jesus wants” to be contradicted. So let it be written, so let it be done!
Query: Precisely which people living “in a situation of public and permanent adultery” — to quote John Paul II’s Catechism, which Francis has tossed aside (§ 2384) along with everything else that stands in his way — can “no longer” be said to be living in a state of mortal sin? Essentially, if one reads this document carefully, the answer Francis has in view is: all of them! For as he told his trusted friend, the militant atheist Eugenio Scalfari, in another interview whose contents neither Francis nor the Vatican denied: “This is the bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.”
When all is said and done, of course, Amoris Laetitia amounts to nothing more than what Cardinal Burke has rightly called a “personal reflection of the Pope” that is “not [to be] confused with the binding faith owed to the exercise of the magisterium.”
If only it were that simple, however. The good Cardinal has not taken account, I fear, of how The Great Façade works. And the way it works is what we are seeing now: that what does not bind is presented as if it were binding. As Cardinal Schönborn, Francis’ handpicked “gay”-friendly, divorce-friendly co-presenter of Amoris Laetitia, would have us believe, what Cardinal Burke rightly calls “non-magisterial” is really “an organic development of doctrine.” An “organic development” that contradicts the teaching of the very Pope whom Francis himself canonized, found in the words Francis cropped from a key misquotation of John Paul to make it sound like he stood for the opposite of what he actually taught: that public adulterers cannot be admitted to Holy Communion because “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist,” so that “if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage” (Familiars consortio 84).
But error and confusion comprise the veritable program of this bizarre pontificate, which no doubt is in some manner indicated in the integral Third Secret of Fatima. And so the Church suffers yet another crippling blow, perhaps the worst yet, by the post-conciliar regime of novelty.
Yes, the tone of this piece is unreservedly one of mockery. But this whole affair is a grotesque mockery of not only the Magisterium that Francis is divinely obliged to preserve and defend in all its purity, but the very will of Christ.
More on this epochal travesty in the days to come. Meanwhile, pray the Rosary for the Church’s deliverance from this madness. Can it be long before Heaven brings it to end?