Deceptus laetitia – Part III
The Abuse of Saint Thomas
by Christopher A. Ferrara
May 3, 2016
The reason Amoris laetita (AL)is rightly called a “catastrophe” is summarized in the already infamous paragraph 301, in which Francis announces nothing less than an excuse from culpability for those living in relationships — divorce and “remarriage” and cohabitation — which the Church has constantly reprobated as living in sin. According to Francis, however:
“The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence 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. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.”
Consider the implications of this absolutely astonishing papal pronouncement: According to Francis, it can “no longer” be said that all those who are objectively living in sin are actually guilty of sin, but rather some — and how would Francis or anyone else know which of them — are living in a state of grace. This would mean that people engaging in what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “permanent and public adultery” and as well as those engaging in habitual fornication could continue to engage in adultery and fornication without need of absolution even if they know they are contradicting the moral law, whose “inherent value” they have “difficulty in understanding…”
Francis dares to support this monstrous proposal — for which alone this document should be covered with opprobrium until the end of time — with a blatantly misleading citation to Saint Thomas’s observation in the Summa Theologiae, concerning the infused moral virtues (i.e., those animated by supernatural charity), that “Certain saints are said not to possess certain [infused] virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues.”
This is utter nonsense. Infused virtues, unlike the corresponding acquired ones, are animated by divine grace, not merely the habit of acting virtuously. Saint Thomas is not discussing sinners who engage in continuing adultery and fornication, but rather canonized saints who possessed supernatural charity, and thus the infused virtues, but had some difficulty exercising certain of them. None of the saints, at least once they became saintly, engaged in any form of habitual and objectively mortally sinful conduct.
What a shameful abuse of the Angelic Doctor, and for such a wretched purpose as the coddling of habitual sins of the flesh! As a clearly aghast Fr. Gerald Murray observed during the EWTN panel discussion sharply critical of AL: “I can’t believe a good group of Thomists won’t have a response to that.”
In paragraph 304, AL commits another outrageous abuse of the teaching of the Angelic Doctor. Francis selectively quotes Saint Thomas as follows concerning the general precepts of the natural law:
“Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects… In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all… The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail. (ST, I-II, Q. 94, art. 4).”
Based on this cropped quotation, Francis opines that “general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations.”
But Saint Thomas is not discussing “formulation” of “rules” but rather the basic precepts of the natural law that God inscribes in our nature, which are not mere “rules” but rather “the first principles of human actions.”
What Saint Thomas is really addressing is human failure in applying the precepts of the natural law to more complicated factual situations, such as (the example Thomas gives) whether goods in trust must be restored to their owner even if the owner intends to use them for an immoral purpose. Such detailed applications often require written laws in civil society, and if those human laws err in their application of the natural law, says Saint Thomas, it is only because “reason is perverted by passion, or evil habit, or an evil disposition…” (I-II, Q. 94, Art. 4).
To apply this teaching of Saint Thomas to a moral precept as fundamental as “thou shalt not commit adultery” by way of divorce and “remarriage,” which even the new Catechism, following the words of Our Lord Himself, condemns as “a grave offense against the natural law,” is perhaps the single most egregious example of AL’s pattern of deception.
More and more Catholics are awakening to the shocking fraudulence of this document. For example, writing in the “mainstream” Catholic Herald, Father Raymond J. de Souza concludes: “Amoris Laetitia suffers from selective citations throughout which, though apparently clever in the short term, will diminish the enduring value of this magisterial text by undermining its continuity with authoritative teaching in the recent past.”
Not diminish, Father de Souza, but destroy. For no document that attempts to deceive us with “clever” misuse of sources can really belong to the authentic magisterium. Deception comes from another source, and his name is legion.
Our Lady of Fatima, intercede for us!