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Regarding Cardinal Müller and Amoris,
Jimmy Akin Throws Up His Hands

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 3, 2017

Jimmy Akin, a “Senior Apologist” for Catholic Answers, has spent the last several years writing one column after another concerning the latest Bergoglian bombshell under the running title “Things to Know and Share.”  The number of “things to know and share” about what Francis has said or done on a particular occasion varies according to the difficulty of attempting to explain away the resulting scandal and confusion.

But the latest installment of Akin’s whitewash series evinces a man who is completely stumped and doesn’t know which way to go. Akin has no fewer than twelve “things to know and share” regarding the development that my column addressed yesterday: i.e., Cardinal Müller’s stealth correction of Amoris Laetita (AL), which the Cardinal continues to pretend is perfectly sound and orthodox even as he denounces the very interpretation Francis has given it. By the end of his list of twelve things, however, Akin has tied himself into a knot and offered nothing but further confusion.

Akin’s piece begins by grudgingly admitting in its subtitle that “It appears that Cardinal Müller has his own views about how ‘Amoris Laetitia’ should be interpreted and that these views differ from the way Pope Francis would like to see the document interpreted.”  I say grudgingly, because Cardinal Müller has not given us his “views” but rather the authentic teaching of the Magisterium, which the Cardinal, most unfortunately, pretends is in no way contradicted or undermined by AL.

Akin admits — in the second of his “twelve things to know and share” — that the interpretation of AL that would allow certain people living in second marriages to continue their relations while receiving Holy Communion “would be at variance with the historic Catholic understanding because such couples would not be validly married to each other and thus sexual relations between them would be adulterous.” Like Cardinal Müller, however, he fails to note that this is the very interpretation approved by Francis in his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires.

“Things to know and share” nos. 3-11 shed no light on the controversy.  Quite the contrary, Akin (at no. 6) professes to find “somewhat puzzling” Müller’s statement that “it is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace. In order to overcome this absurd contradiction, Christ has instituted for the faithful the Sacrament of penance and reconciliation with God and with the Church.” 

Akin here quibbles about whether every objective mortal sin meets the conditions for subjective culpability (grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate consent), but Müller is obviously referring to the objective condition of adultery and the intrinsic impossibility that one continuously engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage can partake of the Blessed Sacrament while knowingly continuing to commit the same sin.  And who doesn’t know that the Church, following the instruction of Our Lord, teaches that divorce and “remarriage” always constitute adultery?

Near the end of his piece, having gotten exactly nowhere with his useless analysis, Akin (at no. 11) finally admits: “It therefore appears that Cardinal Müller is giving his own views about how the document should be interpreted and that these views differ from the way Pope Francis would like to see the document interpreted.”  Exactly so! Except, as noted above, that Müller’s “views” are actually the irreformable teaching of the Church.

 And then we arrive at Akin’s simply ridiculous conclusion:

“12) For the pope and the head of the CDF to disagree on a point like this seems very serious. What should we do?

“Pray for them both — and for the Church as a whole.”

Really?  Pray for them both? Thanks for nothing, Mr. Akin.  But a few obvious points present themselves:

  • • Why should we “pray for them both” if Müller is correct that AL comports with his traditional interpretation of it? If AL is simply a traditional document, as Müller claims, what is there to pray for? We should, rather, give thanks that Francis has given us a totally traditional presentation of Church teaching.

  • • On the other hand, if Francis, the author of AL, disagrees with Müller’s traditional reading of it, then AL can only be a heterodox document, in which case why pray for Müller as opposed to the Pope who has foisted a heterodox apostolic exhortation upon the Church?

  • • If the Pope and Müller “disagree on a point like this,” is it not the case that one party must be right and the other wrong?

  • • How do we know which party is right and which is wrong?
  • Akin ducks all these questions by arguing that “Pope Francis has not issued an authentic interpretation of the disputed points in Amoris Laetitia, nor has he authorized the CDF to publish one.”

    So, Akin’s bottom line is zero: nobody — not even the head of the CDF! — can know what AL really means until Francis tells us what it really means via an “authentic” interpretation. But what if Francis never issues an “authentic” interpretation and simply allows his heterodox “private” interpretation to proliferate throughout the Church, winking, nodding, and otherwise hinting that this is exactly what he wants to happen?  Or, even worse, what if Francis were to issue his “authentic” interpretation and it corresponded exactly to what he has written to the bishops of Buenos Aires: i.e., that certain public adulterers, based on “discernment,” may receive Holy Communion without ceasing their adulterous relations — thus overturning the contrary teaching of Benedict XVI, John Paul II and all of Tradition?  How many things would Mr. Akin want us to “know and share” then?

    As we can see from Akin’s futile commentary, the Amoris Laetitia affair is as absurd as it is damaging to the Church.  Such is the result of the pretense that a plainly heterodox document is either orthodox (Müller) or inscrutable (Akin). Never in 2,000 years has the Church been confronted with such a frightful mess emanating from the Holy See.