Monday, 19 March 2018

Commemoration of Summorum Pontificum - Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, 28 April 2018

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

The Paulus Institute for the Propagation of Sacred Liturgy is pleased to announce The Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample, Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, will be the celebrant of the pontifical Solemn Mass in the Traditional Roman Rite commemorating the 10th anniversary of the issue by Pope Benedict XVI of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum to be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, Saturday, 28 April 2018, 1:00 PM.

Everyone is welcome.  For additional information, visit The Paulus Institute website.

UPDATE: For a brief report, photos, and video of the Mass, visit The RemnantRorate Caeli and One Peter Five.

The Nave of the Basilica during the Solemn Pontifical Mass.
Photo by Steve Skojec via One Peter Five.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Understanding Pope Francis

Image result for pope francis


By Nicolas Bellord


The Problem


Ever since his inauguration Pope Francis has been an enigma to me and doubtless to many others.  There is substantial confusion in the Church which nobody can deny.  So what can we make of him?  There is no point in going over the various events that have led to this; they are well enough known to any intelligent Catholic who follows the events of this papacy however much they may be the subject of disagreement as to their importance and significance.

So what can we make of Pope Francis?  What driving force makes him speak and act often in flat contradiction between what he says and what he does?

The Filial Correction of 16th July 2017 has a long section on the influence of Martin Luther beginning:

'We feel compelled by conscience to advert to Your Holiness’s unprecedented sympathy for Martin Luther, and to the affinity between Luther’s ideas on law, justification, and marriage, and those taught or favoured by Your Holiness in Amoris Laetitia and elsewhere.'[1]

This is well documented in the Filial Correction. However, although this is an aspect of Pope Francis it does not explain everything.

Prior to that Austen Ivereigh, the Pope's biographer, and fervent admirer, had claimed that Pope Francis was a follower of the thoughts of President Peron of Argentina writing:

As a young Jesuit he learned leadership lessons from St. Ignatius and the German philosopher priest Father Romano Guardini, as well as from the Argentine master, General Juan Domingo Perón, whose classic 1952 manual of political strategy, Conducción Política, is a good guide to how Francis operates even today.[2]

When Ivereigh wrote this is in December 2016 I thought he had lost his marbles.  How could he possibly suggest that a Pope follows the political theories of a very controversial South American Dictator?  I may now have to eat my words.

The Four Principles


An indication of how Pope Francis thinks is his frequent mention of four principles namely:

1. time is greater than space;
2. unity prevails over conflict
3. realities are more important than ideas
4. the whole is greater than the part.

These principles are mentioned by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium and in Amoris Laetitia.  Two questions arise:

1.     Are these principles invented by Pope Francis or what is their provenance?

2.     What do they mean?  For example 'time is greater than space' has no obvious meaning.

The first extensive discussion of these principles,  that I was aware of, was by Sandro Magister on his Espresso blog entitled The Four Hooks On Which Bergoglio Hangs His Thought 19th May 2016.[3]  As to provenance he wrote:

'It is a whole lifetime that Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been inspired by these four criteria, and mainly by the first. The Argentine Jesuit Diego Fares, in commenting on “Amoris Laetitia” in the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” extensively cites notes from a conversation with the provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina at the time, dated 1978, all “on the domain of room for action and on the sense of time.” '

The 'latest issue' must have been that of 14th May 2016 wherein Father Fares S.J wrote an article entitled «AMORIS LAETITIA» E IL RINNOVAMENTO DEL LINGUAGGIO ECCLESIALE (Amoris Laetitia and the renewal of church language).  Unfortunately, you have to pay €15 to read the article so I have not read it and therefore do not know whether he finds any provenance for the principles prior to Pope Francis. 

Sandro Magister then reproduced an article by Fr. Giovanni Scalese which tries to see whether any sense can be made in applying  the four principles to theology: “The four postulates of Pope Francis”.  The article does not deal with provenance but with the meaning of the principles or postulates.  Scalese uses the word 'postulate' as he feels each of the four principles is  a  “proposition devoid of evidence and not demonstrated but all the same admitted as true in that it is necessary for founding a procedure or demonstration.” 

In Evangelli  Gaudium 221, the pope writes that the four principles “derive from the pillars of the Church’s social doctrine.” Scalese says he cannot find any such principles in that doctrine.  Scalese says Pope Francis has talked of these principles as far back as 1974 according to the Argentine Jesuit Juan Carlos Scannone.  

Pope Francis gives a kind of explanation of the first principle time is greater than space in Evangelli  Gaudium no 223.  As usual his explanation is long and confusing.  What I think he is saying is that at any given moment in time there is a situation or view of things (space) but that one should wait for the situation to evolve or be changed by time.  In giving a preference to this evolution time is seen to be greater than a particular moment or space.  Time governs spaces, illumines them and makes them links in a constantly expanding chain, with no possibility of return.[4]    

This would seem to tie in with Pope Francis's constant refrain that one should not stick with some rigid doctrinal view but there should be a process of discernment to discover a different view.  In the notorious paragraph 3 of Amoris Laetitia where Pope Francis suggests that  doctrine could be defined locally at national Bishops' conference level he justifies this with a reference to Christ's discussion of the role of the Holy Ghost: It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth.  John (16:13) Pope Francis seems to think that this can be a new and changed truth. 

Mgr Ronald Knox, in a footnote to his translation, comments: 

The teaching office of the Holy Spirit does not consist in imparting to the Church the knowledge of hitherto unknown doctrines, in addition to the deposit of faith, but in making our knowledge of doctrines already revealed fuller and more precise. 

This principle has more recently been considered by Professor Gerhard Hover in an essay of January 2018 entitled: “Time is greater than space”: Moral-theological reflections on the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia*   In his discussion of the principle he says that it is to be found in the writings of St Bonaventure.  Hover's essay is difficult to follow but as far as I can make out he says that Bonaventure thinks Aristotle's view of time as a sequence of contingent events in history is incomplete.  There is a view of time which sees it as a gradual revelation of truth.  However he acknowledges that that revelation ceased with Christ.  As St Augustine wrote in his Confessions:

See: XI vii(9) “You call us, therefore, to understand the Word, God who is with you (John 1:1). That word is spoken eternally, and by it all things are uttered eternally.  It is not the case that what was being said comes to an end, and something else is then said, so that everything is uttered in a succession with a conclusion, but everything is said in the simultaneity of eternity.”

Unfortunately Hover then goes on with some illogical non-sequiturs to suggest that subsequent to Christ revealed truth can change so that no action can be intrinsically evil as what is evil can become good. 

Scalese concludes his discussion of the first principle: I cannot help but perceive at the foundation of the first postulate some threads of idealistic philosophy, like historicism, the primacy of becoming over being, the origin of being from action (“esse sequitur operari”), etc.   
 
Scalese tries to understand the other three principles or postulates  in the context of Catholic doctrine but without being able to shed much clarity on their relevance or their origin other than in Pope Francis.  He concludes by saying:

That Christian doctrine runs the risk of becoming ideology cannot be denied. But the same risk is run by any other principle, including the four postulates of “Evangelii Gaudium”; with the difference that these are the result of human reflection, while Catholic doctrine is founded on divine revelation.
May that not happen today which happened to Marx, who, while he taxed with ideology the thinkers who had preceded him, did not realize that he was elaborating one of the most ruinous ideologies of history.  


The Provenance of the Four Principles and Theology of the People

It is now suggested that their origin is not with Pope Francis; indeed the provenance is astounding.  That origin is revealed in an article entitled “El papa Francisco y la teología del pueblo” (“Pope Francis and the theology of the people”) by Juan Carlos Scannone S.I. (presumably S.I in Spanish is S.J in English) dated 12th October 2014[5].  It is a long article about “Theology of the People (TP)” which he distinguishes from liberalism on one side and Marxist liberation theology on the other.  Father Scannone is described as one of the Jesuits closest to Pope Francis.  He describes TP as elaborated in South America and in particular taken up in Argentina at the time of the military dictatorship when Peronism was proscribed as was the Peronist worker movement.

One would need to analyse this article carefully but TP seems to be a watered down version of Liberation Theology (LT).  Class warfare is not to be the determining hermeneutic but it is still to be taken account of as a result of structural sin  of which there is much mention.  He claims that TP had the approval of St John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger.  He sees  Evangelli  Gaudium as being based on TP.   Generally he sees Pope Francis as applying TP to the Church as a whole.

Whatever one thinks of TP and its relevance to the world outside Latin America it seems to be a very narrow theology dealing with political issues peculiar to Latin America; there is nothing about salvation for example.  It claims to be free of Marxism and Hegelism but I remain unconvinced.

  

Caudillos Rosas and Quiroga


 However leaving aside those issues the most remarkable passage in Scannone's article states the origin of the four principles:

Según se dice, están tomadas de la carta de Juan Manuel de Rosas (gobernador de Buenos Aires) a Facundo Quiroga (gobernador de La Rioja en la Argentina) sobre la organización nacional argentina, escrita desde la hacienda de Figueroa en San Antonio de Areco (20 de diciembre, 1834), donde Rosas no las explicita, aunque las tenga en cuenta implícitamente.

Which translated reads:  It is said that, that these [four principles] are taken from the  letter from Juan Manuel de Rosas (governor of Buenos Aires) to Facundo Quiroga (governor of La Rioja in Argentina) about national Argentine organisation, written from the hacienda of Figueroa in San Antonio de Areco (20th December 1834)[6], where Rosas did not make them explicit, although he took them into account implicitly.

Reading this letter [7] the principles do not appear explicitly and it is difficult to find them referred to implicitly.  The transcription of the letter covers 16 pages and  one suspects that the original in long hand covered many more pages.  The letter sets out General Rosas's ideas on how to create a federal state of Argentina on the model of the United States.  At the time Rosas and Quiroga were caudillos or military leaders in the thick of the constant violence assailing Argentina and its provinces.


      
Juan Facundo Quiroga                                                                  General Rosas in 1835

Rosas as political thinker: Unity prevails over conflict?

         
Rosas wanted to unite the country to stop the fighting between the states or provinces which he refers to as 'pueblos' or 'peoples'.  One of his ideas was that each province should decide on its own constitution and there should be no imposition of a constitution from the centre.  Each state should first get its act together so that it can send deputies to the centre to set up a federal system.  Time and time alone would enable this to happen in the shadow of peace and tranquillity.  Time is greater than space? He sees the establishment of stability in each state as more important than trying to create a federal state where all the states would be governed by the federal state in a unitary manner as was proposed by his opponents the Unitarians.  In a way this would seem to be the opposite of the principle that the whole is greater than the part.  Rosas wanted to wait to see how each state developed rather than imposing some theory from the top. Realities are more important than ideas?  One can see a reflection of Pope Francis's constant refrain of the importance of starting processes rather than trying to cobble something together out of the present position or 'space'.  In the end when federation is achieved the whole is greater than the part?

It may be that there are other writings of Rosas which support the principles.  For example on a Peronist website (with the motto “Peron conquers time”!) there is an article proposing Rosas as a great political thinker[8].   In 1873 Rosas told Quesada that making a Constitution "was my ambition, but I spent my life and my energy without being able to make it"; "because a Constitution should not be the product of a dreamy book but the exact reflection of the situation in a country." "I always repelled the farce of pompous laws on paper that could not be put into practice."  which could support the principle  Realities are more important than ideas.  However even if you accept that Rosas was a great political thinker promoting constitutions and democracy  his extreme dictatorial actions do not conform to his thoughts.

Rosas as Dictator


Within two months of the above letter Quiroga had been assassinated.  Rosas continued to lead a life which could be described as colourful to say the least.  Wikipedia has an excellent article recounting his life and it is well worth reading.[9]  Briefly he was born in 1793 and quickly amassed a fortune.  

Some quotes from Wikipedia in italics: 

….In December 1829, Rosas became governor of the province of Buenos Aires and established a dictatorship backed by state terrorism.  Prior to this letter he had been involved in the desert war which to-day would probably be described as genocide of the indigenous people. …..In the desert war of 1833 to 1834 the government gave Rosas command of an army with orders to subdue the Indian tribes in the coveted territory. Rosas was generous to those Indians who surrendered, rewarding them with animals and goods. Although he personally disliked killing Indians, he relentlessly hunted down those who refused to yield.


     Rosas (mounted on dark horse) leading the war against Indians in the Desert Campaign, 1833

 ….  Rosas established a totalitarian regime, in which the government sought to dictate every aspect of public and private life..... Rosas was himself a slave-owner, and helped revive the slave trade.  [Although he was involved in the abolition of the slave trade in 1839].... Despite doing little to promote their interests, he remained popular among blacks and gauchos.  He employed blacks, patronized their festivities and attended their candombles. The gauchos admired his leadership and willingness to fraternize with them to some extent....






Rosas in gaucho costume (smelling of the sheep?)


And so on and so on until his downfall in 1852 when he was welcomed by the British and became a very contented tenant-farmer at Swathling, near Southampton until his death in 1877 and burial in Southampton. 

The Legacy of Rosas


General Rosas has ever been a major influence on Argentinian politics right through the  20th century and into the 21st.  Argentinian President Menem had his body repatriated in 1989. Menem (and his fellow Peronist presidential successors Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) have honoured Rosas on banknotes, postage stamps and monuments, causing mixed reactions among the public.  Rosas remains a controversial figure among Argentines, who "have long been fascinated and outraged" by him.

Two strands to Pope Francis – Theology of the People and Dictatorship

So, if Austen Ivereigh is correct that Pope Francis is an admirer and follower of Peron, has Pope Francis also taken the much more dictatorial General Rosas as inspiration?

So we have two strands to understanding Pope Francis.  That elaborated by Father Scannone S.J to the effect that Evangelli  Gaudium is based on Theology of the People – a watered down version of Liberation Theology without Marx and Hegel.  However, it is a version of the Catholic Faith that is questionable at the least and still owes much to Hegel and historicism.  It  strikes me as more of a political program where peoples in a group are redeemed rather than individuals acting on their own based on a skewed interpretation of paragraph 9 of Lumen Gentium.  Join the right political movement and you will be saved.  If it is the group that is saved the moral  behaviour of individuals is of no great concern.

We then have the four principles.  It seems a hopeless task to make any sense of attempted theology based on these principles but if Father Scannone is right that the four principles derive from an interpretation of the writings of General Rosas then it is legitimate to ask whether Pope Francis's admiration for Peron extends to admiration of General Rosas.  That is the second strand.  Is the day to day utterly ruthless behaviour of Pope Francis modelled on that of two Argentinian dictators  where he believes that any means are justified to promote the  Theology of the People as an end?  Perhaps he sees himself as a new liberator from Latin America out to reform the euro-centric Vatican with a new political theology and the use of whatever political means he needs to effect  an end that justifies those means?  Perhaps the title “ The Dictator Pope” is not far from the truth.  I have yet to read the book!




[1]   Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis pages 12ff at http://www.correctiofilialis.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Correctio-filialis_English_1.pdf
[2]    https://cruxnow.com/analysis/2016/12/16/francis-80-redeemed-leader-looks-like/
[3]    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351301bdc4.html?eng=y
[4]    One could equally argue that as time is measured by a movement in space outside of which there is no time then time cannot exceed space and space is therefore greater than time!
[5]    http://www.encuentromundi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Bergoglio-y-teologia-del-pueblo.pdf
[6]    Cf. E. Barba, Correspondencia entre Rosas, Quiroga y López, Buenos Aires, Hyspamérica, 1984, 94.
[7]    https://issuu.com/clasesdeipc/docs/carta_de_hacienda_de_figueroa_de_ro
[8]    http://www.peronvencealtiempo.com.ar/historia-argentina/confederacion-argentina-1828-1852/114-rosas-y-el-constitucionalismo
[9]    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Manuel_de_Rosas

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Institute Reopens Church in Naples, Italy

Church of Santa Maria del Rosario in Pigne
Posted on 1 December 2017.  See additional photos and original post here.

Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Reopens Church in Naples, Italy

His Eminence, Crescenzio Cardinal Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, has entrusted to the Institute the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary “alle Pigne” (Chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario alle Pigne). Along with the canonical establishment of this apostolate, Cardinal Sepe has nominated as Rector of the church Canon Louis Valadier.

Located in Piazza Cavour in downtown Naples about a ten minute walk from the Cathedral, Our Lady of the Rosary Church “alle Pigne” had suffered damage in the 1980 earthquake. Despite restoration work in the 1990s, it had not been reopened. Dating from the 17th century, the church is the artistic masterpiece of Arcangelo Guglielmelli.

At the invitation of Cardinal Sepe, the Institute clergy and local faithful worked to prepare the church for the solemn ceremony of reopening on Friday evening, October 6. To represent the Cardinal at the ceremony, the Most Reverend Lucio Lemmo, Auxiliary Bishop, presided. The Prior general of the Institute, Monsignor Gilles Wach, was present, along with the Institute’s resident clergy in Naples, Canon Louis Valadier, ​Canon Guillaume Fenoll, ​Canon Florian Braun, and seminarian Abbe Andrea De Pas​cale. The Archbishop’s Delegate for the union of Catholic Works attended, as well as several civil and military authorities, such as the Commandant of the Carabinieri of the City’s Stella neighborhood.

The statue of Our Lady of the Rosary on the exterior façade of the church was solemnly crowned. Bishop Lemmo blessed the restored wooden statue of Our Lady of the Rosary venerated above the high altar. Solemn High Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Wach.

The evening’s events included a performance by the Giubileo choir, which sang popular songs of Neapolitan tradition, festive fireworks, and a buffet reception.

The apostolate website can be viewed here. Mass is celebrated daily at 7:00pm.


Photo Source


Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Catholic Identity Conference 2017 - Fatima and the Post-Vatican II Church: Where do we go from here?


The Catholic Identity Conference will be held in Weirton, West Virginia, 27-29 October 2017.

This year's conference features two bishops and priests from the three largest traditional orders.

The conference will begin with a Traditional Latin Pontifical Low Mass offered by His Excellency, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, ORC, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Bishop Schneider will also give a talk at the conference.

The keynote address will be delivered by His Excellency, Chorbishop Anthony Spinosa, Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio.

Priests from the Society of Saint Pius X, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest will also speak at the conference.

The Catholic Identity Conference was conceived as a forum to bring the various strands of Catholic Tradition together to exchange ideas, address current issues, and meet each other to discuss the various viewpoints held by the conference participants and attendees.  With daily Traditional Latin Masses and a broad range of speakers, this year's conference promises to be a spiritually fulfilling and intellectually rewarding event.


Conference speakers include:


For additional information and to register go here.

View the three minute promotional video here.

UPDATE: Audio CD's are available from Oltyn Library Services here.  On-Demand video available from The Remnant here.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Dominican Friar Blessed Alan de la Roche on the Rosary

"Blessed" Alan de la Roche, O.P. (1428-1475) was a 15th Century friar who is considered to be the restorer of the Dominican Rosary. Although Alan has no official Church feast day, he is unofficially honored on September 8th, which is also the feast for the Nativity of Mary.


According to Dominican tradition, St. Dominic (1170-1221) founded the Rosary in 1208 as a meditative prayer which sought to spiritually combat the Albigensian heresy (which believed that only spiritual realities were good and vehemently opposed God taking flesh in Jesus Christ).  But this meditative Marian prayer featuring just the Angelic Salutation and the Evangelical Salutation  fell into disuse during the 14th Century during the era of the Black Death in Europe.


In the mid 15th Century in a Dominican monastery  in Brittany, Alan de la Roche experienced visions from the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lord which eventually convicted him to revive and renew the Dominican Rosary.  De la Roche was not the perfect emissary for this divine mission.  At one point, Jesus appeared to De la Roche and said: "You have all of the learning and understand that you need to preach my mother's rosary, and you are not doing so. The world is full of devouring wolves, and you, unfaithful dog, know not how to bark."  The latter phrase was a pointed wake up call to a Dominican like Blessed Alan, as the Order of Preachers held the moniker "Dog of God" (Latin domini canus which sounds similar to Dominicanus)

Blessed Alan stressed the 15 mysteries of the Dominican Rosary, rather than the alternative of 50 clauses of the Carthusian Rosary.  Moreover, the 150 Hail Marys imitated the 150 psalms of the Old Testament, which harkened back to the proto-origins of the lay Marian psalter. Blessed Alan was successful at renewing popular devotion to the Rosary and reinvigorating the Confraternity of the Rosary. The Confraternity featured "after death" benefits for Rosarians. Thus Blessed Alan de la Roche may be considered one the greatest champions of the Rosary to ever live. 



Although Blessed Alan wrote an instructional pamphlet Book and Ordinance regarding the renewal of the Dominican Rosary, about 1/3 of  the Vatican documents were lost after Napoleon sacked the Vatican archives from 1810-1813.  So much of quotable material about Blessed Alan comes from St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) whose 18th Century works True Devotions to the Blessed Virgin and The Secret of the Rosary were buried in a field in France for over 125 years, thereby escaping the irreligious impulses of the French Revolution. 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Fernandez: Welcome to Room 303

 



Archbishop Fernandez puts forward two propositions:

  • The doctrine that those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion is without exceptions.
  • The discipline that those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion should have exceptions.

In Amoris Laetitia (AL) and in Fernandez's article in Medellin there is no direct reference to where the doctrine and the discipline can be found. It is legitimate to believe that this omission is deliberate.

In fact the doctrine can be found in St Paul 1 Corinthians 11:27:

And therefore, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be held to account for the Lord's body and blood. A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily, not recognizing the Lord's body for what it is.

The discipline can be found in the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

As regards the doctrine Fernandez is unequivocal:

“The rule that no one who is not in the grace of God ought to receive Eucharist by its very nature does not tolerate exceptions.”

After much discussion of how a Pope can alter a discipline Fernandez says:

The disciplinary consequences of the norm remained unaltered, because they were based only on an objective fault against an absolute norm. Francis proposes to go one step further.

The question is: what is that step? Fernandez writes:

The rule according to which persons in God's grace are excluded from communion as the penalty for the counter-witness which they have given, however, may be subject to exceptions, and this is exactly what Amoris Laetitia tells us. (Rocco Buttiglione L'Approccio Antropologico di San Giovanni Paolo II e quello Pastorale di Papa Francesco[The Anthropological Approach of St. John Paul II and Pastoral Care of Pope Francis).

That sentence only becomes clear if one reads Buttiglione's article. There he cites Canon 915 saying that it talks of 'grave sin' but that is not necessarily mortal sin either through ignorance or lack of consent. Therefore there can be cases where there is no mortal sin but the Canon still applies because it only speaks of 'grave sin'. Thus one can speak of a rule that excludes those in a state of grave sin from receiving communion even though they are in a state of grace. It is not because they are in a state of grace that they are excluded as Fernandez seems to suggest!

Buttiglione has a rather cavalier attitude to the question of giving scandal. It is true that people's reaction to scandal may vary, from age to age and from place to place, but how can that justify the giving of scandal? In the past people were scandalised at the idea of abortion; to-day they have become so desensitised as not to be so scandalised but does that justify a priest saying that abortion does not matter? In any case there are always going to be faithful people who are scandalised. So Buttiglione's position really boils down to the question of whether there is mortal sin or not. He accepts that there is grave matter so we are left with ignorance and lack of consent.

If there is a process of discernment it is surely impossible for ignorance to be pleaded from that point onwards. As to lack of consent Buttiglione puts forward an extreme case which he claims is not that rare but gives no evidence. The extreme case is where a woman has remarried in order to get support and protection for herself and her children and finds it impossible to refuse sexual relations to her new partner unless she leaves him. Now that may be a situation that may take time to resolve but is not the question of scandal sufficiently important to continue the exclusion from communion and is not that exclusion an incentive to continue to try to resolve the situation? In any case one suspects that many in such an extreme situation are not particularly bothered by the exclusion anyway so why allow the scandal?

Fernandez then says:

It would be fitting to clarify Buttiglione's expression "for the counter-witness they have given" by saying: "because their situation does not objectively correspond with the good that the general norm proposes."

I cannot find where in Buttiglione's article that expression occurs. Maybe there is a translation problem here but the suggested alteration suggests to me that Fernandez is dismissing the scandal argument entirely.

Further on Fernandez writes:

Staying on this path, conscience is also called to recognize "what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God ... the commitment which God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits” (AL 303).

Now, reading that one might think that the 'commitment' which God asks for is repentance and a firm intention not to sin again. However if you look at the full sentence in AL303 the commitment there is clearly not repentance but continuation in sin as being the best one can do. Viz:

It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.

That is a clear case of misquoting; a grave fault that has been all too common throughout the Synod and its aftermath. This paragraph 303 in Amoris Laetitia is the atomic bomb of which Professor Josef Seifert has so ably written earning himself dismissal by the egregious Archbishop of Granada.

Lastly one might note that whilst Buttiglione does refer to Canon 915 specifically, unlike Fernandez, there is no reference by either of them of Canon 916. Further Buttiglione claims that neither of these canons are based upon natural or divine law. That is questionable.

In conclusion all one can say is that the argument put forward by Fernandez is typical of an argument from the particular – the extreme case – to the general and it is totally unconvincing!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

New Wonder Product: Situation Ethics Plus


Pope St John Paul II introduced an important novelty in 1980 saying that the divorce and remarried should not commit adultery. Pope Francis, according to his ghost-writer – Archbishop Fernandez, says one can get round this by using a wonder new product - Situation Ethics Plus – with the magic ingredient culled in the South American rain forest known as AL304.

Approved in such diverse countries as Germany, Malta, Belgium etc, it can save you from the embarrassment of being seen not to go to Communion and even from the torture of going to Confession. It is available on prescription from your Parish Priest. Trials are being conducted as to whether it provides relief in other conditions such as rape, murder or arson. There have been reports, very few so far, of possible side effects as with all medicines such as uncontrolled weeping, feeling that someone is attacking you with a pitchfork, gnashing of teeth and a generalised burning sensation. If you do experience any of these sensations please do NOT bother your Parish Priest or rush to your local Accident and Emergency department as it is probably too late.


A critique of an Article by Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández


Fernandez is believed to be the ghost-writer of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia and thus close to Pope Francis and his thinking. He has has now published an article, which I was cite in this critique. (Víctor Manuel Fernández, "El capítulo VIII de Amoris Laetitia: lo que queda después de la tormenta". [Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia: what is left after the storm], Medellín, 168, (May/August 2017), pp. 449-468]

I am indebted to the Rorate Coeli website for references to this article including a translation into English to be found here. Perhaps one should really start at the beginning but there are times when one extraordinary sentence that stands out above all else namely needs pushing to the front. This passage is one of those...

'St. John Paul II’s proposal to the divorced in a new union to live in perfect continence, as a requirement to make access to Eucharistic communion possible, was already an important novelty'.

This 'proposal' is set out in Familiaris Consortio paragraph 84:
'Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples."[180]'
The quote is from St John Paul's homily at the end of the 1980 Synod which can be found here, page 1082 in Latin.

Surely what St John Paul II is saying is that a divorced and remarried couple who have sexual relations are not in the state of grace which is a prerequisite for Communion but, more importantly, a prerequisite for eternal life. To describe that as a novel proposal is preposterous. For two thousand years we have had the teaching of Christ that divorce and remarriage is adulterous. Go back another thousand years or so and we have the ten commandments forbidding adultery. Novel? Only in wonderland or whatever desolate wasteland the Church now occupies.

Revisionist of the Magisterium of St John Paul II


Now, I suppose what Victor Fernandez might argue is that the novelty was the idea that the divorced and remarried could live together in continence and thus be in a state of grace whereas previously living together was always regarded as gravely sinful regardless of whether it was a chaste relationship or not. I do not know whether he would argue for that interpretation but it is not an interpretation that is going to occur to most readers. Surely that is obvious to anyone.

A third interpretation might be that Fernandez is saying that up till then there had been an idea that as a matter of conscience in the internal forum where the person is convinced that his first marriage is invalid but has not yet got an annulment or cannot produce sufficient proof then those in the second marriage are entitled to receive communion. This was a pastoral approach current in the 1970s but was firmly quashed by JPII in 1980. But the problem with that interpretation is that JPII was tightening matters up and therefore it cannot be taken a first liberalising step as Fernandez would like. In any case a couple in that situation were not validly married according to the law of the Church prior to obtaining an annulment and regularisation so they were not in a state of grace.

But let us go back to the start of this essay...

Fernandez starts with a summary where he recounts Pope Francis's endorsement of the position taken by the Bishops of Buenos Aires. I commented on that position, last January, as follows:

'In September 2016 we had the criteria of the Bishops of Buenos Aires which clearly stated that AL gave an opening to communion for the divorced and remarried who found continence too difficult. They referred to another footnote which has a particularly egregious and dishonest reference to a letter from St John Paul II which gives no support whatever to the idea that confession does not require a firm purpose of amendment as claimed by AL. All that JPII said was that the knowledge that one would probably sin again does not invalidate that firm purpose. In fact these criteria were merely a draft which had met criticism from some of the clergy in Buenos Aires but, when Pope Francis gave his absolute indorsement to it, it was no doubt set in concrete.'

Fernandez headlines what Pope Francis wrote:

"THERE ARE NO OTHER INTERPRETATIONS"

...and goes on to shamelessly repeat the misrepresentation of what St John Paul II wrote. Fernandez therefore claims that Pope Francis has no need to provide further explanation. He says that the Pope's letter to the Buenos Aires Bishops does not have the same weight as an Encyclical but his implication is that Amoris Laetitia has only this interpretation made by those Bishops and endorsed by the Pope as Pope.

 Then under a heading of PERFECT CONTINENCE there follows the preposterous statement I have related about which continues. Here it is again, in all its gory glory...

'St. John Paul II’s proposal to the divorced in a new union to live in perfect continence, as a requirement to make access to Eucharistic communion possible, was already an important novelty. Many resisted this step. Still some today do not accept this proposal because they believe it leads to relativism.'

So here we have the idea that the words of St John Paul II were a first step in some process of which Amoris Laetitia (AL) is a further step. Amoris Laetitia has been criticised as leading to relativism but here Fernandez by coalescing these two steps into a process managing to suggest that some would accuse JPII's words as leading to relativism. This rather suggests that Fernandez would claim that his comment about novelty is based upon the idea that somehow JPII was relaxing some earlier discipline. He provides no evidence for that idea and it is not credible that people would interpret his remark in that way.



He then goes on to repeat the misinterpretation of what JPII wrote about the validity of a firm purpose of amendment. A firm purpose of amendment i.e. a purpose not to repeat the sin is an essential element in a valid confession. Of course, it has always been understood that the penitent may know that there is a possibility that he will fail again but that not does not invalidate the firm purpose of amendment. He might be guilty of presumption not to do so! Fernandez refers to the footnote in AL at paragraph 312 which reads:

'Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice. For this reason, it is helpful to recall the teaching of Saint John Paul II, who stated that the possibility of a new fall “should not prejudice the authenticity of the resolution”

Fernandez goes on to say:

 “Against this careful precision of John Paul II, some seem to demand a kind of strict control of what others do in intimacy.” 

One really begins to wonder what goes on in confessionals in South America. Are they the "torture chambers" of which Pope Francis spoke; are there confessors who suggest installing CCTV in the bedroom? In my experience, confessors might advise on avoiding occasions of sin but are usually satisfied with a purpose of amendment expressed in an act of contrition without further comment e.g. “I firmly resolve, by the help of your grace, never to offend you again, and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin.” Although I wonder how many of us even get that right in our acts of contrition.

One gets the feeling that Pope Francis and his entourage have set up a straw man of some Jansenist or extreme Calvinist Church spouting hell-fire sermons which needs to be constantly attacked. Perhaps this may have some relevance in South America but it quite foreign to any experience elsewhere where extreme laxity is more often the order of the day.

There then follows a piece about giving scandal:

When the need to avoid scandal is spoken about, we must note that this only happens when people "flaunt" their situation as if it were correct (cf. AL 297). Otherwise, scandal would also be given when the first marriage has been declared null, since probably many who see them go to confession and communion do not know about the annulment.

This is incorrect. Scandal will occur in the way denied in the second sentence. People who have divorced, remarried and then obtained an annulment should not be shy about informing people of the annulment so that they are not scandalised. A validating marriage ceremony in their parish church is a good opportunity to inform at least the local congregation.

Cardinal Marx of Germany
The whole subject of scandal has been largely ignored in Amoris Laetitia which sends out the scandalous message that divorce and remarriage are nothing that cannot be approved after a quiet talk with the Parish Priest or perhaps even a Deacon. In Germany, it has been suggested that some parish official could do the necessary! There is far too much emphasis on the problems of particular individuals whilst forgetting the misery that is caused by saying divorce and remarriage is no big deal thus encouraging more divorces. The damage to the children of the first marriage hardly gets a mention.

This section finishes with the strange assertion:

The great resistance that this issue provokes in some groups indicates that this question, beyond its importance in itself, breaks a rigid mental structure, very concentrated in issues of sexuality, and it forces them to broaden their perspectives.

Here we are again talking about 'rigid mental structures' and accusing people of having an obsession with sex. Why the great resistance to AL should show that that resistance is unfounded or 'broken' escapes me. Exactly the opposite seems to be happening.

In the next section headed ABSOLUTE MORAL STANDARDS AND HUMAN LIMITS we come to an ignorant illusion. Fernandez writes:

Francis does not affirm that general moral laws cannot provide for all situations, nor that they are incapable of impeding the decision of conscience. On the contrary, he says that "[they] set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected." However, "in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations" (AL 304). It is the formulation of the norm that cannot provide for everything, not the norm itself.

This is arrant nonsense. Take murder in English law. It is a crime at Common Law. That is to say there is no Act of Parliament defining it. It has been defined by various commentators such as Coke onwards. There are various Acts which partially define and redefine and there are many cases i.e. judgements written by judges which form precedents for further definition. No doubt there will be further Acts and cases in the future. However the basic idea that murder is a crime remains and all subsequent law on the subject is implied in that one idea. Thus the basic norm that murder is a crime does cover all cases and provides for all particular situations. What Fernandez is implying is that this is not the case and therefore the norm can be interpreted in whatever chaotic manner that suits the whim of a judge or in this case a cleric regardless of any guiding principle or precedent. This confirms what Pope Francis has already said about what might only lead to an intolerable casuistry.1

This is just one example of the anti-intellectual approach. It is interesting that he quotes a very valid point about discernment:

Some claim to simplify the matter in this way, by saying that, according to Francis, "The subject may not be able to be in mortal sin because, for various reasons, he is not fully aware that his situation constitutes adultery." (This is what Claudio Pierantoni stated in a recent conference, very critical of Amoris Laetitia in Rome on April 22, 2017.) And they question him that it makes no sense to speak about discernment if "the subject remains indefinitely unaware of his situation."


In answer to this we are told that Pope Francis regards all this as much more complex but then evades the question by saying:

In any event, the specific and principal proposal of Francis, in line with the Synod, is not concerning the considerations on the formulation of the norm. Why then is this question part of his proposal? Because he calls for much attention to the language that is used to describe weak persons. For him, offensive expressions such as "adulterer" or "fornicator" should not necessarily be deduced from the general norms when referring to concrete persons.

Thus he completely wanders off the point onto a quite different subject as to what language you use. Of course calling someone an adulterer rather than gently pointing out their action is adultery is not perhaps the best way of encouraging them to correct their behaviour but what has that to do with his theory about norms? Fernandez finishes this section with the sentence:

This makes it possible not always to lose the life of sanctifying grace in a “more uxorio”cohabitation.

Thus these ideas are to apply not only to the divorced and remarried but also to anyone cohabitating in a sexual relationship perhaps including those involved in sodomy in a same-sex marriage? By talking of losing the life of sanctifying grace presumably he means ceasing to be in a state of grace. This is a point I will come back to.

The next section is entitled WHEN ONE CANNOT. Fernandez is putting forward the case that there are situations in which a person cannot do otherwise than commit adultery. The Synod Fathers are first called in aid but all they said was that there could be situations where making a decision to do what is right would be difficult2. No surprise there. Fernandez though then claims that JPII said there were circumstances in which a divorced and remarried couple cannot separate: St. John Paul II recognized that "they cannot".

That is stretching what JPII actually said which was:

This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.3

Obviously they could separate but what JPII is saying is that there could be strong reasons against separating. To take the word 'cannot' out of context in that way suggesting an absolute prohibition or impossibility is seriously misleading. In the same way where Pope Benedict spoke of an irreversible situation, it is misleading to say that there could be an absolute impossibility.4 What both former Popes are saying is that where there are very serious reasons for not discontinuing the cohabitation then they must live as brother and sister.

However Pope Francis has taken this further referring to...

...a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin 5

Quite what is meant by the reference to further sin is not explained. Fernandez is using the idea that two former Popes have said that there are irreversible situations. He gives the example of a woman in that situation where the irreversibility is 'amplified' (quite how I do not understand) to say that in such a situation guilt and imputability are diminished. But at this stage he is not saying that there is no guilt.

His next section is entitled BEYOND SITUATION ETHICS. Situation ethics where there are no universal moral rules and everything depends upon circumstances is of course contrary to Catholic teaching as it denies that any action can be intrinsically evil. So initially one wonders where we are about to go beyond situation ethics! It would seem that Fernandez wants to retain the idea of intrinsically evil acts – objective sin – so as to comply with Catholic teaching but in reality only takes into account subjective guilt in assessing whether a person is living in God's grace. Does Fernandez mean that 'living in God's grace mean that the person is in a state of grace and therefore eligible to receive communion. There is a crucial quote from AL:

"Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace" (AL 305).

If Fernandez is saying that 'living in God's grace' means being in a state of grace then somebody whose subjective culpability is diminished is eligible for communion. That is the clear implication of the words 'or fully such' in the above quote. He does not say to what degree culpability would be lacking so effectively it seems that anyone with the slightest excuse for committing a mortal sin can still be in God's grace.

The next section headed THE POWER OF DISCERNMENT makes it clear that in his view being in God's grace is being in a state of grace. Thus effectively the circumstances govern whether Communion can be received or not and we are fully into situation ethics and the sop to an objective situation of sin is just that i.e. a pretence that he and Pope Francis are in compliance with Catholic teaching. This is just a laughable attempt to evade accusations of heterodoxy; it is difficult to believe that an Archbishop can seriously believe that anyone is going to buy this sophistry. It is truly BEYOND SITUATION ETHICS and perhaps should be called BEYOND SITUATION ETHICS PLUS.

So one can now have the situation where one can say that one was not fully culpable because one had had a couple of drinks before committing adultery and this is sufficient excuse to claim one is still in a state of grace. Of course, it will be argued that this only applies to the extreme hard case but we had that argument when abortion was legalised. We all know about the slippery slope that followed and the current situation where we have abortion on demand virtually regardless of circumstance.

St Paul can't quite believe what he is reading...


Fernandez then talks of a change in discipline. By discipline I understand rules which go beyond revealed truth such as the requirement to go to Confession at least once a year. Here we are concerned with the rule that those in mortal sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion. But there is a separate revealed warning from St Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:27:

And therefore, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be held to account for the Lord's body and blood. A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily, not recognizing the Lord's body for what it is.

So, here we have not only a disciplinary rule but a teaching from the Apostle Paul. It is surely the teaching that is much more in question. The individual will know whether he is in a state of grace or not and this should decide whether he goes to Communion or not. That is going to be a common occurrence for a practising Catholic. However, for a priest to refuse Communion in accordance with the discipline is going to be a rare event as he will have to be certain about the state of the soul of the individual. Indeed, such is almost unknown in today's Church e.g. the controversy about whether politicians who have voted in favour of abortion should be refused communion.

Fernandez seems to recognise that there is teaching apart from discipline in this matter. He discusses the exercise of the discipline:

The disciplinary consequences of the norm remained unaltered, because they were based only on an objective fault against an absolute norm. Francis proposes to go one step further. It is true that the general norm is not purely a discipline, but it is related to a theological truth, such as the union between Christ and the Church which is reflected in marriage.

Fernandez refers to the second paragraph of AL where Pope Francis criticises:

...deriving undue conclusions from particular theological considerations.
But that was a general remark and was not directed to this question in particular and there is no indication of what these undue conclusions are or what makes them undue. Thus whilst acknowledging the theological Pauline ban on communion Fernandez goes on to examine the case for changing the discipline in the next section entitled THE LEGITIMACY OF A CHANGE IN DISCIPLINE.

The problem Fernandez then has is in disentangling the discipline from the doctrine. He gives various historical examples which would be too tedious to query here but he concludes by saying:

As of those changes in the understanding of doctrine, there were, as a consequence, various changes in discipline.

But here he has said that the understanding of the doctrine is not changing; so why does he think the discipline should change?

He then points to RECENT CHANGES OF DISCIPLINE REGARDING NEW UNIONS such as the divorced and remarried previously not being allowed a church funeral but now being allowed such., but notably he fails to point out that there has been no change in doctrine entailing that change in discipline. He says that discipline can be changed without doctrine being changed – surely a statement of the obvious although there would be limitations to this where for instance the change in discipline clearly contradicts the doctrine.
 

The problem, which he stealthily fails to point out, is the message that a change in discipline sends out to the faithful. The faithful will inevitably conclude that if the discipline against giving Communion to those not in a state of grace is removed then it is perfectly okay to receive Communion unworthily. If you first of all say that the Church can say that you cannot go to Communion in certain circumstances and then say the Church no longer says you cannot then everyone will interpret that as permission granted.

There is then a statement about about the two rules doctrinal and disciplinary:

The rule that no one who is not in grace God ought to receive Eucharist by its very nature does not tolerate exceptions. Whoever receives the Body and the Blood of Christ unworthily eats and drinks his own condemnation. The rule according to which persons in God's grace are excluded from communion as the canonical penalty for the counter-witness which they have given, however, may be subject to exceptions, and this is exactly what Amoris Laetitia tells us.

It is a bid odd to talk about a rule that people in a state of grace are excluded from Communion in the third sentence above. It is difficult to understand what Fernandez is saying; no such rule exists. Is he talking about a situation where there is a mistake about the person being in a state of grace i.e. the rule is that people not in a state of grace are excluded from communion? The English translation on Rorate Coeli is missing a word at that point, but checking the original Spanish, he definitely is talking about a rule which excludes people in a state of grace from receiving Communion. Perhaps he did not mean to write that and it is just a typo but frankly does it matter? There are two different rules:

  1. The doctrine laid down by St Paul that he who takes communion unworthily eats and drink to his damnation.
  2. The rule where those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion.

Fernandez says there is no exception to the first but that there are exceptions to the second. Incidentally as a matter of Canon Law that exclusion is not a canonical penalty although it could become one if a penal process is instituted and concluded so as to impose a penalty. Refusing Communion is more akin to preventing someone from harming themselves in the way St Paul indicates. It must be pretty rare that anyone is refused Communion and the institution of a penal process so that it becomes a penalty must be very rare indeed. If the person giving out communion refuses Communion in the mistaken belief that the person is not in a state of grace then that is simply an unfortunate but serious mistake. The only thing one could say is that application of the rule should be done with the utmost care and where the facts are certain which explains why it so rarely happens. However if such mistakes arise it is hardly a reason for relaxing the rule.

In the next section RECOGNITION OF LIMITS AND GOOD THAT IS POSSIBLE Fernandez says that Pope Francis is in no way suggesting that the cohabitation is anything other than immoral. (Note that he is here talking of cohabitation – to what does that extend?) but that there may be...

 "great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins." (AL 298)

No explanation is offered by Fernandez or Pope Francis as to what those new sins might be. Does one really have to comment on the absurdity of the idea that it is okay to commit one sin so as to avoid falling into another sin? We are really into that meaningless waffle so characteristic of Pope Francis at this point in Fernandez's essay. There is the claim that other things can make up for the wrong being done. One is reminded of those films of Hitler playing with dogs and children. Herein lies the atomic bomb that Professor Seifert has recently written about. Sin may be what God is asking for as the best response possible!6



Under the heading CONSCIENCE there then follows an attack on using logic, reason or intellect in these matters. The problem with that is illustrated by an African Bishop saying that his people, whom one might surmise have only rudimentary education, have no problem in adhering to the orthodox view and are not blinded by this sophistry.

Fernandez then rambles on about the process of discernment with a priest saying it is going to be very much dependent on the local church – so what is adultery in one country is adultery in the next – a situation we have already seen in Poland and Germany.

Finally in a SECONDARY QUESTION we are told that Pope Francis wanted to introduce all this in a discrete manner by the use of footnotes. Laughter is the only possible response. So what conclusion can one come to on all of this. Let me try and summarise his argument as follows:

Pope St John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio says that a divorced and remarried couple who for serious reasons do not find it possible or rather advisable to separate should not have sexual relations i.e. should not commit adultery. Fernandez says this is an 'important novelty' and the purpose of his article is to contradict that idea. He claims that this is what Pope Francis intended when he approved the draft statement of the Buenos Aires Bishops – there are no other interpretations. Fernandez pretends that JPII was moving in the same direction! He has no conception of the scandal that these proposals are causing and will continue to cause with divorce being made to look a very easy option.

Throughout there is an anti-intellectual bias claiming one cannot derive norms for individual situations from the general norm “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. Thus this makes it possible not always to lose the life of sanctifying grace in a “more uxorio”cohabitation.

I think we can take it that he understands that losing the life of sanctifying grace entails no longer being in a state of grace. He then makes the false claim that both John Paul II and Benedict XVI said there were situations where adultery was unavoidable. Not only untrue but a simple and deadly heresy.

He then tries to counter the claim that he is into situation ethics by saying that Pope Francis accepts the Pauline teaching that receiving Communion unworthily leads to damnation but merely objects to the rule that a person is not eligible to receive Communion if they are not in a state of grace. I think he sees this latter rule purely as one which allows a celebrant to refuse Communion to such people. Essentially he is claiming that this is not situation ethics as Pope Francis adheres to the Pauline doctrine at the same time as criticising the disciplinary rule. This is really situation ethics plus or known as simply 'having your cake and eating it'.

The idea is that anyone who is not 'fully culpable' of adultery has not committed a mortal sin and is therefore eligible for Communion. It is not therefore the extreme hard cases that are to be excused but anyone who can claim they were not 'fully capable'. This is a slippery slope. A couple of drinks might remove culpability? Further all this extends to all 'irregular unions' – fornication, sodomy, bestiality – where is the line to be drawn? And why not apply this to all of the deadly sins?

In summary there are two different rules:

1. The doctrine laid down by St Paul that he who takes communion unworthily eats and drink to his damnation.

2. The disciplinary rule where those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion.

Fernandez is saying that Pope Francis accepts there are no exceptions to the first but there are to the second. They see the second rule as something which the priest acts upon and can relax. It is rather like saying that throwing oneself of Beachy Head leads to certain death but we are not going to counsel or stop anyone from so doing and might even encourage them to do just that.

1 Amoris Laetitia para 304

2 Final Relatio of the Synod para 51.

3 Familiaris Consortio para 84

4 http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis.html para 29b

5 Amoris Laetitia para 301

6 AL303 but for Professor Seifert's heartfelt plea see https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/amoris-laetitia-is-a-ticking-atomic-bomb-set-to-obliterate-all-catholic-mor
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