Monday, 11 April 2016

The "reception" of Amoris Laetitia

There is a line, and I think it is applied with some generosity in certain circles in commenting on Humanae Vitae, that an exercise of the teaching office of the Holy Father cannot be considered as teaching binding on the Church until it has been "received" by the ordinary faithful. And since - so they say - Humanae Vitae is ignored by the ordinary faithful it therefore does not offer us a binding teaching.

It is intensely ironic, therefore, to see the more immoderate of the Catholic aether engaging in precisely that exercise of "reception" - or, to be precise, "non-reception"  - with regard to Amoris Laetitia. The most immoderate appear to be those who are often seen as most authoritative but who have for a long time needed to be read with care and a health warning.

Surely you must see that you are playing the same game that you would, a generation ago, have roundly condemned in the criticism of Humanae Vitae, but now consider heroic in attacking Amoris Laetitia!

I repeat something that I have said before: the anti-Francis attitude is not Catholic. And we need to ask ourselves how much it is an anti-Francis attitude that underpins the avalanche of criticism of Amoris Laetitia. The absurdity of criticising this paragraph (n.52), for example, by citing just the section in italics is quite manifest, and even more so in a post that suggests the Amoris Laetitia has in its turn undertaken selective quotation:
No one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values and the moral progress of cities and countries. There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life. We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society. [But note that the Italian "riconoscere" and the French "reconnaitre" can be read as meaning "recognise", which has a weaker nuance of approval than does the English "acknowledge"; and the Italian "piena" and French "pleine" suggest a "full" role rather than a "plenary"!]
So far I have only had time to dip into some paragraphs of Amoris Laetitia, but I have yet to find anything that warrants the venom being poured out upon it by others - quite the contrary.

See Elizabeth Scalia here, for what strikes me as a most sensible comment. In particular ..... do read the wholefor yourself!

[As an aside, what I have found most interesting is comparing the English, Italian and French, as there appear to be a number of places where the latter provide a nuance or implication that is not as apparent in the former.]

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