Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Gospel is always ancient and always new. That is precisely why it is never old. UPDATED (2)

Il Vangelo è sempre nuovo e sempre antico. Proprio per questo non è mai vecchio. [The Gospel is always ancient and always new. That is precisely why it is never old.]
This rather elegant phrase can perhaps be seen as the leitmotif of Rocco Buttiglione's comments on the reaction of some to Pope Francis pontificate in general and to Amoris Laetitia in particular. Oddly enough, the inversion of the order of the "new" and "ancient" to become "ancient" and then "new" in the English translation seems to respect the elegance in the two different languages. And the nuances of the words "ancient", "new" and "old" is the same in both.

Rocco Buttiglione's remarks appeared in Italian in the L'Osservatore Romano of 19th July. The English translation is here, published under the same title as the Italian: The joy of love and the consternation of the theologians.

Two points I think of particular interest in Rocco Buttiglione's remarks, though, of course, I do think you should read the whole.

Firstly, his observation that the sensus fidelium - that is the sense of the faith of the ordinary Catholic community - has followed the teaching of Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia in a very ready manner:
Il sensus fidei del popolo cristiano lo ha immediatamente riconosciuto e seguito.
The sensus fidei of the Christian people immediately embraced and followed him.
And I think this is true, for all the fuss and confusion created by a Traditionalist minority.

And secondly, Rocco Buttiglione points out that the barring of divorced and remarried persons from Holy Communion arises, not because they are considered of necessity to be in a state of mortal sin, but rather because their situation represents a manifest contradiction of the teaching on marriage:
Familiaris consortio ci dice però che i divorziati risposati non potranno ricevere i sacramenti. Il motivo è che vivono in una condizione pubblica di peccato e che bisogna evitare di dare scandalo. Questi motivi sono così forti che sembra essere inutile una verifica delle eventuali circostanze attenuanti.
Familiaris Consortio tells us that the divorced and remarried cannot receive the sacraments. The reason is that they are living in a state of manifest public sin and they must avoid giving scandal. These reasons are so strong that any attenuating circumstances were rendered inconsequential.
Rocco Buttiglione goes on to suggest that what is to be seen between the provision of Familiaris Consortio and that of Amoris Laetitia is not a contradiction of doctrinal teaching but rather a difference in the manner of the exercise of the power of loosing and binding that belongs to the office of the Successor of Peter; a difference that is suggested by a different historical circumstance in the life of the Church. He suggests that, more than anything else, the divorced and remarried are invited to the Sacrament of Confession.

[There appears to be a provision in the 1917 Code of Canon Law that a divorced and remarried person be excommunicated should they persist in their state of life after admonition from their Ordinary .... but it is not at all clear whether, or to what extent, this provision was actually put into practice. In this respect, I have not been able to verify the suggestion in Rocco Buttiglione's article that, previous to Familiaris Consortio and the 1983 Code of Canon Law, such people suffered excommunication.]

UPDATE: More on Amoris Laetitia in the L'Osservatore Romano: The relevance of some reflections by Karol Wojtyła for understanding Amoris Laetitia: creative fidelity. I do agree with the suggestion in this article that Pope Francis' pontificate stands in continuity with that of Pope Benedict XVI, and that the grounds on which some criticise Pope Francis are equally grounds on which they would criticise Pope Benedict. I am also in agreement with the view that Amoris Laetitia represents an exercise by Pope Francis of his office as Successor of Peter, and that no further attempts should be made to choose which parts can be rightly opposed.

UPDATE (2): Sandro Magister's account, relaying that of another writer, clearly misrepresents Rocco Buttiglione's article (and as I post I have just re-read that article) by suggesting in an unqualified way that it favoured communion for the divorced and re-married - it didn't and any careful reading will show that.

No comments: