Monday, 12 December 2016

The strange persistence of the hermeneutic of confusion

The Church in Australia and elsewhere in the developed West has long had a serious credibility problem.  

It loosened the reins at the time of Vatican II, abolishing all those 'unnecessary rules' that promoted things like asceticism and attendance at Mass, with entirely predictable consequences for the morality and commitment of pastors and people alike.  

By contrast, religions that have maintained or recovered their core identity: insisted on their core practices and beliefs; and rejected any compromise when it comes to cult, maintaining, for example, their sacred languages, continue to grow as people seek to fill up the void this failure to teach has created.

False clarity?!

Yet it seems our pastors continue to fail to learn the lesson, claiming instead that there is some virtue in confusion.

We live in a world of grays, some people seem to think.  Really?

It is true of course that judging the best course of action sometimes  - perhaps often - requires grappling with hard issues and matters of judgment and balance.  

The core principles that should help us make those judgments, though, are surely capable of perfect clarity.

Isn't the whole point of the Church to proclaim the truth that Christ taught?

Either way, the debate on Amor Laetitia certainly seems to be hotting up.

Even as more papal sycopants step up to defend the indefensible, more are coming out in support of the four Cardinals' (including notable theologians Professors Finnis and Grisez, and a group of pastors and theologians) request for clarification of just what the document means in practice.

The voice from the pew

And the reasons why this is important have been admirably summarised by Mulier Fortis, who writes:
... no matter whether I stumbled on my path to holiness (or even walked in completely the wrong direction), I knew that there was a correct way that I should be trying to follow, and I knew that this direction was signposted clearly through the teachings of the Church.
These teachings are clear. They have been based on what our Lord Jesus Christ said and did and on the teachings and traditions passed on by the successors to the Apostles, particularly the successor to St. Peter. It was to St. Peter that our Lord Jesus Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the mission to strengthen and confirm his brethren in the faith... 
The current lack of clarity in Amoris Laetitia is profoundly distressing. Papal pronouncements are not meant to be ambiguous starting points for discussion - rather, they are meant to explain the teachings the Church has held since the beginning... 
Meanwhile there are a number of helpful pieces coming out on the limits of papal authority.   This one from Phil Lawler looks to me to be very helpful; a more comprehensive treatment from Professor Mattai has been posted at Rorate Caeli.

What can we do?

Our first response must be to pray - in support of those taking up the fight; for the conversion of those who seem to have lost sight of the Church's mission of spreading truth; and for the Church.  This week includes the three Ember Days of Advent, so an especially suitable time a chance to offer some fasting for the cause.

Secondly, educate yourself - take a chance to reread the Catechism of the Catholic Church and/or some of the older papal documents of the Church on this subject such as Familiaris Consortio, particularly if these matters affect you directly.

Thirdly, you might want to consider signing one of the documents currently being circulated in support of the four Cardinals and/or affirming fidelity to the longstanding teaching of the Church on marriage and the family.


Graham McKenzie said...

Thanks Kate; at last we have the Church admitting a "submerged" schism. At least that is a start. Wish we had more here in Australia able to give us some leadership. Living in Brisbane makes it hard to realize that Orthodoxy still exists in the Church. Do so appreciate you insights and I do support them.

From Graham McKenzie.

Kate Edwards said...

Thanks Graham.

Yes, the leadership situation in Australia is dire indeed in most dioceses alas (though some are indeed worse than others!).

Things are moving fast though, so pray hard.