Some comments on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia – The joy of love and the consternation of theologians
by Rocco Buttiglione
The Endowed Chair of John Paul II in Philosophy and the History of European Institutions
2016-07-19 L’Osservatore Romano
Yet we must read the text more deeply. Once upon a time, divorced and remarried persons were excommunicated and excluded from the life of the Church. That kind of excommunication disappears from the new Code of Canon Law and Familiaris Consortio, and divorced and remarried persons are now encouraged to participate in the life of the Church and to give their children a Christian upbringing. This was an extraordinarily courageous decision that broke from an age-old tradition. But 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.
Now Pope Francis tells us that it is worth considering such circumstances. The difference between Familiaris Consortio and Amoris Laetitia lies completely in this. There is no doubt that a divorced and remarried person is objectively in a situation of grave sin; Pope Francis does not simply advocate that such a person be admitted to Communion, but, like all sinners, to confession. There, he or she will relate all the eventual attenuating circumstances and will hear from the confessor whether and under what conditions he or she can receive absolution.
The one unanswered question:
After confession, do those with “attenuating circumstances” return to their divorced + civilly remarried life? If yes, under the conditions of Familiaris Consortio (November 22, 1981) | Pope John Paul II or under new different conditions?
Cf. Vatican Ramps Up Family Document Defense by Nicole Winfield (AP) | U.S. News – The Vatican is striking back at conservative critics of Pope Francis’ landmark document on family life.
Buttiglione’s argument, featured on the front page, marked a shift in the Vatican’s defense of Francis’ document, confronting the criticisms head-on rather than just praising the pope’s text.
The initiative could signal a more concerted campaign by the Vatican to ensure that the “The Joy of Love” is interpreted as Francis intended. Already, conservative Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has said that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can only receive Communion in his archdiocese if they abstain from sex and live as “brother and sister.”
Buttiglione’s argument matches a previous statement by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, making the case that Pope Francis intended his apostolic exhortation to be interpreted as allowing for Communion for divorce-and-remarried couples on a case-by-case basis. The prominence given to Buttiglione’s essay in the Vatican’s official newspaper suggests a concerted effort to promote that interpretation of the papal document. – Buttiglione backs Amoris Laetitia in L’Osservatore Romano article: News Headlines | Catholic Culture, July 20, 2016
Rebuttals to Rocco Buttiglione and his article
Amoris Laetitia and the new church of Francis by Veronica A. Arntz Rejecting False Teachings on Marriage: An Analysis of Rocco Buttiglione’s Article
When confessors evaluate such responsibility or blameworthiness they are usually looking at things retrospectively. Was the act in question done knowingly and voluntarily? If a person did not know or understand the pertinent moral rule, or she was forced into violating it, we can assume that her responsibility is limited or even nullified. A confessor might then determine that while the act was objectively sinful, the person is not subjectively culpable. However, as moral theologians like E. Christian Brugger have pointed out, the novelty of Amoris Laetitia is that it applies these conditions prospectively in order to determine the ability of someone to participate in the sacramental life of the Church. It highlights whether or not a person in an objectively sinful state is capable of overcoming his ignorance or extricating himself from that situation. If not, that person’s subjective culpability continues to be mitigated.
Published on Sep 16, 2016
FR GERALD MURRAY and ROBERT ROYAL…the Papal Posse…discuss the implications of Pope Francis’s recent letter to some Argentinean bishops regarding “exceptional cases” in which divorced and remarried might receive Holy Communion.
Fr. Murray: ‘If you are living in an adulterous second marriage, and you approach Holy Communion at Mass, this is a contradiction of what God expects of you. Mitigating circumstances do not give you a get out of jail card, mitigating circumstances is about culpability for sin. Those apply in retrospect, you look back when you are making your examination for confession, what did I do, was anything involved. If you are planning on committing adultery tomorrow and the day after, you can’t claim mitigating circumstances, you have to say the call to conversion applies to me just like it does to everyone else.’ – Cf. October 3, 2016 PEWSITTER.COM: EWTN’s The World Over panel expresses Grave concerns over Amoris Laetitia And the Pope’s recent letter to the Argentinian Bishops by Andrew Parrish
Even in the unlikely event of a person invincibly ignorant stumbling into the irregular situation of divorced + civilly remarried without a decree of nullity on either party’s prior marriage and they went to confession, from the priest, they must hear what St. John the Baptist said to King Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have another’s wife/husband” [Cf. Mk 6:18 (RSVCE)].