The Holy Father’s post-Synodal exhortation, Amoris laetitia, is now available. It was released with a very brief chirograph from the Holy Father.
Tomorrow, the Holy Father’s long-anticipated exhortation, Amoris laetitia, is set to be formally released. We have heard rumblings of rumors that copies of the exhortation are beginning to circulate privately. We have even heard rumors of reports about the contents of the exhortation. But, obviously, nothing definite. However, rest assured that when we hear something definite, we will share it with you, dear reader. Our well-placed Roman source tells us that we’ll definitely hear more around 6 AM Eastern Standard Time tomorrow. Until then, we have collected some early reporting for your review, no doubt as you—like us—stay up all night, refreshing the Google search for “Time in Rome.”
(Also, as we did for Mitis iudex, we have created a new category for Amoris laetitia.)
Sandro Magister dissects the public statements of Cardinal Schönborn and Cardinal Baldissieri, two of the relators for the exhortation, to try to ascertain what it may contain. In particular, he provides a lengthy excerpt from an interview Cardinal Schönborn gave to Fr. Antonio Spadaro, a close collaborator of the Holy Father and editor of La Civiltà cattolica, the proofs of which we are unfailingly reminded are corrected in the Secretariat of State.
Ines San Martin, at the newly spun-off Crux, gives a good historical background for the exhortation, which may be necessary for some folks, who followed it less closely than we did. She also suggests that, as of the time of writing, anyway, the exhortation had not left the close control of the Holy Father’s closest collaborators. This contradicts what we have heard from several sources.
Gabriel Sanchez has three—three!—very reasonable, very sensible posts on the exhortation and the preliminary responses to the exhortation from the right. ONE; TWO; THREE. While all three posts are well worth your time, you need to pay close attention to the second one. He makes a really interesting point that will no doubt have to be explored further in the wake of whatever happens.
Dr. Maike Hickson reports at The Wanderer that Walter Cardinal Brandmüller has taken a very strong line against the Kasperite proposal. (You may recall that Cardinal Brandmüller was one of the prelates commissioned by the Holy Father to visit, on an ad hoc basis, the SSPX.)
Reports have come out that the Synod of Bishops has sent a “reading guide” out in advance of the release, now only about a day away, of Amoris laetitia, the Holy Father’s post-Synodal exhortation. (We will leave to one side the question of a pastoral exhortation that needs a “reading guide,” which does not bode well for the faithful, for whom, we are told, all this trouble has been taken.) One point in particular in the Catholic Herald‘s report leapt out at us:
The document was sent to bishops along with summaries of the Pope’s recent Wednesday audiences on the family, and of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, described as an “important source” for Amoris Laetitia.
(Emphasis supplied.) Like we said in our “Preliminary Comments” post: look for the argument that Amoris laetitia is but an incremental development on John Paul’s thought.
No, no. No one has leaked the Holy Father’s forthcoming post-Synodal exhortation, Amoris laetitia, to us. And, while dear Father Lombardi could not revoke our Holy See Press Office credentials if only because we don’t have any, we would never in a million years wish to violate the pontifical secret, applied by article 1(1) of the 1974 Instruction Secreta continere. (Though being only human, we imagine that we would like very much the feeling for the next week of wouldn’t you like to know that would attend being in the loop on this one. How they manage in the Curia is beyond us.)
However, we do anticipate that we will make some comments on Amoris laetitia when it is finally released later this week. And, to be frank, our expectations for the document will likely color in a significant way our reaction to it. Thus, we think it is only fair that we go on record with those expectations now. Also, there is something very enjoyable about putting one’s predictions out in the open air. (Sometimes, anyway. It is Opening Day for our beloved Cincinnati Reds, and having seen GM Walt Jocketty’s idea of “rebuilding,” we are far too depressed to offer our predictions for the Reds.) At any rate, here’s what we expect to see:
- It will be very long and not always hugely gripping.
- There will be something for everyone, but, on the whole, the progressives will be much happier than the orthodox. Because no hard and fast rules will be established, conservative Catholics will feel constrained to put a brave face on things. The progressives’ note of triumph will be a little unseemly. Everyone will start to think a little more seriously about next time.
- It will authorize, through the forum internum process, communion for bigamists. The appointment of Cardinal Schönborn as one of the relators for the exhortation sealed the deal for us. He was the moderator of the Germanicus group that came up with that compromise, though his ties to Ratzinger undoubtedly make him, well, more palatable to conservatives than Reinhard Cardinal Marx, one of the other ramrods behind the compromise. It seems to us very natural to select Cardinal Schönborn as the relator for the exhortation in order to sell the forum internum theory to the wider world. But there will be some language emphasizing how “narrow” the exception is, and how those who can prove nullity ought to be encouraged to do so.
- There may be some language about episcopal conferences establishing norms for the forum internum process, but it would surprise us if the progressives in the Vatican wanted to trust more conservative episcopates with the keys to the gate they’ve strived so mightily to throw open.
- Expect to hear even more about the tendentious misquotation of Familiaris consortio that was forced upon everyone last October. Indeed, expect to see endless citations to John Paul II and Benedict XVI during the really important parts. The argument will be made, implicitly, that Amoris laetitia is but an incremental development on John Paul’s thought and Benedict’s thought.
- It will probably remove any other restrictions on participation in the Church by bigamists. All of the other restrictions—e.g., being a godparent—that we have heard about over the last eighteen months will be lifted without reservation.
- It will have lots of nice things to say about other irregular situations.
- People hoping to hear nice things about same-sex couples are going to be disappointed. That project will have to wait a while.
- Much ink will be spilled on marital preparation.
- Much ink will also be spilled about what a great procedural success the Synod was and how it represents a model of Church governance for the future.
Just some predictions. Some of them we feel fairly strongly about. Some we threw in just so we could get to ten. But, obviously, we would be happy to be proved wrong about many of these predictions.
Rorate Caeli reports that the Holy See Press Office has confirmed that the Holy Father received in audience Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior-general of the Society of St. Pius X, at Casa Santa Marta on Friday, April 1.
The SSPX has released a communique covering the meeting. The SSPX communique reads, in full:
Pope Francis received Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, accompanied by the Society’s Second General Assistant, Fr. Alain-Marc Nely, at Domus Sanctae Marthae, at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 1, 2016.
Bishop Fellay did not have an opportunity to meet Pope Francis since the Holy Father’s election in March 2013, other than exchanging very brief salutations at Domus Sanctae Marthae, on December 13, 2013 (see DICI no. 296 of 5-16-2014). However, some priests of the Society were previously received by the Supreme Pontiff, regarding certain administrative difficulties in the Society’s District of Argentina (see DICI no 314 of 4-24-2015).
Pope Francis had wanted a private and informal meeting, without the formality of an official audience. It lasted 40 minutes and took place under a cordial atmosphere. After the meeting, it was decided that the current exchanges would continue. The canonical status of the Society was not directly addressed, Pope Francis and Bishop Fellay having determined that these exchanges ought to continue without haste.
The next morning, Saturday, April 2nd, Bishop Fellay met with Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, in keeping with the normal relations of the Society with this commission following the 2009-2011 doctrinal discussions and the visits of several prelates in 2015-2016. (See DICI no. 307 of 12-19-2014 and no. 311 of 2-27-2016)
(Emphasis supplied and hyperlinks in original.)
Originally, it had been reported—at least, we thought it had been reported—that the meeting took place on Low Saturday. We noted that there were several important Curial officials who had been received on Low Saturday. The updated reporting seems to be that the Holy Father met with Bishop Fellay on Friday, April 1. The meeting does not show in the official list of audiences for April 1, though.
While the official list of Saturday’s audiences does not show Bishop Fellay, it does show a very busy morning for the Holy Father: Cardinal Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Sarah, prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship; and Cardinal Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Religious.
At New Liturgical Movement, Gregory DiPippo has a fascinating entry about the form of Vespers of Easter used during the Middle Ages.
There is comprehensive coverage of Mother Angelica’s funeral at the National Catholic Register, including some quotations from the Holy Father’s telegram. (We tried to find the telegram at the Vatican website, and found only the telegram sent on the occasion of Cardinal Cottier’s funeral.)
Fr. John Hunwicke has a very lengthy, very fascinating piece on the rewrites to the rite of episcopal consecration following the Council and the loss of understanding of typology with respect to Holy Orders. (On this general topic, we note that we keep meaning to publish an essay of ours discussing St. Jerome and Amalarius’s understanding of the diaconate through the lens of the Book of Numbers. Maybe this week.)
In the context of an essay by Ann Barnhardt calling for the deposition of the Holy Father, John Medaille makes some very interesting points. (We offer no commentary on Barnhardt’s piece itself.) Indeed, he makes a point that we have been making since Laudato si’ was promulgated: “Almost every page of Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’ fairly drips with contempt for individualism, subjectivism, relativism, capitalism, and all the other evils of modernism.”
Have we posted Bishop Bernard Fellay’s interview with DICI updating the status of Holy See – SSPX relations? If we haven’t, here it is. Interesting reading.
Father Deacon John Russell, a Byzantine Catholic cleric of our acquaintance, at his splendid Blog of the Dormition, has a lengthy, fascinating meditation on the closing of the doors of the iconostasis for Thomas Sunday (for our Eastern Catholic brethren).
Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has a forthcoming book-length interview with the Spanish publisher Carlos Granados. For now, the book will be in Spanish, but translations are apparently forthcoming. Sandro Magister has several lengthy excerpts at his website. One passage, translated for Magister by Matthew Sherry, touches upon the reformation festivities forthcoming, no doubt, next year:
Strictly speaking, we Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity.
If we are convinced that divine revelation is preserved whole and unchanged through Scripture and Tradition, in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchical constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there exist sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.
The members of the Protestant ecclesial communities look at this event from a different perspective, because they think that it is the opportune moment to celebrate the rediscovery of the “pure Word of God,” which they presume to have been disfigured throughout history by merely human traditions. The Protestant reformers arrived at the conclusion, five hundred years ago, that some Church hierarchs were not only morally corrupt, but had also distorted the Gospel and, as a result, had blocked the path of salvation for believers toward Jesus Christ. To justify the separation they accused the pope, the presumed head of this system, of being the Antichrist.
How can the ecumenical dialogue with the evangelical communities be carried forward today in a realistic way? The theologian Karl-Heinz Menke is speaking the truth when he asserts that the relativization of the truth and the acritical adoption of modern ideologies are the principal obstacle toward union in the truth.
In this sense, a Protestantization of the Catholic Church on the basis of a secular vision without reference to transcendence not only cannot reconcile us with the Protestants, but also cannot allow an encounter with the mystery of Christ, because in Him we are repositories of a supernatural revelation to which all of us owe total obedience of intellect and will (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 5).
I think that the Catholic principles of ecumenism, as they were proposed and developed by the decree of Vatican Council II, are still entirely valid (cf. “Unitatis Redintegratio,” 2-4). On the other hand, I am convinced that the document of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith “Dominus Iesus,” of the holy year of 2000, not understood by many and unjustly rejected by others, is without a doubt the magna carta against the Christological and ecclesiological relativism of this time of such confusion.
(Emphases added.) Good medicine. And there’s more of it in the post, touching upon some of the other flashpoint issues of the present day. Some sources have already picked up on Cardinal Müller’s comments about the forthcoming celebration of the reformation.
It remains to be seen, of course, what the Holy Father says in Sweden when he attends an ecumenical service commemorating the reformation. However, it seems to us that Cardinal Müller is fundamentally right, not merely that there are not valid reasons for separating from communion with Christ’s Church, though that is certainly true, but also that western Christianity and, indeed, the west as a whole has been injured by the reformation. There has been an impoverishment of western Christianity in the intervening 500 years that was scarcely conceivable with the first protestants struck out very much on their own. And one even wonders whether the complete inversion of man’s relationship to God, which Pope Emeritus Benedict has discussed fairly recently, would have happened in the absence of the wounds in the Body of Christ caused by the reformation. But such speculation is probably not entirely helpful at the moment. So we will say this: we look forward very much to reading Cardinal Müller’s thoughts on these matters.
For our part, we imagine that, on October 31, 1517, we will remember in a special way the souls of those who departed this life outside of full communion with Christ’s Church and his vicar, the Roman Pontiff.