Archbishop Fernandez’s essay translated

Rorate Caeli has prepared a full translation of Archbishop Fernandez’s essay defending Amoris laetitia. We encourage you to read the whole thing there. An excerpt, on perhaps an unrelated point gives a sense of the quality of Archbishop Fernandez’s reasoning throughout.

In 1832, Pope Gregory XVI, in Mirari vos, had said that it is an “absurd and erroneous doctrine, or rather delirium, that freedom of conscience is to be claimed and defended for all men” (MV 15). In the Syllabus of Pius IX (1864) religious freedom is condemned as one of the principal “errors.” But in the following century, the Second Vatican Council substantially modified these very firm ideas (cf. DH 2-3). A similar evolution occurred on the issue of the possibility of salvation outside of the Catholic Church. We recall also the case of slavery: Pope Nicholas V allowed the king of Portugal to take slaves. Then, in 1455 the Bull Romanus Pontifex reaffirmed this. And this is not a secondary issue, since it has to do with the inalienable dignity of the human person. (With respect to this subject of the evolution in the understanding of the doctrine, the examples can be taken into account which are given in: Thomas Rausch, “Doctrine at the service of the pastoral mission of the Church,” La Civiltà Cattolica, v. 3981, May 14, 2016; pp. 223-236.) As of those changes in the understanding of doctrine, there were, as a consequence, various changes in discipline.

However, some hold that these comparisons are not convincing, and insist that any evolution should be carried out in the same line as what was said previously by the Church. It would be a kind of magisterial “fixism.” But, precisely in the examples mentioned above, it can be seen that the evolution did not take place “in the same line” as before, at least not on the question in itself. Between allowing slavery and not allowing it in any case, there is an immense evolution. There is only Continuity in the general doctrine about human dignity, but not in the precise point in question, where the Church really evolved in its understanding. In the same way, between affirming that only a Catholic can be saved and holding that there is a possibility of salvation outside the Church, there is no continuity with regard to the question in itself. It is obvious that the Church grows into a better reception of the proposal of the Gospel, in a more complete vision and in new ways of applying what has been taught. But some have an enormous difficulty in admitting that something similar can occur in questions related to sexuality.

(Emphasis supplied and hyperlink in the original.) And this is the Pope’s chief ghostwriter!

In the interest of truth, one is reminded of Dignitatis humanae‘s actual text:

Pariter vero profitetur Sacra Synodus officia haec hominum conscientiam tangere ac vincire, nec aliter veritatem sese imponere nisi vi ipsius veritatis, quae suaviter simul ac fortiter mentibus illabitur. Porro, quum libertas religiosa, quam homines in exsequendo officio Deum colendi exigunt, immunitatem a coercitione in societate civili respiciat, integram relinquit traditionalem doctrinam catholicam de morali hominum ac societatum officio erga veram religionem et unicam Christi Ecclesiam. Insuper, de hac libertate religiosa agens, Sacra Synodus recentiorum Summorum Pontificum doctrinam de inviolabilibus humanae personae iuribus necnon de iuridica ordinatione societatis evolvere intendit.

(Emphasis supplied.) We cannot imagine that the theologians assisting Wojtyla and Ratzinger would have ever made such an incautious, frankly incorrect statement on a point that has been, whether Archbishop Fernandez knows it or not, hugely controversial in the life of the Church. Perhaps the next time the Holy Father has Bishop Fellay over for lunch, he can ask him to give a quick conference on the subject to the senior officials of the Curia.

Speaking of Wojtyla and Ratzinger, we observe that nowhere in Fernandez’s essay is John Paul’s encyclical Veritatis splendor so much as cited, much less discussed.