Posts Tagged apostolic exhortation
N.B.: This is part one of a three-part series discussing the theologies of the papacies of Pope Francis and Pope Paul VI. Links to parts two and three of the series are listed below.
The opposition to Pope Francis is unprecedented. There have been disagreements in the life of the church before: How could there not be? And, in recent times, we have even seen some cardinals voice disappointment or even disagreement with directives coming from Rome. For example, Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens was not shy in voicing his concern about the manner in which the first synods of bishops after the Second Vatican Council were conducted. But claiming an apostolic exhortation is not magisterial? Publishing detailed challenges to the pope’s teaching? This is uncharted territory.
“I believe that the opposition to Francis is rooted in a flawed understanding of the post-conciliar era and, more specifically, where we are in the process of receiving the council. Francis, just last month, in an interview with Italian daily Avvenire, noted that it takes about 100 years to fully receive a council, and he is right. Some people thought that process was completed, and that they had mastered all the riddles of the Catholic faith in the post-conciliar age. They are very upset that their assumptions and some of their conclusions have been challenged.
“Last week marked the 51st anniversary of the close of Vatican II. In the past four years, we marked the opening of the council, commemorated the promulgation of key conciliar texts, held conferences to explore the meaning of the documents, and appropriately so, because Vatican II remains the most determinative event in the life of the Catholic church in our living memory.
By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this first article in Winters’ three-part series.
Click here to read the second article in this series, “Pope Paul VI’s greatness lies in his church leaderhsip after Vatican II.”
Click here to read the third article in this series, “Different popes, different personalities — and underlying continuity.”
Some have called Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, or ‘The Joy of Love,’ his reflection on the two recent Synods of Bishops on the family, a ‘love letter’ to families. We believe that Francis’ teaching on conscience in that letter is one of the most important teachings in the apostolic exhortation. As various church bodies announced plans about how to implement Amoris Laetitia, it is instructive to see how they will present Francis’ teaching on conscience.
“To spread the teaching of Amoris Laetitia though U.S. dioceses and parishes, the U.S. bishops have appointed a working group led by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. The work of this group isn’t yet public, but Chaput has issued guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia in his own archdiocese.
“In the Philadelphia guidelines, which went into effect in July, Chaput comments on the indissolubility of marriage and admission to Communion for the divorced and remarried without an annulment. He noted that pastors have an obligation to educate the faithful, since ‘the subjective conscience of the individual can never be set against objective moral truth, as if conscience and truth were two competing principles for moral decision-making.’ The ‘objective truth,’ according to magisterial teaching, is that couples living in this situation are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion and that their subjective consciences must adhere to this truth.
“Chaput’s comment highlights theological debates in the Catholic tradition on the interrelationship between conscience and objective norms in moral decision-making …”
By Michael G. Lawler and Todd Salzman, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.
Three months after the publication of Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), the reception is underway, and various commentators already are noting the wide differences in the hermeneutics of the post-synodal exhortation. If we want to identify the two main approaches, we can say that one has a rather constrained view of the text and, especially, of the two synodal gatherings … The other interpretation focuses on the exhortation’s renewed emphasis on conscience as opposed to legalistic approaches to moral theology, and its acknowledgment of the need for theological and pastoral attention to new situations.”
By Massimo Faggioli, dotCommonweal — Click here to read the rest of this article
In its statement regarding Amoris Laetitia, Voice of the Faithful pointed to the role of conscience in moral decision-making and quoted Pope Francis, who said, “We also find it hard to make room for consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” James Martin, S.J., is concerned in the article below that some critics of the Pope’s letter are missing “… the notion that God can deal with people directly. The way that this notion is framed in the document is primarily through the lens of ‘conscience.'”
What some critics of “Amoris Laetitia” are missing
By James Martin, S.J., Editor at Large, America
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” has been accepted by most Catholics as a breath of fresh air. Its warm encouragement to families to place love at the center of their lives, its clear invitation to pastors to accompany Catholics in the ‘complexity’ of their situations and its strong reminder that the church needs to recover an appreciation of the role of conscience have been welcomed by millions of Catholics as a sign that the church wants to meet them where they are.
“But not by all Catholics. In a few quarters of the church it has not been received warmly at all. In fact, it was greeted with a vituperation that seemed to approach apoplexy.
“Many critics were frustrated, alarmed and angered by the same thing. They claimed that Francis had muddied the clear moral waters of the church by elevating a concept that had landed St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order to which the pope belongs, in jail: the notion that God can deal with people directly.
“The way that this notion is framed in the document is primarily through the lens of ‘conscience’ …”
Click here to read the rest of this article.
Might all of Pope Francis’ efforts at reform be for naught?
Pope Francis, with the publication of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), has offered a broad and deep reflection on the myriad (and often messy) issues concerning marriage, the family and human sexuality.
“And in doing so, the 79-year-old pope has also put forth a clear vision of Christian discipleship. It is one based more on personal responsibility and prayerful discernment than on the mere following of church rules …
“… He is attempting to pick up the journey that the church had embarked upon in the first decade or so following Vatican II, but one that John Paul II halted and began to “correct” and recalibrate early on in his long pontificate (1978-2005) …
“But there is a serious challenge here. The vast majority of the world’s bishops, younger clergy (under the age of 45 or so) and seminarians are squarely on the road that St. John Paul II and his German successor built. Too many find themselves greatly conflicted by Francis and all that he is doing to shake up and renew the church.
“A good number of them are rigid personalities obsessed with the ‘clarity’ of doctrine, who find their identity in a churchy world of black and white (like the uniform they wear) and exude confidence in being the recognized and unchallenged upholders of the Truth that they believe is possessed by the church alone.”
By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on family stresses grace over dogma / Voice of the Faithful Statement
BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 8, 2016 – Pope Francis delivered his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, on the Bishops’ Synod on the Family today in Rome. Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful welcomes his efforts to temper dogma with grace in order to respond to 21st century lay voices.
Pundits immediately began to parse every word of Francis’ 256-page letter (click here to read Amoris Laetitia) and will continue to do so for some time, but Francis, while calling for pastoral change, is leaving the implementation of his letter to bishops. VOTF urges lay Catholics to make sure their voices are heard as the Pope’s exhortation is implemented.
We remind lay Catholic of two themes expressed by Vatican II and reiterated in Francis’ letter: the place of the teaching authority of the Church (magisterium) and the place of individual conscience in deciding how to act.
Regarding the magisterium, Francis says in his letter, “… I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it.”
In addition, Vatican II defined the teaching authority of the Church as including all the faithful People of God, lay and cleric alike. Lay voices matter. In his Commonwealmagazine article on Francis’ exhortation, Vatican pundit Massimo Faggioli says, “… the direction of this pontificate is toward a non-ideological magisterium, a more inclusive Church, a Church of mercy.”
Regarding conscience, the Pope says in his letter: “We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” And as Francis says elsewhere in his letter, “A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.”
As an organization whose mission calls for the Faithful “to actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Church,” VOTF welcomes this affirmation of our efforts and encourages lay Catholics to raise their voices.
More on the responsibilities and rights of the laity is available at votf.org by using the Lay Education button under Programs.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail), (781) 559-3360
In what could be an important moment for his leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis is scheduled to issue a major document on Friday (Apr. 8) regarding family issues. It is titled ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ Latin for ‘The Joy of Love.’
“In the document, known as an apostolic exhortation, the pope could change church practice on thorny subjects like whether divorced Catholics who remarry without having obtained annulments can receive holy communion. He might address debates over same-sex relationships, cohabitation and polygamy, an issue in Africa. Or, he could sidestep such divisive topics and stick to broader philosophical statements.
“For the past two years, Francis has guided the church through a sweeping exercise of self-examination that some scholars have compared to the Second Vatican Council. Catholics around the world filled out detailed questionnaires about whether the church meets their families’ needs. Bishops and other church officials spent two tumultuous meetings at the Vatican, known as synods, debating and arguing.
“The broad topic was whether the Catholic Church should reposition itself, and how. Francis listened, prodded and sometimes steered the process, but he mostly kept his own counsel. Until now.
“Having led Catholics into such delicate terrain, Francis has stirred hope and fear. Some religious conservatives warn he could destabilize the church and undermine Catholic doctrine. Some liberals, though, are hoping Francis will directly address same-sex marriage and contraception in a way that would make the church more responsive to today’s realities.
“‘I’m sure he knew he would touch some nerves,’ said John Thavis, a longtime Vatican analyst and the author of ‘The Vatican Diaries.’ ‘He may not have appreciated how much opposition there could be.’
“But both sides might be disappointed.”
By Laurie Goodstein and Jim Yardley — Click here to read the rest of this story.