Tradition und Glauben

Christopher A. Ferrara, Amoris Laetitia: Anatomy of a Pontifical Debacle. 4: An Essay In Subversion

PART II. An Essay In Subversion With good reason does Phil Lawler call Amoris Laetitia a “subversive” document that will likely cause “an acceleration of an already powerful trend to dismiss the Church’s perennial teaching.” To read Chapter 8, comprising paragraphs 291-312, is to understand that these pages, which explicitly advocate “accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness” in the Church, could not have been more cleverly written for subversive ends. (1)  “Moral ecumenism” and praise of “irregular” sexual relationships; Christian marriage reduced to an ideal (291-294). Amoris Laetitia attempts to invest with the cloak of the Magisterium the preposterous “moral ecumenism” first floated at Synod 2015. According to this repellant novelty, the Church is now supposed to recognize the “constructive elements” in relationships she has traditionally condemned as mortally sinful, including second “marriages” and “even simple cohabitation,” so long as they tick enough boxes on a new checklist of “constructive features” that supposedly confer nobility on illicit sexual unions: “stability,” “deep affection,” “responsibility for offspring” and “an ability to overcome trials in the midst of a storm.” (293) Just as “ecumenism” harps incessantly on the “good elements” in false religions laden with heresy and superstition, leaving their practitioners undisturbed in their errors, the newly invented moral ecumenism of the Synod of Francis will now harp incessantly on the good elements in false relationships involving adultery and fornication, leaving their participants undisturbed in sin. In 2016, after the Synod, the concept of living in sin is suddenly abolished, just as the concept of being outside the one true Church was suddenly abolished after Vatican II. Accordingly, also in line with ecumenism, Amoris Laetitia now informs us that “Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other in a free, faithful and exclusive love, who belong to each other until death and are open to the transmission of life, and are consecrated by the sacrament…” (292) The reader will readily guess what is coming next: “Some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way.” So, Christian marriage now becomes the “fullness” of marriage, while illicit sexual unions of various kinds are seriously described as “partially” realizing this “ideal.” In like manner, the Catholic Church is “ecumenically” described as merely possessing the “fullness of truth” while other religions have a more or less acceptable quantum of it. Thus everyone is safe right where he is, although it would be better to have “fullness.” The effects of this notion on conversions to Catholicism are obvious; the effect will be the same on conversions to Christian marriage. The next element of subversion (quoting Synod 2015) is a moral justification of civil marriage and even cohabitation as alternatives to the “ideal” of Christian marriage: “The choice of a civil marriage or, in many cases, of simple cohabitation, is often not motivated by prejudice or resistance to a sacramental union, but by cultural or contingent situations…. celebrating marriage is considered too expensive in the social circumstance. As a result, material poverty drives people into de facto unions.” (294) One can only laugh at the Synod’s claim that poverty makes a simple Catholic wedding ceremony impossible, or that “shacking up” is less expensive than living in Holy Matrimony under the same roof with the same person. One is reminded here of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, which sought to undermine Christian marriage and promote divorce by cataloguing various “cultural alternatives” to the divine institution as dry anthropological facts. (294) According to Francis, “de facto unions” are now to be viewed as “opportunities that can lead to the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel.” (294) Thus people living in sin are now said to have “part” of the reality of marriage—a proposition as nonsensical as the claim that heretics who reject the very existence of the Catholic Church and practice various forms of gravely sinful sexual immorality are somehow in “partial communion” with her. What Romano Amerio has called the “loss of essences” in postconciliar thinking—a tendency to avoid distinguishing with exactitude good from bad, true from false, licit from illicit and often even one thing from another—now claims Christian marriage and even the moral law itself. The reduction of marriage to an “ideal” radically undermines respect for the divine institution Francis purports to defend, and the only licit conjugal relation between man and woman now becomes the mere end point on a scale of relational choices, all of which are to be viewed as more or less good. Mortally sinful sexual unions are no longer to be treated as threats to salvation, but only as stages in a “gradual” moral development. This…

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