Tradition und Glauben

Christopher A. Ferrara, Amoris Laetitia: Anatomy of a Pontifical Debacle. 5: Moral law reduced

(3)      The moral law reduced to “general rules”; Saint Thomas abused (301-302). In the already infamous paragraph 301, Francis next delivers an even broader revolutionary proclamation: “Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are depriv(ed of sanctifying grace.” This ipse dixit covers cohabiters, “remarried” divorcees and presumably even “partners” in the “same-sex unions” that Francis has already cited (53) as an example of the “great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability” even if they may not “simply be equated” with marriage. Note the key phrase “no longer”—that is, now that Francis is Pope, but not before him. Amazingly, Francis does not even care whether those who are living in sin know that the Church teaches they are sinning, which teaching he demotes to a “rule”: “More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding ‘its inherent values,’ or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.” (301) It is rhetorically essential to call the moral law a “rule” because the phrase “he may know well the moral law yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent values” connotes a sociopath, not a poor “abandoned” sinner whose “love” is “wounded.” The Catholic mind staggers before the spectacle of Pope who, for rhetorical convenience, reduces the moral law to “rules” from which one can be excused if he does not appreciate their “value” or his “concrete situation” supposedly makes compliance impossible—as if the precepts of the natural law were a set of traffic regulations. Saint Paul infallibly teaches that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).” Francis, however, apparently doesn’t agree with the word of God on this particular point. Neither did Martin Luther, whose launching of the “Reformation” Francis will be celebrating next year in Sweden, including a joint liturgy with Lutheran ministers whose churches reject the indissolubility of marriage, condone contraception and abortion, ordain women and practicing homosexuals as “priests” and “bishops,” and support the legalization of “same-sex unions” that Francis has consistently failed to oppose. Perhaps this is just a coincidence. In support of this enormity, Francis argues that Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that “someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well; in other words, although someone may possess infused moral virtues, he does not clearly manifest the existence of one of them, because the outward practice of that virtue is rendered difficult.” Here Francis misleadingly quotes Saint Thomas’s observation, not his teaching, in the Summa Theologiae that “Certain saints are said not to possess certain virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues.” But this citation to the Summa is utter nonsense. Infused virtues, unlike the corresponding acquired ones, are animated by supernatural charity, not merely the habit of acting virtuously. Saint Thomas is not discussing sinners whose objective conduct—in this case, adultery, as Our Lord Himself calls it—contradicts the very existence of an infused virtue, or any virtue, of chastity. Rather, Thomas’s subject is saints who possess all the infused virtues, can exercise them, albeit with some difficulty, and do not act habitually in a manner that is even objectively sinful. What a shameful abuse of the Angelic Doctor! As a clearly aghast Fr. Murray observed during the EWTN panel discussion: “I can’t believe a good group of Thomists won’t have a response to that.” Proceeding with his rules theory of the moral law, in paragraph 302 Francis cites two sections of the new Catechism (§§ 1735 and 2352) concerning factors that might diminish subjective culpability for particular sinful actions. But that principle of moral theology applies to individual sinful acts such as masturbation (§2352), not a continuing state of public immorality and consequent scandal without repentance or any firm purpose of amendment. As to public adultery in particular, the two sections of the Catechism that Francis studiously fails to mention even once in 256 pages demolish his theory: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’… If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law [and] and cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists…. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented…

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