A New Critical Study of Amoris Laetitia

Source: District of the USA

Extracts from the very critical study “Alice in Amoris Laetitia Land”, which analyzes the different points of Amoris Laetitia, particularly Chapter 8

On May 2, 2016, the Society of St. Pius X requested a correction of the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia and especially Chapter 8:

[W]hat is ambiguous must be interpreted in a clear manner, and what contradicts the constant doctrine and practice of the Church must be retracted, for the glory of God, for the good of the whole Church, and for the salvation of souls, especially those in danger of being deceived by the guise of a false mercy.” 

(see DICI#335, May 6, 2016)

On May 7, in Rome, John Smeaton, Director General of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and cofounder of Voice of the Family, in his opening speech for the Rome Life Forum – in the presence of Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke – wished for the Roman document to be simply withdrawn.

On May 26, in a letter addressed to the American lawyer Christopher Ferrara, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Sainte-Marie d’Astana (Kasakhstan), demanded “a solid analysis of all the ambiguous and objectively erroneous expressions contained in Amoris Laetitia.” (See Nouvelles de Chrétienté #159 – May-June 2016)

On June 7, Vatican specialist Sandro Magister published on his website Chiesa a very precise critical study by the Australian university professor Anna M. Silvas, who teaches at the University of New England and at the Australian Catholic University. Her analysis is entitled “Alice in Amoris Laetitia Land”, in reference to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. You will see why at the end of the 3rd paragraph of the extracts here below.

Extracts from "Alice in Amoris Laetitia Land"

Reading Chapter 8

(…) Already in n. 297, we see the responsibility for "irregular situations" being shifted to the discernment of pastors. Step by subtle step the arguments advance definite agenda. N. 299 queries how "current forms of exclusion currently practiced" can be surmounted, and n. 301 introduces the idea of "conversation with the priest in the internal forum". Can you not already detect where the argument is going?

So we arrive at n. 301, which drops the guarded manner as we descend into the maelstrom of "mitigating factors". Here it seems the "mean old Church" has finally been superseded by the "nice new Church": in the past we may have thought that those living in "irregular situations" without repentance were in a state of mortal sin; now, however, they may not be in a state of mortal sin after all, indeed, sanctifying grace may be at work in them.

It is then explained, in an excess of pure subjectivism, that "a subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent value". Here is a mitigating factor to beat all mitigating factors. On this argument then, do we now exculpate the original envy of Lucifer, because he had "great difficulty in understanding" the "inherent value" to him, of the transcendent majesty of God? At which point, I feel that we have lost all foothold, and fallen like Alice into a parallel universe, where nothing is quite what it seems to be. (…)

Finally we come to the crucial n. 305. It commences with two of the sort of throwaway caricatures that recur throughout the document. The new doctrine that Pope Francis had flagged a little earlier he now repeats and reasserts: a person can be in an objective situation of mortal sin – for that is what he is speaking about – and still be living and growing in God’s grace, all the "while receiving the help of the Church", which, the infamous footnote 351 declares, can include, "in certain cases", both confession and holy communion. I am sure that there are by now many busily attempting to "interpret" all this according to a "hermeneutic of continuity", to show its harmony, I presume, with Tradition. I might add that in this n. 305, Pope Francis quotes himself four times. In fact, it appears that Pope Francis’ most frequently cited reference through "Amoris laetitia" is himself, and that in itself is interesting.

In the rest of the chapter Pope Francis changes tack. He makes an inverted admission that his approach may leave "room for confusion" (n. 308). To this he responds with a discussion of "mercy". At the very beginning in n. 7 he declared that "everyone should feel challenged by chapter eight". Yes we do, but not quite in the blithe heuristic sense he meant it. Pope Francis has freely admitted in time past that he is the sort of person who loves to make "messes"? Well, I think we can concede that he has certainly achieved that here. (…)

In my younger years, I anguished over the conundrum: how can you be obedient to the disobedient? For a pope too, is called to obedience – indeed, preeminently so.

The wider implications of "Amoris Laetitia"

The serious difficulties I foresee, for priests in particular, arise from clashing interpretations of the loopholes discretely planted throughout "Amoris Laetitia". What will a young new priest do, who, well informed, wishes to maintain that the divorced and remarried can in no wise by admitted to Holy Communion, while his parish priest has a policy of "accompaniment", which on the contrary envisages that they can. What will a parish priest with a similar sense of fidelity do, if his bishop and diocese decide for a more liberal policy? What will one region of bishops do in relation to another region of bishops, as each set of bishops decides how to cut and divide the "nuances" of this new doctrine, so that in the worst case, what is held to be mortal sin on one side of the border, is "accompanied" away and condoned on the other side of the border? We know it is already happening, officially, in certain German dioceses, and unofficially in Argentina, and even here in Australia, for years, as I can vouch from my own family.

Such an outcome is so appalling, it may mark, as another friend, also a married man, suggested, the collapse of the catholic christian narrative. But of course other aspects of ecclesial and social deterioration have also brought us to this point: the havoc of pseudo-renewal in the Church in the past few decades, the numbingly stupid policy of inculturation applied to a deracinated Western culture of militant secularism, the relentless, progressive erosion of marriage and the family in society, the greater attack on the Church from within than from without that Pope Benedict so lamented, the long defection of certain theologians and laity in the matter of contraception, the frightful sexual scandals, the countless casual sacrileges, the loss of the spirit of the liturgy, the "de facto" internal schisms on a whole range of serious issues and approaches, thinly papered over with a semblance of "de jure" Church unity, the patterns of profound spiritual and moral dissonance that seethe beneath the tattered title of "catholic" these days. And we wonder that the Church is in a weakened state and fading away?(…)


Here Anna M. Silvas addresses the cardinals and bishops.

(…) Meanwhile, you who have responsibilities in the governance of the Church, will have to make practical dispositions in regard to the thorny issues of "Amoris Laetitia". First of all, in our own minds, we should have no doubt teaching of the Gospel is, and ever will be. Obviously, whatever strategy of pressing for an official clarification of projected pastoral practice that can be devised, must be tried. I particularly urge this on bishops. Some of you may find yourselves in very difficult situations in regard to your peers, almost calling for the virtues of a confessor of the faith. Are you ready for the whipping, figuratively speaking, you may incur? You could of course, choose the illusory safety of conventional shallowness and superficial good cheer, a great temptation of ecclesiastics as company men. I don’t advise it. The times are serious, perhaps much more serious than we suspect. We are being put to the test. "The Lord is here. He is calling you".

(sources: chiesa – DICI#335 July 1, 2016)