Further Dubia for the Confused

St. John Paul II, document on Amoris Laetitia, and Pope Benedict XVI

The Holy Father is given very special graces to guide the Catholic Church, being the successor of Peter. He is the vicar of Christ to which I adhere. Yet, when reading his latest exhortation, Amoris laetitia, I feel confused.

In 1998, Pope St. John Paul added something to the Code of Canon Law, and the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a commentary on a document entitled: Ad Tuendam Fidem. What was added is found in the second paragraph of the Code:

§2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The then Cardinal Ratzinger gives us an understanding of paragraph two in the same document when he states (footnotes included):

The object taught by this formula includes all those teachings belonging to the dogmatic or moral area, (13. Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, 4: AAS 60 (1968), 483; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, 36-37: AAS 85 (1993), 1162-1163), which are necessary for faithfully keeping and expounding the deposit of faith, even if they have not been proposed by the Magisterium of the Church as formally revealed.

Such doctrines can be defined solemnly by the Roman Pontiff when he speaks “ex cathedra” or by the College of Bishops gathered in council, or they can be taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church as a “sententia definitive tenenda“(14. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 25). Every believer, therefore, is required to give firm and definitive assent to these truths, based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters. (15. Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 8 and 10; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 3: AAS 65 (1973), 400-401). Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine (16. Cf. John Paul II, Motu proprio ad tuendam fidem (May 18, 1998) and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

What is of value here is that a definitive assertion of the sacred magisterium means giving assent to what is infallibly taught, even if not of divine faith. Again, Cardinal Ratzinger gives us an example (more could be added had he so wished) when he states:

Other examples of moral doctrines which are taught as definitive by the universal and ordinary Magisterium of the Church are: the teaching on the illicitness of prostitution (35. Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 193) and of fornication ( 36. Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2353. and of fornication).

Concerning the first dubium posed by the four Cardinals in November to Pope Francis, the question that is being posed is whether or not someone previously validly married, and who now is living with another partner, may be absolved from sin without having to live as brother and sister, and therefore may also receive holy communion. This is in contrast to the teaching of Pope St. John Paul in Familiaris Consortio, 84, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Whereas Amoris laetitia (hereafter AL) 305, footnote 351, seems to abolish the teaching, and allows for freedom of the second couple to have intercourse for the sake of a long-term faithful “invalid marriage” that has children to raise. This first dubium is then really asking whether the previous teaching and pastoral practice was pastorally in error, overly severe, and, given current cultural circumstances, no longer needed to be followed. However, the alternative is also possible, namely that footnote 351 of AL is in error, and contrary to CIC 750 #2. What are we supposed to hold as true?

The second dubium questions if Veritatis Splendor §79 (hereafter VS), which taught that there are moral absolutes having no exceptions, that coming from sacred tradition and sacred scripture, is now no longer to be taught as true based upon AL 304. A moral absolute in the Tradition meant that there is no special circumstance that could overturn it, and thereby it becomes a morally good action. Otherwise, AL 304 would also have been in error if written in 1993. Are both positions true, such that we can choose one teaching over the other?

The third dubium, based on AL 301, wonders if it is true to say that someone living in the state of adultery in contradiction to Mt. 19: 3-9, is thereby no longer in an objective situation of grave habitual sin, and therefore is not really in contradiction to God’s law, contrary to Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000. If this were true, then adultery is not always and everywhere an absolute prohibition today, as it was taught in previous times, unless the motives are bad. Human nature qua nature then seems somewhat different such that what is forbidden in Poland, may be encouraged in Malta with discernment. On the other hand, AL 301 would likewise be in error in the year 2000. What is the truth of the matter?

The fourth dubium, based on Al 302, which seems to question whether or not circumstances or intentions can transform an intrinsically evil act, thereby becoming a subjectively good choice for a particular individual. However, this appears to be a contradiction to Veritatis Splendor 81, which in turn is based on Sacred Scripture, and the Tradition of the Church. Therefore, the fourth dubium wonders if reducing an intrinsically moral evil, to a probable moral evil, is really proportionalism. Yet, could it possibly mean that to deny intrinsically moral evil contradicts the Tradition of the Church? What should a Catholic hold as true?

Finally, the fifth dubium revolves around conscience (AL 303), and asks whether a person’s sincere conscience can make legitimate exceptions to divine precepts that tradition, scripture, and VS 56 excludes. Does a “yes” answer then overturn previous teaching of the Church, and so could also be contrary to the new teaching of the Church? Are both positions to be considered true?

In summary, if Pope Francis were to answer the first question as “yes,” then it follows that Familiaris Consortio, 84—and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34—and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29, is in error and, therefore AL, would be the real truth. Furthermore, FC would then not have been a definitive and authentic act of the magisterium of the previous Pope, St. John Paul, who taught precisely the opposite. Living in an invalid marriage, one need not make a voluntary commitment, not merely a simple velleity or wish, to live as brother and sister (continence) before one can be absolved of sin, and receive holy communion. If this teaching was erroneous in practice, why? Impossible to practice?

If the answer to questions two through five is “no,” then VS 79, 81, and 56, are either erroneous, or could AL’s teaching in this area be erroneous? Further, Matthew 19:3-9, forbidding divorce and remarriage, is to be treated as an ideal of Jesus to strive for, and not a real precept of the Lord. Is this true? Furthermore, while a Pope may answer “no” by force of his office, he cannot yet appeal to an evolution of doctrine because this teaching, on the surface, contradicts previous, settled and definitive doctrine, and does not deepen the teaching, but undermines it. If previous teachings were based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, then could this new teaching be in serious error? Since Pope St. John Paul taught these doctrines as definitive, not as opinions, and therefore fell under canon 752, #2, how can the Holy Spirit, as it were, “speak out of both sides of his mouth?” In VS 105, the “attitude of the Pharisee” is “expressed particularly in the attempt to adapt the moral norm to one’s own capacities and personal interests.” Or do the new pastoral relaxations, based on discernment, mean that the old moral norms were pharisaical ones? Did Pope St. John Paul objectively deceive the Church as Al suggests?

All of the following numbers of VS (29, 52, 75, 76, 81, 110, 114) teach that it is “incompatible with revealed truth,” namely, that there are exceptions to absolute negative precepts. Secondly in VS 103, it states it is a “very serious error to say that commandments are ideals.” Thirdly, VS 115 explicitly teaches that conscience is to be guided by the Church, the voice of Jesus Christ. Finally, VS 56 teaches that there is no double status of moral truth, one abstract, the other a more concrete existential consideration. This would be at odds with Sacred Scripture and Tradition (VS 57-61). Did these statements of Pope St. John Paul lead the Church astray?

To ignore the dubia seems like saying: “I do not know the truth of the matter, so follow your conscience, and God is infinitely merciful.” Somehow, I do not think following a confusing magisterial document is what our Lord intended. So, many of us await for clarification of light and life. St. Vincent Lerins reminded us, centuries ago, that progress in understanding our faith means that new formulations are to be made “in the same doctrine, in the same sense, and in the same meaning.” It is doctrine that is the foundation of pastoral practice. Perhaps, because of my ignorance and pride, I do not see, so far, the light in chapter eight of AL, but I await clarifications of the ambiguities from the papal magisterium that I have found in the same magisterium.

Rev. Basil Cole, O.P. About Rev. Basil Cole, O.P.

Fr. Basil Cole, O.P., is Ordinary Professor of Moral, Spiritual and Dogmatic Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He has authored Music and Morals (Alba House, 1993) and co-authored with Paul Connor, O.P., Christian Totality: Theology of Consecrated Life (St. Paul’s editions in Bombay, India 1990, revised in 1997 Alba House). He has written for The Priest, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Reason and Faith, and Angelicum. He has also been a long time collaborator for Germain Grisez’s four volume series of moral theology, The Way of the Lord Jesus.

Comments

  1. Bea G. Zienkosky says:

    Thank you for this article. I am very distressed at what has been happening with Pope Francis. I am an 83 year old woman of divorce and never remarried. Not because I felt it was not a good thing to do , if done correctly, with the approval of the Canon Law, which of course expects you to have the marriage annulled and that it was invalid to begin with, but now we are being told that The Holy Spirit is encouraging Pope Francis to give a new law telling us to live like heathens and do what we ” feel” is good for us. He is destroying the Church with this insane reasoning. I am actually so sad that I cried over such things being propagated. I have been praying for my family members return to the church after much prayer for them and I now fear they will decide it isn’t worth it to come back. That they will decide, why should we since it seems ok to do ” what ever we want ” instead of
    ” Do what ever”HE” tells you. I cannot accept this reasoning of the Pope and can’t see why we should obey him instead of Our Lord and The Holy Spirit.

    • George stanfield says:

      Be merciful and forgiving. I am very sure all what you have done wrong, if you are seriously repentant, you are forgiven. Forgive, love, and forgive.

    • John Meyer says:

      Thank you for being able to cry over such things. You are of the Spirit and not of the world.

  2. John Larkin says:

    In order to follow Christ one must know what the church teaches.
    A popes function is to ensure that moral teaching on conditions for reception of the sacraments is unambiguous.
    Therefore where previous clear teaching gets muddied and ambiguous a very grave problem is created.
    Not only is the teaching of Christ obscured but the authority of the church as teacher is undermined.
    These are just the minor problems in the most severe spiritual crisis in the Roman Catholic papacy possibly in its history.

  3. I don’t have knowledge of things . I just pray that The Holy Spirit would make things clear to all.

    • John Larkin says:

      Unless one knows what the Roman Catholic church teaches then it simply is not possible to properly follow Christ.
      The Holy Spirit resides fully in the Roman catholic church and is revealed through her teachings on revelation and dogmatic doctrinal truths.
      These teachings are all available to anybody interested in studying them.
      Therefore the Holy Spirit does indeed make things not just clear but crystal clear.

      Unfortunately a situation has now arisen where previously settled crystal clear church teaching has become unclear due to an official church document that many believe contradicts and overturns the binding requirements of three sacraments , eucharist, penance and matrimony.

      This all means that an extremely grave problem exists in the catholic church related to the office of the papacy whose responsibility it is to ensure such doubt,division and confusion never arises.

  4. Excellent explanation, Father! Perhaps the idea these days is to envelope everyone in invincible ignorance so as to get everyone a pass into Paradise. Fanciful as that appeal might be, I am reminded of the passage in Luke 12:48:

    “But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.”

    Of course the punishments pronounced by Our Lord in the preceding verses were a bit more severe, i.e. ‘torn to pieces’

    • John Larkin says:

      Dear Mr Ronan.
      It is unacceptable that Roman Catholics be left in ignorance concerning what their church teaches on important matters.
      These most unusual events in the church began during 2013 .
      The person responsible is Pope Benedict XV1.
      He remains silent.
      Quite simply now I know what it was like when three people were claiming the title of pope during the Great Western Schism.

  5. Lourdes Deserpa says:

    God Bless you Fr.We, the faithful laity, and the four brave Cardinals, signatories desperately need to hear more voices of faithful priests and prelates to defend the Magisterium of the Church.

  6. Thank you Fr. Cole for a succinct discussion of the Dubia questions and the need for direct answers.
    I have forwarded your article to many. I appreciate your insight as I appreciate the insight of the Dominican fathers in New Haven at St. Mary’s!
    Andy O

  7. But is this not a question of law more than theology? If the Church cannot judge an individual to be in a state of objective mortal sin (which she cannot, since that would involve judging the individual’s free consent of the will and the individual’s ‘full knowledge,’ a judgment that can be made by conscience alone), then isn’t the prohibition of a class of people from receiving communion is essentially a legal one, and not really a question of moral theology? One could conceivably be living in an invalid union (objectively grave matter), but through either ignorance or a lack of free will not be in a state of mortal sin, and thus not be barred (theologically) from receiving communion, but only by legal prohibition. In such a case, lifting the legal prohibition would not be undermining Jesus’ teachings on divorce, nor would it be undermining the gravity of the sin, but simply acknowledging that the individual circumstances of a person might lessen the culpability of the sin below the threshold needed for it to be mortal sin. There would also seem to be precedent for this in the Catechism, which acknowledges that certain factors can, “lessen, if not reduce to a minimum, moral culpability” (CCC 2352) pertaining to sins of grave matter. If this is the way that Pope Francis sees it, then the Dubia seem to disappear: they don’t deny any teachings of the Church, but simply provide a pastoral guide for lifting legal restrictions on receiving communion for those whose moral culpability may be below the threshold of mortal sin. Now, whether lifting those restrictions is a good thing or prudent pastoral practice is a separate question.

    • Denis Jackson says:

      ‘A state of objective mortal sin’….now just look at this notion long and hard. Surely it means a clear decision to live without Christ. Who is capable of that and in what circumstances ? How can Canon Law cover this ? Only the mind of God knows . So it follows that a developing and mature pastoral theology does not even start judging whether a person is so cut off from God. We simply do not know about the state of individual souls ……this is why this good Pope is steering clear of such notions . He is dead right in my opinion .
      If a person who reads AL and becomes confused then surely that’s a sign that the inherent confusion comes from within the person . Deal with it!

      • Jesus Christ is very clear on divorce and adultery. This isn’t something new and it certainly is not something “developing.” One cannot judge a person’s soul, but they may certainly judge their actions. If the Pope now wants to state that it is okay to live in mortal sin, he is now failing to adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ. What is next if adultery and fornication are just fine? Rape? Murder? When Bishops are stating that these things are okay because of what is written in AL and others (rightfully so) state they are not okay, the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ, should be clarifying these things. This is confusion created by the Vicar of Christ and in his pride or stubbornness, refuses to clarify it. When Bishops are reading confusion into AL AND they are telling people it is just fine to commit adultery and then receive the Eucharist, no mortal sin here, then we have a serious problem in the Church. These are souls that Bishops are supposed to be caring for and leading to Christ, not to damnation. This good Pope is not being a good shepherd and one has to wonder what his motives are. One does not need canon law to understand the words that came out of Our Lord’s mouth on the subject of divorce and adultery. This failure to comprehend this is more of the relativism of this world that says there is no sin if I do not feel there is sin. That may work in the secular world, but not for Catholics.

      • John Grimes says:

        Your post reminds me of what a priest once told me about mortal sin. According to him, it was near nigh impossible to commit such a sin. He said one had to make a fundamental decision against God to accomplish this. I listened to his reasoning but never believed him because he seemed to contradict 2000+ years of teaching and experience; to put it colloquially, I thought he was talking bunk. Recently I learned this man finally left the priesthood and was pumping gas at a service station in Alabama or Georgia. The revelation really didn’t surprise me much.

    • “… then isn’t the prohibition of a class of people from receiving communion is essentially a legal one, and not really a question of moral theology?”

      It’s both.

      As Livio Melina, former head of the JPII Institute, put it, the problem isn’t really mortal sin per se:

      “As for discernment, this cannot have as its object the person’s state of grace, the judgment of which the Church knows must be left only to God (cf. Council of Trent, DH 1534), nor can it focus upon the possibility of observing the commandments of God, for which sufficient grace is always given to those who ask for it (Council of Trent, DH 1536). The Church’s judgment not to admit to the Eucharist the divorced who are civilly remarried or cohabiting does not equate to the judgment that they are living in mortal sin: it is rather a judgment on their state of life, which is in objective contradiction with the mystery of the faithful union between Christ and his Church.

      “Against all individualism and spiritualism, the Church’s magisterial tradition has proclaimed the public and sacramental reality of marriage and the Eucharist: in order to receive it, not being aware of mortal sin is a subjective condition that is necessary, but not sufficient.”

      • Sure, but if the issue is not mortal sin, then we must recognize that the prohibition of the divorced and civilly remarried from receiving communion lies in the realm of defined legal and pastoral practice, not immutable truth. To be sure, it is practice that has definite theological justification and historical precedent…but it is practice nevertheless. As such, it seems as though the answers to Dubia 2-5 are pretty obvious: a change in legal/pastoral practice does not imply a change in the underlying theology. Thus, there are still absolute moral norms, grave matter is still grave matter, and conscience can still not allow us to make exceptions to absolute moral norms. Dubia 4 seems especially odd since Pope Francis is quoting the catechism, and never implies that lessened culpability is the same thing as a ‘subjectively good’ act. Thus Dubia 1 is the only one that really requires an answer, and Pope Francis has already answered it by referring to Cardinal Schoenborn’s answer.

        But, again, even if the Holy Father were to answer that there are some situations in which the divorced/civilly remarried were able to receive communion, that would be a determination of pastoral and legal practice, acknowledging that there could be situations in which those people may not be in a state of mortal sin, and as such are not blocked by Divine prohibition, but rather by Church prohibition, which can change. Doing so would not imply a change to any of the underlying moral doctrine regarding human sexuality, marriage, or sin, though one could certainly make the case that it might result in a ‘cheapening’ of the way this doctrine is lived out by the members of the Church in this day and age.

    • Ferde Rombola says:

      You are parroting the Pope’s heresies found in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, which oppose the settled doctrines of the Church. Your fanciful language, trying to dance around the truth, is unavailing. One is either a Catholic or one is not.

      • John Grimes says:

        Thank you, Ferde, for this straightforward (and correct, I believe) analysis of so much persiflage. Refreshing. Thank you again.

    • Christopher R says:

      Previous rulings appear to indicate that this is not merely a matter of ecclesial law and discipline. The Pontifical Council Council for Legislative Texts said this with regard to Canon 915:

      “The prohibition found in the cited canon, by its nature, is derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws: the latter cannot introduce legislative changes which would oppose the doctrine of the Church.”

      http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/intrptxt/documents/rc_pc_intrptxt_doc_20000706_declaration_en.html

      Now I’m not competant to say whether or not this document could be in error, but given the authoritative nature of the statement and weight of tradition behind I think we at least require a clear and careful argument for how and why it does not apply. So far we have not seen such clarification.

    • John Larkin says:

      The profound defect in Amoris Laetitia is that it seeks to present the human conscience with an answer that God not only tolerates disobedience on grave matters but may even be asking a person to persist in offending.
      That is both evil and blasphemous.
      The document is theologically poisonous and should be withdrawn.

  8. Philip Francis Bersabe says:

    Thank you Fr. Basil for the wonderful article. Let us wait for Pope Francis to answer the dubia. The whole Amoris Laetitiae cannot be reduced simply into one controversial footnote. It should be interpreted in the light of the whole Synod. It would be unfair to focus only one footnote when the Exhortation is a fruit of collegial body. It is a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. The introduction of “pastoral discernment” is not watering down of moral norms but looking holistically at the whole person, not just the act or the object. Objectivism is equally dangerous as proportionalism. Even St. Thomas speaks of “virtue- based ethics”. Let charity and compassion guide our moral judgment. How would Jesus judge the couple in such difficult situation, from what lens? Will Jesus impose a rigid moral norms or will He show the compassion of the Father. Perhaps we have forgotten John chapter 8, the account of the adulterous woman. Are we really near the spirit of Christ or have gone to far because of our rigidity and moral dogmatism? Just thinking out loud. Even the late Fr. Bernard Haring objected to the moral absolutes and posted his objections on Veritatis Splendor. Let us wait for Pope Francis to respond to the dubia and do not further add to the confusion. I even ask what is the theological justification for the “Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis”, where did the 62 scholars get the authority to accuse Pope Francis of “material” heresy or error? Are they setting a “parallel magisterium” over and above the ordinary papal magisterium?” Is this disobedience in disguise of correction? Even Cardinal Burke and Brandmueller the initiators of the dubia did not affix their signatures on the correction.

    • bill bannon says:

      Philip,
      Christ told the Samaritan woman at the well that she had been with five men and the one she was with was not her husband. No excuses mentioned. He told the woman caught in adultery…” go and sin no more”…not….” go and sin no more unless you are under pressure which makes full consent improbable”. He told every male on earth…” if you so much as look with lust at another woman, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart”…..He didn’t add….” but you can leave your wife, marry that other woman, and not only look at her….but have sex with her under the pressure of keeping an invalid family together.”
      When you look at Christ and His no excuses approach to sex and then look at this bizarre attempt to get invalid cohabitors to the Eucharist….it just doesn’t compute and certainly doesn’t remind one of Christ’s clarity and his lack of excuses to the woman caught in adultery or the Samaritan woman or to all males on earth who are not to look at another woman with desire….let alone have children by her.

  9. I have asked this question over and over again and no-one has answered me. Here goes, once more:

    In the case of a homosexual marriage (in a country where SSM has been legalised) and one spouse repents and wishes to return to the sacraments and there are children acquired through IVF, surrogacy or adoption, would the permission to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion extend to this person too? And if not, why not?

    • looks like no reply once again……

      • Maybe if you elaborate on the (hypothetical?) case you cite, and made the question more precisely framed, it could invite a response. Is this person a Catholic? What exactly is the one person of this gravely immoral civil union repenting of? Infidelity to the Catholic Faith? Homosexual activity? Use of disordered means to achieve pregnancy? Bringing children into this morally disordered household? And what does “repent” mean to this person?

  10. Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC says:

    Thank you, Fr. Basil. I remember your wisdom, clarity, and precision during seminary classes. The Church greatly needs the sons of St. Dominic at this time. I pray that the champions of truth (the “dogs of God”) continue barking!

  11. To those who think this boils down only to legal prohibitions and conscience, in that those who are divorced and remarried may not be culpable out of ignorance. How do you explain Jesus’s comments to the woman at the well and what he told the apostles when they questioned what he said. He said flat out it was adultery. This was despite the extenuating circumstances of that period of time, where all Jews had been taught that Moses permitted divorce and remarriage. So they were all improper taught for generations that divorce and remarriage were okay. Even the woman at the well was under this impression at the time. And despite all this, he tells her she is not living with her real husband and he tells the apostles it is adultery. If we apply AL, they all should have gotten a pass, and Our Lord was not being very pastoral to them, because of their cultural misunderstanding on the nature of marriage. Maybe I am just stupid, but AL does not stack up with what Our Lord said in very similar times.

  12. One other point that drives me nuts is Francis has said that EVERYONE knows what the Catholic Church teaches so, therefore, we do not need to talk about it all the time. Okay? So, if this is true, (and I believe that deep down, everyone knows right from wrong, they just won’t admit it) then how can we say these people didn’t know any better when they got divorced and remarried outside the Church? You have just said we don’t need to talk about it, because we all know what the Church teaches. Sorry, I’m just confused by this constant back and forth on issues.

  13. Francis Etheredge says:

    The value of “no”.

    In the course of my return to the Church I remember going to confession and discussing the possibility of marrying in a registry office. The priest said that he could not give me absolution as there was no indication that I was ready to reject a registry office wedding. Thus this “no” was very helpful and, whether or not due to his prayers, I did not marry.

    Conversion, then, is not just about whether or not a person is in a state of mortal or venial sin; it is, rather, about “no” being a help to a person coming to his senses: to a person being called by the love of God to recognise, objectively, the reality of his life.

    “One dreadful day, in front of yet another failure to live a chaste courtship and all the agonizing problems which are an integral part of that experience, I was ready for suicide; but, in the unfathomable mercy of God, in that very moment, through the very Catechism of the Catholic Church that I had begun to study, God came to my aid. As I travelled across the countryside, to and from the priest who was helping me to study theology, the fact of nature and its magnificent splendour stirred in me; and, in a moment too real but not too soon, I read the words of the Catechism which begot faith in me for the first time: ‘Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them’ (CCC, 298). In other words, the insight that I had completely lacked was not only my own sinfulness but the greatness of God’s help.

    This Advent, then, I implore you to expect the coming of the word of God and the help you need, just as He gives this poor man the help he still needs (cf. Ps 34: 6)” (the latter, quoted paragraphs, is an excerpt from a book that I hope will help others: “The Family on Pilgrimage: God Leads Through Dead Ends”.

    • Thank you Fr. Cole for a great analysis of the confusion in Amoris Laetitia, the honesty of the Dubia, and the reference to St Vincent of Lerins which is spot on.

  14. Glenna Bradshaw says:

    It’s pretty clear from the tone of this article that you agree with the Cardinals who wrote the Dubia. That’s your prerogative. The question that haunts me is how much of the haranguing and hand-wringing re: AL sounds like the Pharisees clamoring that the Law says no work on the Sabbath, or the Law says a woman caught in adultery, or the Law says anyone claiming to be God, etc.
    That’s why I want to take a deep breath and wait on the Holy Spirit re: this mess.

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  3. […] For a critique of the assertion that Amoris Laetitia is Thomistic, see Dominican Father Basil Cole’s commentary here, and his more recent critique of the exhortation here. […]

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