Action Alert!

Quick Hits: A devastating rebuttal on Amoris Laetitia, propaganda for Silence, trouble with the Knights of Malta

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 09, 2017

  • Last week Crux posted an argument in support of the Kasper proposal, presented by Father Paul Keller in the form of a fictitious case involving an immigrant woman who was abandoned by her (first) husband. Canon lawyer Edward Peters quickly responded with the most devastating rebuttal imaginable, scoring point after point as he explains that individual conscience cannot be the sole guide for an individual—or for a pastor. Peters explains:
    In administering holy Communion to a member of the faithful, Roman Catholic ministers are bound not by “guidelines” supposedly fashioned from a single, ambiguous, and highly controverted papal document, but instead by the plain and dispositive text of another papal document, called the Code of Canon Law
    But that’s only the beginning of Peters’ case: the first powerful argument among many. (The Peters piece has now also been posted on the Crux site, for easy comparison with the Keller piece. It’s a revealing juxtaposition, illustrating a point that has become almost impossible to ignore. The critics of of the Kasper proposal are winning all the arguments; the supporters are making their appeal primarily if not solely to emotions—when they aren’t trying to suppress the discussion altogether.

  • On his dual-language blog, leading Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister looks askance at the enormous amount of publicity that is being given to Martin Scorsese’s movie, Silence, by the Jesuit order and particularly by the flagship Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, which devoted an astonishing 22 pages to Scorsese’s work. Magister observes that the message of the movie—or at least certainly the message of its Jesuit cheerleaders—is that old-fashioned missionary work, dedicating to converting people to Christianity, is outdated. One Jesuit author, writing in Civilta Cattolica, writes that “the antiquated conception of mission, which comes from the Western colonial era of the 19th century and survives in the subconscious of many missionaries, foreign and native, must be replaced with a new conception of the people with whom and for whom one works.” He adds: “Dialogue must deepen our conception of the other religions and of the common human need for religious values.” Another commentator, this time in the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, says that the film’s message is a reminder of the need to see “the hidden God, the ‘transcendent point’ common to all the religions.”

  • And in the National Catholic Register, Edward Pentin digs into the background of the dispute within the Knights of Malta, over the dismissal of the group’s former chancellor, Albrecht von Boeselager. There is considerable disagreement over the degree to which Boeselager was responsible for support for, and involvement in, a condom-distribution scheme. But it is clear, Pentin reports, that Pope Francis fully endorsed action to ensure that the Knights were not involved with any morally questionable projects. However, the Vatican Secretariat of State was surprised by Boeselager’s dismissal, and Pope Francis set up an investigating commission—which is dominated by Boeselager’s allies. Fra’ Matthew Festing, the grand master of the Knights of Malta, has said that the investigation is unwarranted and unwelcome, pointing out that the Knights have independent—indeed sovereign—status. Nevertheless Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, has indicated that the investigation will proceed. A showdown looms.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: nix898049 - Jan. 13, 2017 12:38 PM ET USA

    Thank you, Randal. I was about to sputter something about the silly notion that we all worship the same God. A cooler head prevailed!

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jan. 10, 2017 12:04 AM ET USA

    "The hidden God, the 'transcendent point' common to all...religions." Thank the Lord he didn't say "omega" point. I would like a definition of the "transcendent point" common to all religions. Buddhism, for example, does not have a "transcendent point." The "hidden God" is just another code name for the "immanent God," a god that exists fundamentally within the mind, the congregation, the world; the polar opposite of a transcendent God, creator and sustainer of all, independent of His creation.