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Leading scholars urge Pope to clarify Amoris Laetitia

December 09, 2016

Two leading Catholic scholars have urged Pope Francis to stop what they term the “misuse” of Amoris Laetitia, and more than 20 scholars have backed the four cardinals who submitted questions about the papal document, in separate appeals for clarity.

In a letter addressed to the Pontiff and “to all the bishops in communion with him, and to the rest of the Christian faithful,” John Finnis and Germain Grisez argue that popular misinterpretations of Amoris Laetitia are being used “to suppport errors against the Catholic faith.” They call upon Pope Francis to repudiate these errors, and ask “all bishops to join in this request and to issue their own condemnations of the erroneous positions we identify.” Finnis, a retired Oxford philosophy professor; and Grisez, a moral theologian who taught for years at Mount St. Mary’s, are among the world’s most respected Catholic thinkers.

In a separate document, 23 Catholic scholars gave their support to the four cardinals who have submitted dubia about the papal document. They warned that the rising tide of confusion within the Church is causing a “gravely critical” situation, comparable to the crisis of faith provoked by the Arian heresy. They suggested that if Pope Francis does not clarify Amoris Laetitia, it may become necessary for other prelates to “collectively approach him with some form of fraternal correction.”

Finnis and Grisez do not argue that Amoris Laetitia itself is in error, but insist that the document is being misused in order to undermine Catholic teachings. They write that papal statements “must be presumed to be consistent with one another when carefully interpreted,” and therefore Amoris Laetitia should be read in the light of previous clear papal statements affirming Church teaching on marriage.

To end the confusion that has arisen, Finnis and Grisez ask Pope Francis to condemn errors that have arisen. Specifically, they list eight propositions which contradict Church teaching, but have been advanced as consistent with the papal document:

  1. - that priests can give absolution from sins even when penitents have no intention of amendment;
  2. - that people may be too weak to obey God’s commandments;
  3. - that there is no moral rule to which there can never be exceptions;
  4. - that moral laws are ideals, and it is unrealistic to expect that they will be fulfilled;
  5. - that in some circumstances it is best to violate a moral law;
  6. - that sexual activity is only wrong if someone is exploited or hurt;
  7. - that a valid marriage can dissolve; and
  8. - that there is no one condemned to hell.

 
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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: MWCooney - Dec. 10, 2016 10:47 AM ET USA

    Just as the Church's laxness (understatement) in preventing the lavender mafia from forming and growing in strength in past decades, and the current acceptance of the pseudo-science/pseudo-religion of man-made global warming provided and provide the enemies outside the Church with enough ammunition to scare away those who otherwise might have considered the truth she embodies, the current confusion provides that same weapon to the enemies within. Domine, miserere nobis!

  • Posted by: feedback - Dec. 10, 2016 10:45 AM ET USA

    Very unfortunately, the custom of civilly remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion has been widespread already. Amoris Laetitia and the continued calls for clarification, have the potential to bring, in the end, to the forefront of Catholic practice both reverence for Christ present in the Holy Eucharist and a better appreciation for sanctity and indissolubility of Marriage. Holy Spirit never fails the Church.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 10, 2016 9:23 AM ET USA

    Not just a decade, but maybe the whole rosary may be necessary.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Dec. 10, 2016 8:20 AM ET USA

    The article states: "To end the confusion that has arisen, Finnis and Grisez ask Pope Francis to condemn errors that have arisen." That condemnation will never be made. Surely Finnis and Grisez know full well exactly who has caused these "errors that have arisen."

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Dec. 09, 2016 9:52 PM ET USA

    "Dare we hope that all men be saved!" As a proposition deemed heretical by Finnis and Grisez above, this "hope" has been preached by certain clergy and theologians for as long as I have been seeking Christ through the Catholic faith. It is not possible to reconcile this position, however, with the clear teaching of Christ and the Apostles, especially about wideness of the road to perdition, the narrowness of the gate, weeping and gnashing of teeth, the great chasm between Dives and Lazarus, etc.

  • Posted by: lak321 - Dec. 09, 2016 9:50 PM ET USA

    Can everyone who reads this say a decade for this intention? I don't know what is right or wrong but Mary will know what to do.

  • Posted by: Travelling - Dec. 09, 2016 7:28 PM ET USA

    Two brilliant Catholic minds using their talents for the Glory of God. Thank you both for speaking out.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Dec. 09, 2016 7:25 PM ET USA

    In the face of mounting evidence of anything goes in terms of interpreting AL, the Pope has no choice but to act. The longer he waits the more difficult it's going to be; even now, it will fall on many deaf, i.e. don't want to hear, ears. Of course, he can choose not to act and the consequences will be even more damaging then "one could possibly imagine". Yes, confusion is Satan's playground and clarity ruins his fun.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Dec. 09, 2016 3:09 PM ET USA

    The voices calling for final clarification (and bringing AL clearly in line with timeless Church teaching) are increasing in number and volume, and justifiably so. I pray that Pope Francis listens to them, for the good of Holy Mother Church and of the souls of those attempting to undermine her by bringing her in line with "the world," rather than the other way around. Confusion is Satan's playground.