5. jan. 2017
Louis J. Cameli skriver bl.a.:
In December, in a letter directed to Pope Francis and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, four cardinals cited dubia (literally, “doubts”) or questions about the post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”The cardinals then made their letter available to the general public. Their concerns about the exhortation centered on what they felt it had provoked: “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation among many of the faithful.”
Although they wanted to resolve uncertainty, it seems that their letter may have exacerbated it. In these reflections, I hope to offer some clarifications that will address the dubia as well as allow for a wider and more genuine appropriation of the pope’s message.
In summary, the five dubia suggest that “Amoris Laetitia” may have altered traditional Catholic teaching on the following matters:
- the indissolubility of the sacramental marriage bond;
- the existence of absolute moral norms prohibiting intrinsically evil acts;
- that one can find oneself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin by living in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law;
- that circumstances or intentions can never transform an intrinsically evil act into a subjectively good one or into a defensible choice;
- that there can be no “creative” role for conscience to authorize legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms.
The dubia are not really expressions of doubt or questions but rather assertions that “Amoris Laetitia” appears to have abandoned or altered key teachings of Catholic tradition, especially as they have been expressed most recently by St. John Paul II in his encyclical letter “Veritatis Splendor” (1993).
Pope Francis has chosen not to respond to the cardinals and their dubia. Why? I would suggest that it is because the questions raised by the cardinals cannot be answered. What does this mean? The dubia suggest that “Amoris Laetitia” has brought change or novelty to traditional Catholic teaching. Repeatedly, whether in the context of “Amoris Laetitia” itself or other discourses, the pope has affirmed that there is no new teaching and no change in the teaching. If this is so, what would be the origin of the dubia?
I propose that the dubia stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of “Amoris Laetitia” and, indeed, of the renewal that began with the Second Vatican Council and was fostered by John Paul II—including his encyclical “Veritatis Splendor.”
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