America Magazine, that is. Fr. James Martin, SJ, (because what other order would put out this level of hooey?) has spoken. Not surprisingly, he has produced an odd little video starring the editors of America. I’m thinking they might not have actually read Amoris Laetitia, but regardless, this video has little to do with the actual document and it’s got this really annoying disco soundtrack, to boot. Let go of the 70s, Fr. Martin! You can do it!
Besides the editors of America, I’m guessing more than a few nominal Catholics haven’t actually read the document, nor will they. They’ll just take the Fr. Martin and ilk paraphrasing of it as the fifth gospel. Wonder why the editors of America actually don’t encourage you to read it??? Try “Let’s just keep the flock ignorant and tell them what we think it means.”
First, we all need to give a big thanks to One Mad Dad who, through his technical wizardry, captured the transcript so we don’t have to actually listen to the background music. If you want to watch it, just google the title and Fr. James Martin, SJ and it’ll pop right up.
Here we go!
Top 5 – Amoris Laetitia
Fr. Martin kicks off this comedy of errors: Pope Francis’ groundbreaking new document, Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” asks the Church to meet people where they are, consider the complexities of people’s lives and respect people’s consciences when it comes to moral decisions. The apostolic exhortation is mainly a document that reflects on and encourages families, but it is also the Pope’s reminder that the Church should avoid simply judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles. His goal is to help families, in fact, everyone, experience God’s love. All this may require what the Pope calls “new pastoral methods.” So, let’s look at the top five takeaways from Amoris Laetitia.
First thing, please don’t use these “5 takeaways” as the document. That would be plain silly. If you want to start by taking these sheeples’ comments and using “ctrl f” to search the document, you won’t find any of the “takeaways” accurately quoted in the document. Can you say “spin,” Fr. Martin? It should be relatively easy, since you are the master of it. Let’s just go over some of the ridiculous.
Right off the bat, Fr. Martin uses that catchy phrase proponents of moral relativism love: “Meet people where they are.” Quite frankly, this has always been just a fluffy way to state the obvious. Where else do you meet people? Of course, they’re not going for the “greet” version of meet. They’re talking more about “coming down to their level.” What Fr. Martin doesn’t say is that he pretty much wants the Church to stay down at that level. This annoys me to the hilt, because I am a mother and a teacher and have been encouraging people to “grow up” instead of staying at some stunted plateau. Does anyone really think the Holy Father wants us to remain spiritually stunted? Well, I suppose those who think sin is determined merely by what we think it is are hoping that’s what he wants. However, if you take the document in its entirety, how could anyone in good conscience say that? Internal forum, maybe?
Really, the phrase “internal forum” needs to be discussed before moving on. The dissenters from Church teaching would have you believe this means you can have a discussion with yourself and decide if you think your sin is really a sin. “So what do you think, self? Do you really think that God thinks sleeping with someone outside of marriage is a sin? Nope? OK, we’re good. Bring on Communion!” Seriously, people actually believe this, and the Fr. Martins of the world aren’t going to do a darn thing to dispel that error. Let’s just look at what it really means, because that ain’t it.
It’s all about marriage and the family in Amoris Laetitia, so let’s go with these explanations: http://itsjustdave1988.blogspot.com/2005/05/internal-forum-solution-instead-of.html
Thanks, gentlemen! You notice that they actually back up their definitions with Canon Law and previous popes? Fr. Martin can’t actually do that, because it would undermine his argument.
Next, Fr. Martin says the Holy Father asks us to “respect peoples’ consciences when it comes to moral decisions.” Not so much. We should take them into consideration, and more often than not, there’s the directive for pastors to help rightly form consciences. Fr. Martin consistently ignores the latter and distorts the former as “we must respect peoples’ actions based on their consciences.” Would Fr. Martin say that about a murderer?!?!? My guess is not so much. He doesn’t want you to think about applying this theory across the board. He only wants you to apply it to his pet sins.
Not to be outdone by Father Martin, Associate Editor Olga Segura continues:
The Church needs to understand families and individuals in all their complexity. The Church needs to meet people where they are, so pastors should avoid judgments that don’t take into account the complexity of various situations. In other words, one size does not fit all and black-and-white thinking is not helpful. People are encouraged to live by the Gospel, but they should also be welcomed into a Church that appreciates their struggles and treats them with mercy. Overall, Pope Francis calls for an approach of accompaniment.
Actions can be judged regardless of the situation, Olga. What cannot be judged is the culpability of a person. That’s what Amoris Laetitia says starting on paragraph 303. It doesn’t say that “irregular situations” are good. Irregular situations are never good, but the culpability in the situation may mitigate the person committing the act. This is and has always been Church teaching. So, when Olga says, “In other words [OMM: you know there’s going to be trouble with this] one size does not fit all and black and white thinking isn’t helpful,” she is flat out wrong. The “rules” DO fit us all. The only thing that isn’t a one size fits all is our culpability based on how one’s conscience is formed. Is it formed well? Is it poorly formed? And what’s the pastoral remedy put forth by the Pope for all of this? HELPING PEOPLE TO RIGHTLY FORM THEIR CONSCIENCES!
Olga goes onto say that people should live by the gospel, “but they should be welcomed into a church that appreciates their struggles and treats them with mercy.” Wouldn’t we all say “Duh!” to that? Sadly, that’s really not where the America crowd is headed. Their idea of mercy is to rubberstamp all sorts of immoral behavior. The Pope urges the Church to accompany sinners NOT THE SIN.
Executive Editor Tim Reidy adds:
The role of conscience is paramount in decision-making. Individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s practice. In other words, the traditional belief that conscience is the final arbiter of the moral life needs to be recovered. The Church is supposed to form consciences, not to replace them, says the Pope. And while it is true a person’s conscience needs to be formed by Church teaching, our conscience does much more than just follow rules. Conscience also recognizes with a certain moral security what God asks of us.
Um, hello? When did it get lost and who lost it? I’m reasonably sure that was Tim, not me. The problem with his statement is that he doesn’t now nor did he ever understand this traditional belief. I’m thinking he missed this:
Authority in this case, the Magisterium, may well speak of matters moral, but only in the sense of presenting conscience with material for its own deliberation. Conscience would retain, however, the final word. Some authors reduce conscience in this its aspect of final arbiter to the formula: conscience is infallible.
Nonetheless, at this point, a contradiction can arise. It is of course undisputed that one must follow a certain conscience or at least not act against it. But whether the judgment of conscience or what one takes to be such, is always right, indeed whether it is infallible, is another question. For if this were the case, it would mean that there is no truth—at least not in moral and religious matters, which is to say, in the areas which constitute the very pillars of our existence. For judgments of conscience can contradict each other. Thus there could be at best the subject’s own truth, which would be reduced to the subject’s sincerity. No door or window would lead from the subject into the broader world of being and human solidarity. Whoever thinks this through will come to the realization that no real freedom exists then and that the supposed pronouncements of conscience are but the reflection of social circumstances. This should necessarily lead to the conclusion that placing freedom in opposition to authority overlooks something. There must be something deeper, if freedom and, therefore, human existence are to have meaning.
Managing Editor Kerry Weber:
Divorced and remarried Catholics should be more fully integrated into the Church. Divorced and remarried people are not excommunicated. Rather, they are members of our Church. We can help them feel more welcome in the Church in a few pastoral ways, says the Pope: by looking at the specifics of their situation, by having priests counsel them privately in what’s called an “internal forum,” and by respecting that the final decision about their level of participation in the Church is ultimately left to their conscience.
Oh, honey, does what you said sound like this?
I am in agreement with the many Synod Fathers who observed that “the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal. The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care which would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the body of Christ, but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it. They are baptized; they are brothers and sisters; the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts gifts and talents for the good of all. Their participation can be expressed in different ecclesial services, which necessarily requires discerning which of the various forms of exclusion currently practised in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework, can be surmounted. Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church, but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always, who takes care of them with affection and encourages them along the path of life and the Gospel. This integration is also needed in the care and Christian upbringing of their children, who ought to be considered most important”.
Again, “internal forum” doesn’t mean what you propose it means.
Associate Editor Ashley McKinless:
We should no longer talk about people “living in sin.” In a sentence, [OMM: a drastically altered sentence with some fancy omissions] reflecting a new approach, the Pope says, “It can no longer simply be said that those living in ‘irregular situations’ are living in a state of mortal sin.” Other members of non-traditional families, like single mothers, need to be offered understanding, comfort, and acceptance. When it comes to these people, the Church needs to stop applying moral laws as if, in the Pope’s vivid words, “they were stones to throw at a person’s life.”
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Young lady, by altering just a few words, you not only misquoted the pope, you completely changed the meaning of the statement the Pope made. Let’s look at what he ACTUALLY said (emphasis will show what this babe did):
301. For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised. The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.
305. For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.
Are America followers really that gullible? Nowhere did it say the Church cannot apply moral laws, yet that is what the America staff would like you to believe. It says it’s not enough to simply apply the laws. Again – DUH! Honestly, I’m not sure what the Pope dealt with in his country, but I can’t remember the last time I heard of a priest saying, “You are sinning. Go away!”
And, really, single moms?!?! What the heck was that? What Ashley and the other editors really wanted to say was homosexual couples, but they knew that analogy would never fly, so they threw out the most sympathetic red-herring they could find.
Editor-in-Chief Matt Malone, SJ:
Traditional teachings on marriage are affirmed, but the Church should not burden people with unrealistic expectations.
Errrrrk! Stop right there. Can anyone show me where that is in Amoris Laetitia? I didn’t remember reading it. Went back and did a search and cannot find it anywhere. Last time I checked, all things were possible with God, not unrealistic. Does America really think the Church is asking us to do an impossible thing?
Father Malone continued:
As the Church has always taught, marriage is between one man and one woman, marriage is indissoluble, and same-sex marriage is not considered. At the same time, the Church has often put upon people what Francis calls an artificial theological ideal of marriage that is removed from people’s everyday lives. At times, these ideals have been a tremendous burden. And to that end, priests need to be better-trained to understand the complexities of people’s married lives.
And the actual statement?
36. We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation. We need a healthy dose of self-criticism. Then too, we often present marriage in such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation. Nor have we always provided solid guidance to young married couples, understanding their timetables, their way of thinking and their concrete concerns. At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.
Again, ask yourselves why there are so reticent to accurately quote Amoris Laetitia. Also note that the Pope’s writing has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and the attempt to tie it to that is nothing more than dishonest. Nice try, America editors! Nice try!
Want to see what it actually says about same-sex marriage and same-sex “union”?
No one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values and the moral progress of cities and countries. There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life. We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society. But nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?
“…de facto or same-sex unions …may not simply be equated with marriage.” Wait, didn’t you try to do exactly that, Fr. Malone? You just slid it right in there. In fact, Father, same-sex unions are not only “not considered,” as you say, they are not considered marriage. Period. End of story. The Holy Father does not equate it with marriage.
Aaaaand Fr. Martin brings it all home for those not likely to read the document:
Overall, Amoris Laetitia asks the Church to help families of every sort and people in every state of life. They need to know that, even in their imperfections, they can be homes for God’s love, as well as places where people will experience that love. The new apostolic exhortation offers a vision of a pastoral and merciful Church that welcomes and encourages families and all people to experience the joy of love.
You know what, Father Martin? You’re doing what you always do. You make these statements, but you never suggest how. We can only find joy of love in TRUTH. Yes, there is reality in our imperfections, but there shouldn’t be satisfaction in them. This doesn’t lead us to the truth.
Moms are always going to go back to the analogy of what happens when you touch a hot stove. If you touch it, it’s going to burn you. In your reality, editorial staff of America, it’s only going to burn you if you think it’s hot. This isn’t the Truth. It’s going to burn you no matter how you perceive it. Now, do we need to teach our children this by letting them get burned? Do we tell them they should just never attempt cooking and to stay out of the kitchen? Not if we are a loving parent. We explain it over and over again, if necessary. That is the loving course of action. Just letting our fellow Catholics “touch the hot stove” to form their conscience isn’t the loving way to go. It could end up as a minor injury or it could end up as a permanent, painful scar. We must explain the reality of what will happen over and over again. Is a parent judgmental to give that “homily” time and again? Nope. They are protective. That’s how our pastors should be. They should teach us over and over again until we understand, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. They should help us rightly form our consciences so we can understand the truth that brings us true joy.