Today, we continue our analysis of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Last time, I already told you to go and read the document, so hopefully you did. I’ll say again: don’t believe what the lamestream media says about it; read it yourself.
Or not. Actually it’s all the same. I just really wanted to use that line. Welcome to Part Two of the Papal Document Non-Fisk Commentary.
The analysis continues as usual, if you are still interested.
Chapter Three: Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family
The title alone makes this sound like a good chapter, and oddly enough, it really starts out well:
In and among families, the Gospel message should always resound; the core of that message, the kerygma, is what is “most beautiful, most excellent, most appealing and at the same time most necessary”. This message “has to occupy the centre of all evangelizing activity”. It is the first and most important proclamation, “which we must hear again and again in different ways, and which we must always announce in one form or another”.
Indeed, “nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wise than that message”. In effect, “all Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma”.
And what does this have to do with marriage, specifically? Well:
Our teaching on marriage and the family cannot fail to be inspired and transformed by this message of love and tenderness; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than the defence of a dry and lifeless doctrine. The mystery of the Christian family can be fully understood only in the light of the Father’s infinite love revealed in Christ, who gave himself up for our sake and who continues to dwell in our midst. I now wish to turn my gaze to the living Christ, who is at the heart of so many love stories, and to invoke the fire of the Spirit upon all the world’s families.
Say on, sir. This chapter is basically a summary of Church Teaching on marriage, which is refreshing. If you actually read the document, you can’t stand on some stupid assumptions, or what the lamestream media whores say Church Teaching really is. You get the actual teaching spelled out for you right here in plain English (well, plain translated English, of course).
Francis spends a lot of his time with Scripture; this is another really nice chapter, and he does a great job. He also includes what the Synod said on the subject:
The Synod Fathers noted that Jesus, “in speaking of God’s original plan for man and woman, reaffirmed the indissoluble union between them, even stating that ‘it was for your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’ (Mt 19:8). The indissolubility of marriage — ‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt 19:6) — should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage . . . God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace, it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross. The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who . . . proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan (cf. Mt 19:3)”.
And just for another really beautiful bit:
“Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (cf. Mt 10:1-12). Marriage and the family have been redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5:21-32) and restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which all true love flows. The spousal covenant, originating in creation and revealed in the history of salvation, takes on its full meaning in Christ and his Church.
There are tons of scriptural examples of marriage and family in this section; the wedding at Cana; Jesus comforting grieving families; everyday life moments with Lazarus and his sisters; and more.
“The covenant of love and fidelity lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family, and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world.
So . . . where’s the heresy, you crazy alarmist Catholics? Nope, nothing bad here. Move on to your next piece-of-crap criticism.
After Scripture, Francis moves on to the applicable Church documents, including those of the Second Vatican Council. Fortunately for us, he doesn’t descend into the popular and oh-so maddening habit of referring to the “spirit of Vatican II,” which does not exist.
Well, Pope St. Pius has nothing to fear here. Francis actually quotes the relevant documents!
The Second Vatican Council, in its Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, was concerned “to promote the dignity of marriage and the family (cf. Nos. 47-52)”. The Constitution “defined marriage as a community of life and love (cf. 48), placing love at the centre of the family . . . ‘True love between husband and wife’ (49) involves mutual self-giving, includes and integrates the sexual and affective dimensions, in accordance with God’s plan (cf. 48-49)”. The conciliar document also emphasizes “the grounding of the spouses in Christ. Christ the Lord ‘makes himself present to the Christian spouses in the sacrament of marriage’ (48) and remains with them.
Francis even brings up the most scandalous and Guaranteed to Offend a Liberal Catholic Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, the one the Fluffy Horde likes to pretend doesn’t exist, or doesn’t count.
“Blessed Paul VI, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, further developed the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. In a particular way, with the Encyclical Humanae Vitae he brought out the intrinsic bond between conjugal love and the generation of life: ‘Married love requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time must be rightly understood . . . The exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties towards God, themselves, their families and human society’ (No. 10).
He goes on from there to talk about John Paul II’s words on the family, especially in his Letter to Families. Then, horror of horrors, he talks about Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which affirms that “marriage based on an exclusive and definitive love becomes an icon of the relationship between God and his people, and vice versa.” Long story short, Francis agrees with everything his revered predecessors said.
So, tell me again how he’s going to change Church Teaching?
After that, we move on to the sacrament of marriage in particular, not just the teachings surrounding it.
Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself and redeemed us from sin, not only returned marriage and the family to their original form, but also raised marriage to the sacramental sign of his love for the Church (cf. Mt 19:1-12; Mk 10:1-12; Eph 5:21-32).
And, my personal favorite:
The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since “their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church. The married couple are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share through the sacrament”.
I can’t quote the whole section; that would be a bit silly. So go read it. It’s good stuff. Francis talks about the beauty of the act of marriage (and its importance, so that it is “freed from ambiguity”); how the family is strengthened by the grace of the sacrament; the spouses as the ministers of the sacrament; and the Canon Law applicable to marriages which occurred outside the Church.
He also mentions that “there is a need for further reflection on God’s action in the marriage rite,” and that’s no bad thing. He didn’t suggest changing the rules he just reiterated; he wants the family to remember to keep God close. Again, where’s the problem? Ah, that would be NOT HERE.
The next section’s subtitle is “Seeds of the Word and Imperfect Situations.” This made me think, “oh, here’s something that the lamestream media took and twisted into a call for change.”
Actually, Francis mentions how “positive elements exist in the forms of marriage found in other religious traditions, even if, at times, obscurely.” That’s true enough. Does that mean he’s excusing or advocating the absolutely evil trash that sometimes occurs in, for example, Islam (child marriages)? Not a bit. He goes on to clarify:
We can readily say that “anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil — a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work — will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the people, religion or region to which they belong!
That’s a really big IF tucked away in there.
He’s not excusing the evil practices of another culture simply because they’re in another culture. He’s trying to say that some aspect of virtue and goodness can occur in places where Christianity (and Catholicism) aren’t necessarily present. We can judge an individual by his actions, not just slap him with a “you’re an evil pagan because you live in the Middle East” label.
Now we get to the really interesting bit: where Francis addresses how we’re supposed to treat those living in less than ideal situations, including the divorced:
“The light of Christ enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:9; Gaudium et Spes, 22). Seeing things with the eyes of Christ inspires the Church’s pastoral care for the faithful who are living together, or are only married civilly, or are divorced and remarried. Following this divine pedagogy, the Church turns with love to those who participate in her life in an imperfect manner: she seeks the grace of conversion for them; she encourages them to do good, to take loving care of each other and to serve the community in which they live and work . . .
Okay, so far, so good. We are supposed to love the sinner, but hate the sin, after all. We should “turn with love” to people who live in “an imperfect manner.” If we didn’t then ALL of us would be completely SOL. We ALL live imperfectly. We should seek for the conversion of people living together, or who are divorced and remarried. Okay, nothing heretical to see here, folks.
When a couple in an irregular union attains a noteworthy stability through a public bond — and is characterized by deep affection, responsibility towards the children and the ability to overcome trials — this can be seen as an opportunity, where possible, to lead them to celebrate the sacrament of Matrimony”.
Still nothing wrong here. People who are obviously (through their actions) trying to live like decent moral people could probably be encouraged to complete their conversion, and come into the Catholic Church. Do we excuse that “irregular union”? Nope. We try to perfect what is imperfect.
Francis goes on to clarify:
“When faced with difficult situations and wounded families, it is always necessary to recall this general principle: ‘Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations’ (Familiaris Consortio, 84). The degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases and factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision. Therefore, while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition”.
That’s the whole reason for annulments, you alarmist wackos; because the “degree of responsibility” is not the same in all cases. Please also note that he said WHILE CLEARLY STATING THE CHURCH’S TEACHING, with which he agrees. Some pastor preaching hellfire and brimstone at a family trying to do what’s right with their imperfect knowledge is exactly the way to drive them away from the mercy and goodness of the Church.
Reminder: what are the three criterion for a mortal sin? Knowledge. Free will. Consent. So . . . if you don’t know what you’re doing is wrong . . . that MITIGATES your responsibility, now doesn’t it? Does that mean the behavior itself is acceptable? Absolutely not. This is old stuff here, people. Nothing new.
Now we get to an interesting subtitle: The Transmission of Life and the Rearing of Children. Now, this could either be really great, or a total disaster, depending on which way it goes. So, let’s see.
Marriage is firstly an “intimate partnership of life and love” which is a good for the spouses themselves, while sexuality is “ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman.” It follows that “spouses to whom God has not granted children can have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms”. Nonetheless, the conjugal union is ordered to procreation “by its very nature”. The child who is born “does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfilment”. He or she does not appear at the end of a process, but is present from the beginning of love as an essential feature, one that cannot be denied without disfiguring that love itself.
Then we get to specific cases:
A child deserves to be born of that love, and not by any other means, for “he or she is not something owed to one, but is a gift,” which is “the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of the parents”. This is the case because, “according to the order of creation, conjugal love between a man and a woman, and the transmission of life are ordered to each other (cf. Gen 1:27-28).
By the way, Francis cites Humanae Vitae.
We need to return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in morally assessing methods of regulating birth . . . The choice of adoption or foster parenting can also express that fruitfulness which is a characteristic of married life.”
He takes time, also, to praise those parents who raise children with disabilities. Look at that, a pro-life message that even the Rad-Trads would agree with. And he’s not finished!
Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the “property” of another human being.
Francis also condemns euthanasia in this section, and mentions the difficulties of parents raising children in today’s society, with the “powerful influence of the media.” He reiterates that education is the “primary right” and a “most serious duty” of parents. “The State” can offer “educational programmes,” but cannot replace the role of the parents. “Schools do not replace parents, but complement them.”
The pope closes this chapter with an important reminder, The Family and the Church. “With inner joy and deep comfort, the Church looks to the families who remain faithful to the teachings of the Gospel, encouraging them and thanking them for the testimony they offer. For they bear witness, in a credible way, to the beauty of marriage as indissoluble and perpetually faithful.” I especially like the simple way he described the Church: “The Church is a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic churches.” In addition, there’s one more important part: “The Church is good for the family, and the family is good for the Church. The safeguarding of the Lord’s gift in the sacrament of matrimony is a concern not only of individual families but of the entire Christian community.”
So, we come to Chapter Four. And yet, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth all over both sides of the media aisle, Francis has said nothing to contradict Church Teaching, and nothing to encourage the left-wing nut jobs to do anything more than they’re doing already. Stay tuned; we’ll have the rest of the document analyzed eventually.
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