So the day has finally come where Pope Francis has released his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, entitled Amoris Laetitia. It hasn't even been out 24 hours and already there's controversy from all sides. First, we hear from so-called "conservative" side, where many radical Catholic reactionaries and sedevacantists cry out that His Holiness has deviated from Church teaching and the sky has totally fallen. Then you get the "liberal" side of things that go in the complete opposite direction that say that the Pope has "softened" the Church's teachings on marriage and sex. Yea... that's a real news headline. And then of course, some people go even farther and say that the Pope hasn't done enough as far as a politically leftists agenda goes. So that leaves the Church, as the pillar of Truth squarely in the center of these two opposing ends. it's amazing how both sides can seem so radical, despite reading the same document, and still miss the mark. Thank God for is holy Church, proving that there is no "conservative" or "liberal" side to the Church; only the Truth which lies in the middle.
Now, I haven't read the entirety of the Exhortation, so I'm not ready to make a full analysis of the document, but I do have some thoughts on the "liberal" interpretation of the document. Mainly, I'm sick and tired of the mainstream media (MSM). As if the MSM hadn't already lost basically all integrity, now with the release of the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation today, we get the same media putting blatant lies into its headlines. "Pope insists conscience, not rules, must lead faithful" says one. Really? Bullcrap. I'm beyond sick of this so-called "journalism". Straight from the man in the document itself:
"For the law is itself a gift of God which points out the way, a gift for everyone without exception; it can be followed with the help of grace, even though each human being 'advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God and the demands of God’s definitive and absolute love in his or her entire personal and social life'." (paragraph 295 of Amoris Laetitia)Yea, really sounds like the Pope is giving an OK to a moral relativism that makes a subjective conscience "the truth". Lots of people seem to have problems with "rules". Especially Western culture in today''s world. We always have to rise against authority, and question everything, and blah blah blah. It's like the entire culture has turned into a bunch of whiny teenagers who don't want to be told what to do. What the West needs to do, and really the whole modern world, is grow up and realize that it isn't all about "rules". A very wise priest said something similar to Pope Francis to me recently at a conference. His name is Father Tom Loya, who has appeared on EWTN and several Catholic radio stations. I'm lucky to live near his parish, and get to hear him talk often. He commented that the Church doesn't have teachings per se... God has the teachings, and they are not ours; the Church just articulates them. He compared the Catholic Church to the Press Secretary of the President of the United States. The Press Secretary will clarify what the Commander in Chief has said, usually saying, "Well, the President said this." In the same way, the Church, when articulating God's law, tell us, "Well, this isn't something we came up with. God said this. We're just telling you what He is saying; what he has revealed to us. Here's more clarification from Fr. Loya directly:
"The Catholic (and Orthodox) Faiths are not per se 'religions' as much as they are the 'way'- the way of 'seeing'- seeing 'sacramentally.' This means seeing the inviisble God made visible through the order of Creation that He Himself designed. This also means seeing the "why" behind the Order of Creation. 'Morality' becomes simply a matter of living in a way that is absolutely honest to the way of seeing. 'Catholic' and Catholic 'morality' is simply 'seeing and living' according to that vision.
"Therefore, the Church, in a sense, has no 'teachings'. It does not make up beliefs, 'rules' and morality. Rather, the Church teachES simply the "way" that things work, the way they were designed and intended by God and says that we are happiest when we see and live in a way that is honest to God's Order.
"The Church cannot change what it teaches because the Order of Creation has not changed. it is the difference between 'ideology' (how we think things ought to be or how we want them to be) versus 'reality'- how things actually are and how they actually work and why. Since ideology is not based on an honest perception of reality it can only be perpetuated by force, intimidation, manipulation and emotional stirrings.
"Because the Church is all about love and true compassion, it can never defer to any ideology that is not honest to the Created Order because that would cause hurt either immediately or in the long run- hurt to individuals, society and eventually to civilization."
|The Divine Mercy|
Now, from what I've seen, there are some concerning portions of the Pope's massive Exhortation, but after reading many commentaries from down-to-Earth Catholics who don't lean one way or the other, I think it's safe to say that "the gates of hell" have not prevailed against the Bride of Christ. Church teaching has not changed, and the Pope will not change it, for he is "a son of the Church." Some good articles on the Exhortation to check out below:
-"Francis has delivered an eloquent defence of the Catholic vision of marriage"
-A good commentary on the above article from Fr. Z
-Also, wise words and commentary from Bishop Robert Barron