Sunday, January 8, 2017

What To Do About Confusion?

The whole confusion surrounding the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia truly saddens me, and I just don't understand how there can be so many contradictory interpretations of this document among not just theologians, clergy, and laypeople, but between bishops.

I was just made aware of an interpretation by Bishop Benno Elbs of Feldkirch, Austria who told an Austrian newspaper that regarding the doctrine telling us the D&R can't receive Communion,
"The doctrine is changed inasmuch as the door is now open. People have done this before, but now with the Pope's blessing, they can, so to speak, make this decision with their conscience... If it's in a footnote or not isn't significant to me. The entire document breathes the spirit that the individual finds in his own conscience a way to deal with life's situations."
Bishop Benno Elbs
I truly don't understand. If he's admitting there was a doctrine, and people were doing this before, wouldn't that mean that, at the very least, such people were recently committing sacrilege by receiving the Eucharist unworthily? But somehow that's OK now?

Bishop Elbs also says he "reluctantly" disagrees with Vienna's auxiliary Bishop Helmut Krätzl, who believes that the doctrine cannot change. The Auxiliary Bishop of Salzburg, Andreas Laun, also sides with Bishop Krätzl, saying
Unfortunately, no [there isn't a way for the civilly divorced and remarried to receive the Sacraments without their first changing their way of life, and then continuing to live as brother and sister]! I would like to name for them an easier path. But it is all about truth and not about my feelings. This objective question has nothing to do with mercy. Could St. John the Baptist have “mercifully allowed” Herod to have his brother’s wife? The spiritual guide whose importance Pope Francis so much emphasizes has the role of a physician who makes a diagnosis but who then does not also render a true service to the patient when he only glosses over this illness – as he would prefer to have it – even though he knows of the illness’ dangers.
Bishop Elbs interpretation flies in the face of, for example, Archbishop Sample's interpretation which states:
Despite the clear teaching of the Church, some have misused elements of Amoris Laetitia to support positions that are not compatible with Church teaching. This has created some confusion and consternation amongst the faithful... The text cannot and ought not be misused in support of the following three errors. 
Misuse One: Conscience Legitimizes Actions Contravening Divine Commandments 
Amoris Laetitia affirms the magnificence of this freedom, for “human dignity itself
demands that each of us ‘act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn
in a personal way from within.’”... This does not support the claim that conscience supersedes an objective moral law. 
Ignorance, enslavement to passions, an incorrect understanding of moral autonomy, or the absence of virtue may reduce a person’s subjective culpability when sincerely following erroneous conscience, and in some instances “the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him.”19 But in no way does this diminish or negate the objectivity of the evil, or privation, or disorder committed. Conscience is not a law unto itself, nor may conscience rightly disregard or supplant the commands of God as taught by the Church. St. John Paul II explicitly rejected the possibility that private judgments of conscience could “legitimize so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium” or allow individuals to violate exceptionless moral norms.
Yet, Bishop Elbs says the exact opposite of Archbishop Sample. Indeed, seeing that bishops cannot agree with each other is definitely disheartening. But I know the gates of hell won't prevail against the Church. I just worry about those souls that are led astray by a false mercy. He even says in the same interview that "The Synod recommended natural contraception. Recommended. Birth control is thus left up to the person's conscience."

I know that he is wrong, but where are such people getting their justification for such a position? How can one, much less a bishop, say that contraception is to be left up to a person's conscience? What if that person's conscience has not been correctly formed, as the Church exhorts us to do? This is clear in the CCC:
1798: Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience. 
1790: A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed. 
1791: This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. 
1786: Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
In response to Bishop Elbs statements, Fr. Gerald Murray of The Catholic Thing and EWTN said "This is abhorrent! People who are committing acts of adultery need guidance to stop, not be told that they can receive Communion." Conscience can err, so as Pope St. John Paul II said in Veritatis Splendor, "freedom of conscience is never freedom ‘from’ the truth but always and only freedom ‘in’ the truth." May God have mercy on us all and may the Church boldly proclaim the Truth in all corners of the world in one voice.

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