On Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”)
Thank you for forwarding by email “The Joy of Love” by Pope Francis, published on April 8. I have read it and think it is one of the finest pieces ever written. I’m hoping our community will do a study of it. God bless you.
Eva D. Madison
Well, the Pope’s apostolic exhortation is out, and is causing quite a bit of commentary at present. There even seems to be disappointment on both sides of the ideological divide.
Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing, put it like this. He said, “It is beautiful, moving, and divisive.”
Pope Francis says there are no changes to Church laws, or disciplines. In regard to the reception of the Eucharist by divorced and re-married persons, he draws attention to the long standing practice of recourse to the “internal forum” of individual conscience. St. John Paul II always said that in those situations, a couple could live in a brother/sister relationship, which seems good advice. Canons 915 and 916 of the Code of Canon Law aren’t going anywhere: that those who commit grave sin must refrain from Communion, and if they persist in manifest grave sin they must be denied Communion. But there is no box that fits all sizes.
Also, no changes to the Church’s teaching on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception (Humanae Vitae is confirmed).
The comment I have liked the best is from Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a former Anglican priest, now a married Catholic priest in South Carolina, who has the blog Patheos. He writes: “It was Jesus who knelt in the dust with the woman taken in adultery. It was the scribes and Pharisees who stood at a distance accusing her of breaking the law. His response to them and his response to her, it seems to me, is exactly what Amoris Laetitia is all about. I just wonder why the Holy Father didn’t simply refer all of us to that text and say, ‘There it is. Read it and weep.’ Instead, he took the trouble as a loving Father in God to lay out for the clergy and faithful some principles in helping to navigate the perfect storm that is modern marriage.”
And when Our Lord met the Samaritan woman at the well, while he drew attention to her many and present adulteries, He preached to her about the “living water” and revealed to her that He was the Messiah, one of the few places in all of the Four Gospels where He did this so explicitly, and not even to one of his co-religionists! One could also say this was a form of reception of the Eucharist, because 99.9% of us will never have an encounter with Christ quite like that, while we are on earth. So whatever surprise this text may give us, we move forward with faith, hope and love, because we are still part of the Catholic Church, Bride of the Lamb.
I was very disappointed in your April 8 email letter about the Pope’s Exhortation on the family, in that you did not address the blatant disregard for the teaching of the Church on these issues (divorce, remarriage, Communion) and instead focused on the poetic portions of this terrible document which will cause disunity in the Church for many years to come.
The first of the four marks of the Church is unity; that has now been destroyed.
Other, more critical articles have come closer to an honest assessment of what this document has done and will continue to do.
This document will continue to cause confusion among all in the Church when clarity and obedience to Church teaching are called for. Please stand up for the Truth, we need it and God is Truth.
Most people understand the emotional aspects of marriage, divorce, and relation to the Eucharist. Divorce is directly and specifically contrary to the statement of Jesus in the Gospel. There is no “weasel room” in his statement. Either we are a Church obedient to the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, or we are not. Our doctrines of faith over the centuries have not been formed on a “feel-good or situational basis.” There is an annulment process to determine the validity of a sacramental marriage, to ascertain if the sacrament was consummated. The solution to the current and increasing bankruptcy of faith and morals in society is not more liberalism, but established orthodox standards. This Pope and his liberal Vatican II minions are ruining the Church with their apostasy, relative to the ancient, authentic, Apostolic Faith. The sooner this Pope is gone, the better for the Church as he is not the custodian of the faith, as required as Pope. The Pope’s text contains nebulous “pastoral” language, to navigate around established, settled Church teachings.
How did Europe degenerate from a continent of faith, to its current secular condition?
The Church could have been a counter-balance to the trend, but it in many ways joined the secular trend. The Church and all of the Christian religious establishment abdicated its role in maintaining faith and morals in society, worldwide. Ever since the early Renaissance, the trend has been secular, and the Church was complicit in their assorted horrendous machinations of the period. Christianity has failed miserably, and it is not looking very encouraging going forward. Clearly, Jesus stated that Satan was the Prince of this World, and is he ever!
Naples, Florida, USA
“No more harsh Catholic practice,” many conclude, especially those who regard the Church’s condemnation of the contraceptive pill “harsh” and proof that the Church need not be obeyed in this or many other teachings.
But, strikingly, this document from Pope Francis strongly reiterates the teaching of Humanae Vitae on contraception.
Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote that use of the pill would lead to unfaithfulness in marriage, fornication, lust in many ways, free sex, pornography, sexually perverted behavior. All of these practices have become accepted while purity, faithfulness, and obedience to the Church abandoned. We are obedient in every other aspect of our lives, but obedience to Christ “who was obedient to his death on the cross for our salvation” is rejected. How ungrateful many are to him for opening heaven for us.
Stamford, Connecticut, USA
There is nothing to close or leave open. It is already closed. See Veritatis Splendor (1995):
“Paragraph 52. (…) The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception, because the choice of this kind of behavior is in no case compatible with the goodness of the will of the acting person, with his vocation to life with God and to communion with his neighbor. It is prohibited — to everyone and in every case — to violate these precepts. They oblige everyone, regardless of the cost, never to offend in anyone, beginning with oneself, the personal dignity common to all…
“Paragraph 56. In order to justify these positions, some authors have proposed a kind of double status of moral truth. Beyond the doctrinal and abstract level, one would have to acknowledge the priority of a certain more concrete existential consideration. The latter, by taking account of circumstances and the situation, could legitimately be the basis of certain exceptions to the general rule and thus permit one to do in practice and in good conscience what is qualified as intrinsically evil by the moral law. A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called “pastoral” solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a ‘creative’ hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept.
“No one can fail to realize that these approaches pose a challenge to the very identity of the moral conscience in relation to human freedom and God’s law.”
Canonization of Pope Pius XII
I wish to express my firm support for the sentiments of reader Victor Cameron regarding the canonization of our saintly but slandered Pope Pius XII (1939-1958).
Surely, too much time has already been wasted for the sake of “political correctness” instead of acknowledging the truth. How sad that the Church has allowed itself to be misguided by biased, hateful people who refuse to face the facts. Because of Pius’ secret but effective efforts, approximately 800,000 Jews were saved. Let us pray that His Holiness will soon be beatified and canonized.
Edgewater Park, New Jersey, USA
The Editor Notes: Victor Cameron’s comments can be read in the “Letters to the Editor” section of our March 2016 issue.
The Greek Orthodox Seminary on the Island of Halki, near Istanbul
Four years ago, President Recep Erdogan of Turkey promised President Barack Obama that he would reopen the Greek Orthodox Halki Theological Seminary. Four years later, it remains closed.
In 1971 — 46 years ago now, almost half a century — the Turkish government closed the doors of Halki, the only seminary to educate the priests who go on to become the Ecumenical Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church. Despite repeated calls to have Halki reopened, Turkey refuses.
We need to keep fighting for Hellenism and for fundamental rights like the right of religious freedom.
So here’s what you can do right now: Add your name to a petition to reopen the Halki Seminary.
It only takes one minute to sign to help fight years of broken promises on Halki. Today, stand up for Hellenism, stand up for the rights of Greeks in Turkey, and protect religious freedom. To sign up, go to: http://hellenicleaders.com/reopenHalki
America’s Perilous State and the Solution
“I can’t accept it. How can a great and wise civilization have destroyed itself so completely?” “Perhaps,” said Apollo, “by being materially great and materially wise, and nothing else.” —from A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller Jr.
Terrorist attacks. Widespread addiction to pornography and drugs. Widespread family breakdown. An epidemic of alienation, depression, and mental illness. Random mass shootings. What’s happened to America?
It’s no mystery. Our corrupt elites have mounted an increasing offensive against human nature since the 1950s. The reason? It’s because they lost faith in reason after the revelation of the death camps and the atomic bomb. So they devised an evil dream.
They would take charge of human evolution! They would save the planet, and the human race from itself! Human nature must be transformed, and they are the smart people to do it! These fools, unaware that they are under diabolical influence, relentlessly pursue a hatred of human nature, thinking they are the vanguard of human progress…
In this election year, it’s crucial that the citizenry rise up and end this evil dream, repealing the bad law of the past 60 years (legal pornography, artificial contraception, abortion, no-fault divorce, euthanasia, the homosexual parody of marriage), restoring the wisdom of traditional Judeo-Christian morality to guide our country, replacing our artificial machine-based economy with a natural, human-centered, agrarian-based one, and strongly supporting and protecting the natural American family as our first national priority and greatest treasure.
If we do not insist on this with all our elected officials, America — whose doom now hangs by a thread — will experience the consequences of our capitulation to our corrupt elite’s evil dream of “progress.”
Leominster, Massachusetts, USA
Same-Sex Marriage and the Church in Eastern Europe
Your article in your February issue on same-sex marriage in Italy states that Italy is “the last country in Europe not to legalize same-sex marriage.” This is simply not true.
My friends in Slovakia tell me that the Slovak people voted down a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage, and a cursory glance through the Internet indicates that same-sex couples have no legal status in almost all countries in what we think of as Eastern Europe. Even in central European countries like Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the legal status of homosexual couples is not equivalent to marriage.
Sometimes your publication gives the impression that Putin and Russia are leading a charge against the sexual revolution of the West. You seem to ignore the small Catholic countries of Eastern Europe in which there is a real renewal of the faith and a rejection of Western ideology without the tyranny of Putin.
Fr. Michael Moore
Hanford, California, USA
The Editor Replies: I thank you for this letter and appreciate this correction and clarification about the fidelity of the Church in the Eastern European countries.
On the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow
Christina Deardurff’s article in the March 2016 issue described the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill as “…the first face-to-face encounter of its kind since the Great Schism separated Catholicism and Orthodoxy in 1054.” This statement is not correct. There was no Russian or Moscow patriarch in 1054.
Although complex in detail, a schism occurred in 1054 between the Latin Pope and Greek Ecumenical Patriarch (Pope Leo X and Patriarch Michael I Cerularius), creating the Great Schism between east and west.
This was the result of various theological and governance disagreements that existed within Latin and Greek Christian jurisdictions. Over time the mutual excommunications of 1054 became permanent schism.
The baptism of the Kievan Rus’ began in the late 10th century with the baptism of Vladimir I in 988. Earlier evangelization efforts among the Rus’ were unsuccessful.
The first Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ was appointed in 1589, 535 years later.
The Moscow Patriarchate was abolished by Peter the Great in 1721 and subsumed under the tsarist state apparatus until after the 1917 October Revolution.
During the Soviet Communist years, the Moscow Patriarch was controlled by the state, and the practice of religion was compromised and often outlawed, until the dissolution of the old Soviet Union in 1991.
I do not write to diminish the significance of the February 12 meeting in the Communist Cuban airport, however unlikely that location is for a gathering of Pope and Patriarch.
However, Blessed Pope Paul VI visited Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem (January 6, 1964) as well as Ephesus and Constantinople (July 25, 1967). Athenagoras and his successors also traveled to Rome. A result of the first 1964 meeting was removal of the mutual excommunications of 1054, but not the end of the Great Schism. Popes and various patriarchs have met in subsequent years to further improve cooperation. Pope St. John Paul II spoke of the necessity for the Church to speak with both Latin and Greek “lungs.” Popes Benedict XVI and Francis have continued the process begun by Paul VI.
James C. Hamilton
Sioux City, Iowa, USA
Help Save a Polish Church in New York City
I am writing with a plea to please help save the last Polish Catholic Church in Manhattan. It is the last of four churches and is in desperate need of attention. Without attention, the church will be forced to close.
I know funding is very difficult to find and I know parishioners need to help, but I am praying that by sending this something changes and that the church, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Roman Catholic Church, will be kept open. The church is at 101 East 7th Street, New York, New York, 10009. The telephone number is 212-475-457. The email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
The church is beautiful and meaningful. With some help and attention, this last church should be saved so it can carry on the traditions we all need. It houses a Polish school for children and my child attends. It is magnificent and I love everything about this amazing church and school. Please help. With love, respect and admiration,
Angelique Dab Spoto
New York, New York, USA
What Date Can I Expect the Magazine?
Thank you for all your letters. I enjoy reading them. Now I would like to know at what date in any given month I can expect Inside the Vatican magazine to arrive. So far the March issue is not here, and February arrived in March. Can the Postal Service be blamed? Yours truly.
The Editor Replies: Dear Theresia, thank you for this nice note, and your appreciation for my Moynihan Letters. As for the date of the magazine arriving, I wanted to explain to you, and to all readers, the lateness of recent issues. There have been events each month that have compelled me to push back the closing of the issue. For example, when news came in late January, as I was closing the February issue, that the Pope would meet Patriarch Kirill on the island of Cuba on February 12, I decided that we should hold the magazine to include some analysis of that meeting. This meant that the February issue, with a cover about the meeting, was not printed until mid-February. And, since the magazines are mailed by 3rd-class periodical-rate mail, it sometimes takes two weeks, or even three weeks, for it to arrive in people’s homes. The same thing happened this month. It is now April 9, and I am closing the issue with reports and letters about the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which came out yesterday. But this issue will not be printed until mid-April, and may not reach you until the end of the month, due to the two or three weeks it takes for the postal service to deliver it. I expect the coming issues will be coming a week or two weeks earlier, as we get back onto an earlier schedule.
I would like to add two things:
(1) I would encourage all subscribers to sign up for my emailed “newsflashes” which are occasional letters I send out via email; they are free. Through these letters, you can receive reports many days before they come out in the print magazine. Simply go to our website, InsideTheVatican.com, and sign up for my free Moynihan Letters by entering your email address. It is as simple as that!
(2) I would like to invite each subscriber to find us another subscriber, perhaps a family member, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, or a friend, or a parish priest. Nothing is more important to our continued existence as a print publication than a strong subscriber base. If there would be one thing you could do to sustain and strengthen this publication, it would be to take out one additional subscription besides your own.
I know this is a lot to ask, but it would be a great help to us.