Thursday, 8 December 2016

Beware of the “Spirit” of Amoris Laetitia

A fascinating article by

"The presence of the Spirit should assure the faithful of God’s active guiding presence in his Church. Yet the way that some speak of the Spirit’s action, one would think it is less a personal Spirit that leads all into truth than a nebulous spirit that vaguely whispers to some, leaving others confused. Consider the usage of the baneful phrase “the spirit of Vatican II,” a curious expression that has served for decades as a catch-all for a collection of preferences and opinions that some would like to attribute to the work of the Second Vatican Council, but most if not all of which are strangely absent from the texts of the council. We have been told by certain prelates, theologians, and activists that everything from versus populum liturgy to soft-pedaling the dogmas on justification to radical changes in the understanding of Holy Orders and who may or may not be ordained would all follow from heeding the call of the “spirit of the council”—yet when the constitutions and decrees of the council are consulted, none of these ideas can be found, while their opposites certainly can be. The Spirit of the faith cannot be so far divorced from its formulations.

More recently, we have seen this expression used in reference to the controversies surrounding the interpretation of certain elements of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. There can be no doubt that the document’s position on the reception of communion by the divorced and remarried is unclear, for different bishops and bishops’ conferences have released statements saying how perfectly and obviously clear it is, while coming to diametrically opposed conclusions. Thus, many parties have asked the Holy Father to clarify his teaching on the subject or declared their resolve to remain true to the traditional faith, from a filial appeal of bishops and theologians to the dubia submitted by several cardinals that have caused such a stir in ecclesial circles.

Other parties have argued that the document is quite clear..... Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the new Dicastery on Laity, Family, and Life, has said that Amoris Laetitia is “the Holy Spirit speaking.” The head of the Roman Rota, Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, said that in the work of the two Synods on the Family, “The action of the Holy Spirit cannot be doubted.” The diocesan chancellor for San Diego has said of Bishop Robert McElroy’s planned implementation, “I think the bishop has made an opportunity for the Spirit to move in that way, and it’s a great thing.”

An article by Fr. James Martin, S.J., at the America magazine website argues that the essence of Amoris Laetitia’s teaching is the Jesuit tradition of the “discernment of spirits” .... which .... could legitimately lead one to conclude that God is calling them to receive Holy Communion even though they are knowingly committing mortally sinful acts, even if the Church teaches such an action would be gravely spiritually harmful. It’s a whispering of the Spirit, you see."

Senz, equates such attitudes with the error of montanism, he states:-

"Such a situation puts me in mind of ....Montanism, or Phrygianism, (which)was founded by the eponymous Montanus along with two prophetesses, Maximilla and Priscilla, in the second century in Asia Minor. Montanus believed himself to be a prophet of God through whom the Holy Spirit spoke directly, delivering new revelation to the Church. Maximilla and Priscilla eventually joined him, and the three entered ecstatic states in which they proclaimed their new truths. Chief among these innovations was a severe moral rigor and the belief that Christ’s work of redemption was incomplete. These excesses led to their condemnation by papal decree. Still, the extravagance of the seers and the allure of the possibility of being possessed by God drew many followers.

Whether it is the second or the twenty-first century, the idea of having one’s preferred ideas supported or even inspired by the action of the Holy Spirit is a seductive one. Thus we see a long history of various groups, sects, and schools of thought putting forth their ideas and defending them by declaring them “a movement of the Spirit.” And now, we see a movement to apply this defense at the individual level. Every Christian would in essence become a moral Montanist, needing only to say, “I feel led by the Spirit to do this” to justify their actions. But could this be? Could the Spirit lead us into sin in such a way....
One Timothy 2:4 tells us that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” .... If God were to give this knowledge only to some, or to tell different things to different people, his desire could hardly be said to be universal. And if the movements of his Spirit lead to the ambiguities and enigmas some claim they do, he could hardly be said to be leading us to the truth. Thank God that is not the case."

For the  whole article see:-

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