On the appearance of the pope’s letter in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis
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From CanonLawBlog:



On the appearance of the pope’s letter to the Argentine bishops in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis
December 4, 2017


Some three months ago I predicted that Pope Francis’ letter to the Argentine bishops, approving their implementation of Amoris laetitia, would make its way into the Acta Apostolicae SedisNow it has. An accompanying note from Cardinal Parolin states that the pope wishes the Argentine document to enjoy “magisterial authority” and that his endorsement thereof  has the status of an “apostolic letter”.
Fine. Let’s work through some points.


1. Canon 915. It is crucial to understand that, today, what actually prevents ministers of holy Communion from distributing the Eucharist to divorced-and-remarried Catholics is Canon 915 and the universal, unanimous interpretation which that legislative text, rooted as it is in divine law, has always received. Canon 915 and the fundamental sacramental and moral values behind it might be forgotten, ignored, or ridiculed, even by ranking officers in the Church, but unless and until that law is revoked or modified by papal legislative action or is effectively neutered by pontifically approved “authentic interpretation” (1983 CIC 16), Canon 915 stands and, so standing, binds ministers of holy Communion. 


Neither the pope’s letter to the Argentines, nor the Argentine bishops’ document, nor even Amoris laetitia so much as mentions Canon 915, let alone do these documents abrogate, obrogate, or authentically interpret this norm out of the Code of Canon Law. Granted, little or nothing in these documents endorses or reiterates Canon 915, either, and the apparently studied silence that Canon 915 suffers these days is cause for deep pastoral concern. But law does not wilt under the silent treatment.


2. Apostolic letter. An “apostolic letter” is a sort of mini-encyclical and, however much attention encyclicals get for their teaching or exhortational value, they are not (with rare exceptions) legislative texts used to formulate new legal norms. Typically “apostolic letters” are written to smaller groups within the Church and deal with more limited questions—not world-wide questions such as admitting divorced-and-remarried Catholics to holy Communion. Even where a special kind of “apostolic letter” is used to make changes to the law—such as John Paul II did in Ad tuendam fidem (1998), as Benedict did in Omnium in mentem (2009), or as Francis did in Magnum principium (2017)—the “apostolic letter” used in such cases carries the additional designation “motu proprio” (i.e., on the pope’s own initiative, and not in response to another’s action), and the changes made to the law thereby are expressly identified by canon number, not simply implied or surmised, especially not by silence. 


The pope’s letter to the Argentines appears simply as an “apostolic letter”, not as an “apostolic letter motu proprio”, and it references no canons.


3. Authentic magisterium. Many people use the term “magisterium” as if it were tantamount to “Church governing authority”, but in its canonical sense “magisterium” generally refers to the Church’s authority to issue teachings on faith and morals, not to the Church’s authority to enforce discipline related to matters of faith and morals.

 
While Francis—albeit about as indirectly as is possible (through a memo to a dicastery official concerning a letter written by an episcopal conference)—has indicated that his letter to the Argentines and even the Argentine conference letter itself are “magisterial”, the fact remains that the content of any Church document, in order to bear most properly the label “magisterial”, must deal with assertions about faith and morals, not provisions for disciplinary issues related to faith and morals. Church documents can have both “magisterial” and “disciplinary” passages, of course, but generally only those teachingparts of such a document are canonically considered “magisterial” while normative parts of such a document are canonically considered “disciplinary”.


Francis has, in my opinion, too loosely designated others of his views as bearing “magisterial authority” (recall his comments about the liturgical movement), and he is not alone in making, from time to time, odd comments about the use of papal power (recall John Paul II invoking “the fullness of [his] Apostolic authority” to update the by-laws of a pontifical think-tank in 1999).


But that inconsistent usage only underscores that the rest of us must try to read such documents in accord with how the Church herself usually (I wish always, but I’ll content myself with “usually”) writes them, and ask, here, are there “magisterial” assertions in Amoris, the Buenos Aires document, and Francis’ endorsement letter? Yes. Plenty, running the gamut from obviously true, through true-but-oddly-or-incompletely phrased, to a few that, while capable of being understood in an orthodox sense, are formulated in ways that lend themselves to heterodox understandings (and for that reason should be clarified for the sake of the common ecclesial good).


In any case, such teaching statements, to the extent they make assertions about faith or morals and come from bishops and/or popes acting as bishops or popes, already enjoy thereby at least some (relatively little) level of ordinary magisterial value, a value not augmented by sticking the label “magisterial” on them.


And, are there “disciplinary” assertions in Amoris, the Buenos Aires document, and Francis’ endorsement letter? Yes, a few. But as I have said before, in my view, none of those rather few disciplinary assertions, even those ambiguous and capable therefore of leaving the door open to unacceptable practices, suffices to revoke, modify, or otherwise obviate Canon 915 which, as noted above, prevents the administration of holy Communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics.


Conclusion. I wish that Canon 915 were not the sole bulwark against the abandonment of the Eucharist to the vagaries of individual, often malformed, consciences. I wish that a lively, pastorally-driven sense of the liberating permanence of Christian marriage, the universal need for Confession to reconcile those in grave sin, the power of the Eucharist to feed souls in the state of grace and to condemn those who receive irreverently, sufficed to make invocation of Canon 915 unnecessary in pastoral practice. But apparently, in much of the Catholic world these days, such is not the case and Canon 915 must be pointed to as if it were the only reason to bar reception of holy Communion in these situations.

But what can one say? Unless Canon 915 itself is directly revoked, gutted, or neutered, it binds ministers of holy Communion to withhold that most august sacrament from, among others, divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community.


Nothing I have seen to date, including the appearance of the pope’s and Argentine bishops’ letters in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, makes me think that Canon 915 has suffered such a fate.

 
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#2
Many thanks Vox, all is not lost yet. The following should be framed and hung in the walls of Rome today.

‘The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according to the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical councils… sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God’s help they have recognised as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might forcefully set it out…’ --- Vatican I (1869-1870) (Denz. 1836.)
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#3
"divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community."

I'm sorry, but divorced and "remarried" Catholics, whether or not they live as brother-sister, are committing scandal to the community.
Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the antichrist. 
The demons of the air together with the Antichrist will perform great wonders  
The Church will be in eclipse

-Our Lady of La Salette


Like Christ, His Bride the Church will undergo its own passion, burial, and resurrection.
-unknown traditional priest

Father Ripperger said that if we are detached from all things, aren't afraid to suffer, and we accept all suffering as the will of God for our sanctity, we have nothing to fear!
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#4
(12-04-2017, 03:20 PM)Sacred Heart lover Wrote: "divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community."

I'm sorry, but divorced and "remarried" Catholics, whether or not they live as brother-sister, are committing scandal to the community.

I guess that all depends on the community. There are so many people who go to parishes, I certainly don't know people's business and I'm sure most of us don't know the business of 99% of the people we see in our parish unless it's an "everybody knows everybody" type of parish. If no one knows, then I guess in theory there's no scandal. However, if a single person knows then does that person know whether they are living as brother-and-sister? If so, then maybe they're not scandalized by such a thing. I could say that such considerations may be taken when it comes to scandal. 

In any other instance, there's no way someone can argue that any Catholic would be ignorant of the sin of adultery taking place if they divorce and remarry and don't remain chaste. How could such a person keep such a thing hidden from even a priest to the point where they'd remain ignorant of the sinfulness of it?
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened, save us.

“It is my design to die in the brew house; let ale be placed in my mouth when I am expiring, that when the choirs of angels come, they may say, “Be God propitious to this drinker.” – St. Columbanus, A.D. 612

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#5
(12-04-2017, 03:30 PM)GangGreen Wrote:
(12-04-2017, 03:20 PM)Sacred Heart lover Wrote: "divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community."

I'm sorry, but divorced and "remarried" Catholics, whether or not they live as brother-sister, are committing scandal to the community.

I guess that all depends on the community. There are so many people who go to parishes, I certainly don't know people business and I'm sure most of us don't know the business of 99% of the people we see in our parish unless it's an "everybody knows everybody" type of parish. If no one knows, then I guess in theory there's no scandal. However, if a single person knows then does that person know whether they are living as brother-and-sister? If so, then maybe they're not scandalized by such a thing. I could say that such considerations may be taken when it comes to scandal. 

In any other instance, there's no way someone can argue that any Catholic would be ignorant of the sin of adultery taking place if they divorce and remarry and don't remain chaste. How could such a person keep such a thing hidden from even a priest to the point where they'd remain ignorant of the sinfulness of it?

Allowing communion if you live as brother and sister was a silly accommodation to make.  It was an incremental step to the acceptance of AL.

There is no way to really know who is having sex and it's TMI if you do.

The scandal isn't what is taking place in the bedroom, the scandal is living together as a "re-married" couple.

And even if the people at mass don't know their status as a couple, the couple's friends, family, children, and co-workers do.  It's a scandal to be known as a "Catholic re-married couple".
Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the antichrist. 
The demons of the air together with the Antichrist will perform great wonders  
The Church will be in eclipse

-Our Lady of La Salette


Like Christ, His Bride the Church will undergo its own passion, burial, and resurrection.
-unknown traditional priest

Father Ripperger said that if we are detached from all things, aren't afraid to suffer, and we accept all suffering as the will of God for our sanctity, we have nothing to fear!
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#6
Sacred Heart lover expressed my today's thoughts exactly.

What, in essence, is the difference between what JP2 did (allowing couples who live as 'brother and sister' to receive communion) and what Francis did?

In both cases measures are taken by the pontiff to safeguard that 'any possibility of scandal is avoided'. Leaving aside how this can be achieved IRL, let's say it's orthodox. Now John Paul II said the couples have to live in continence so that they won't commit mortal sin. Francis, on the other hand, says that some people's responsibility for the sin may be diminished because of such and such circumstances, so even if not living in continence, they only commit venial sin. Nothing unorthodox here as well, AFAIK.

So where's the difference and why JP2's stance is seen as the traditional Catholic one? What if, indeed, it was a step to prepare way for AL?
The Christian and Catholic religion, in fact, is the legitimate daughter of Jesus, king of the Mages. A simple scapular worn by a truly Christian person is a more invincible talisman than the ring and pentacle of Solomon.
The Mass is the most prodigious of evocations. Necromancers evoke the dead, the sorcerer evokes the devil and he shakes, but the Catholic priest does not tremble in evoking the living God.


Perhaps Christ had not only one precursor, John, last of the prophets, but three: John the Baptist for the Chosen People, Socrates from the heart of antiquity, and Buddha, who spoke the ultimate word in Eastern religious cognition.
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#7
(12-04-2017, 03:38 PM)Sacred Heart lover Wrote:
(12-04-2017, 03:30 PM)GangGreen Wrote:
(12-04-2017, 03:20 PM)Sacred Heart lover Wrote: "divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community."

I'm sorry, but divorced and "remarried" Catholics, whether or not they live as brother-sister, are committing scandal to the community.

I guess that all depends on the community. There are so many people who go to parishes, I certainly don't know people business and I'm sure most of us don't know the business of 99% of the people we see in our parish unless it's an "everybody knows everybody" type of parish. If no one knows, then I guess in theory there's no scandal. However, if a single person knows then does that person know whether they are living as brother-and-sister? If so, then maybe they're not scandalized by such a thing. I could say that such considerations may be taken when it comes to scandal. 

In any other instance, there's no way someone can argue that any Catholic would be ignorant of the sin of adultery taking place if they divorce and remarry and don't remain chaste. How could such a person keep such a thing hidden from even a priest to the point where they'd remain ignorant of the sinfulness of it?

Allowing communion if you live as brother and sister was a silly accommodation to make.  It was an incremental step to the acceptance of AL.

There is no way to really know who is having sex and it's TMI if you do.

The scandal isn't what is taking place in the bedroom, the scandal is living together as a "re-married" couple.

And even if the people at mass don't know their status as a couple, the couple's friends, family, children, and co-workers do.  It's a scandal to be known as a "Catholic re-married couple".

I guess that's the main thing to make a point of. Not whether people in church are scandalized, but more everyone else. Even an atheist can be scandalized, not in a shocking kind of way, but in a "well, look at those Catholics who are divorced and remarried. They break the rules of their own Church without care. That's what they believe to be the Truth?"
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened, save us.

“It is my design to die in the brew house; let ale be placed in my mouth when I am expiring, that when the choirs of angels come, they may say, “Be God propitious to this drinker.” – St. Columbanus, A.D. 612

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#8
But there are, in fact, situations in which the divorced and "remarried" are living as brother and sister and who are raising children who'd be harmed by their parents splitting up. We do have to deal with the world as it is.

Scandal is a real thing, but it's an abused concept as well, one that some push forward to excuse busy-bodying, gossip, and all that. "Scandal" doesn't refer to being -- or, more commonly, claiming to be -- "shocked" or getting one's panties in a twist over someone else's behavior, but it's so typically used in that way. See Father Frederick Faber's "On Taking Scandal": https://www.fisheaters.com/ontakingscandal.html
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#9
(12-04-2017, 03:38 PM)Sacred Heart lover Wrote: Allowing communion if you live as brother and sister was a silly accommodation to make.  It was an incremental step to the acceptance of AL.

There is no way to really know who is having sex and it's TMI if you do.

The scandal isn't what is taking place in the bedroom, the scandal is living together as a "re-married" couple.

And even if the people at mass don't know their status as a couple, the couple's friends, family, children, and co-workers do.  It's a scandal to be known as a "Catholic re-married couple".

And what if they have children together? Should one of them abandon the children? Or should they stop being Catholic? They're known as a "Catholic re-married couple" no matter what they do, unless they split up, which isn't always possible.

Maybe they shouldn't receive Communion at Mass, but if they aren't committing adultery, there's no reason they can't receive privately.
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#10
(12-04-2017, 04:34 PM)VoxClamantis Wrote: But there are, in fact, situations in which the divorced and "remarried" are living as brother and sister and who are raising children who'd be harmed by their parents splitting up. We do have to deal with the world as it is.

Scandal is a real thing, but it's an abused concept as well, one that some push forward to excuse busy-bodying, gossip, and all that. "Scandal" doesn't refer to being -- or, more commonly, claiming to be -- "shocked" or getting one's panties in a twist over someone else's behavior, but it's so typically used in that way. See Father Frederick Faber's "On Taking Scandal": https://www.fisheaters.com/ontakingscandal.html

What did couples in these "irregular situations" do before the change in canon law?

It's sad for the children, that's true, but it's also good for them to see the truth in action and that there are consequences to our bad choices.

The truth is that their parents ARE NOT MARRIED.  They are married to the first spouse.
Rome will lose the faith and become the seat of the antichrist. 
The demons of the air together with the Antichrist will perform great wonders  
The Church will be in eclipse

-Our Lady of La Salette


Like Christ, His Bride the Church will undergo its own passion, burial, and resurrection.
-unknown traditional priest

Father Ripperger said that if we are detached from all things, aren't afraid to suffer, and we accept all suffering as the will of God for our sanctity, we have nothing to fear!
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