I have been most interested in a conference that took place at the Hotel Columbus in Rome, almost in the shadow of the Dome of St. Peter’s. At this conference six lay scholars from as many different countries responded to the crisis they say has been engendered by multiple and contradictory responses to Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
I was especially interested because a Canadian Catholic theologian and, I believe, former Anglican Douglas Farrow, who teaches Christian Thought at McGill university was one of the speakers. Farrow I consider a modern-day Canadian prophet. He does not mince words and he courageously calls things as he sees them. That doesn’t make him popular.
Veteran Vaticanista Sandro Magister published all the talks here at his Settimo Cielo blog. You can read Farrow’s talk in full there. I also found Australian Patristic scholar Anna M. Silvas’ talk most interesting.
One of my favorite Vatican journalists, Edward Pentin, has this story on the conference at The National Catholic Register:
The Canadian professor, who quoted among others St. Iranaeus and Cardinal Robert Sarah, then spoke about the doctrinal roots of the crisis, and that “perhaps the greatest challenge” facing the Church today is “to lift its eyes from earth to heaven; from ‘discernment of situations’ to discernment of God.” He addressed how scripture has been divided from scripture, scripture from tradition, and how tradition is regarded with suspicion:
“The outright rejection of Pascendi Dominici Gregis [Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical against modernism] marks a turning point of sorts in Catholicism, after which it became at least conceivable that Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor [Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the fundamentals of the Church’s moral teaching] should also be rejected, and that we should eventually be presented with a puzzle like Amoris Laetitia, which both is and (in a few spots) isn’t obviously part of the Great Tradition.”
Consequently, he said, the function of the magisterium has been thrown into doubt and the “new voice of authority is that of the conscience, to which revelation, as vouchsafed in scripture and tradition, is merely a guide and not a governor.”
We underwent so much catechesis about tradition and about papal infallibility and the magisterium in the run-up to becoming Catholic. We had to sign on the dotted line.
It seems odd to me—and for a while was disconcerting–that so many of the things I had to commit to believing in order to become Catholic are now being called into question by the current debates swirling around this document.
I am so grateful that Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has interpreted Amoris Laetitia in the light of tradition and the constant magisterium of the Church on marriage and the Eucharist.