Monday, April 11, 2016

Cardinal Burke Spins Amoris Laetitia [UPDATE]

[Update: included link to Fr. Z's take on the same article.]




The Bear is just being honest with the headline. And there's nothing wrong with what Cardinal Burke is doing. He's putting the best face on it. Stressing its limits. Spin is a useful and correct word. You should read what he says in the National Catholic Register. It does indeed represent a well-reasoned conservative response to Amoris Laetitia.

The summary is "no teachings of the Church were harmed in the making of this totally non-magisterial Apostolic Exhortation."

Well, of course not. That is not Francis' style. He knows there are arsonists in the forest. He winks and points to the sign that says, "Only you can prevent forest fires." Then he proceeds to silently put cans of gasoline and boxes of matches under the sign. He dusts his hands off, and leaves the forest singing, We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel.

But Cardinal Burke has to take the route he does, and he walks it well, as we would expect. No criticism of him is implied.  He starts out:

The secular media and even some Catholic media are describing the recently-issued post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, “On Love in the Family,” as a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family.

Indeed. This is the well-known "Francis Effect" by which what people believe the Church teaches is changed even though Church teachings remain the same. This is not insignificant.

Cardinal Burke takes great pains to stress the non-magisterial nation of the document, and, in fact, goes on at great length to counter the erroneous tendency to interpret every word of the pope as binding in conscience. "Carefully diminishing' Amoris Laetitia might not be an unfair characterization.

The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching. Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium (No. 3). The very form of the document confirms the same. It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops.

Paragraph 3 does not really say the document is non-magisterial, as Cardinal Burke argues. It says different national conferences of bishops or regions do not need the magisterium to micromanage the implementation of Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Burke would have us believe the document is merely personal reflections of Pope Francis, who (and the Bear thought this was a humorous observation) quotes his own homilies instead of supporting it with quotations "from the fathers or other authoritative authors."

Cardinal Burke demonstrates how couples in an "irregular marriage," as the euphemism has emerged, can be compassionately handled within the ordinary life of the parish.

Over more than 40 years of priestly life and ministry, during 21 of which I have served as a bishop, I have known numerous other couples in an irregular union for whom I or my brother priests have had pastoral care. Even though their suffering would be clear to any compassionate soul, I have seen ever more clearly over the years that the first sign of respect and love for them is to speak the truth to them with love. In that way, the Church’s teaching is not something which further wounds them but, in truth, frees them for the love of God and their neighbor.

[Emphasis added.] You don't change the rules, he is saying, you view the situation with honesty and treat people with respect and love.

The closest Cardinal  Burke comes to outright criticism of Pope Francis' document is when he says the frequent use of the word "ideal" could give people the wrong idea.

It could lead the reader to think of marriage as an eternal idea to which, in the changing historical circumstances, man and woman more or less conform. But Christian marriage is not an idea; it is a sacrament which confers the grace upon a man and woman to live in faithful, permanent and procreative love of each other. Every Christian couple who validly marry receive, from the moment of their consent, the grace to live the love which they pledge to each other. 

Well said.

Cardinal Burke must be Cardinal Burke. The Bear must be the Bear. And the Bear points out this is all very well and good, but the Bear still believes Amoris Laetitia is a time bomb that may do great damage unless the Church is somehow rid of faithless and opportunistic prelates and priests.

For Fr. Z's red-letter treatment of Cardinal Burke's piece, go here.

21 comments:

  1. I'm sure the MSM will give excellent, prominent, and carefully nuanced coverage as to why the exhortation is merely 'non-magisterial. Following which there will be no doubt be due mention of the concept of sensus fidei.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My first experience with Cdl. Burke was during his installation Mass in a certain archdiocese. I was dismayed to hear him basically defend the "seamless garment" notions of the USCCB during the sermon at that Mass, but for the most part I have appreciated the stands he has taken since then.

    I do not think I appreciate this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's diplomatic but crystal clear. People all have their roles. Let it grow on you, J.

      Delete
    2. Maybe so. I'm unsure, however, that we can clearly judge anymore which documents are magisterial and which are not. Francis has even called his interviews magisterial, which threatens to do away with the very meaning of the word. (Or maybe that statement about the interviews was itself not magisterial, so we can ignore it. Or something. Doesn't the pope get to decide these things?)

      Cdl. Burke is a lawyer by training, and I have a feeling he and every other canon lawyer will be very busy trying to clean things up for the foreseeable future.

      Delete
    3. The Bear, too, was a lawyer, and perhaps that is why he admired the Cardinal's lawyerly argument.

      The Bear thinks back to days when ordinary Catholics didn't have to grasp the complexities of what's magisterial and what isn't. Now, if we get a chatty pope, it's a nightmare. But whether intended or not, it works to Francis' advantage. The waters are so muddied everything becomes "magisterial" for all practical purposes. This will strengthen future popes, unless they are good men with strong discipline, The signal to noise ratio is unfavorable for the foreseeable future.

      Delete
  3. Cardinal Burke played it safe in his commentary. Very safe.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bear, you get Cdl. Burke. One of the few. He is doing it his way. He is no coward. His assurance that this is not part of the magisterium can help the next pope (hopefully him, if we're spared what we deserve) to definitively say so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cardinal Burke played the role God has given him perfectly. People should understand that he's trying to shift the argument to our terms, and do so in a way that nobody can say "boo" to him. No, it wasn't very dramatic, but it was perfect for what it was. He knows the Bears will handle the other part.

      Delete
  5. "unless the Church is somehow rid of faithless and opportunistic prelates and priests."

    Hmm... that sounds a bit Henry II, only on an industrial scale.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Honestly, I think I'd have preferred that His Eminence remain silent re the Exhortation.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Love is never having to say you're sorry."

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bear, Cardinal Burke is feeding us moldy honey. He must call heresy heresy and get out of his comfort zone. Cardinals wear red to signify the blood of martyrdom.

    Souls are confirmed in their sin by this exhortation. The wolves will devour the sheep because of this exhortation. Children will be subject to recalcitrant adultery because of this exhortation. Catholics will enshine situational ethics and contracept, fornicate, and sodomize because of this exhortation.

    You are being very delicate with Cardinal Burke.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trust the Bear on this one. Cardinal Burke can't be seen as a bomb-thrower, however much we might enjoy watching that. That's why we have the Bear. Cardinal Burke very calmly laid out the "legal" case that puts AL in the proper perspective. This is an absolutely necessary task. His stature is maintained, and he looks better in comparison to Pope Francis. Do not confuse canny diplomacy with a lack of guts.

      Delete
  9. What would St. Paul say to all this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I resisted Peter to his face, for he stood condemned."

      Delete
  10. Bomb away, Bear! Bomb this papacy to smithereens by day and by night. And quit drinking cheap vodka.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the Bear can't afford expensive vodka.

      Delete
  11. No wonder the Church is in such trouble- we are supposed to think Burke is on our side? Give me a break - he is worse than worthless and spineless. He will never get us out of this mess, none of them will.

    ReplyDelete
  12. He knows 'there are arsonists in the forest.' Indeed he does. He has designated Priests and Bishops to be his 'hit men', and feels he can walk away unsullied when the destruction begins. After all, not everything can be 'micromanaged' by the magisterium. Furthermore, Francis KNOWS that there are plenty of 'arsonists in the forest' to do his bidding, not to mention the pressure it will put on faithful prelates to follow suit.

    But yes, you are correct, who would expect Cardinal Burke to come out fighting like a 'bear with a sore paw'? Not his style.

    ReplyDelete
  13. No.

    Yes: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/04/amoris-laetitia-is-non-magisterial-not.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

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