Sunday, April 17, 2016

Amoris Laetitia -- Pt. 4 "A Mixed Bag"

Turks and the Revenge of the Bear

The Bear remembers the Russian Civil War days very well. But mostly he remembers the last one. The wow finish. A Bear standing on a pier in the rain with a comical look on his face because his insides have been kicked out.*

So he did what Bears do and walked. He walked to Turkey.

Bears are uncanny navigators, but not very good at geography. And, honestly, too much time among humans had cost him his edge.

The Bear will spare readers of a tender heart too many details of his captivity among the Turks. To this day he has no use for any flavor of Moslem. (That may or may not be a metaphor.)  The muzzle employed by the Turks was... invasive is a word. The Bear could not talk, and and could barely eat, because the hardware went entirely through the top of his muzzle, through his palate, and into his mouth. 

Over the years, their cruelty completely submerged the man, and the Christian, and the Bear reverted to his animal nature, only more cunning. All of St. Corbinian's patient work was undone. Before you judge the Bear, he has seen the same in humans, with far less provocation.

The Turks had no interest in training the Bear. They just wanted to feel important by abusing something bigger and more noble than themselves. This may be a Muslim trait, or so the Bear's experience suggests. He may be wrong. When, after a long time, an emaciated, all but broken Bear was finally given his opportunity to escape, he did. What he left behind was wrong, and he doesn't like to think about it.

To this day there is a dark legend in parts of Turkey about Ay' yili -- "The Year of the Bear." It would be a very long time before the Bear, like the prodigal son, came to himself. It was also a long time before anyone took that cruel muzzle off, and it was not a Muslim. But, since it's off now, the Bear shall go through a few more paragraphs of Amoris Laetitia.

Blocking Affective Relationships

In paragraph 39 of Amoris Laetitia, the Pope writes that of course we cannot cease warning of a cultural decline. He states that love is often seen in social media terms, where an "affective relationship" can be "blocked" at the whim of the consumer. The following isn't bad:

We treat affective relationships the way we treat material objects and the environment: everything is disposable; everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye. Narcissism makes people incapable of looking beyond themselves, beyond their own desires and needs. Yet sooner or later, those who use others end up being used themselves, manipulated and discarded by that same mind-set. It is also worth noting that breakups often occur among older adults who seek a kind of “independence” and reject the ideal of growing old together, looking after and supporting one another.

Note the jargon, and complete absence of the word, "sin." Once again, the obvious solution is to make better people. To insist upon the truths the Church has always taught about "affective relationships," including the sacrament of marriage. It is emphatically not to dumb these things down. 

The Bear has found that, with the exception of purely bad men, people will tend to live up to one's expectations of them. Men, in particular, are suckers for ideas like chivalry. But the converse is also true. They will also live down to one's expectations. When the Church says that it knows men cannot achieve the "ideal" of marriage, they are guaranteeing that men will not, nor women either.

This is the fatal flaw that runs through Amoris Laetitia.

Church's Role In Marriage Crisis Vague

But paragraph 40 continues in a sensible vein. After listing various reasons young people avoid marriage, including the welcome "purely emotional and romantic conception of love," he writes the following:

We need to find the right language, arguments and forms of witness that can help us reach the hearts of young people, appealing to their capacity for generosity, commitment, love and even heroism, and in this way inviting them to take up the challenge of marriage with enthusiasm and courage.

This could be the beginning of a wonderful reaffirmation of the traditional concept of Catholic marriage. What if marriage were made into something special, even sacred again? Who could do this, other than the Catholic Church? So, your Holiness, what is "the right language, arguments and forms of witness?" It is not the Bear's job to answer that question. It is the Pope's. It is still early in a very long document, though. Perhaps the answer comes later.

In paragraph 41, the Pope mentions pornography, almost certainly the reason the Bear sees more men at confession than women, But you will not find it followed by condemnation as sin, or exhortations to purity. Instead we get a rather academic and therapeutic-sounding statement that, "many tend to remain in the early stages of their affective and sexual lives."

Could it be because the Church has signaled it doesn't care about the sacrament of marriage anymore? The culture of the West is becoming more anti-marriage every day. Why has the Catholic Church abandoned the field? It is like the shepherd who wakes up one morning to find all the sheep stolen, then blames the sheep. What is the plan to rescue the flock?

The Bear thinks there is no plan, nor any desire to rescue the sheep. Instead, the mission is to make the sheep as comfortable as possible with their new owner, in their new pasture, as long as it can continue to fleece them.

A Patch of Sweet Clover for the Sheep

Paragraph 42 also speaks the same good sense we would hope to find in the entire document. It is welcome to see the Vatican recognize depopulation as a bad thing, not the way to a greener planet. It is worth quoting in full. The Bear gives the good, as well as the bad.

42. Furthermore, “the decline in population, due to a mentality against having children and promoted by the world politics of reproductive health, creates not only a situation in which the relationship between generations is no longer ensured but also the danger that, over time, this decline will lead to economic impoverishment and a loss of hope in the future. The development of bio-technology has also had a major impact on the birth rate." Added to this are other factors such as “industrialization, the sexual revolution, the fear of overpopulation and economic problems… Consumerism may also deter people from having children, simply so they can maintain a certain freedom and life-style." The
upright consciences of spouses who have been generous in transmitting life may lead them, for sufficiently serious reasons, to limit the number of their children, yet precisely “for the sake of this dignity of conscience, the Church strongly rejects the forced State intervention in favour of contraception, sterilization and even abortion." Such measures are unacceptable even in places with high birth rates, yet also in countries with disturbingly low birth rates we see politicians encouraging them. As the bishops of Korea have said, this is “to act in a way that is self-contradictory and to neglect one’s duty.”
South Korea is circling the drain with a Total Fertility Rate of 1.30. No society has ever come back from less than 1.80. So they are right to be worried. Their only hope now is to build robot children. But a paragraph buried in a 247-page document doesn't go very far to erase the "like rabbits" remarks.

The State Must Create Jobs

The next paragraph is good, too, as far as it goes, although it ends oddly. The Pope notes "the weakening of faith and religious practices" as a factor, which is certainly true. ('I'll take "Failed Institutions' for $1000, Alex.") But it ends by saying "the State has an obligation to pass laws and create work to ensure the future of young people and help them realize their plans of forming a family."

The Bear has seen how the State creates work. You're given a hoe and shipped off to the collective beet farm. Call it Communism or Peronism, but whatever anyone says, the State does not create many jobs, and those are in the government sector. Creating jobs is the job of the private sector; "get the government off the people's backs" and all. The State has a role in tempering the excesses of Captialism, but it does not create jobs.

Who knows? The Bear has this crazy idea that importing cheap labor (sometimes called "refugees") may impact work opportunities. But what does a Bear know about economics?

Of course the State could make the culture more marriage-and-family friendly. It could start by rejecting the poisonous lie that marriage between a man and a woman is merely one of several options and restoring marriage to its privileged status. But concerning economics, we have on display the naive or doctrinaire beliefs of coddled prelates whose only experience of wealth is having it given to them.

Bear's old friend Vladimir Illiych Lenin. You're never going to let him live
down getting Lenin safely to Russia, are you? It was all Ludendorff's idea.

*Paraphrased from Casablanca, Warner Bros. 1942


  1. Francis wants to have his cake and eat it too.

  2. Thanks Mr. Bear. All of this makes me wonder what the is supposed to be the point of 'Amoris Laetitia'. As you have pointed out it decries the state of current affairs in marriage and child bearing but offers no good solutions. It talks about heretofore sinful situations as something nearly normal or at worse "irregular". In others words the document does not tell the truth from a Catholic point of view; rather it is ultimately secular in direction and its sympathies.

    From a true Catholic point of view marriage should be discussed as a vocation whose duty is to have children to the extent of your generosity. It is meant to be a life long commitment. Wives should be encouraged not to work but stay home and take care of the kids. Marriages are made to last until the death of one of the partners. Divorces should be very few, not 50% as they are now among Catholics. The primary purpose of the Catholic Church should be to support married folks and their children Everything else should be secondary. And so on..

    Instead what we see in 'Amoris Laetitia' is much fatuous secular nonsense which, if anything, tends to be anti-marriage by it's overdone sympathy for alternate states of life and "irregular" relationships.

  3. James Larson at The War Against Being states that there is explicit heresy taught in Amoris Laetitia:

    Herein resides the essence of this heresy. It lies specifically in teaching that there is a “gradualness” applicable to the possession of charity and sanctifying grace. It is Catholic dogma that possession of supernatural charity is an ontological state created by sanctifying grace added to the soul, that one cannot possess this charity unless living in this substantial state, and that it is this state of being which is absolutely necessary for receiving the Eucharist and other sacraments. It cannot be possessed by a person living in objective mortal sin, or by any person who is in some process of pastoral effort working towards the attainment of some “ideal".

    To my mind, if this is true, then the seat is vacant if it wasn't already.

  4. Mixed bag is a nice expression. It's like oil and water which don't really mix.

    But don't refer to divorced and civilly remarrieds as "adulterers." You will hurt the feelings of some snowflake out there.


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