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The Laity Roar While the Cardinals Meow:
The Catastrophe that is Amoris Laetitia

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 24, 2017

The leading Vaticanist Sandro Magister continues his indispensable role in chronicling what can only be called "the Bergoglian debacle," which has reached its nadir with the publication of Amoris Laetitia (AL).

In his blog post of April 22, Magister provides a link to the integral Italian text (translations mine) of an intervention by Dr. Claudio Pierantoni, Professor of Medieval Philosophy at the University of Chile. His was one of six addresses delivered in Rome at a conference of lay academics, the theme of which was AL's attack, in Chapter 8, on the Church's traditional teaching concerning the moral law.

Pierantoni is one of 23 academics who wrote in support of the four cardinals who published the famous five dubia concerning AL, to which Pope Bergoglio has yet to give an answer (and clearly never will). The twenty-three warned in their open letter that AL has "left the Church like a ship without a rudder."

Pierantoni's intervention in Rome raises profound objections to AL which demonstrate the gravity of the crisis-within-a-crisis that AL has provoked. After discussing the well-known historical examples of two other wayward Popes who fell into error (Honorius and Liberius, the former having been posthumously condemned by an ecumenical council and his own successor as an aider and abettor of heresy), Pierantoni addresses "the case of Francis."

The case of Francis, he contends, involves a crisis that is "now to be considered the most serious of those ever faced by the Church." I don't see how anyone can doubt that contention given the events that have transpired since AL was published respecting Holy Communion for people living in adulterous "second marriages." Some dioceses now dispense as "mercy" what others, continuing in line with all of Tradition, still forbid as a mortal sin and a grave sacrilege.

AL's opening to Holy Communion for public adulterers in "certain cases," writes Pierantoni, is nothing less than "a deadly Trojan Horse capable of triggering, from within the edifice of the Church itself, a strategic dynamiting of all her defenses and her very foundations."

A reading of the integral text of Pierantoni's address will be very fruitful for those who can read Italian. Here I focus on two of his most arresting points.

The first point is Pierantoni's exposure of AL's absurd, confused, and self-contradictory deployment of the novel notion of "discernment" respecting obedience to the Sixth Commandment on the part of divorced and "remarried" people. At one and the same time AL argues that (a) supposed ignorance of the Sixth Commandment's application to adulterous "second marriages" may obviate the subjective guilt of mortal sin involved in such illicit unions; (b) "discernment" with the aid of a priest, however, is supposed to eliminate that ignorance; but (c) the same "discernment" can inform the individual that God approves of his or her continuation in the adulterous union "for now" as "the most generous response which can be given to God" (AL, ¶ 303).

Thus, the element of supposed subjective ignorance, Pierantoni concludes, is "paradoxically transformed into an element of knowledge, on the basis of which the subject can arrive at establishing with certainty that God desires from him behavior that is objectively contrary to His own law…" That is moral nonsense, nonsense that would destroy the entire moral order were it carried to its logical conclusion.

The second point involves an extremely apt analogy. Pierantoni notes AL's utter confusion (deliberate?) between the negative precepts of the natural law, which God has inscribed in human nature, and mere human positive law, which can change over time. Here he draws a comparison between the speed limit governing the operation of an automobile, to which there can be exceptions in an emergency, and the nature of the automobile itself, which cannot be run on diesel fuel if it is designed for gasoline — a principle of its very construction to which there can be no exceptions, the violation of which will always harm or destroy the automobile.

To suppose, as AL does, that "the natural law can suffer exceptions is a true and proper contradiction that does not comprehend its true essence…" That is, the natural law governs the very operation of human nature via the rational soul and is no mere "rule" like a speed limit for automobiles.

Yet Francis, Pierantoni observes, confirms his confusion between the natural law and mere human laws by his "repeated attack, present in AL 8, against the legalists, the presumed hard-hearted and hypocritical 'Pharisees.' This attack, in fact, betrays a complete misunderstanding of the position of Jesus toward the Law, since His criticism of Pharisaical behavior is founded precisely on the distinction between positive law ('the precepts of men')… and the fundamental Commandments, which are instead the prime requisite, irrenunciable, which He himself requires of aspiring disciples."

Pope Bergoglio, Pierantoni concludes, "ends by aligning himself with [the Pharisees'] position in favor of divorce, against that of Jesus."

Pierantoni's overall conclusion is stunning, yet undeniable given what we have witnessed during the tumultuous course of this unparalleled pontificate:

"What comes into view in the current situation is a basic doctrinal deformation which, while capable of avoiding directly heterodox formulations, maneuvers in a coherent manner to carry out an attack not only against particular dogmas such as the indissolubility of marriage and the objectivity of the moral law, but even against the very concept of true doctrine and, with it, of the Person of Christ as Logos.
"Of this doctrinal deformation, the first victim is precisely the Pope, who as I think hypothetically, is very little aware, the victim of a generalized and epochal alienation from Tradition in broad strata of theological teaching. Behind him are innumerable victims who fall into deception."

Yet while alarmed and highly distinguished members of the laity such as Pierantoni — who cannot be pigeonholed as "radical traditionalists" or "Fatimists" — are building up a well-founded public and historical indictment of the current occupant of the Chair of Peter, from the cardinals we have seen only a few dubia — completely ignored by Pope Bergoglio — and the vague promise of some sort of "correction" which has yet to see the light of day.

Once again, the laity must take the lead in speaking the truth about our situation while the members of the upper hierarchy maintain a timid attitude of reserve or, in the case of the many progressives among them, actively further the Bergoglian debacle.

May Our Lady of Fatima soon come to our rescue. For it is certain there is no help on the way from the Princes of the Church.