Everyone Calm Down and Read

Yes, Pope Francis’ highly anticipated post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, was released on Friday.  As has become the norm, news outlets and social media have been buzzing with reactions, pre-reactions, reactions to the reactions, and on and on.  All these are fed through the speaker’s preferred narrative and thus vary depending, to name the most sweeping divides, on whether we claim that this document changes nothing or that it changes everything, and on whether we view either of the above as a good thing or a bad thing.

Personally, I prefer to take what I think of as a more nuanced view, welcoming a new papal document as a development in continuity with the living Tradition.  This forms a part of  my own narrative that I read through, and I would be naïve to think it makes my reading perfectly unbiased.  Lest I start to think I’m

An Expanding Fruitfulness
Courtesy of Aimee Murphy. Used by permission.

the only one keeping my head, I’ve noticed a few people taking the refreshing approach of lifting up certain gems that they find particularly meaningful, without ideology or accusation, taking a moment to let their beauty speak for itself – which in a way is just what Pope Francis has a gift for doing with the rich wisdom of our faith.

 

I recall someone saying after the release of Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, that reading the document itself was like drinking liquid goodness and light, but as for all the chatter about the document … I don’t remember specifically how it was phrased, but the description was something less flattering.  Amoris Laetitia, like any magisterial document, certainly demands a closer reading than the initial skim I’ve given it thus far, and I will need more time to say anything about it in depth.  But my impression is that the same holds true as before: the document itself is the antidote to all the spins – including quite possibly my own.

Of course there will be analyses and discussions and disagreements, which is all in keeping with the Holy Father’s own intentions at the synod.  But the least any of us can do to keep the discussions in a spirit of Christian charity is to lay down our arms and pause the breathless commentary long enough to read.

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  • Agellius

    “All these are fed through the speaker’s preferred narrative and thus vary depending, to name the most sweeping divides, on whether we claim that this document changes nothing or that it changes everything, and on whether we view either of the above as a good thing or a bad thing.”

    This seems to be precisely the problem: In some parts it’s susceptible of being read and interpreted in different ways. This leads to confusion rather than clarity, as different pastors choose to read and preach on it in different ways, and especially for people who are incapable of interpreting papal documents for themselves, and who therefore go with what they hear about it on the news. Something this important should have been stated in no uncertain terms.

    • Julia Smucker

      I hear your point, Agellius. I’ve also heard people make the case that Pope Francis is signaling that he wants us to be OK with ambiguity, which becomes its own ideological statement. I’m inclined to think how one feels about that is partly a matter of temperament, although I still would come down somewhere in between, whatever that means. I also think the openness to interpretation is not at all unique to Francis, but the digital age throws it into hyperdrive. And then there’s length: no doubt one can find any number of clear statements in the text (though, as I said, I still need a closer reading), but with any document of comparable length there will be the question of what one chooses to highlight.

  • Ronald King

    I wish God spoke with more clarity

    • Agellius

      Ronald:

      That’s what the Church is for.

  • Ronald King

    Agellius, I wish the Church would act with more charity as Pope Francis has encouraged. The implications of acting charitable would impact every human being. Charity/Love must surpass the fear/hatred which dominates the human psyche. Either we’re all in or we’re not. I for one am not all in and that is my contribution to the continuation of fear and hatred.

    • Agellius

      If simply urging people to be charitable were capable of making it happen, then urging people to not get divorced should work too, I would imagine. If we have to make allowances for people’s weakness in getting divorced and remarried, and go easy on them, then don’t we also have to make allowances for people’s weakness in not acting charitably?

      Granting that people will always fall short of the requirements of the Gospel, that’s no reason not to state those requirements clearly and unequivocally, is it?

      • Julia Smucker

        Here’s where we’re largely in agreement, Agellius. I would only add that encouragement to live what the Gospel requires should go beyond simply telling people what to do and not to do but entails mutual support along the way (another demand of the Gospel in itself). This was one of the great strengths of the synod (see here for my take at that time): the “yes you can” encouragement to live those requirements, which was strongly pastoral in a way that defies the now-popular use of the word as code for a loose approach.

        The synod fathers really transcended that whole “loose” vs. “rigid” dichotomy whenever they stressed that “yes you can” message. To simply state the requirements and stop there without any help or encouragement would be Pelagian. On the other hand, to pretend the Gospel never asks anything hard of us would be to dilute it to the point of meaninglessness.

        • Agellius

          Julia:

          “I would only add that encouragement to live what the Gospel requires should go beyond simply telling people what to do and not to do but entails mutual support along the way.”

          I absolutely agree. But I don’t agree that this is a new idea that the Church never thought of before the Synod. I have been hearing nothing but “compassion, compassion, compassion” since I re-verted to the faith some 25 years ago. I have almost never heard “obey, obey, obey”.

      • Ronald King

        Agellius, I did write that I wish the Church would “act” with more charity. It is the act which helps to clarify what is ambiguous at least sometimes. I’ve seen and heard the details of many marriages is crisis and divorce was an extremely painful solution to the fear of being vulnerable in the most intimate relationship in a couple’s life. Marriage actually reveals what needs to be healed in every person who chooses this relationship. “Compassion” is a major requirement to begin the healing process of each partner’s history of pain which accompanied them into this union. Out of this compassion each person has the opportunity to understand how their pain and their partner’s pain resulted in the crisis within their marriage.
        Compassion requires honesty with self and others. Being obedient to compassion will result in being more vulnerable and this is where we are most open to healing the wounds of ourselves and our partners.
        I am not talking about making allowances for weaknesses, rather, I am suggesting that we need to focus on developing insight into how these weaknesses develop and influence our daily lives.

  • Agellius

    “Our words would not be an adequate expression of the thought and solicitude of the Church, Mother and Teacher of all peoples, if, after having recalled men to the observance and respect of the divine law regarding matrimony, they did not also support mankind … amid the difficult conditions which today afflict families and peoples. The Church, in fact, cannot act differently toward men than did the Redeemer. She knows their weaknesses, she has compassion on the multitude, she welcomes sinners.”

    Pope Francis? Nope. Paul VI (Humanae vitae 19).

  • Julia Smucker

    Agellius, I think we may be more in agreement than you’re assuming. I certainly never meant to suggest by highlighting the synod’s strengths that the Church never thought about these ideas before. And yes, of course compassion and obedience are both necessary. That’s my point: it’s setting these things in zero-sum opposition, as if we could only have one at the expense of the other, that’s the problem.

    As my college president loved to say, Jesus came full of grace and truth, and yet far too many people have either been “clubbed by truth without grace” (“obey, obey, obey”) or “coddled by grace without truth” (“compassion, compassion, compassion”).

    • Agellius

      Julia:

      I wasn’t so much assuming that we disagree, as assuming that you support Pope Francis’ approach in AL. I’ve had it up to here with people saying that Francis is so much “nicer” than previous popes. Sorry if I assumed (unconsciously) that you took that stance. : )

      I do agree with everything in your last comment.

      • Julia Smucker

        Right. Well, I’m pretty sure I do support Pope Francis’ approach in AL. But I am not of the view that he is “so much ‘nicer’ than previous popes.” That annoys me too, actually.

        I did say I believe in continuity, after all.

  • Julia Smucker

    Here’s one for you, Agellius. No irony.

    • Agellius

      That’s well and good for people who will read and understand it. I do believe the Pope is acting in good faith and not advocating a moral free-for-all. My concern, again, is the people who don’t read papal documents.

      Kind of a side issue, but it occurred to me while pondering these things that the Pope places a lot of emphasis on the need for compassion, understanding and mercy, not just in AL but throughout his pontificate. He constantly hammers home that theme. His argument, basically, is that too many people in the Church are all about rules and strictures and neglect mercy. (Undoubtedly there are too many like that. After all even one is too many.)

      He evidently thinks this is something worth preaching about. That is, he thinks that preaching on that topic will bear some fruit: That some people may be changed by it, and start paying more attention to mercy; i.e. some will be converted from heartlessness to compassion. Otherwise he wouldn’t spend so much time and effort on it.

      He may be right. But if so, then I wonder: What if he spent an equal amount of time attempting to convert people from unchastity to chastity? Is that not worth preaching about too? Does he think it would not bear fruit? If not, why not? Why believe that people may be converted to compassion by the preaching and example of a Pope, but not to chastity?

      When people are failing in compassion he’s all over them with pitiless condemnations, but with unchastity we’re told we must take pity and make allowances. Is chastity so much harder than compassion? Are people lacking in compassion utterly without excuse, while those lacking in chastity can’t help themselves?

      • Julia Smucker

        I don’t see any contradiction between compassion and chastity, and I don’t see the pope setting them in any kind of opposition either (although I do see some people spin a narrative of him that would have him do so, but that requires some selectiveness). Where there may be a disconnect here is that, whereas you’re making a side-by-side comparison, the way he preaches about compassion is on more of a meta-level. That is, chastity is one part of the Christian moral life, and compassion is how the whole Christian moral life is most faithfully and effectively preached.

        • Agellius

          Julia:

          You write, “I don’t see any contradiction between compassion and chastity, and I don’t see the pope setting them in any kind of opposition either ….”

          I am not comparing or contrasting compassion and chastity as if they must compete with each other. I’m considering them both as virtues. It seems that an increase in appreciation for the virtue of chastity might help to eliminate a lot of the situations towards which we are being called upon to be compassionate. As an analogy, consider compassion for the poor: You can help the poor by teaching people to be kind and compassionate towards them in their poverty. But you can also help them by teaching the virtues that might help them overcome their poverty. I’m not saying it must be one or the other; on the contrary I’m asking, why do the first to the exclusion of the second?

      • Julia Smucker

        I’ve just now stumbled across this article by Austin Ivereigh on Crux that gives a perfect example of exactly this (i.e. how Francis is preaching morality governed by compassion).

        As Ivereigh summarizes,

        At its heart is what Francis calls a pastoral or missionary conversion, a new approach that involves both teaching people a demanding ideal while being compassionate and close to them in their frailty.

        And then he gives Francis’ own answer to your concerns:

        “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion,” he says.

        “But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, ‘always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street’.”

        I love his point about how much attention Francis (following the synod fathers) gives to preparing people for marriage and strengthening existing marriages, which itself is an excellent answer to the dichotomous debate between toothless defeatism and merciless rigorism on how the Church should deal with divorce, reminding us of a crucial point that so often gets lost in that dichotomy: that prevention is the best solution.

        • Agellius

          “… a new approach that involves both teaching people a demanding ideal while being compassionate and close to them in their frailty.”

          But chastity is not an “ideal”, it’s a commandment. A deviation from chastity is not “less than ideal”, it’s a sin. Teaching that chastity is an ideal to be striven for, rather than a commandment to be obeyed, is not a good idea.

          The part about getting soiled I think is a red herring. No one denies that the Gospel must be preached to the poor and to sinners of every stripe, even prostitutes and drug addicts. But, granting that the Eucharist is not a prize but a remedy, nevertheless I’m sure we agree that the Eucharist should not be passed out to prostitutes and drug addicts who haven’t been to confession in years. Clearly then, a line must be drawn somewhere. Up until now it’s been drawn between those who have repented of their sins, and those who have not.

          It’s good to “soil our shoes” by going among the prostitutes and drug addicts to bring them the Gospel, but it’s not fine to soil the Eucharist — or if it is, then I don’t know why we don’t pass it out to everyone we meet.

          Regarding marriage preparation, I agree that prevention is the best solution, but in my experience one of the best methods of prevention is calling a sin a sin. Marriage preparation should include clear and unequivocal teaching that marriage is permanent, and remarriage impossible under pain of mortal sin. This will help people understand that it’s necessary to work through their problems and make their marriage work, no matter how difficult, because they don’t get a second chance. People can endure practically anything when they know they have no other choice. But open the door to other choices and their endurance threshold shrinks fast.

          • Julia Smucker

            Agellius, I think now you’re quibbling with Ivereigh’s words and missing his meaning. At least, I read him to be talking about the Church teaching and helping her members to live the demands (that is, commandments) of the Gospel.

            Neither he nor I have argued for passing out the Eucharist to everyone, or for being wishy-washy about right and wrong. In fact, you are beginning to touch on a genuine pastoral challenge, namely the cultural paradigm that sees marriage as contractual rather than covenantal, which unfortunately has seeped into the church. The question is how best to present a full picture of what Christian marriage is – and the whole Christian life for that matter – including all the right and wrong and what sin is and all of that. And I think Ivereigh’s point, and Pope Francis’ point, and many synod fathers’ point (and indeed that of Paul VI as you quoted him earlier, and one could go on) is that the best way to present this picture and help people actually live into it is not with a club over the head and a stern admonition to stay in line, but by showing why the commandments are there and why they are good – lifting up the right to help avoid the wrong, so to speak.

            You’re right that we shouldn’t shy away from the demands of the Gospel to appease modern sensitivities. It’s all in how it’s said.

            It’s the difference between saying, for example, 1) “You must not remarry while your spouse is living, under pain of mortal sin.” and 2) “You must understand that the vows you are making are permanent, and we your Church will be with you every step of the way, as hard as it may get, to help you remain faithful to this commitment.”

          • Ronald King

            Agellius, I am sorry to intrude. Your generalization about people being able to endure almost anything is an example of a lack of compassion and understanding of interpersonal and interpersonal dynamics.

          • Agellius

            Ronald:

            So you’re saying that it’s impossible for a person to (1) be compassionate, as well as (2) believe that people can endure almost anything when they have no other choice? Hmm… I’m having trouble following the logic.

      • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben

        Agellius, do you ever consider that some people might have a far different, and, perhaps, less instrumental but more spiritual definition of “chastity” than you? For some of us, “chastity” simply involves reflexive or instinctive reluctance to use someone else’s body simply for one’s own pleasure–that is, that every kind of physical love-making should have some colour to it of self-sacrifice. What you apparently can’t wrap your mind around is that love-making outside of marriage, or after a divorce,or between two people of the same sex might very well, depending upon individual circumstances, satisfy this definition of “chastity”–because, as many married heterosexual Catholics know, celibacy is not “chastity,” and married people can be thoroughly “unchaste” in their physical love-making.

        • Agellius

          Dismas:

          No, I’m not willing to consider that as being what the Church has always meant by “chastity”, nor do I believe the Church has changed its definition of the term.

      • Ronald King

        Agellius, Do you have any idea how difficult it is to work through the pain and fear of our most intimate relationship? Perhaps, that is why you cannot follow my logic.

        • Agellius

          Ronald:

          You write, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to work through the pain and fear of our most intimate relationship? Perhaps, that is why you cannot follow my logic.”

          No, it’s because you make two things mutually exclusive, which aren’t. It is logically possible to (1) be compassionate, as well as (2) believe that people can endure almost anything when they have no other choice. In fact, enduring what you thought was unendurable might make you believe (2), and it might also make you more compassionate towards others who are going through the same thing.

  • Agellius

    Julia [responding to yours of April 14, 2016 6:19 pm]:

    I don’t agree that it’s a quibble whether or not to refer to commandments as “ideals”. I think it’s a crucial point and makes all the difference in how people perceive and react to it.

    I never said you or he advocated passing out the Eucharist to everyone. As I think I made clear, I was critiquing the Pope’s language of being willing to “soil one’s feet” as being inapplicable to question of worthiness to receive Communion. It comes across to me as “let’s not be Eucharistic snobs but rather let’s give Communion to people who may not be entirely worthy so that they may become worthy.” It conveys the notion that those who would refuse Communion to the divorced and remarried who are not living chastely, are the same as those who would never allow themselves to be soiled by contact with the poor or with prostitutes and drug addicts. It’s an inapt analogy in my opinion, and also an unfair one. Saintly Catholics were feeding and clothing the poor for centuries, all the while insisting on the traditional understanding of worthiness for Communion.

    You say “we shouldn’t shy away from the demands of the Gospel to appease modern sensitivities”, but then in option 2 of your contrasting examples you omit any mention of the word “demand” or “command” or “sin”. To me this gives the impression that the Church strongly recommends that you stay married permanently, and we’ll try to help you, but should you end up getting divorced and think about re-marrying … well, we don’t really have anything to say about that (except, perhaps, that doing so would not be an absolute bar to Communion).

    I don’t reject the idea of teaching “why the commandments are there and why they are good” — good heavens, why should I? To argue against the idea of “clubbing people over the head” with the commandments, I consider a straw man. Who actually does that? The SSPX? Maybe, but not anyone else that I’ve heard of (and not even them as far as I know). What I object to is not teaching mercy per se, but teaching mercy to the exclusion of justice; teaching heaven to the exclusion of hell, reward to the exclusion of punishment.

    • Julia Smucker

      On worthiness, we must all acknowledge our lack of it every time we receive communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This is not an argument for throwing the whole thing wide open, but only for a little humility: if we’re going to appoint ourselves as worthiness police, the first judgment any of us makes should be of ourselves.

      On the demands of the Gospel, the message is there and the message is clear; now we can tell it legalistically or invitingly. If you think either I or the Holy Father are in favor of “mercy to the exclusion of justice” etc. etc., you have misunderstood.

      • Brian Martin

        One is reminded of the Jews in the time of Jesus, and the Pharisees in particular. They stuck to the letter of the Law, and while Jesus showed them something different. One is reminded of the gospel of a couple weeks ago, of the adulterous woman (where the hell was the guy, by the way)..under Jewish law she should have been stoned. That was the letter of the law.
        Yet, when Jesus said let you who is without sin cast the first stone…they went away. He instructed her to go and sin no more…but it was after extending mercy. Mercy that may or may not have been asked for.

        • Agellius

          Brian:

          Right, Jesus did both. He had mercy, but nevertheless commanded her to sin no more. He didn’t suggest that she gradually attempt to move closer to the ideal of chastity.

        • Julia Smucker

          Perhaps our Lord has given us, in a nutshell, a perfect pastoral response to the dilemma we’ve been dancing around: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

          And perhaps the mercy extended (by definition unmerited, or it wouldn’t be mercy) made the command infinitely easier to follow.

          • Agellius

            Julia:

            But that’s what happens every time one goes to confession, isn’t it? You’re forgiven, now go and sin no more. Or rather, you’re forgiven on condition that you resolve to sin no more.

          • Julia Smucker

            On second thought, maybe “easier” isn’t quite the right word. Better perhaps to say his mercy freed her to obey, or gave her the will to.

            And yes, that is exactly what happens every time one goes to confession!

  • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben

    The Religion editors of the British publication The Spectator are quite sure that this document marks the end of the Bergoglio papacy’s attempts to reform the Church’s take on sexual morality:

    https://soundcloud.com/spectator1828

    They also make a very good point about the Roman Catholic Church’s ridiculous–and fairly un-Biblical–infatuation with married life, as being, seemingly some sort of perfect Christian life.They are absolutely right that the people of the “Jesus Movement” had very little use for marriage.

    • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben
      • Julia Smucker

        Well, good. Just when I was trying to resist being pushed into one polemic, I could not have asked for a more perfect example of the same sort of self-assured disapproval from the other direction, where any nuance is read as murkiness, any reform must equal liberalization and a lowering of standards, any concept of freedom is reduced to license, and now if only the big bad institution would just get over its “problem with divorce” and its “fixation with rules” and in short stop caring how people live.

        • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben

          I think you better get used to being “pushed” into a “polemic,” when you’re talking about a Church that has been doing massive injustices to divorced people and “gay” people, while at the same time protecting pedophiles! Francis is different, granted, but he obviously cannot move legalists to charity.

        • http://digbydolben.wordpress.com dismasdolben

          And also, Julia, whether you like it or not, the “conservatives” here have a right to be suspicious of this encyclical; in its logic, it is a “closeted” endorsement of “gay marriage,” and will eventually open the door to it:

          http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/faithbased/2016/04/pope_francis_amoris_laetitia_is_a_closeted_argument_for_gay_marriage.html

          • Julia Smucker

            So says the preferred narrative of the Disgruntled Right and the Triumphalist Left. Meanwhile, the Disgruntled Left (such as the participants in the audio conversation you linked to here) and Triumphalist Right are insisting with equal vehemence that Francis is really no reformer and indeed that there is no such thing as reform or development in the Catholic Church at all.

          • Ronald King

            Dismas, You are most awesome

  • Agellius

    Julia:

    I think you’re equivocating on the term “worthiness” here. Obviously none of us is strictly worthy, in and of ourselves. Nevertheless the Church, and indeed the scriptures (1 Cor. 11:27), have always taught that one must not receive Communion in a state of unworthiness. So clearly, we may be worthy in a sense, otherwise no one could ever receive it. We must distinguish between worthiness in and of ourselves, and worthiness in Christ. That is, once we’re baptized (and instructed), we become worthy to receive Communion, not of ourselves but by virtue of our union with Christ, which can only be forfeited through mortal sin. The unbaptized, and those in a state of mortal sin, are worthy in neither respect.

    You write, ‘If you think either I or the Holy Father are in favor of “mercy to the exclusion of justice” etc. etc., you have misunderstood.’

    And if you think I am in favor of legalism to the exclusion of mercy, you are equally mistaken. Do you suppose I’m not conscious of the mercy that has been shown me by the Lord, in bringing me to the faith in the first place, and restoring me to the state of grace again and again after I’d fallen? Certainly I want people to know of this unspeakable and priceless mercy. I never said otherwise. But I also want them to know why mercy is needed in the first place, how it’s obtained (through repentance and the forsaking of sin), and the consequences of failing to avail themselves of it. Is it better to shield them from knowledge of the latter until it’s too late, or is it better to warn them in advance?

    If you agree with all this, then obviously we have no quarrel.

    By the way, how would Jesus preach? He obviously demonstrated mercy on countless occasions, but he also warned of the wrath to come: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Mt. 23:33.) “‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels ….” (Mt. 25:41-42.) “[U]nless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:3.)

    I see a lot of preaching on mercy from the Pope — which is obviously a good thing. But almost no preaching on wrath. Of course he’s not alone in this.

    We may disagree on the extent to which the Pope presents a balanced view of the Gospel. But this is how it appears from my perspective.

    • Julia Smucker

      Perhaps at this point we should just agree that it’s a both/and.

      • Agellius

        Works for me. : )

  • tulliolulus

    The flood of attacks on AL, and, often, on the Holy Father, for having given the Church the Exhortation is amazing. Not by the “liberals”, but by the “conservatives”. Looking for a defence of the HF or of AL is like looking for a needle in a haystack – so far, I’ve found only Scott Alt’s articles on Patheos, and Bishop Barron. The Schoenborn presentation does not really count, because it is one of the targets.

    The Church has a fantastic Pope. “Francis doesn’t refer to Familiaris Consortio” – yes, he does: almost 20 times. Count the references. And then there are 10 or so references to other utterances of JP2 as well. And Humanae Vitae. And Mystici Corporis.

    “AL is only an Apostolic Exhortation, so it can be ignored” – FC was “only an Apostolic Exhortation”, too. Yet it has constantly been quoted in Church documents since it was written.

    “AL is not magisterial”

    1. Then why the fuss over how erroneous AL supposedly is ?

    2. If two Papal documents are of the same genre, why one – FC – treated as magisterial, and the other treated as waste paper ? Do Catholics – and “conservatives” are always putting down others for supposedly not being “real Catholics(TM)” – get to decide for themselves which documents they will deign to approve and defer to ? That is not how Catholicism functions, and appealing (for the umpteenth time !) to canon 212.3 does not make it do so. After all, as “conservatives” never weary of reminding the evul “libruls” – all together now: “The Church Is Not A Democracy !” St Pius X exhorted priests, at some length, to “love the Pope”. Apparently our present Holy Father need not be loved. A canonised Pope of unimpeachable orthodoxy can thus – if inconvenient – be ignored. So can the New Testament, which is rather explicit about love (even) of enemies.

    3. Even if AL is not magisterial in the strict sense, that is not a reason to treat it as a pile of puke. The HF didn’t give it to the Church because he was bored, or had nothing better to do, or wanted to wind up his anti-“liberal” detractors; he gave it to the Church as an exercise of his ministry as Pope, to serve and confirm the Flock of Christ. The ungenerous attitude that V2 is “only a pastoral council” is of a a piece with the minimalising attitude to AL.

    “AL talks about mercy, but not about repentance”

    That is what is called, in plain English, an untruth. And it disgraces, not the Holy Father, but those who use that argument.

    Whatever the weaknesses in AL, it deserves far better from Catholics than the disrespectful reception it has received from far too many self-appointed, self-certified would-be champions of orthodoxy, whose fitness for such a task rests on…what ? If they are going to presume to correct the Holy Father’s work, the rest of us are entitled – no ? – to know what gives them the moral, intellectual, spiritual, pastoral, or doctrinal authority to do so. Some of them are even asking for AL to be withdrawn. But why only AL ? Why not be consistent, and ask for other “problematic” Church utterances to be withdrawn ? The folly of such goings-on hardly needs spelling out: it would subject Church documents to the will of those for whom they are intended.

    The conclusion of the whole matter ? God bless, protect, enlighten and guide our Holy Father Pope Francis, and pour out confusion on his enemies.