This is the third part of a response to the optimistically-titled “filial correction” of Amoris Laetitia. In part 1 I showed that The Correctors claim the text supports an idea that the text expressly denies. Then, in part 2, I showed that The Correctors read a a heresy into the text at the very place the text says the opposite. I now move on to the third heresy The Correctors claim to find:
A Christian believer can have full knowledge of a divine law and voluntarily choose to break it in a serious matter, but not be in a state of mortal sin as a result of this action.
This is very similar to Claimed Heresy # 2. And these are very specific conditions: “full knowledge”; “voluntarily choose.” Where does the text of Amoris Laetitia say this? I have searched through the passages quoted by The Correctors. Here is what I find:
• §295 speaks of the Law of Gradualness and notes that, often, one attains the ability to act freely with time, and not all at once;
• §296-297 speaks of the importance of mercy and not casting off forever;
• §298 gives examples of some of the reasons Catholics may have entered a second union and explains that their “situations” must not be “pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications;
• §299 speaks of the need to try to reintegrate the divorced and remarried into the life of the Church;
• §300 notes, as a generic point, that the degree of culpability is not the same in all cases;
• §301, as I noted in part 2, speaks of situations in which there is diminished knowledge and diminished freedom of the will;
• §303 speaks of the role of conscience and discernment of the will of God;
• §304, citing St. Thomas Aquinas, notes that particulars make moral judgments impossible to make in absolutist terms;
• §305, as I also noted in part 2, speaks of situations of “objective sin” but not “subjective culpability”; that is to say, situations where there is not either “full knowledge” or “voluntary choice”;
• §308 contrasts the desire of some for one-size-fits-all approaches with the reality of human weakness and the realization that the details and particulars of people’s real lives are messy;
• §311 notes that moral theology ought to take account of such factors as the pope mentions.
Once again, the actual text of Amoris Laetitia simply does not say what The Correctors claim it does. Nowhere—nowhere—does Pope Francis say that those who have “full knowledge” and “voluntarily choose” to commit adultery within an irregular marriage are not in mortal sin. No such idea is there. Search as long as you like; you won’t find it.
At best, The Correctors read into the text. At worst, they make it up. Nor do The Correctors tell us where they find this idea. They quote a number of passages, but they don’t say which particular ones, or which particular words, support any of the particular heresies they list.
They don’t do very impressive work at all.