Since its publication Amoris Laetitia has split the Church, unlike any other document which has been published for the last 50 years. It has caused quite a reaction on both sides of the aisle, an outpour of joy for those who seek to further their liberal agenda and an outrage for those who seek to affirm the special place that marriage and the Eucharist have in our Faith. The reason why there has been such a reaction was due to the claims made in paragraphs 302 all the way to paragraph 305.
Than why is there so much reactions when it is only about these four paragraphs? Well, because these four paragraphs when accepted diminish the role of the Eucharist when given to the cases mentioned. This is a classic in liberal thinking, whereby errors are introduced in sound doctrine. Such errors destroy the foundation of our Faith, the way the Church sees marriage and the crucial role of the Eucharist in the Catholic life.
Paragraph 302 of Amoris Laetitia states (1): The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly mentions these factors: “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors”. In another paragraph, the Catechism refers once again to circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility, and mentions at length “affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability”. For this reason, a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved. On the basis of these convictions, I consider very fitting what many Synod Fathers wanted to affirm: “Under certain circumstances people find it very difficult to act differently. Therefore, while upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases. Pastoral discernment, while taking into account a person’s properly formed conscience, must take responsibility for these situations. Even the consequences of actions taken are not necessarily the same in all cases”.
In the last part when it comes to what the Synod Fathers discussed during the Synod in 2015, one finds: “Therefore, while upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases.” To this the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith, in the 1994 letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried members of the faithful said:
(2) At the same time it confirms and indicates the reasons for the constant and universal practice, “founded on Sacred Scripture, of not admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion”(9). The structure of the Exhortation and the tenor of its words give clearly to understand that this practice, which is presented as binding, cannot be modified because of different situations.
The Exhortation mentioned above is Familiaris Consortio which was written in 1981 by St John Pawl 2, here is the quote on the above mentioned matter:
(3)However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist.
Note on objectivity as mentioned above: There can be no division between the objective and subjective realms. Both pertain to the one act and must be taken in consideration in judging an act. Hence, there claiming some kind of supremacy for the subjective realm, at the expense of the objective realm is somewhat unbalanced, i.e. to say the objective realm is not an ideal to be admired, but the goal for which every Christian should strive. The objective realm should inform all our actions, because it is such a realm that gives the moral character of an action.
Thus, the subjective should always be guided by the objective, for the subjective is more prone to err. And let us be honest we all find ways how to “subjectively” quite our conscience for our wrong acts. Thus, sin is one reality, it is called a sin because it objectively contradicts some good for the human being. It is not a sin because I feel bad about it, or because the situations around me show me that, but because it is contrary to human good, namely irrational.
Secondly, even if moral culpability is lessened because of some genuine subjective disposition, however that does not mean that the person is not missing out on some human good. Hence, the subjective state of sin is called so because it contradicts the objective Divine Law, otherwise you cannot identify any sins at all.
- Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 pages 233-234 paragraph 302
- CDF 1994 letter concerning the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the Faithful, n 5
- Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, n. 84