During Q&A with Colombian Jesuits…
Correctio Filialis: Francis weighs in (a little bit)!
The Vatican II Church has descended into a frenzy over the recently-released “Filial Correction” sent to Francis by 62 mostly obscure clerics and lay individuals. While we are still preparing a post with an assortment of various initial reactions to the Correctio Filialis, we interrupt our efforts here to share some breaking news with you: While on his “Apostolic Journey” to Colombia earlier this month (Sep. 6-10, 2017), Francis sat down with a number of the nation’s Jesuits for a spontaneous question-and-answer session in which he talked about many things, including existentialist ecclesiology claptrap and… criticism of his infernal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”!
Today, Sep. 28, the apostate Jesuit rag La Civiltà Cattolica published a report on and transcript of Francis’ meeting with his fellow-Jesuits in Cartagena, Colombia:
- “Grace is not an Ideology: Pope Francis’ private conversation with some Colombian Jesuits” (La Civiltà Cattolica)
Francis’ Q&A with the Colombian Jesuits took place on Sep. 10 — the same day, incidentally, when he picked up a black eye as he hit his head on the “Popemobile”.
Interestingly enough, as the transcript shows, Francis wasn’t asked about Amoris Laetitia — he brought it up on his own. Although the Filial Correction was not made public until Sep. 23, it had been sent to Francis on Aug. 11. For this reason, it is clear that when Francis spoke of criticism of his exhortation, he most certainly had this most recent challenge in mind.
Here is the relevant portion of the transcript (repeating the entire answer for proper context):
Fr. Vicente Durán Casas stands to ask another question: “Holy Father, again thank you for your visit. I teach philosophy and I would like to know, and I speak for my teaching colleagues in theology too, what do you expect from philosophical and theological reflection in a country such as ours and in the Church generally?”
[Francis:] To start, I’d say let’s not have laboratory reflection. We’ve seen what damage occurred when the great and brilliant Thomist scholastics deteriorated, falling down, down, down to a manualistic scholasticism without life, mere ideas that transformed into a casuistic pastoral approach. At least, in our day we were formed that way… I’d say it was quite ridiculous how, to explain metaphysical continuity, the philosopher Losada spoke of puncta inflata… To demonstrate some ideas, things got ridiculous. He was a good philosopher, but decadent, he didn’t become famous…
So, philosophy not in a laboratory, but in life, in dialogue with reality. In dialogue with reality, philosophers will find the three transcendentals that constitute unity, but they will have a real name. Recall the words of our great writer Dostoyevsky. Like him we must reflect on which beauty will save us, on goodness, on truth. Benedict XVI spoke of truth as an encounter, that is to say no longer a classification, but a road. Always in dialogue with reality, for you cannot do philosophy with a logarithmic table. Besides, nobody uses them anymore.
The same is true for theology, but this does not mean to corrupt theology, depriving it of its purity. Quite the opposite. The theology of Jesus was the most real thing of all; it began with reality and rose up to the Father. It began with a seed, a parable, a fact… and explained them. Jesus wanted to make a deep theology and the great reality is the Lord. I like to repeat that to be a good theologian, together with study you have to be dedicated, awake and seize hold of reality; and you need to reflect on all of this on your knees.
A man who does not pray, a woman who does not pray, cannot be a theologian. They might be a living form of Denzinger, they might know every possible existing doctrine, but they’ll not be doing theology. They’ll be a compendium or a manual containing everything. But today it is a matter of how you express God, how you tell who God is, how you show the Spirit, the wounds of Christ, the mystery of Christ, starting with the Letter to the Philippians 2:7… How you explain these mysteries and keep explaining them, and how you are teaching the encounter that is grace. As when you read Paul in the Letter to the Romans where there’s the entire mystery of grace and you want to explain it.
I’ll use this question to say something else that I believe should be said out of justice, and also out of charity. In fact I hear many comments – they are respectable for they come from children of God, but wrong – concerning the post-synod apostolic exhortation. To understand Amoris Laetitia you need to read it from the start to the end. Beginning with the first chapter, and to continue to the second and then on … and reflect. And read what was said in the Synod.
A second thing: some maintain that there is no Catholic morality underlying Amoris Laetitia, or at least, no sure morality. I want to repeat clearly that the morality of Amoris Laetitia is Thomist, the morality of the great Thomas. You can speak of it with a great theologian, one of the best today and one of the most mature, Cardinal Schönborn.
I want to say this so that you can help those who believe that morality is purely casuistic. Help them understand that the great Thomas possesses the greatest richness, which is still able to inspire us today. But on your knees, always on your knees…
(Antonio Spadaro, “Grace is not an Ideology: Pope Francis’ private conversation with some Colombian Jesuits”, La Civiltà Cattolica, Sep. 2017; italics given; underlining added.)
Before he gets to Amoris Laetitia, Francis uses the opportunity once again to knock one of his favorite targets: those “decadent Thomist manualists”! His remarks are seething with that arrogance and contempt towards Scholasticism once identified and condemned as a hallmark of Modernism by the great Pope St. Pius X:
It is pride which fills Modernists with that self-assurance by which they consider themselves and pose as the rule for all. It is pride which puffs them up with that vainglory which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say, elated and inflated with presumption, “We are not as the rest of men,” and which, lest they should seem as other men, leads them to embrace and to devise novelties even of the most absurd kind.
Against scholastic philosophy and theology they use the weapons of ridicule and contempt. Whether it is ignorance or fear, or both, that inspires this conduct in them, certain it is that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is tending to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for the scholastic method…. They exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority.
(Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi, nn. 40, 42)
Perhaps a little background on those “decadent scholastic manualists” is in order.
At the turn of the 19th century, and in the first half of the 20th century, textbooks were utilized by seminaries throughout the world for the education and instruction of candidates studying for the Catholic priesthood. These textbooks were manuals which contained the common teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, and to this extent and in this sense, they belonged to the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium. This is explained very well in the following essay:
- Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton, “The Teaching of the Theological Manuals”
(American Ecclesiastical Review 148 [April, 1963], pp. 254-270)
Not surprisingly, the theological manuals used Scholasticism as their method of presentation. The scholastic method is a highly refined process whose main element is that it seeks to derive theological conclusions from the articles of Faith by means of demonstrative syllogisms. Oftentimes, these doctrinal conclusions or theses contained within the theological manuals are themselves dogmas of the Faith.
The aim of the manuals was to show, in a scientific fashion, how the conclusions or theses were actually contained within the body of Divine Revelation. The Scholasticism found on the pages of the theological manuals of the 19th and 20th centuries displayed logic that was crystalline and precise, something that “Pope” Francis has repeatedly said he abhors. Benedict XVI, too, is on record rejecting it: “…I had difficulties in penetrating the thought of Thomas Aquinas, whose crystal-clear logic seemed to me to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made” (Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1998], p. 44).
Francis loves to reject “decadent Scholasticism” in favor of a conveniently undefined and formless “reality” — a most anti-theological concept. This supposed “reality” is a slippery slope that allows him to introduce whatever he likes into the sacred science, and was roundly condemned by Pope Pius XII:
- Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis (1950; see n. 6)
- Pope Pius XII, Address Soyez les Bienvenues (1952)
- Holy Office, Instruction Contra Doctrinam (1956)
For more information that refutes Francis’ claptrap concerning Scholasticism and vindicates the traditional Catholic position, see this post:
As far as his “defense” of Amoris Laetitia goes, it is, of course, entirely devoid of substance and quite laughable. He had made the claim before that the teaching of the document is “Thomistic”; in fact, he insinuates as much in the infernal exhortation itself (see n. 304). But this is patently absurd, as even a Novus Ordo theologian has pointed out:
It is simply shameless to suggest that St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine provides the basis to making adultery morally acceptable in certain “concrete situations”. Regarding the Ten Commandments, the Angelic Doctor teaches:
Now the precepts of the decalogue [=Ten Commandments] contain the very intention of the lawgiver, who is God. For the precepts of the first table, which direct us to God, contain the very order to the common and final good, which is God; while the precepts of the second table contain the order of justice to be observed among men, that nothing undue be done to anyone, and that each one be given his due; for it is in this sense that we are to take the precepts of the decalogue. Consequently the precepts of the decalogue admit of no dispensation whatever.
(St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 100, a. 8)
In another place, Aquinas is even more direct: “…a man ought not to commit adultery for any expediency…” (On Evil, q. 15, a. 1, ad 5), for the simple reason that the Sixth Commandment is a negative precept (“Thou shalt not…”), and “negative precepts bind always and for all times” (Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 33, a. 2). This, in turn, means that sins against the Sixth Commandment (or any other negative precept) “cannot become good, no matter how, or when, or where, they are done, because of their very nature they are connected with an evil end” (ibid.). In short: We are not allowed to do what is intrinsically evil so that good may come, something St. Paul the Apostle already pointed out 2,000 years ago (see Rom 3:8). For more on the “concrete situations” argument, please see our post:
Francis has referred people to the demonic “Cardinal” Christoph Schonborn on more than one occasion. (In fact, Francis himself reportedly once asked Schonborn whether Amoris Laetitia was even orthodox.) It was Schonborn who gave the theological presentation and answered journalists’ questions (beginning at 1:25:20 mark) during the press conference for the release of Amoris Laetitia — and never gave them a straight answer, either, regarding the reception of the Novus Ordo sacraments by unrepentant public adulterers.
Lastly, a quick word about the accusation of “casuistry”, which Francis juxtaposes with his existentialist “reality”-based approach to morality.
Casuistry — in its proper sense — is actually a most important part of moral theology and was most famously championed by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the 18th-century Doctor of the Church. The 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia defines “casuistry” as follows:
The application of general principles of morality to definite and concrete cases of human activity, for the purpose, primarily, of determining what one ought to do, or ought not to do, or what one may do or leave undone as one pleases; and for the purpose, secondarily, of deciding whether and to what extent guilt or immunity from guilt follows on an action already posited.
(Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Casuistry”)
In other words, casuistry is a really important discipline in the Catholic Church. As the same entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to explain:
The necessity of casuistry and its importance are obvious. From the nature of the case, the general principles of any science in their concrete application give rise to problems which trained and expert minds only can solve. This is especially true regarding the application of moral principles and precepts to individual conduct. For, although those principles and precepts are in themselves generally evident, their application calls for the consideration of many complex factors, both objective and subjective. Only those who unite scientific knowledgeof morality with practice in its application may be trusted to solve promptly and safely problems of conscience.
Francis, of course, has his own way of “solving” problems of conscience: He waves his magic wands of accompaniment, discernment, and mercy, and, voilà, the sin is no longer a sin in your particular case — problem solved!