Benedict’s Essay Is an Implicit Rebuke of Amoris Laetitia

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By Richard A. Spinello, Crisis Magazine, May 15, 2019

The turbulence surrounding the sex abuse debacle in the Catholic Church was recently addressed in Pope Benedict XVI’s April essay called “The Church and the Scandal of Sex Abuse.” Pope Benedict’s thoughtful meditation has been justly praised for unveiling one of the root causes of this protracted calamity. Critics of the letter, primarily close allies of Pope Francis, have unfairly pilloried the Pope Emeritus for composing what they regard as a simplistic and truncated polemic. But any objective observer must admit the plausibility of his explanation for this stunning moral failure, however insufficient that explanation may be.

Not only does Pope Emeritus Benedict provide insight into the cause of the sex abuse crisis, he also subtly contradicts some of the theological positions presented in Amoris Laetitia. Benedict is quite discrete, of course, and never mentions Amoris Laetitia, but his reference to an “absolute good” and to “fundamentally evil” actions stands in sharp contrast to the more pliant moral doctrine proposed in this papal pronouncement.

Pope Francis’ 2015 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, composed after the Synod on the Family, continues to be a source of confusion and discord for the Church. Recently, a group of prominent theologians and scholars accused Pope Francis of heresy. Many of their key allegations focused on some of the dubious teachings of Amoris Laetitia. While the exhortation text itself may not rise to the level of material heresy, there is no doubt that its ambiguities and application have contributed to the dissipation of orthodox moral theology consistent with Scripture and the Church’s long Conciliar tradition. Those who are inclined to defend the pope by insisting that Amoris Laetitia can be read in continuity with the Church’s substantial doctrinal tradition, seem to overlook the fact that the pope himself enthusiastically endorsed the interpretation of the Brazilian bishops….Read entire article…