Aggiornamento Has Its Limits

Many bloggers and reporters are trying to make sense of Pope Francis’ remarks as reported here:

Pope Francis spoke yesterday at a pastoral congress on the family for the Diocese of Rome, and his remarks are causing consternation among faithful Catholics. In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that the “great majority” of Catholic marriages are “null” – in other words, not actual marriages – and that some cohabitating couples are in a “real marriage,” receiving the grace of the Sacrament.

“I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity,” he said.

Ed Peters wonders if the modern world has suddenly turned red in tooth and claw:

The collapse of human nature presupposed for such a social catastrophe and the massive futility of the Church’s sanctifying mission among her own faithful evidenced by such a debacle would be—well, it would be the matrimonial version of nuclear winter. I am at a loss to understand how anyone who knows anything about either could seriously assert that human nature is suddenly so corrupted and Christ’s sacraments are now so impotent as to have prevented “the great majority” of Christians from even marrying!

Phil Lawler questions the implications for Vatican II’s effort to engage modern society:

The Pope’s statement—if it was relayed accurately and meant seriously—would mean that our society is so thoroughly perverse that it has actually debased human nature. If that were the case, the Catholic Church could not reconcile herself to modern society; the faith would be in open conflict with the modern age. Yet in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis delivered a very different sort of message, suggesting that pastors should learn to work patiently, gradually, and sympathetically with people who do not share the Catholic understanding of marriage.

It is curious how Pope Francis’ openness to the less than ideal circumstances of modern romance and marriage is cheek by jowl next to an anti-modern prejudice (think industrial capitalism and modern finance).

Not holding my breath for Bryan and the Jasons’ authoritative interpretation.

One thought on “Aggiornamento Has Its Limits

  1. Meanwhile, Michael Dougherty embraces a Protestant approach to church tradition:

    So, what to do? The best advice, informed by centuries of history, is to just ignore or laugh at the pope when he says something so stupid. Popes in the past have expressed novel and erroneous views on matters of faith before. Pope John XXII argued for erring views on the afterlife. Pope John XII, who raped female pilgrims to Rome, was credibly rumored to have openly professed paganism.

    In these cases and others, the “vast majority” of Christians held on to their faith, as best as they understood it, with no reference to their pope’s day-to-day controversies. Now that the meticulously careful theologian Josef Ratzinger is neither the pope, nor the pope’s ghostwriter, we’re likely to deal with many popes expressing themselves in spectacularly unhelpful or stupid ways. Forgive them, and move on.


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