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First thoughts on the English version of Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia.

As usual, really good analysis by Dr. Peters. I especially agree with one point. Indeed I think it’s fundamental in understanding Francis and what makes the Holy Father so maddening at times, and it is this: He is not a systematic thinker.

He also is not a clear, unambiguous communicator. That may be a studied action on his part. He may be purposely ambiguous.

So, for instance, when Dr. Peters makes the argument in point #4, one has to wonder was Francis simply not conscious of what he was possibly implying or was his ambiguity studied? Is he doing like Fr. Raymond Brown and others have so assiduously done since Vatican II by tip-toeing to the line of rejecting perennial Church teaching, giving a wink-wink/nudge-nudge to heresy or at least dissent, without actually giving full-throat to what they really believe? Who can say? He’s the Rorschach blot Pope. You can make an argument either way depending on your perspective.

Now does he reject “forever” “condemnation” as in he rejects the reality of hell? I don’t think so.

But does he really think that denying Communion to the divorced-and-civilly-remarried is a “condemnation” “for ever”? Your guess is as good as mine.

The Holy Father will not read these words, but maybe someone who knows him will. If that happens, I would ask this person to pass on this humble and filial request: Popes are not supposed to truck in ambiguity. They are supposed to stand as clear, unambiguous defenders and teachers of perennial doctrine, because the truth cannot change. So please, Your Holiness, start doing that. This is getting … has become really old.

In the Light of the Law

There are as one might expect in a document of this length and written with access to the kinds of resources a pope commands, many good things said about marriage in Amoris. Whether those things speak with any special profundity or clarity is better left, I think, for each reader to decide individually.

That said, however, one must recall that Francis is not a systematic thinker. While that fact neither explains nor excuses the various writing flaws in Amoris, it does help to contextualize them. Readers who are put off by more-than-occasional resort to platitudes, caricatures of competing points of view, and self-quotation simply have to accept that this is how Francis communicates.

Some juridic issues that were widely anticipated include:

Holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics. Francis does not approve this central assault tactic against the permanence of marriage, but neither does he clearly reiterate constant Church…

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