On the day of the spectacular descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles were so filled with strength and courage, that Saint Peter went out and converted three thousand people that very day with his preaching. From these conversions we have the first ecclesial testimony: ‘They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life. […] All who believed were together and had all things in common’ (Acts 2: 42–44).
In a previous study, we analyzed a reference that Francis presented in number 159 of Amoris Laetitia. Taken from a catechesis of Pope John Paul II, July 14, 1982, this reference was truncated in its essential theological dimension. Consequently, having silenced what Pope John Paul II had affirmed in recalling that virginity and celibacy are based on an option for the sake of the “kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 19:12), Francis prompts a one-sided interpretation.
There is no doubt that the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia is principally surprising in the field of matrimonial morality, in its veiled contradiction to the principles always defended by the Church. But readers may find many other worrisome points for reflection within this document; they perhaps appear inoffensive, at first sight, but are very decisive points, in reality.
One of Cicero’s famous sayings defines history as a thing ‘which bears witness to the passing of the ages, sheds light upon reality, gives life to recollection and guidance to human existence, and brings tidings of ancient days’ (De Oratore II, 9, 36). And it is precisely the witness of history that shows us how the ancient peoples lived, with their cultures given to idolatry, slavery and even human sacrifice.
In the first paragraphs of Amoris Laetitia we encounter an affirmation that sets the entire gist of what Francis wishes to convey in this document: it is time to develop ‘various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching’ to ‘seek solutions better suited to its culture’ in family ministry.
All of us remember the experiences of so many of our national soldiers who went through arduous, exhausting and seemingly interminable combats. How many of them saw numerous companions fall, and they themselves were uncertain of their own survival…but the desire to defeat the enemy, to save their country, and to fight on like heroes encouraged them to continue without desisting, and even to give their lives if necessary. How many nations have the glory of numbering among their sons men of this valor; men who are more concerned with fulfilling their duty than enjoying a life of betrayal and egoism.
“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’. […] That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh” (Gn 1:27–28; 2:24).
On February 12, all eyes turned toward Cuba on the occasion of Francis’ encounter with Kirill, the Greco-Schismatic Patriarch of Moscow, following a centuries-long rupture of relations. Unfortunately, to the perplexity – or indignation – of Catholics, this encounter did not signify any progress toward the conversion of those belonging to the auto-denominated ‘Orthodox’ church…but rather the contrary. They were encouraged to announce the Gospel without the necessity of returning to the Church…they were called brothers in the faith…without a rejection of the heresies they profess!
There is a brief observation we would like to make to Francis. It can be noted in his prolific pronouncements that he often mentions the Church as if it were merely a socio-economic organization, rather than a divine institution. There is almost no situation or aspect of the Church that he has spared criticism.
“Do we love the Church as we love our mothers, also taking into account her defects?” This question proffered by Francis, reveals the high concept he has of the institution he governs. The defects of the Church? What is he referring to? Didn’t Saint Paul proclaim her to be “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27)?