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Monday, February 6, 2017

On Amoris Laetitia: Interview of Vatican Liturgical Consultant and Professor of Theology, Msgr. Nicola Bux Featured

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buxMsgr. Bux, Pope Benedict XVI

“giving witness to the truth involves the abandonment of friends, betrayal and death”

As the debate on the exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" is raging on, Msgr. Nicola Bux has kindly agreed to share some comments on the present state of affairs, especially following the letter to the Pope by four cardinals seeking clarification on specific points of the above document. For those who may be not aware, theologian and Vatican liturgical consulter, Msgr. Nicola Bux, is also professor of sacramental theology and author of several books on the liturgy, including 2016’s Con i sacramenti non si scherza (The Sacraments Are Not a Joke).

Q. You are certainly following closely the story regarding the letter to Pope Francis by the four cardinal asking for a final clarification of certain aspects of the exhortation "Amoris Laetitia", which in their opinion are not so clear. What do you think?


A. I'm not competent in moral theology, more than an ordinary Catholic priest; I studied at the Gregorian, when the Jesuit Joseph Fuchs taught "morality in the situation", which I think has 'infected' the Amoris laetitia; but don Giussani warned us, because it was a non-Catholic thought penetrated into the Church, as Paul VI said to Jean Guitton. I mean. Following the Apostle (Gal 1,8), St. Cyril of Jerusalem teaches that the Catholic faith received in baptism, must be taken as "travel supply" for a lifetime without ever taking anything else, even if the very same pastors, changing their minds, were to teach the opposite of what they had taught previously. The Letter of the Cardinals to the Pope - this, like the other one sent at the beginning of the Synod - is believed to be driven by the same conviction; moreover, it is a sign of recognition of the Petrine ministry, because is asking to be confirmed by the Supreme Pontiff and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the department specifically responsible for the preservation of the Catholic faith - on a number of truths concerning faith and morals, especially about the sacraments of marriage, penance-reconciliation and the Eucharist. The 
instrument of the Dubium through which a Responsum is asked, is canonically legitimate, as explained in the same letter.

How then deny that these "doubts", and others, are penetrating into a not insignificant part of the Catholic Church? It is precisely the Catholic thought to be questioned by the post-synodal Exhortation ambiguities, rather than encourage the propensity to commit morally good acts, in order to grow one’s virtues up to the heroism necessary to achieve holiness, the true end of the moral life according to the Gospel. But such ambiguities appear to comprehend, 'accompany' and even legitimize the propensities to perform morally evil acts, such as divorce and remarriage, and to remain in the situations they produce, such as cohabitation and concubinage. Yet, the Word of God calls them sins and vices.

Q. And how do you explain this situation

A. The Catholic thought is in crisis: it is obscured the reason why the Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and died on the cross to save men from sin, calling them into the Church which, as the Catechism says (cf. Compendium 1), is called to evangelize and baptize for the creatures to become children of God.

If it has been reached the point to affirm that even those not baptized are children of God, it means that baptism is unnecessary, and therefore also the catechumenate and Christian sacramental initiation. By withholding the truth about sin and grace, it is conceptualized a 'liquid' Church... to liquidate it.

Q. What do you think of the various reactions to the letter of the cardinals, those in favor like Bishop Schneider, and those against, as Father Spadaro, for whom the Pope has already answered the questions posed by the four cardinals?

A. The interventions of Anna M. Silvas from Australia, Claudio Pierantoni from Latin America, Ross Douthat from the United States, up to the recent ones of John Finnis, Germain Grisez and Edward Peters, represent an intercontinental reaction, therefore not "Eurocentric" but Catholic, on the part of faithful laypeople and clergy, who, as stated in the CIC (codex iuris canonici, canon law) 212, § 3, have the right and duty to express their opinion to the shepherds. Thus they 'correct' them, in the etymological sense of cum regere: the regal munus which also belongs to the faithful (the 'mi corrigerete', viz. ‘you’ll correct me’ by John Paul II comes to mind). Did Cardinals Bacci and Ottaviani not publish in 1969 a critical examination of the new Ordo Missae, that contributed to its correction? Why then should one get scandalized by the Dubia? The Pope could summon the Cardinals around a table and talk fraternally, not emotionally, but with arguments of faith and reason. Adversarial reactions, up to demonization and threat, instead betray emotion, moralism, and – allow me - anger. Didn’t they want the 'church of dialogue'? Those who now out of opportunism have become 'papist', whereas in the past they did not spare criticism to predecessors, certainly are not serving truth. However, let us not forget that from the prophets till John the Baptist, but especially from Jesus to John Fisher and Thomas More, giving witness to the truth involves the abandonment of friends, betrayal and death.

Q. One of the four cardinals, Walter Brandmüller, spoke instead of a fraternal correction in private, if their letter continues to remain unanswered ...

A. It's true that in the Gospel fraternal correction must be made before coram duobus vel tribus testibus (in the presence of two or three witnesses) and should it prove unsuccessful, dic ecclesiae (say it to the assembly) (cf. Mt 18.15 to 17). But there are those who contend that when the scandal and heresy were public, the correction cannot but be done publicly; let’s think of the confrontation between Paul and Peter in the so-called Apostolic Council of Jerusalem (cf. Gal 2:11). In essence, for the Dubia, made public, to be followed by a secret correction would not make sense. Experts in canon law may identify other modalities. Meanwhile, it is important that the debate is spreading in the universal Church.

Q. It is also being rumored that the Pope may revoke the four prelates as cardinal ...

A. A response has been competently provided by Edward Peters for whom "the four cardinals, albeit they would gladly welcome a papal response, are probably satisfied that they have raised some vital issues in anticipation of a day when it will be possible for them to be finally answered. But they could certainly exercise their own Episcopal office as teachers of the faith (can. 375) and propose answers based on their own authority. in fact, they are men, I believe, prepared to accept even the derision and suffer the incomprehension and misinterpretation of their actions and motivations”.

I remember that St Pius X urged:" Be strong! We are not to give in where we must not give in. We must fight, not hesitantly, but with courage; not in secret, but in public; not behind closed doors, but in the open". Today, like yesterday (cf. Rm 12,2), the intra-ecclesial confrontation is between Catholics and neo-modernists: those who speak of conservatives and progressives, reduce the life of the Church to politics. The Cardinals have acted in an ecclesial and non-political way. Therefore, who's afraid of the theological dispute in the Church, conducted with meekness and humility, as Jesus wants? Raffaello painted the famous one on the Sacramento. The Magisterium would benefit from it.

Q. And what do you think the ultimate consequences of this situation could be, if it is not resolved?

A. It has been said by far more authoritative clergy that we are in the presence of a creeping schism: a non-Catholic thought has entered the Catholic Church, a thought which considers the Mass only as a banquet rather than primarily as a sacrifice, marriage as a human act and not as an indissoluble sacrament, talking of sin and grace as by now outdated, a thought preaching morals of mercy irrespective of conversion and penance, and so on. Isn’t it a way to liquidate the Church? The work of the Church in the world is the victory over evil and death; We must fear not primarily those who kill the body, but those who damn the souls to eternal punishment.


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Last modified on Tuesday, February 7, 2017
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