A Tweet last evening guided me to an important story – here it is.
Brilliant – required reading from@firstthingsmag – Whose Bourgeois Morality? https://t.co/fz1P8J85XH
— John Charmley (@ProfJCharmley) October 18, 2017
Some of you are quite familiar with Professor Charmley, as I am, I consider him a close friend, but in any case, he is exactly correct. This is required reading for any of us who wonders what in the world the Catholic Church is thinking these days. Here is the link again, and here is a snippet.
[I]n the latest round of debate over Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, a fervent defender of the document sniffed at some of its critics that “the Magisterium doesn’t bow to middle-class lobbies” and cited Humanae Vitae as an example of papal tough-mindedness in the face of bourgeois cultural pressures. It was a clever move, rhetorically, and we may hope that it’s right about the magisterial kowtow. But I fear it also misses the point—or, better, several points.
At the Synods of 2014 and 2015, to which Amoris Laetitia is a response, the most intense lobbying for a change in the Church’s traditional practice in the matter of holy communion for the divorced and civilly remarried—a proposal the great majority of Synod fathers thought an unwarranted break with truths taught by divine revelation—came from the German-speaking bishops: prelates who represent perhaps the most thoroughly bourgeois countries on the planet. Thus, one does not strain against veracity or charity by describing the German-speaking bishops as something of a lobby for middle-class preoccupations. Passionate defenders of Amoris Laetitia might thus be a bit more careful when dismissing as a middle-class lobby those who raise legitimate concerns about the ambiguities in the document; what goes around, comes around.
There was, of course, far more going on in the 2014-2015 German campaign to permit holy communion for the divorced and civilly remarried than lobbying on behalf of the bourgeois morality of secular, middle-class societies. There was, for example, the ongoing, two-front German war against Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on the morally appropriate means of family planning) and Veritatis Splendor (St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical on the reform of Catholic moral theology). We are told, now, that a commission is examining the full range of documentation involved in the preparation of Humanae Vitae. One hopes that that study will bring to the fore what Paul VI realized when he rejected the counsel of many and reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to natural family planning as the humanly and morally appropriate means of regulating fertility.
Do read it all, and think about the implications. I’m no Catholic as you all know, but Rome has provided the best leadership on this since the Second World War, and we will all lose if they lose their voice, and even more, will the children who will never be born lose much more than their voice.