A Followup Comment on Ignoring Amoris Laetitia

The ink hadn’t even dried on my earlier blog post before Patrick Archbold, operator of Creative Minority Report and contributor to various Catholic publications, decided to counsel the faithful on how to read Amoris Laetitia (a.k.a. “the exhortation of desolation“). Here’s the meat of it:

First, know this. The document will contain:
2% Actual Catholic teaching on marriage and the rest. This will provide all the cover necessary for the “everything is awesome” toadies to crow about how beautiful and orthodox it is. “I mean, did you read the second paragraph on page 98, that almost sounds like Pope Pius X. All is well.” It will be a load of crap, but there will be those who just eat it up and call it ice cream.

97% Jesuitical blather and pious sounding non-sequiturs. How do I know? 200 pages.

And then 1% will be where all the action and all the danger will be. Buried deep within the text will be the cryptic marching orders. Clear to those who have eyes to see, these marching orders will be done in such a way as to give plausible deniability. But the damage will be done and all will go from there. The wise will point to these paragraphs as the danger they truly represent, but the Catholic mainstream media and the defenders of the status quo will ignore them or criticize those who point out the dangers.

Maybe Archbold is right, but it seems a wee bit premature to fly this far off the handle before the official text is even published. Moreover, I am not sure what agonizing over this document is supposed to accomplish. Do these gloom n’ doom predictions edify the faithful? Are they going to prompt people to pray fervently for better Church leadership? Or is this just more “trad porn”? (I ask that with an air of lightness; I am sure Archbold means well.)

If it is true that the Pope cannot revamp doctrine and that a post-synodal exhortation, which has less magisterial weight than an encyclical or motu proprio, then what is all of the fuss about? Surely Archbold and other faithful Catholics know what the Church actually teaches regarding marriage, the family, and sexuality. No papal document can change that, or can it? And this is where one of the (many) tensions of contemporary Catholicism comes into focus. Catholics have convinced themselves for centuries that the pope can do no wrong; that he is the only thing that provides doctrinal and disciplinary surety; and that in the grand scheme of things he is the only successor to the Apostles that matters. Is it any wonder that the Orthodox (and some pockets of Eastern Catholics) look at the present situation in the Church with anything but horror? Regardless of what comes next, I doubt that screaming about it will help anything.