Another interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke has just been published; this one with the internet outlet Thinking with the Church.
You can read the interview in its fullness there. Here, I’d like to touch on what strikes me as the most intriguing part.
Turning the conversation toward the Epistle of Jorge Bergoglio to the Luciferians (otherwise known as Amoris Laetitia), the interviewer states:
You have yourself made statements to suggest that the document itself is perfectly amenable to a perfectly orthodox interpretation, but that there are, as a matter of fact, others out there, that are not so much so, and you’ve asked the Holy Father to clear this up for us.
To which Burke replied in the affirmative.
Let’s stop here for a moment to make sure we understand exactly what it being said…
Amoris Laetitia, which plainly says that adultery is at times “the most generous response which can be given to God,” and even that this is “what God himself is asking,” is “perfectly amenable to a perfectly orthodox interpretation”?
OK then, let me be perfectly clear:
Anyone who promotes this idea is a tool in the hands of the Devil; willing or otherwise. (In the present case, I am pleased to assume it is the latter, but either way, this is pure evil.)
Burke goes on:
The Holy Father says himself – in the document – that he’s not presenting the Magisterium – it’s a kind of reflection – and the language is often times imprecise, and there aren’t a lot of citations of the tradition regarding the teaching regarding Holy Matrimony and on the Holy Eucharist, and so I say the document is acceptable if the key to interpreting it is what the Church has always taught and practiced, and this is where the debate comes in, because there are other people who are saying – including Cardinals – “No, this represents a completely new approach.”
I find this rather interesting…
Attentive readers will notice that this defense of Amoris Laetitia and its author is very similar to that which was proposed by Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize of the Society of St. Pius X, who wrote:
Chapter Eight of Amoris laetitia is defined, like the others, by the fundamental intention assigned by the Pope to the whole text of the Exhortation, which is “to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice” (paragraph no. 4). Therefore we find here neither more nor less than matter for reflection, dialogue and practice. That is not material for clear-cut denial or calling into question.
What Fr. Gleize is saying is that, in light of the stated intention of its author, the contents of Amoris Laetitia cannot be considered heretical.
Cardinal Burke is saying essentially the same thing; namely, given that Francis is only offering material for reflection, the text is by default “acceptable” provided that one derives its meaning, not by what it objectively states, but rather in line with “what the Church has always taught and practiced.”
At this, I have to wonder:
Are Cardinal Burke and the SSPX working together; in some way coordinating their efforts in crafting their respective approaches toward Francis and their responses to Amoris Laetitia?
It is certainly possible.
For years, Bishop Fellay has made mention of certain unnamed cardinals in the Roman Curia who, behind the scenes, are supportive of the Society. It is no secret that Cardinal Burke has long been among them.
In any case, this particular approach to Amoris Laetitia, wherein Francis’ intentions are being cited as justification for downplaying the gravity of the situation, lies at the very heart of the responses offered by both the SSPX and Cardinal Burke – the most visible of the Dubia Brothers.
As such, this argument merits our closest attention.
Very recently, I was contacted privately by a priest of the Society who offered a defense of the position taken by Fr. Gleize (and shared by Cardinal Burke); namely, that Francis’ intentions are truly relevant to the present discussion.
I firmly rejected that position in a post HERE; citing Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, which states:
“In deciding the meaning of a text the Church does not pronounce judgment on the subjective intention of the author, but on the objective sense of the text.”
While protecting the identity of this kindly priest, here I paraphrase his thoughts; with the idea in mind that they represent what is perhaps the best possible defense of the SSPX / Burke position:
“Stated intentions” and “subjective intentions” are two different things. A stated intention is what an author establishes as the key to interpret his words, while the subjective intention is what he really wants to say in those words.
The latter is beyond our knowledge as only God can judge that intention, but the former is part of the fact and so has to be used in our judgment of a given affirmation.
If the stated intention is not to affirm something but just to gather ideas, we cannot give the text the marking of a heresy, even if it is against dogma, as it is not pertinacious.
That is why the note of favens haeresim (promoting heresy) is the correct one.
In response to this, I would propose that while a distinction may be made between the subjective intention and the stated intention of an author, neither one has any bearing “on the objective sense of the text.”
Furthermore, no author (not even a pope) has the right to provide their own, personally crafted, interpretive key to words that treat of matters of faith and morals. Such texts must always be evaluated objectively in the light of sure and immutable Catholic doctrine.
For instance, imagine that a text is authored for individuals preparing for their first Confession, and it contains the statement:
“As an aid to reflection and as a help and encouragement (the stated intention found in AL 4 as cited by both Fr. Gleize and Cd. Burke), it is useful to reflect on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s humility in acknowledging her own sins; after all, even she bore the stain of original sin.”
As all reasonable observers would presumably agree, the stated intention of the author in this case in no way changes the objective sense of the text; i.e., it does not render it something other than heresy.
I might also add that while it is charitable to accept that Francis’ stated intention in Amoris Laetitia is subjectively true, we cannot know for certain that this is the case; e.g., he may have other intentions that have not been stated.
So, while we can say that it is “part of the fact” that the stated intention (in AL paragraph no. 4) reads “XYZ,” we cannot conclude that “XYZ” is “fact” (or the whole truth) as such.
So, even in this we must defer to the judgment of God, and all that is left for us to consider is… you guessed it – matters objective.
With this in mind, I believe it is fair to say that when Ott states that “the Church does not pronounce judgment on the subjective intention of the author,” we can take that to include a stated intention as well.
It has elsewhere been suggested to me by another defender of Fr. Gleize that [and I’ll quote my interlocutor directly in this case] “a pope’s intention, that is, his subjective intention, is not merely what he personally thought when writing, but it has another aspect – it is the authoritative declaration of objective intention.”
Certainly, intention with respect to the doctrinal weight and the relative “bindingness” that a pope wishes to assign to a given text is a legitimate consideration, but the “objective sense of the text” itself is another matter altogether.
The bottom line is simply this:
Either a given text objectively constitutes “a rejection or contradiction of a truth that is not only revealed but also proposed as such by an infallible act of the ecclesiastical Magisterium” (to quote Fr. Gleize) or it does not.
Lastly, I would also point out with regard to Fr. Gleize’s article (as well as the dubia), the immediate purpose is not ordered toward establishing pertinacity, properly speaking; it is simply a matter of evaluating the “meaning of the text” of Amoris Laetitia.
A given text may very well contain heresy, and yet upon inquiry it may be discovered that the author is simply mistaken, is willing to make corrections in order to bring the text in line with Catholic doctrine, and therefore is not pertinacious.
Setting aside for the present the uniqueness of addressing papal texts, this is how ecclesiastical censures generally proceed:
- Rome determines the objective meaning of a given text.
- If at odds with Catholic doctrine, the author is confronted with the relevant teachings.
- It is thus discovered whether the author is able to either defend his text, or is willing to make the necessary corrections.
- If either one of these things takes place; problem solved. If not, the condition of the author is made plain and it is addressed accordingly.
Simple. Chronological. Straightforward.
We need to be very clear on this point as it seems lost on even intelligent, faithful men:
The objective meaning of a text is one thing; the state of the author (e.g., concerning matters of intention, possible notoriety, pertinacity, etc.) is another.
Thus far, Cardinal Burke and the SSPX are making a mortal mess of step #1 and bending over backwards to avoid stating the obvious:
Objectively speaking, and without a shadow of doubt, key portions of the text of Amoris Laetitia constitute blasphemy and heresy.
Until such time as that changes and they are willing to plainly condemn Amoris Laetitia for what it truly is, neither one is going to offer any meaningful opposition to Francis and his unprecedented program of destruction.