Amoris Laetitia 84: Influence of the Media

amoris laetitia memeThis paragraph is heavily footnoted, as you see. A world-spanning culture is a significant challenge when values of that culture do not line up with the needs of today’s family, said the synod bishops:

84. The Synod Fathers also wished to emphasize that “one of the fundamental challenges facing families today is undoubtedly that of raising children, made all the more difficult and complex by today’s cultural reality and the powerful influence of the media”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 60)

Baptism begins our influence against cultural trends:

“The Church assumes a valuable role in supporting families, starting with Christian initiation, through welcoming communities”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 61)

This reference to hospitality is spot on. The media, in order to sell product, caters to those who engage it. Peer pressure or the illusion of it is a powerful force. How do parish communities rise above it? A sincere and welcoming presence from the start.

On rights and responsibilities:

At the same time I feel it important to reiterate that the overall education of children is a “most serious duty” and at the same time a “primary right” of parents.(Canon Law, c. 1136; cf. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 627) This is not just a task or a burden, but an essential and inalienable right that parents are called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them. The State offers educational programs in a subsidiary way, supporting the parents in their indeclinable role; parents themselves enjoy the right to choose freely the kind of education – accessible and of good quality – which they wish to give their children in accordance with their convictions. Schools do not replace parents, but complement them. This is a basic principle: “all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization”.(Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (8 December 1995), 2)

I wouldn’t limit the understanding here to an education of facts. It is proper to say children are formed by parents, either by intent or default.

Still, “a rift has opened up between the family and society, between family and the school; the educational pact today has been broken and thus the educational alliance between society and the family is in crisis”.(Catechesis (20 May 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 21 May 2015, p. 8)

I think this is reasonably accurate. I do think some adults have influence in education, and not always positively. The American indulgence for silliness (evolution and history, to name two) does damage to a new generation. But largely, there is a strain of morality within the American drive for correctness (both ways).


For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 83: Abortion, Euthanasia, Death Penalty

amoris laetitia memePope Francis offers an aside in the text that I didn’t see cited as often by the Catholic Right as the later controversial bits:

83. Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the “property” of another human being. The family protects human life in all its stages, including its last. Consequently, “those who work in healthcare facilities are reminded of the moral duty of conscientious objection. Similarly, the Church not only feels the urgency to assert the right to a natural death, without aggressive treatment and euthanasia”, but likewise “firmly rejects the death penalty”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 64)

This is a succinct and accurate summary of the Catholic position on the right to life, affirmed by the bishops in the final document from the 2015 synod.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 82: Procreation, Adoption, and Problems

amoris laetitia memeSome citations from the 2014 synod bishops here:

82. The Synod Fathers stated that “the growth of a mentality that would reduce the generation of human life to one variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans is clearly evident”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 57)

To be fair to generations past and present, this has always been true. Even the Bible gives numerous examples of it. Children can be generated for reasons other than grace or love or natural generativity. I’m thinking of the extreme example of Britain’s Henry VIII who made the production of a male heir such a priority that it led to the severing of part of the Church and resulted in decades of upheaval. Producing children for heritage or ego or such isn’t much of an improvement on declining to have children for selfish reasons. It just looks better from some angles.

The Church’s teaching is meant to “help couples to experience in a complete, harmonious and conscious way their communion as husband and wife, together with their responsibility for procreating life. We need to return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in morally assessing methods of regulating birth… The choice of adoption or foster parenting can also express that fruitfulness which is a characteristic of married life”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 58) With special gratitude the Church “supports families who accept, raise and surround with affection children with various disabilities”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 57)

A good reference on adoption and foster care. The responsibility doesn’t end with procreation. Couples older than their forties may also have room to explore how they support life not just create it. By this I mean a dynamic beyond being just grandparents. A fuller exploration of a sacramental responsibility to further Christ’s basic baptismal mission (Cf. Matthew 28:19-20) as well as a productive union in the context of communities: parish, neighborhood, and secular/civic spheres. This is a woefully underdeveloped area of theology.

One last bit on adoption: couples and individuals can fall into the same trap here: a sense that there is a “right” to have a child, and a sense that children are chattel in the context of various adult goals.

Thoughts on this?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Worship, Third, Points of View III

worship thirdThe third edition of Worship might have been the number one organ hymnal for Catholics for an entire generation. I’ll bring this series to a close here, I think. I looked at the next 25 texts, numbers 552 through 577 (one repeat).

For these hymns 7 out of 25 had Scripture cited or paraphrased, leaving us a bit below 40% for this chunk out of the middle of the hymnal. I found this ran the gamut between something like “We Walk By Faith” which is an uncredited nod to 2 Corinthians 5:7 and “Sing Alleluia, Praise The Lord,” a metrical setting of Psalm 150 translated from 16th century German and set to a tune by Heinrich Schütz.

“Faith of Our Fathers,” a piece I’ve never much cared for, had but one reference to God, and it was one of 15 texts that refers to God in the third person. This is largely what I counted in the previous fifty selections: two third of these texts cite God as “Him” or equivalent.

Liam has it right: a lot of the references in the Psalms are to God in this way. I don’t know that it makes a huge difference in the big picture. Two of my favorites though, go the other way. Jan Struther’s “Lord of All Hopefulness” and George Herbert’s “Come, My Way …” are back-to back in this section. Why the latter is pitched in e-flat, rather than a dulcimer-friendly D remains a mystery to me.

Again, nearly everything here is a hymn with stanzas. There are three Taize pieces in these twenty-five, including one of my favorites, “Confitemini Domino.”

In the blizzard of German tunes are a few gems from other lands, like Ash Grove attached here to the text “Let All Things Now Living.”

Last comments?

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Amoris Laetitia 81: Human Love and God’s Love

amoris laetitia memeWe know that human beings see children as possessions. In the Bible and among Christian aristocracy, royalty, and even among ordinary people, children have also been seen as legacies–carrying on the family business be it farm, business, or something royal. Still the Church ascribes to a higher ideal:

81. A child deserves to be born of that love, and not by any other means, for “he or she is not something owed to one, but is a gift”,(Catechism 2378) which is “the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of the parents”.(CDF, Instruction Donum Vitae (1987) II, 8) This is the case because, “according to the order of creation, conjugal love between a man and a woman, and the transmission of life are ordered to each other (cf. Gen 1:27-28). Thus the Creator made man and woman share in the work of his creation and, at the same time, made them instruments of his love, entrusting to them the responsibility for the future of mankind, through the transmission of human life”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 63)

Notice the love acknowledged by the synod bishops in this last quote is that of both people and of God. This is an important consideration that rescues what can sometimes be a muddled area of teaching. Comments?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 80: The Transmission of Life and the Rearing of Children

amoris laetitia memeParagraphs 80 through 85 discuss “The Transmission of Life and the Rearing of Children.” Seven footnotes from documents remind us of the literal word of Church teaching. The basics:

80. Marriage is

  • firstly an “intimate partnership of life and love”(Gaudium et Spes 48)
  • which is a good for the spouses themselves,(canon law 1055 § 1)
  • while sexuality is “ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman”.(Catechism 2360)

Interesting that the phenomenon of childlessness is mentioned first, but Pope Francis cites the Catechism:

  • It follows that “spouses to whom God has not granted children can have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms”.(Catechism 1654)
  • Nonetheless, the conjugal union is ordered to procreation “by its very nature”.(Gaudium et Spes 48)
  • The child who is born “does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment”.(Catechism 2366)

And yet in the case of adoption, couples still provide for a child based on that mutual love. It’s also undeniable that some married couples conceive a child for reasons other than love. The heart of a right judgment here does not rest on sexuality alone, but on the active choice of both partners.

He or she does not appear at the end of a process, but is present from the beginning of love as an essential feature, one that cannot be denied without disfiguring that love itself. From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning,(Humanae Vitae 11-12) even when for various reasons it may not always in fact beget a new life.

We’ve discussed this before. Any comments today?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 79: Difficult Situations

amoris laetitia memeTwo citations here. First, Pope John Paul II:

79. “When faced with difficult situations and wounded families, it is always necessary to recall this general principle: ‘Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations’ (Familiaris Consortio, 84).

How does one define careful? I would say it includes listening, research, and prayer.

The synod bishops:

The degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases and factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision. Therefore, while clearly stating the Church’s teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 53-54)

Attention to the experiences of others: words from the bishops, but an Ignatian trait.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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