I have been reading some of the comments on Amoris Laetitia with great interest; and in particular I have been struck by the Protestant approach taken by so many commentators.
It's a bit like when my Protestant friends find a verse in the Bible that appears to contradict Catholic teaching. Look, look, they say, The Bible says 'All have sinned.' Therefore the Catholic Church can't be right about Mary being free from sin.
It's quite endearing in its naivety. And perhaps I am unkind to ask them whether it means that Christ, too, has sinned, since that is the plain meaning of the verse.
For the way in which Catholics read the Bible is different. We read it in the light of the teaching of our Holy Mother, the Church, whose book it is. Where we find an interpretation that contradicts the declared teaching of the Church, we know that that interpretation is wrong. We know that the text is inerrant, of course: also on the authority of the Church.
Turning to Amoris Laetitia, I think that many are reading it, as I said, in that Protestant spirit. Thus the delightful Sede Vacantists wrench individual verses out of context, interpret them in the most anti-Catholic way, and present them as evidence (satisfactory to them, if to nobody else) that the Holy Father is not in fact the Pope.
Likewise, certain prelates have looked to find what they want to find in the text, and used it to pursue their own pre-determined agenda.
And the same is true of those who want to demonstrate... well, whatever they want to demonstrate.
My point being that we should not approach the text seeking to demonstrate whatever we already think about the Holy Father, or the State of the Church, or anything else. We should read it, in the first instance, to learn.
And when it comes to interpreting any ambiguities, we should interpret them in the light of the established teaching of the Church.
And should it happen that there are passages that we find impossible to reconcile with the established teaching of the Church (and I do not yet know if that is the case, as I have not yet read the whole thing, still less compared the English translation with the Latin official text), then we must conclude either that we are failing as interpreters, or that there is an error in the text. For the Church does not guarantee the inerrancy of every papal pronouncement. We know that no Pope can reverse or contradict what we have received as the Faith, but rather that his role is to preserve and transmit that sacred deposit.
But such a conclusion should be the last thing we seek, the last that we reach, and not the first.
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