It's all a bit confusing. Amoris Laetitia seems to be somewhat ambiguous, and some of its footnotes, more so.
Clearly, as with any papal document, one reads it in the hermeneutic of continuity: that is to say, one starts from the assumption that it builds on, and does not contradict, previous magisterial teaching, and interprets any ambiguity in line with such teaching.
And yet, it seems that in a private letter, the Holy Father has suggested that the ambiguity is meant to be interpreted in a quite different way - a way that was discussed but not ratified in the two synods that preceded its publication. And as one looks around at the bishops and indeed cardinals of the Church, we find that some are saying it should be interpreted in one way, and others in a contrary way. That is clearly confusing, to say the least.
So some cardinals who are particularly mindful of the need for clarity - and indeed for doctrinal coherence in that very hermeneutic of continuity to which I referred earlier - have submitted five dubia to the Holy Father, so that all may be quite clear precisely what is or is not being taught.
Yet, mysteriously, the Holy Father seems reluctant to clarify: the dubia remain unanswered.
And then I saw that Austen Ivereigh, one of the founders of Catholic Voices, responded to this tweet on Twitter: Submitting dubia is a standard part of Church life. It’s not unreasonable to expect a clear answer http://buff.ly/2gb2uJj by @SSBullivant, by saying: But in this case it’s dissent / theological protest masquerading as a dubium. The answer has been given. They just don’t like it.
I found that curious, as I could find no record of such an answer, so I tweeted @austeni So, for the slow on the uptake, like me, what are the Holy Father's answers to the dubia? In Y/N form, for the avoidance of doubt?
But answer was there none.
Of course, there is no particular reason why Austen Ivereigh should (con)descend from his tower to answer me - although as I also mentioned on Twitter, instructing the ignorant is one of the corporal works of Mercy.
Ivereigh is the author of How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice. Can we expect a second volume: How to Defend the Faith without saying anything at all?
More seriously, though, what are we to make of it when people (whether the Holy Father or the Head of Catholic Voices) refuse to clarify: when the request for clarity is seen as a hostile act, in fact? That I find a very worrying question.
And what are we to make of it when people (such as close papal aides...) rush to lie: to say all the cardinals are united on this, and that the interpretation was the fruit of the two synods, when we know that to be untrue? Again, I find the question, and the need to ask it, very worrying indeed.
Pray for our Holy Father, for all our Cardinals and Bishops, and for the whole Church: for we live in strikingly difficult times.
Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio,
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude.