The Disingenuous use of the word Confusion by Papal Critics

The latest watchword of the critics of Pope Francis and of Amoris Laetitia is confusion. They disingenuously claim to be confused about what Pope Francis is teaching, in Amoris Laetitia and elsewhere. But what they really mean is that Pope Francis is confused about Church teaching. They are not truly seeking a “clarification”, as they claim. They are seeking to correct the Pope, so that his teachings will agree with their understanding — which they assume is absolute dogma. They do not take the attitude of students, who are seeking instruction and correction from the Father and Teacher of all Christians. They take the attitude of harsh and unjust judges, who judge the Pope and his words according to their own limited understanding and misunderstandings.

What would happen if Pope Francis were to reply to the 5 dubia of the 4 Cardinals? Would they or their followers accept teaching and correction from him? What would happen if Pope Francis were to reply to the Filial Petition, pointing out its many errors? Would the authors and signatories accept teaching and correction from him?

The claim that these critics are seeking clarification is false. They understand what Pope Francis is saying. They simply disagree. They cannot reconcile his teaching with their own limited understanding and misunderstandings — for they assume that their own understanding is inerrant. Whenever any Pope or Council, not only Pope Francis, teaches anything not in accord with their own understanding, they ignore, or radically reinterpret, or reject that teaching.

The critics of Amoris Laetitia loudly proclaim that adultery is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral, and therefore can never be approved. Certainly that is true. But these same critics do not take the same position with other intrinsically evil acts. It is common among conservative Catholic teachers to severely distort magisterial teaching against contraception and abortifacient contraception, and to propose cases where these intrinsically evil and gravely immoral acts are justifiable.

These critics loudly proclaim that no one who is committing the type of adultery found among some divorced and remarried persons should be permitted to receive Communion. But they do not apply the same rule to married couples who commit the grave sins of unnatural sexual acts within marriage. For whenever they wish to approve of some grave sin, they use various theological rationalizations to justify the grave sins of themselves and of their listeners, while uttering harsh condemnation of the grave sins of others.

They are just like the Pharisees, trying to convince Jesus to stone the woman caught in adultery, while they themselves are guilty of worse sins.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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