DUBLIN (EWTN-Great Britain) - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin alluded to the crisis surrounding "Amoris Laetitia" and the dubia submitted to Pope Francis in his homily to marriage counsellors working for ACCORD Dublin, the Catholic Marriage Service and agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference.
Without directly mentioning the dubia, Abp. Diarmuid Martin echoed the critical language being used by opponents against Cdls. Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner. Archbishop Martin spoke favorably of Pope Francis and "Amoris Laetitia" for dealing with the "greys" in couples' marriages and lives, which he contrasted with his negative assessment of those people, including "senior clergy" who proposed the "black and white" of "doctrinal formulations." The Irish Times reported that Abp. Martin's homily was seen as a reference to the dubia.
Here is the section of Abp. Diarmuid Martin that appears to allude to the dubia crisis:
Pope Francis has given the Church that remarkable document "Amoris Laetitia," which is the fruit of the reflections of the world's Bishops at two Synods as well as the contribution of married couples and experts from every corner of the world. Pope Francis presents a wonderful kaleidoscope of the teaching of Jesus and the scriptures on the beauty and the joy of marital love. He stresses the role of the Church to learn to teach that message in a language which will be understandable to the men and women of today. He stresses the role of the Church in accompanying men and women on the journey of married and family life, even when the initial dreams begin to fade or indeed fail.
No marriage is lived just in clear and abstract black and white realities. The Church has to understand the grey areas of success and failures, of joys and of disappointments. Repeating doctrinal formulations alone is not the way to accompany people on a difficult journey. Jesus' method was that of accompanying. His method was to show that mercy is more effective than condemnation in changing people's lives.
There are some in the Church who are unsettled by the ability of the Pope to place himself in the midst of the uncertainties of people lives. Some, even senior Church figures, seem to feel that the affirmation of certainties in an abstract and undoubting way is the only way.
There is no ideal family in today's world. Indeed the really great families which we all know would be the very first to admit that their marriage and family life were far from ideal. That does not mean that we do not propose an ideal for all to aim at, not just before their marriage but every day in the grey areas of trying to live faithfulness in the fullest sense.
Accompanying is of course not saying that anything goes. It is being alongside those who are troubled pointing towards — and indeed representing — Jesus, Who gently leads us beyond the often paralyzing doubts that beset us, gently leads us beyond our own limitations and the imperfections of our love.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has a track record for speaking about the role of doctrine in pastoral care in a less than positive way. In 2010 he told students at Oxford University, "There is no way in which the process of engaging with the question about God can be developed on the basis of simple dogmatic imposition."
In 2013 His Grace gave an address at the Faith of our Fathers conference in which he said:
We can repeat doctrine ad nauseam. We can denounce moral teaching with clinical clarity. But all of that will be worthless and the Church's teaching will appear to others like any other ideology, if we do not reflect in our lives — personal and institutional — the loving embrace of the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
And at Dublin's Divine Mercy Conference in 2014, Abp. Martin said, "We are to reach out not with a package of dogmatic formulae or a check list of morality, but first of all with that gladness and eagerness of those who have experienced the Gospel as Good News." In 2015, Archbishop Martin delivered a homily at the ordination of three Jesuits to the diaconate, where he said, "We will not heal those whose lives have drifted from Jesus Christ by throwing books of dogma at them. That would only mean shouting at them in a language that they still have to learn."
Of course Abp. Martin is right to be critical of any who use doctrine in an uncharitable and ideological way. But there is a danger of injustice in consistently associating those who express a concern for doctrine with aggressive proselytism or uncaring, insensitive pastoral practice. It can also be seen as a straw-man argument. The four cardinals make it clear in their introduction to their dubia, and in their explanatory notes, that their motivation is first and foremost a deep concern for the salvation of souls and for protecting people from the appalling harm inflicted on individuals and families by gravely sinful actions:
We hope that no one will choose to interpret the matter according to a "progressive/conservative" paradigm. That would be completely off the mark. We are deeply concerned about the true good of souls, the supreme law of the Church, and not about promoting any form of politics in the Church.
Motivated by a pastoral concern for the faithful, four cardinals have sent a letter to the Holy Father under the form of dubia, hoping to receive clarity, given that doubt and uncertainty are always highly detrimental to pastoral care.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller argues that those who attempt to separate the Church's doctrine from Her pastoral practice are reflecting a "subtle Christological 'heresy'" that results in "a division in the mystery of the eternal Word of the Father, who became flesh":
This would obscure the dynamics of the Incarnation, which is part of any healthy theology. Christ had said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Therefore, there can be no truth without life and no life without truth.
Originally published at EWTN-Great Britain.