Benedictine Theologian Talks of Confusion in Church, ‘Amoris Laetitia’

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by David Nussman  •  •  July 11, 2018   

Fr. Giulio Meiattini shares his thoughts on debates shaking the Church

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ROME ( - A Benedictine theologian is complaining about the ongoing confusion in the Church about sacraments for the divorced and civilly remarried.

Father Giulio Meiattini, a Benedictine monk and a professor of theology, shared his thoughts on the confusion in the Church in an interview with Paris-based international magazine Catholica. Select excerpts from the interview were shared in a report by L'Espresso.

The Benedictine priest said of the Church today, "The situation of confusion is evident."

He commented on the modern trend of creating ambiguity in the name of "discernment," arguing, "Therefore, the first discernment to be made would be precisely on the nature of this situation: can confusion, disagreement among bishops on sensitive doctrinal points, be fruits of the Spirit? To me, it seems not."

In the interview, Fr. Meiattini argued that Amoris Laetitia misrepresents the relationship between morality and the sacraments: 

Among the ethical demands and the sacramental foundation of Christian existence, the center is undoubtedly the sacrament, which is the communication to the believer of the grace that saves, and, in that it is welcomed by and transforms man, is also an act of glorification, doxology. ... Ethics is neither the first word not the last.

In Amoris Laetitia, however, the opposite logic is followed: The starting points are categories taken from the natural law and principles of general ethics (attenuating factors, the relationship between universal norm and subjective situation, non-imputability, etc.), and from these major premises are drawn the consequences for the pastoral practice of the sacraments.

In this way, the dimension of the symbolic and the sacramental, which should anchor, embrace and transcend the moral sphere, loses its significance and becomes a mere appendix to ethics.

Fr. Giulio Meiattini, OSB (Eponymous Flower blog)

Father Meiattini further explained this problem with Amoris Laetitia

The demonstration is given by the fact that in concrete terms the sin of adultery loses its public significance linked to the testimonial aspect of the sacrament, and can be remitted in the "internal forum" without any need to explain before the community why a spouse who publicly contradicts the sacramental sign of fidelity should publicly receive the Eucharist.

He also addressed the ongoing scandal in Germany of bishops advocating for giving Holy Communion to Protestants with Catholic spouses:

The direction that is taking shape around intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants obeys the same logic: It is not symbolic realism that determines the decision, but the simple evaluation of the presumed interior condition. If a Protestant is presumably in the state of grace (based on the attenuating factors of invincible ignorance, diminished responsibility, an honest way of life, etc.), why could he not receive the Catholic Eucharist?

He continued, "Perhaps one does not realize that posing the question this way could lead to making the same argument for a Buddhist or a Hindu who lives a good and just life. Tampering with the relationship between morality and the sacraments ultimately can lead to ecclesiological conceptions that are not Catholic."

Tampering with the relationship between morality and the sacraments ultimately can lead to ecclesiological conceptions that are not Catholic.

Father Meiattini is a monk in the Benedictine abbey of La Madonna della Scala located in Noci, a city in southern Italy. He is a professor at the San Luigi Papal Theological Seminary of Southern Italy in Naples, as well as the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome.

The issue of Catholica with Fr. Meiattini's interview also featured thoughts on the crisis in the Church from the magazine's editor-in-chief, Bernard Dumont. Dumont talked about the apparent cowardice of clergy to address the confusion in the Church.

He wrote about the modern tendency "of unduly elevating to the rank of magisterium ... any word emanating from Pope Francis," rather than using a proper definition of papal infallibility.

Concerning current efforts to reshape the Church, Dumont stated, "The current reform is a more complete compliance with the requirements of late modernity."

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