Amoris Laetitia

Amoris Laetitia – what do you think? I have read the document quite quickly, taking extra care over particular sections. And I have read several initial commentaries. So I give you my early reactions.

I am struck by its idiosyncrasy. I cannot think of any pope in recent times, and certainly in earlier times, who would have written it. I believe that it may have a profound, long term, effect on the Church’s view of the moral life. To the disappointment of many people, he has not settled any of the issues which have been debated so strongly over the two Synods. But he has emphasised our long tradition on the sovereignty of conscience. What he has done is to show us clearly what the sovereignty of conscience looks like in action.

We used to live in a Church of certainty. The moral rules are laid down, graded according to their relationship to infallibility and to their category as mortal or venial. The primary moral virtue is obedience. The Hierarchy rules. But Francis is telling us that no one is saved through the law. We are saved through our orientation to Christ. The law is a service to us, presenting the ways in which we may act against love. But we have a stronger authority than the written law. It is our prayerful discernment of the good and the evil through the action of conscience. Conscience is not infallible but, as Aquinas emphasised, our justification lies not in the correctness of our judgment but in our conformity with what we judge.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine, who consulted me in her search for the right thing to do. She had had several children but she was now being told that, for good medical reasons, she should have no more. She was in a good marriage, richly expressed through its sexual intimacy. At the practical level the sensible answer was sterilisation. But she was aware of two things: Humanae Vitae‘s clear prohibition of sterilisation for contraceptive purposes, and the mutilation involved in removing her God-given fertility. In the end she decided that, since her fertility could no longer be used and had become a danger both to her and to her marriage, she would have the operation. You may or may not agree, but you may accept that her decision was a reasonable one in accordance with her sincere judgment?

How might her parish priest have reacted? He might have said that her decision was wrong, and that she remained in mortal sin until she had repented of her grave disobedience to God’s law. Thus she must deny her conscience before she returns to the sacraments. But, had he taken the lesson of Amoris Laetitia, he would have accepted her decision perhaps without personally agreeing with it, and reassured her that following her conscience was what God required.

Looking at first responses to the Exhortation, I am reminded that our reactions are typically influenced by our own personalities. Forgive me over simplifying, but there is one type of personality which is really only happy with certainties. It favours clear rules, absolute judgments of principle and clarity of hierarchical order and obedience. At the other end of the scale there is the personality which is happy with uncertainty, does not look for clearcut answers and puts strong value on personal opinions – even though these are revisable. I suspect that these two personalities will react quite differently.

How did you react to Amoris Laetitia?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Moral judgment, Pope Francis, Quentin queries, Spirituality, Uncategorized, virtue ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Amoris Laetitia

  1. Geordie says:

    Quentin, this is a difficult time for priests who have the responsibility for the care of souls. Most conscientious priests have been brought up like us in the hierarchical era. The pope speaks and the rest of us, from cardinals to laity, were taught to obey without question. Vatican II and Humanae Vitae altered all this. People were encouraged by many bishops and theologians to think for themselves.
    Thinking for yourself is all very well but priests have to think for others. Priests cannot alter the Church’s teaching on divorce or homosexuality. Pope Francis hasn’t altered the Church’s teaching on anything but he has muddied the waters and raised expectations for people who are living in irregular circumstances. He says that all should be made welcome and so they should; but people have been led to believe that this means the Church will accept their irregular lives and they can remain as they are.
    What does a priest do in these circumstances? He has to follow his conscience. If he believes he must follow strictly the Church’s teachings, he’ll be castigated by many as an uncaring, unloving priest. If he is less strict and allows people to adopt the internal forum, he opens the gates to the general acceptance of irregular and immoral life-styles.
    I’m glad that I’m not a priest. I have my own opinions on what the Pope has said but what I think is between me and God. I haven’t been a great fan of many of the clergy but I have great sympathy for them in trying to follow a Pope who seems to rely on sound bites and sentimentality.

  2. Brendan says:

    I also haven’t read through ” The Joy of Love ” ; but have taken in considered views as well as the history leading up to and post the ‘ Two Synods ‘. It would seem that while no Catholic Doctrine has been changed/overridden , there is however an over-simplification on different emphasise on pastoral work. For instance ; what does – ” Each country or region, moreover , can seek solutions to it culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs .” … again ….” cultures are diverse….different principles….. need to be initiated .” – mean ?
    It seems to me that The Holy Father is taking a big chance that – of every Catholic Diocese with their respective ‘ decision making ‘ , falling into line with Church Teaching stamped by his Pontificate emphasising the need for ‘ Mercy and forgiveness ‘ emanating from the Father’s infinite love for mankind – his approach will bring back unity of purpose and belief to The catholic Church.
    I fear for the worst : but I pray and hope he’s right !

  3. G.D. says:

    I have only read the first 11. paragraphs so may be completely wrong but ………..

    It seems the document is expressing the inadequacy of the magisterium’s ability to repair humanity’s (male & female united) initial relationship with God ” until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. ” (par 3).
    Which is an honest and humble reflection of reality.

    It clearly states the document is ” as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges. ” (par 4.). Not as a ‘rule’ to be imposed for a new ‘order of marriage’.

    The words indicate more responsibility to the people making the sacrament, and bring the ministers pastoral & spiritual discernment to the fore, ” shaped by the exercise of their members freedom “(par 8) but does nothing to bring the ‘teachings of doctrine’ into question.

    It even seems to be trying to unite the ‘first parents’ Adam and Eve and their initial union with God (made in the Likeness and Image of) with all the fallen relationships of every living person since
    ” The result of this union is that the two “become one flesh”, both physically and in the union of their hearts and lives, and, eventually, in a child, who will share not only genetically but also spiritually in the ‘flesh’ ” (par 11). Which is all of us when we regain (by God’s mercy) the ‘Adam & Eve’ relationship with God.

    And extend hope and mercy to us all (par 9.) “They embody the primordial divine plan clearly spoken of by Christ himself: ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female?’ ”
    Pointing out that God’s mercy can ” encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy. ” (par 5).
    Encourage everyone, not just the spouses. That all seems very positive?

  4. Brendan says:

    As Catholic one needs to keep a clear head here overall. Next year is the 500th Anniversary of The Protestant Reformation. If we inadvertently achieve the watering down of Catholic Marriage in the meantime ; are we then to ‘ celebrate ‘ that event with other Christian Faiths ?

    • St.Joseph says:

      I have only read some of the news from Lifesite News and as much as I understand the mercy of Pope Francis , nothing changes my mind on same sex marriage, I always have respect for those who are not living the truth of the teachings of Holy Mother Church, it is not for me to guide their conscience, I know what is right or wrong for me. Also divorced and re-married catholic’s receiving Holy Communion, I have posted my thoughts on that many times, as to the proper teaching on the Sacrament of marriage, which has not always been true to the teaching of the Church, taking in fertility awareness as the correct way to receive the Sacrament.
      In answer to Quentin’s thoughts on sterilization things have become more aware as the knowledge of NFP over the years, we as adults would know how many children we can feed and clothe during our marriage life. Call it responsible parenthood.
      We have moved on since the days when there was no alternative other than artificial contraception to the way God made us in the beginning.

  5. John L says:

    Dear Quentin and other friends,
    Sadly I have to inform you of the sudden death by illness of Dr Peter Wilson, who wrote to this blog frequently though not regularly.
    He will be greatly missed by his friends at home, and I/He would be grateful for your prayers.
    Requiescat in Pace Domini.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John L.
      Thank you.
      May Peter R.I.P

    • John Candido says:

      I am very sorry to hear about Peter Wilson’s passing. Dr. Peter Wilson was a graduate of Oxford University in Chemistry, if I correctly remember him referring to it in a past post some time ago. I offer my sincere condolences to his immediate family and all of his friends & relatives. RIP Peter!

  6. tim says:

    More details about Peter’s life accessible from his website at http://www.peterwilson-seascale.me.uk/ . Fascinated to learn that we must have overlapped at university, reading the same subject. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

  7. Brendan says:

    My parish priest plans to summarise ‘ Amoris Laetitia ‘ and explain its content through a series of catechetical homilies . He has not gone as far as proposing a discussion group…yet.

  8. Nektarios says:

    Getting back to Amoris Laetitia after the sad news of Peter Wilson passing, may he rest in peace.

    I wonder if the message of the Church is to keep banging on about morality, what should happen in the bedroom and so on. Clearly that has not worked and those in Ministry have to some extent shown the nature of these and all the problems afflicting mankind. that is, he is a sinner.

    Let me illustrate this for you through the account of the Miracle of the paralysed man at the Gate Beautiful. Acts 3 1-10.

    Is it the Church’s business to deal with this? Why is the Church dealing with this, when the answer to it is not moralising, but preaching the Gospel?

    This account in Acts 3:1-10 tells us so much. It tells us that the whole world is like this poor unfortunate man lame from birth. He had never walked. Man in sin cannot walk with God, in that he is paralysed.
    As an aside there is a story of a Pope in the 12th century shown Thomas Aquinas around the Vatican. Showing him all the art and beautiful things in Gold and Silver. It was indeed spectacular.
    The Pope said, ‘ Thomas, we can no longer say, silver and gold have I none.’
    ‘Yes, said Thomas, that is true, but I see something else.
    ‘What is that?’ asked the Pope.
    ‘We can no longer say, Rise up and Walk.’

    The paralysed man was laid daily there at the Gate Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered.
    He had been doing this for so long he did not even look up at people dropping a few coins in his receptacle. He could talk, he could move his arms, he could see, but he was otherwise paralysed.
    All he could do was ask for alms.

    Is this what the world expects of Christ’s Church, just the giving of alms in one form or another?
    Perhaps the Church in so many ways is paralysed too?
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should not give alms in what ever form, but it is not the
    primary work of the Church.

    So John and Peter said, ‘Look on us’.
    So the poor man did, expecting alms, what was to happen would be the talking point in Jerusalem for many days, as he was known by all.
    Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk? And this man paralysed man stood up, walked and leaping up steps, entering the temple praising God.

    Are walking or paralysed as Christians.Is our service to God and Christ, the Son of God just reduced to alms-giving? If so we are paralysed. Rise up and walk.

  9. ignatius says:

    Thanks Nektarios thats great. Perhaps you could now furnish us with a list of miracles you have yourself performed and others have attested to? Maybe you have prayed for someone in a wheelchair and they have risen then dashed through your local precinct, praising God aloud?
    Just out of interest, did you read Amoris Laetitia?

  10. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius
    I will take your first remarks as a bit tongue and cheek.
    Yes, I have prayed with other people, and they have been healed.

    Yes, I have not only read Amoris Laetitia but also so many comments made by others on it too.
    There is much I could say on it, but will say only the following.
    I can see something of the thinking and concerns of Pope Francis about Family, low birth rates in Europe, the changing demographics in his Amoris Laetitia.

    I don’t see anything new in any of it in the long history of mankind.
    I do see for the Church, the need for Christians is to apply Apostolic doctrine and teaching.
    Much of if not all of Amoris Laetitia can, for the Church be resolved.
    It will not be easy.

  11. Brendan says:

    There is nothing ‘ new ‘ in the sense of dogma change for Catholics and those who adhere to its moral dictum , outside. But its length and style will I’m sure occupy our imaginations for some time to come ……when like myself one gets around to close study. It’s just too much to bite on at present!
    What struck me bout it is the ” idiosyncratic ” way it rings true to its author. Pope Francis appears to thrive, in idiosyncrasy and mess . Is this a South American trait ? I don’t know ….maybe it’s just the man or both. But it rings true because it follows out of a direct line from his venerable predecessors John Paul and Benedict . By wrong-footing his covert detractors and ‘ modernisers ‘ ( certain Princes of the Church, et al. ) by allowing the arrant weaknesses of the Church to be fully aired he has finally re-orientated and focused our eyes on the essence of the Church’s / The Worlds hunger …. the need for Mercy to be shown and accepted by all – i.e. the presence of God the Father among us . By coupling this with a ‘ coup de grace ‘ of The Year of Mercy – providentially or by design , I suspect Francis has relied on both – he has changed the ‘ mood music ‘ of the Church and silenced his detractors ( the noisy Church ).
    To me there are hints that our Bishops ( particularly our own ) are seeing a new dawn in all of this – some have grasped it some time ago, or are undergoing some kind of metamorphosis …….not before time ! There is still an obvious need for solid catechesis around this arising out of St. John Paul’s timely gift to The Church ; given as a nod from Pope Francis . It is now up to us in this momentous Year to take it into our parishes and the World ; and in all its splendid facets through the workings of The Spirit of God , bring it to fruition !

    • St.Joseph says:

      Maybe there is some confusion between the wording of Mercy and Love.
      Even if Paul knew it was impossible to move mountains, as Jesus said ‘if’ it was possible to have enough faith to move mountains-but did not have love he would be nothing.

      As you say Brendan ‘There is still an obvious need for solid catechesis’.

  12. Brendan says:

    I believe that to show the world Mercy in its totality ; one has to experience love ( agape ) from God and to give back the same in its totality …. in that sense the same they are the same. A life-long enterprise , but worth the struggle.

  13. St.Joseph says:

    Brendan.
    Yes I agree with what you say. .
    However some will believe Pope Francis’s Mercy is to allow our conscience to misinterpret the truth with regards to serious mortal sin as in abortion,. or same sex relationships meaning the sexual act. as that seems to be the topic!!! Also contraception. and the mention of Holy Communion for divorced couples , my thoughts are known on that without repeating it.
    Holy Mother Church has always shown Mercy and forgiveness to sinners, if one repents.
    We as Christians should always do the same ,’What we do to others that which we would like to be done to us’. There is nothing new in that. We are all living in venial sin, sometime or other, it is difficult to be as’ white as white’ as snow We are meant to live with our relationship with God. He understand we will fall 7 times and seventy seven times and be forgiven if we ask for it.
    I am not saying Pope Francis should not emphasise the Year of Mercy, however, it will continue when this year ends as it always has been the teaching of the Church.

  14. Brendan says:

    St. Joseph – In my opening post I implied that to be a real danger. Now it is down to the Bishops to step up to the mark and fully support Pope Francis and his ‘ risk-taking ‘ venture of renewal and reorientation of The Church. I see around me the fruits of this Year of Mercy already . Of course it starts with ourselves first and foremost . Pope Francis has the invaluable charism of drawing people to himself and making friends out of past ‘ enemies ‘. I see his evangelising style as like nothing that has gone before – but like St. John Paul he is ‘ the man of the moment ‘, who is not seemingly discouraged by failure; at the same time embracing all the stigmatising areas of our lives and exposing the dark corners ( himself included ), presenting them for Gods Mercy in the healing process of repentance and world evangelism. To this end I hope and pray that the truth that is The Catholic Faith will prevail.

  15. ignatius says:

    I noticed in the newspaper a week or two ago Pope Francis being quoted as saying that the Church’s tendency was to put so many qualifications and constraints on ‘mercy’ as to rob the word of it meaning and content. I guess I agree with him but nonetheless marvel at the breathtakingly audacious nature of such a comment – the breadth of its implication I mean.

  16. Nektarios says:

    After some reflection upon Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia I can see the superficiality of it.
    It lacks depth as to the whole nature of the problem, and that problem in relation to other problems.

    It seems to me like so many before to be an intellectual approach to a problem. How many have in the past and now run after so-called great thinkers? At least some were quite honest, when they in their philosophy came to the conclusion it was all hopeless. That is the trouble with a mere intellectual approach, it lacks depth and breadth.

    I am sure we can all agree that the whole world is in deep trouble and Amoris Laetitia in my view fails to scratch the problem. More catechisms says one, more love, more mercy. Are we living in the real world when such say this. We read of wars, murders, child murders by parents. Drug and Alcohol abuse,
    I don’t think we realise just how desperate mankind and this world is, so desperate he/she will listen and hear any quack saying anything that will give the some temporary relief.
    All they do is to set themselves up as some sort of authority. One hears them or reads about what they say about themselves don’t we?. They are the great ones, the ones who think. The people follow.
    The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Berkeley are places where there is a lot
    so under pressure they want to space and do so with drugs, thousands of them. These are the so-called great thinkers some of whom will set themselves up as a great thinker and the people will follow.

    As I said at the beginning of this posting, the Amoris Laetitia, is superficial and lacks depth. The solutions offered are equally superficial, and lack depth and fail to realise where all these problems are coming from. You all know don’t you?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Look to the Star, call upon Mary, with Her for guide you will not go astray.
      Under Her protection you have nothing to fear!.
      St Bernard.

      Jesus gave us His Mother from the Cross.
      Perhaps we should listen to Her.!

    • Quentin says:

      I think, Nektarios, that you may be missing the point. Traditionally, the Church has been very concerned with law. Beyond even the Commandments, typical moral theological manuals have focused in great detail on the right and the wrong of virtually every human action. Obey the law and you’re OK, miss out on it and you’ll have all eternity to wish you hadn’t.

      Francis is looking at real people. They find themselves in complex situations involving a variety of factors which need to be taken into account. We are all weak and fall very short of perfection. But we are not saved by the law, we are saved by our continual efforts to discern what our choices should be, and to follow the good as best we can discern it. The law of course is witness but it cannot alone be the definitive guide. Only our consciences can be that.

      His approach is in fact far deeper and far more complex than anything we have had from a pope before. We might get a faint human comparison in distinguishing a parent who lays down every possible rule for a child, punishing each failure severely, and the parent who allows the child much freedom but provides continual support to help the child to mature and develop an adult ability to recognise good ways of living and to spurn the bad ones. Of course the latter child will make mistakes and he will need mercy and forgiveness. The first child may break away altogether but if he survives the harsh regime he may well do so by becoming an automaton.

      • Nektarios says:

        Quentin,

        I too live in the real world, facing the real problems within it.
        Complexity exists when one does not fully understand, then it is relatively simple.
        I can agree psychologically with your argue meant in the last paragraph, but it too misses the mark of the real problems facing man, before, now, and in the possible future.

        There is nothing more revealing than what the Scriptures teach and show in all of this,
        nothing, more fundamental.

        There was a Fall in heaven before there was a fall with Adam. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age. against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12.

        Adam fell under these evil powers, and we in our nature fell with him. The issue of Families, laws of behaviour, we can do all that, but that will not change man and the worsening situation around the world, will it?

        So what does?

  17. ignatius says:

    Thats a good analogy Quentin.

    I find that I spend quite a bit of time ‘uncatechising’ individuals as best I can , in the hope of freeing them up a bit to consider ‘Mercy and Grace. It seems almost reflex human behaviour to discuss mercy in terms of legalism, so deep rooted a tendency as to be almost impossible to get a grip on. Pope Francis seems to me to have a grip on the thing and, rather like a dentist pulling a tooth, yanks us round a bit to get a bit of space.

  18. ignatius says:

    Nektarios:

    “I am sure we can all agree that the whole world is in deep trouble and Amoris Laetitia in my view fails to scratch the problem. More catechisms says one, more love, more mercy. Are we living in the real world when such say this. We read of wars, murders, child murders by parents. Drug and Alcohol abuse,
    I don’t think we realise just how desperate mankind and this world is, so desperate he/she will listen and hear any quack saying anything that will give the some temporary relief…”

    Believe me, from where I sit, the desperations of mankind are plainly obvious and often sitting in the room alongside me. I would hold that preaching, teaching and catechising this Year of Mercy, often to very desperate people, has been one of the joys of my life. I too am concerned that you rather miss the point.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      Please enlighten me where I am missing the point?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius.

      You say’ Believe me, from where I sit, the desperation of mankind are plainly obvious and often sitting in the room alongside me. I would hold that preaching, teaching and catechising this Year of Mercy, often to very desperate people, has been one of my joys of my life, I too am concerned that you rather miss the point.

      My very own thoughts and feelings of myself when I gave 35 years of my life doing exactly the same thing to exactly the same desperate people who desperately needed to understand their ‘fertility and why they succumbed to having abortions-and how it changed their lives.
      I also don’t understand why so many feel the need to miss the point!

  19. Nektarios says:

    Quentin & Ignatius

    In addition and to better lay before you the real issues not just family, low birth rate etc., etc., but the real disorder that we think we can of ourselves and our own thinking escape from.

    You see the problem is essentially not a human one but a spiritual one, which has affected humanity since the fall of Adam.

    I have gone part of the way from a spiritual perspective already: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age. against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.

    Now let me show you it from a human point of view and you will see not much has changed apart from superficially.
    Acts 8:9-11 tells us. ” But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, this man is the great power of God.
    They heeding him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.”

    There is an increase in sorcery and witchcraft and magic around the world today. Now compare that with Ephesians 6: 12.

    Perhaps you can see the dire nature of the problem for man and for the world at large? I hope so.

    Thankfully, we cannot by our own thinking or devices ploys or schemes we conjure up do much about it, but all is not all lost, for along come Jesus.

    I am sure you remember Him being baptised by John? What followed was important. The Holy Spirit came down from Heaven and filled him. He was then in the desert for forty days and nights
    where He our Saviour was tempted by the devil. He defeated him at every point.

    Come forward, Jesus will soon be offered up for us. John 16:7-13…..
    Our Lord is talking about sending the Holy Spirit to us. I wonder have you ever ask yourself why He is called the Holy Spirit?
    He is above and in sharp contrast to what we have in Ephesians 6:12.

    I need to finish, so, in brief Only the The Lord Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit and the orders of the Father in heaven can help man in all his problems of sin, the devil, temptations, trials and tribulations this world experiences on account of demonic activity for all man’s problems are due to the adversary of our souls.
    Christ is the only way. Our guide is the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth. Like our Lord we can defeat the enemy but only in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Trusting to ourselves, our ideas, our ploys, schemes and devices, we leave ourselves open to assault by the enemy of our souls.
    Our victory, our joy and peace are ours in Christ, now.

  20. Quentin says:

    We are agreed about man’s broken nature, and that of our own powers alone we can do nothing about it. However that nature has been redeemed, and so we are offered the grace of that redemption which enables us to move towards perfection. This is not effected by our effort plus grace for the two work together to make one whole thing. We can say: I did this through my own efforts, and we can say: I did this through the effects of grace. Both claims are true although we cannot yet understand the mystery of grace. The traditional Protestant view was that we remained evil people but grace (accessed through faith) simply redeemed us –like a kind of whitewash. The Catholic view is that, through grace, we become genuinely holy — even if the distance between us and perfection is rather large.

    • Nektarios says:

      Quentin

      Quite so. We will have to wait for that perfection namely the redemption of our bodies.
      Our life hid in Christ does not sin, is beyond sin, cannot sin, but it is not so yet for the body,
      for that we, with the whole of creation groans, awaiting the redemption of our mortal bodies.
      God raising us from the dead incorruptible. glorified, sinless, no fear of ever falling again, and forever to enter that blessedness of the Saints.
      To inhabit a new heaven and new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
      I can say that the above concerns the Children of God only.
      The people of this world who reject Christ, reject their only hope and their destiny is a hellish one forever.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        Something I wonder about and that is, all those people who I know and I am friendly with, who are non practicing Christians-with that I mean who do not go to Church, who do not have the teachings of the church ,however have a conscience and decide what is right and wrong from living the Commandments, love their families, children and grandchildren. generous ,help their neighbours etc etc etc. I consider these kind people to be children of God. .They are my friends and my neighbours.who have helped me over the last 2 years and continue to do soand have taken me to Church when I am not able to drive.
        What I wonder is ‘who is it that we are trying to convert’ if in their hearts they have the beliefs of Christ, but they don’t belong to a parish life atmosphere.
        There is a saying and a belief that the family is a parish \ church and that is where the worship and love of God begins, like the Holy Family Jesus Mary and Joseph.
        What do you think?

      • Quentin says:

        “The people of this world who reject Christ, reject their only hope and their destiny is a hellish one forever.”

        I would accept this providing that we take into account love of our neighbour as love of Christ, as Matthew 25 makes clear. Love always takes us to God, hate takes us away. Throughout the history of the human race – some 190,000 years – those who have had an opportunity to accept the explicit Christ is a tiny proportion. If God, as you see him, would punish eternally those who had no realistic opportunity to become Christians, then you and I have a different God in mind. And I don’t like yours very much.

  21. Nektarios says:

    Quentin & St Joseph

    God is the judge. If eternal life was gained by works, Christ would not have been sent.Salvation would not be required
    One cannot read the Holy Scriptures to see those who are lost are lost because they are not His.Why? Because they will not have Him, serve or obey Him.
    I do not pre-determine anything, But our Heavenly Father has done so Ephesians 1:1-6.
    God does not punish us or reward us according to our deeds. Before God, all our works, even the best are as filthy rags.
    The trouble is as I see it, when it comes to Salvation, we start with ourselves. This is a big mistake.
    Salvation starts with God the Father. Salvation is of God. Starting with ourselves, we have the tendency to think God thinks like us, feels the same way, understands the same way and therefore comes to the same conclusion as we do. This is too silly for words isn’t it? But that is the way man and many liberal Christians sadly think. Sovereignty belongs to God alone.
    What the final judgement of us will be, we can only go by what the holy Scripture teach. Otherwise one thinks one can climb up to heaven some other way. But there is no other way other than Christ Jesus who is the way. There is Salvation in no other.

    I am glad St. Joseph that your friends and neighbours are kind to you. Good people you say.
    Very well, that may be so, but like us all, they too will stand before the Lord on that day, and the judgement is not ours to make, it is the Lord’s alone.

    • Quentin says:

      Nektarios, I am delighted when people express their views on this site, even when I disagree with them. But because it is related to a Catholic newspaper I must clarify Catholic doctrine when necessary.

      The concept that our works are barren is born from the Reformation. This was why Luther called the epistle of James an epistle of straw. “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” was James’s summary of his teaching.

      The Church teaches that our good works, through the grace of redemption, are good in God’s eyes and are actions of holiness.

      The application to those who are not formally Christians is more speculative. But I take it that their love for their neighbour is in fact a love for Christ, although they do not know his name. This may be because they have not encountered the Christian faith or because of ‘invincible ignorance’ for which they are not responsible. That, I believe, is the only solution consistent with God’s infinite justice and mercy.

      • Nektarios says:

        Quentin
        Not so.
        There is nothing wrong in doing good works at any time. But, it is not the teaching of the Apostles the NT nor the summery of James’s teaching either. It does not stand up to scrutiny.

      • Quentin says:

        I would suggest that anyone interested should consult St James’s epistle, 2.18 ff.

  22. G.D. says:

    Nektarios,
    You say … ” Our life hid in Christ does not sin, is beyond sin, cannot sin, but it is not so yet for the body, for that we, with the whole of creation groans, awaiting the redemption of our mortal bodies. ” which is fundamentally correct – for all people. For all creation.
    God’s love is for everyone, everything created … forever.

    The explicit ‘ownership’ of a religion, and following in a certain ‘rule’, or belonging to a certain church fellowship (good as they may be!), matters not to God’s unconditional unchanging love of creation.

    We are ‘judged’ by the love we have for one another. (And indeed a prerequisite of love is mercy).
    It’s that love of God’s, in the Holy Spirit, that will succeed in manifesting what Jesus the Christ did – redeem all of creation to the initial in-breathing of God’s image and likeness.
    There is an eternity to accomplish it! And that’s a very long ….. ‘time’!
    Whether all individuals will come round to accepting it or not …. we can’t know.
    (Personally I can’t see how they could refuse!)

    Someone died, went to heaven. Got to the gates, and St Peter started showing them around. “Over there we have the Jews, there the Protestants, there the Catholics, there the atheists …….” et et. They then asked, as they started knocking on a big wall, ” What’s behind the wall? “. ” Shh ” said St Peter, ” that’s the fundamentalists of all groups. They think they are the only one’s up here.”

  23. G.D. says:

    For Francis to ‘preach’ mercy of God before all else is to present the love God gives to all.

    • Nektarios says:

      G.D.

      I know you have read John 3:16? Yes?
      The mercy of God is not built, nor could ever be on our works, for they are not perfect.
      The mercy of God is built solely on the finished work of Christ. That is to answer Quentin too, is the only solution consistent for God’s Justice and Mercy.

      • G.D. says:

        Yes!! Exactly – the finished work of Christ – eternal unchanging Christ –
        The only ‘thing’ that prevents that Christ ‘manifesting’ is our inability to live it, be it.

        Yet, Jesus, the Son of God & son of man (The Christ) manifested it.
        Beyond any concept or understanding we can conceive of, that is The Reality ‘now & always’ offered, in it’s completeness.

        Creation is ‘groaning’ – and Christ has sorted it’s ‘groans’. Repaired the separation.
        From the liturgy of Good Friday office of readings ‘Awake O sleeper arise, let us go hence … ‘ is the continual plea of that Christ to all of creation as it (& we) ‘groans’.

        Our personal ‘understandings’ are needed to bring us to grow into awareness & acceptance of that (Christ) Reality, but it is not confined to our ways of expressing.
        (Our laws, rites, interpretations; needed and good as they may be).
        It is universally given in all of creation. Eternally.
        Simply put – it’s Love.

        Others (Muslim Jew Hindu et et even atheists!) can have a graced relationship with God too. And i believe many are ‘closer’ to God than many who claim Christ.
        God Is Love. Where love is God Is.

        As a personal aside …. My ‘liberalism’ (as you see it) can only take the above view. ….. My path – and it was grace alone that lead me; kicking and screaming against it sometimes – has been and remains Catholicism, warts and all!
        In so far as i believe & accept Christ’s Reality (always as a sinning but never the less – as far as i am concerned! – devote Catholic Christian) never have i been able to assume others, of any or no faith, should understand/experience God as i do. And believe me, I’ve tried!!

  24. Nektarios says:

    Quentin

    To answer your pulling the text out of James 2: 18 Let us look at it.

    First, Martin Luther called the Epistle of James as one of straw. I have to agree with you he fell into the trap that so many have done.
    Perhaps he saw a division between what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:27 – 31 which reads:

    “Where is Boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No but by the law of faith.
    28, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
    29. Or is he the God of the Jews only? Is He not also God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,
    31. since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
    31. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary we establish the law.”

    Now let us read Your quote from James 2:18 “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

    So Quentin, here we have what intilially appears to be a seeming contradiction between Paul and James. This is the difficulty when one pulls a text out to back there argument. But close study of these books show that they are not in fact in any contradiction one with another.

    Both are arguing from a different standpoint.

    Let us take first what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No but by the Law of faith.

    The Apostle Paul is concerned about those who live carelessly, yet say they have faith. They boasted that it did not matter because they had faith and believed.
    They had misunderstood what faith actually is. Faith does not save us. Faith is a gift of God that
    brings all that is in Christ to us. It is Christ coming into the world that saves us, that is why He came.
    His teaching was about Himself as the Messiah. the Saviour of the world. His death on the cross, His shed blood for the remission of our sin. The Resurrection, delivering us from death and hell and all of sins consequences. Taking us to glory, and to be made like Him.

    James on the other hand in arguing from another standpoint.
    He is arguing that verbal faith is not enough. mental faith is insufficient. Faith must be more. It must inspire action.
    The Apostle James is throughout his Epistle to Jewish believers the nature of true path and action integrating true faith with everyday practical experience stressing that true faith must manifest itself
    in works of faith.
    Here the the seeming contradiction between Paul and James vanishes. They are saying the same thing but from different standpoints, that’s all.

  25. Nektarios says:

    Quentin
    Correction: last Para: should have read: The Apostle James is throughout his Epistle to the Jewish believers showing the nature of true faith………..

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