'Like man made new': in defence of Amoris Laetitia

manmadePaul A. McGavin

Controversy surrounding the reception of Amoris Laetitia has been fuelled by lack of attention to the implicit scriptural foundations for the treatment of marriage/divorce/remarriage in the Apostolic Exhortation. The author adopts a profoundly scriptural perspective in defence of the pastoral approach of Pope Francis. Paul A. McGavin is a retired priest-academic of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

Convergent and divergent implicit world views

Insightful reading of Amoris Laetitia (AL) is eased by recognition of important commonalities between Benedict XVI and Francis, commonalties that should not be masked by their evident differences in personality, culture and intellectuality. One senses that the critics of AL have not recognized that the Pope with a signature phrase 'The dictatorship of relativism' is the same man who as Prefect in The Nature and Mission of Theology wrote, '... Reality - and reason, which knows and explains reality - [is] without a doubt an irreplaceable source of morality ... moral behaviour is a response to reality and therefore requires knowledge of reality ....' A like mentality informs a signature phrase of Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (EG), '... realities are greater than ideas' (n. 231), as is reinforced in the pervasive reference to 'realities' in AL.

Also notable are words from his predecessor as Prefect in Values in a Time of Upheaval, 'There is a persistent suspicion today ... that orthodox theology is hopelessly condemned merely to repeat magisterial statements of doctrine and traditional formulae ... [but] truth is never monotonous, nor is it ever exhausted in a single form' - and to set these alongside words from EG, 'Nor do I believe that the papal magisterium should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question that affects the Church and the world' (n. 16). In brief, the programmatic mentality of Pope Francis as first seen in EG and as applied in AL has a congruency with the mentality in the writings of his predecessor.

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