Eamonn Clark, STL
I had been preparing a book on a certain post-synodal apostolic exhortation, but maybe it will never see the light of day. Instead, I might just share here a few bits and pieces with small edits. Here is one of them.
The first set of errors can be called “Jesuit legalism,” making the law to be the ideal. (Jesuits have classically seen morals through the lens of “criminal law,” where the bar is high to convict the defendant.)
- Underestimation of the power and universality of grace
- Overestimation of the ability to be ignorant of the natural law without blame
- Lack of understanding of the extent of “epikeia” in formulations of natural law found in the Decalogue
- Overestimation of the mitigation of culpability in difficult cases (i.e., “temptation excuses from sin”), especially by conflating habitual intentions with individual actions
- General consequentialism or proportionalism, frequently ending in a kind of “situationalist ethics” when other errors inform the application
The next set of errors could be summarized by the phrase “empathy-driven jurisprudence,” which bases the order of public welfare around one person or group’s difficulties.
- Conflation of public and private reception of Sacraments
- Forgetting/ignoring the rights of the putative spouse and children
- Over-application of the internal forum solution of the (vanishingly rare) “conflict-marriage” case
- Neglecting the freeing characteristic of objective due process in ecclesiastical courts
- Underestimating the damage caused by undue dissimulation/neglect of the prevention of scandal
The possible roots of clergy teaching this doctrine are:
- Bad seminary formation
- A generally overly empathetic pastoral mindset which clouds prudence, especially with respect to the importance of the courts and due process
- To account retroactively for mistakes they have made in the past about correcting the faithful in this matter
- To remove or soften their obligation to do the difficult work of calling sinners to repentance
- To mount an indirect defense of lax moral lives of their own
We must always pray and fast for clergy, especially bishops – the bad ones most of all.