Amoris Laetitia: “consequence of the confusion is de facto schism within the Catholic Church”
April 6, 2017 (The Public Discourse) — Why is there confusion in the Catholic Church over Amoris Laetitia, and what consequences does it have for Church unity? I argue here that the confusion is ultimately over two de fide dogmas of Christian faith and that one consequence of the confusion is de facto schism within the Catholic Church.
When de fide (“of the faith”) is used in Catholic theology to designate a doctrine, it signifies a truth that pertains to Divine Revelation. The term Divine Revelation refers to truths by which God chose to reveal himself and his will to humanity in order to reconcile the world to himself so men and women might live united with him imperfectly in this world and, after death and judgment, perfectly with him in the Kingdom. Thus, the Church considers de fide doctrines necessary for salvation. Their status in Catholic teaching is irreformable. And their mode of proclamation is infallible.
This essay has three aims. First, it introduces and explains the theological concept of “secondary objects of infallibility” and shows how almost all of the truths pertaining to sexual matters taught by the Catholic Church belong to the category of secondary objects of infallibility, and so are rightly designated de fide doctrines. Second, it argues that beginning with the intra-ecclesial dissent from the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Catholic Church has existed in a grave state of disunity over de fide doctrines, and that this disunity is deepened by the problems caused by Amoris Laetitia. Finally, it offers practical advice to the hierarchy and laity for responding to the crisis.