WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS BOTHERING FRANCIS? IT IS VERITATIS SPLENDOR, THE GREATEST ENCYLICAL PUBLISHED IN THE LAST 100 YEARS

Settimo Cielodi Sandro Magister 

05 lug 17

Müller Out. But the Real Attack Is Against “Veritatis Splendor”

Muller

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[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]

On Sunday, July 2, the very day on which Pope Francis removed Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller as prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, from all the Catholic churches of the Roman rite at the beginning of Mass the following prayer went up to God, called the “collect” in the missal:

“Deus, qui, per adoptionem gratiæ, lucis nos esse filios voluisti, præsta, quæsumus, ut errorum non involvamur tenebris, sed in splendore veritatissemper maneamus conspicui. Per Dominum nostrum….”

In the official English translation:

“O God, who through the grace of adoption chose us to be children of light, grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth. Through our Lord…”

Fate – or divine providence? – would therefore have it that the expulsion of Cardinal Müller should be accompanied by the choral liturgical invocation that the “splendor of truth” may continue to illuminate the Church.

“The splendor of truth” is precisely the title of the most important doctrinal encyclical of John Paul II, published in 1993:

> Veritatis splendor

It is an encyclical “on some fundamental questions of the Church’s moral teaching”: precisely the questions that have now returned to being an object of conflict, with extensive and influential sectors of the Church maintaining that it is time to leave behind – especially after the publication of “Amoris Laetitia” – some of the main principles of “Veritatis Splendor.”

It should be enough to observe that no fewer than four of the five “dubia” submitted in September of last year to Pope Francis by cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner hinge precisely on the consistency, or lack thereof, between “Amoris Laetitia” and “Veritatis Splendor.” And these “dubia” still remain completely open, in part because of Pope Francis’s refusal to take them into consideration and to meet with the four cardinals.

But what were the genesis and objective of “Veritatis Splendor”? To answer this question there is one exceptional witness: Joseph Ratzinger.

As Müller’s predecessor at the helm of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, he contributed in a substantial way to the writing of that encyclical.

But even after his resignation as pope, he continues to judge “Veritatis Splendor” as being of “unchanged relevance,” to be “studied and assimilated” even today.

In 2014, in a thoughtful chapter for a book in honor of John Paul II, Ratzinger pointed to none other than “Veritatis Splendor” as the most important and relevant of that pope’s fourteen encyclicals.

A chapter that deserves a second reading, with an eye to what is happening in the Church today, under the reign of his successor Francis.

Here is the passage dedicated by the “pope emeritus” to that encyclical.

*

ON “VERITATIS SPLENDOR”

The encyclical on moral problems “Veritatis Splendor” took many years to ripen and remains of unchanged relevance.

The constitution of Vatican II on the Church in the contemporary world, contrary to the tendency of moral theology at the time to focus on the natural law, wanted Catholic moral doctrine on the figure of Jesus and his message to have a biblical foundation.

This was attempted by fits and starts for only a brief period. Then the opinion took hold that the Bible does not have any morality of its own to proclaim, but refers to moral models valid for their time and place. Morality is a question of reason, it was said, not of faith.

So on the one hand morality understood in terms of natural law disappeared, but its Christian conception was not affirmed in its place. And since neither a metaphysical nor a Christological foundation could be recognized for morality, recourse was had to pragmatic solutions: to a morality based on the principle of seeking the greater good, in which there is no longer anything truly evil or truly good, but only that which, from the point of view of efficacy, is better or worse.

The great task that John Paul II took on in this encyclical was that of rediscovering a metaphysical foundation in anthropology, as also a Christian concretization in the new image of man in Sacred Scripture.

Studying and assimilating this encyclical remains a great and important duty.

*

Seeing what is happening today in the Catholic Church, even at its highest levels, all the reasons that motivated the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” are present once again, with equal if not greater dramatic force.

And they are also making more relevant than ever the prayer to remain “in the splendor of truth” that went up last Sunday from all the churches.

(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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2 Responses to WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS BOTHERING FRANCIS? IT IS VERITATIS SPLENDOR, THE GREATEST ENCYLICAL PUBLISHED IN THE LAST 100 YEARS

  1. Pavel Faigl says:

    It is a great post. Thank you, Master.

  2. marysong says:

    Thank you for this post. It hits the nail on the head.

Comments are closed.