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Finnis and Grisez ask Pope to address ‘The Misuse of Amoris Laetitia to Support Errors against the Catholic Faith’

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

December 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In the following letter, renowned philosophy and ethics professors John Finnis and Germain Grisez ask Pope Francis to renounce eight errant positions that "find support in statements by or omissions" by Amoris Laetitia and "are or include errors against the Catholic faith."

The “misuses” of the pope’s exhortation that Finnis and Grisez list and refute are similar to the concerns raised by the 45 theologians who wrote to the College of Cardinals about the matter.

Finnis and Grisez argue that proponents of positions contrary to the Catholic faith will be emboldened by Amoris Laetitia’s ambiguities, seeming contradictions of Catholic moral teaching, and failure to adequately affirm key Catholic teaching.

Such positions contrary to the Catholic faith include:

  • the possibility of absolution of penitents who lack a firm purpose of amendment
  • the notion that some people are incapable of following God's commandments or sometimes ought to choose sin over the commandments
  • the idea that there are exceptions to every general moral rule
  • sexual standards out of line with Catholic moral teaching
  • an understanding of indissoluble marriage as sometimes dissoluble
  • the argument that a "Catholic need not believe that many human beings will end in hell."

Using Sacred Scripture and the Church’s magisterial teachings, Finnis and Grisez lay out the case for Pope Francis to publicly clarify the most controversial parts of his exhortation.

Here is the letter:

The Misuse of Amoris Laetitia to      
Support Errors against the Catholic Faith:
A Letter to the Supreme Pontiff Francis, to all bishops in
communion with him, and to the rest of the Christian faithful

In this letter, John Finnis and Germain Grisez request Pope Francis to condemn eight positions against the Catholic faith that are being supported, or likely will be, by the misuse of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. They ask all bishops to join in this request and to issue their own condemnations of the erroneous positions, while reaffirming the Catholic teachings these positions contradict.

The eight positions are these.

Position A:
A priest administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation may sometimes absolve a penitent who lacks a purpose of amendment with respect to a sin in grave matter that either pertains to his or her ongoing form of life or is habitually repetitive.

Position B:
Some of the faithful are too weak to keep God’s commandments; though resigned to committing ongoing and habitual sins in grave matter, they can live in grace.

Position C:
No general moral rule is exceptionless. Even divine commandments forbidding specific kinds of actions are subject to exceptions in some situations.

Position D:
While some of God’s commandments or precepts seem to require that one never choose an act of one of the kinds to which they refer, those commandments and precepts actually are rules that express ideals and identify goods that one should always serve and strive after as best one can, given one’s weaknesses and one’s complex, concrete situation, which may require one to choose an act at odds with the letter of the rule.

Position E:
If one bears in mind one’s concrete situation and personal limitations, one’s conscience may at times discern that doing an act of a kind contrary even to divine commandment will be doing one’s best to respond to God, which is all that he asks, and then one ought to choose to do that act but also be ready to conform fully to the divine commandment if and when one can do so.

Position F:
Choosing to bring about one’s own, another’s, or others’ sexual arousal and/or satisfaction is morally acceptable provided only that (1) no adult has bodily contact with a child; (2) no participant’s body is contacted without his or her free and clear consent to both the mode and the extent of contact; (3) nothing done knowingly brings about or unduly risks significant physical harm, disease transmission, or unwanted pregnancy; and (4) no moral norm governing behavior in general is violated.

Position G:
A consummated, sacramental marriage is indissoluble in the sense that spouses ought always to foster marital love and ought never to choose to dissolve their marriage. But by causes beyond the spouses’ control and/or by grave faults of at least one of them, their human relationship as a married couple sometimes deteriorates until it ceases to exist. When a couple’s marriage relationship no longer exists, their marriage has dissolved, and at least one of the parties may rightly obtain a divorce and remarry.

Position H:
A Catholic need not believe that many human beings will end in hell.

The letter is copyright © John Finnis and Germain Grisez; Notre Dame, Indiana; 21 November 2016. Permission is hereby given to everyone to publish electronically or otherwise this entire letter as a unit or the entire treatment of any one or more of the eight positions dealt with in it provided this copyright notice is included in the publication; all other rights reserved.

Find Germain Grisez and John Finnis' full 35-page letter to the pope here.

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