Monday, October 26, 2015

On the Proper Treatment of Ambiguities

If Jesuits made doors....
In moment of refreshing candor, Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ made the following statement on the widely reported differences of opinion - even among Synod Fathers themselves - regarding the meaning of the Synod's Relatio Finalis  for the issue of the Communion of the so-called "divorced and remarried" (emphasis mine):
So what does it mean? A conservative might interpret it as closed to Communion because it was not mentioned in the text. A liberal might interpret it as including Communion since it is not explicitly excluded in the text. I think that the truth is that Communion was not mentioned because that was the only way the paragraphs could get a two-thirds majority. Like the Second Vatican Council, the synod achieved consensus through ambiguity.
If there remain any doubts about the status of the Benedictine Hermeneutic of Continuity, let them be put to rest: The proponents of the Hermeneutic of Rupture have the reigns of power firmly in their grip, and are so assured of their control that they are no longer ashamed to admit how they came to it, i.e. by way of ambiguity.

I suppose I remain somewhat naive insofar as the notion of a Catholic priest approving the use of intentional ambiguity as a tool of subversion never fails to cause in me a certain sadness. I just can't get my head around how a man who has dedicated his life to the One who is Truth shows no qualms in twisting the same to achieve his ends. It seems to be a deeply ingrained characteristic of mine, for I am no stranger to the history of the Catholic Church. But why, then, does the present situation cause in me such consternation, while the tales of the Arian Crisis merely tickle my intellectual curiosity? Perhaps it is because, unlike those heretics of old, who have long since gone on to their eternal reward, these souls still hang in the balance.

Be that as it may, we may nonetheless draw useful lessons from the past. In particular, this talk of synodal ambiguity calls to mind the 1786 Synod of Pistoia and the Apostolic Constitution Auctorem Fidei, written by Pope Pius VI in 1794, which condemned it. The whole document is worth studying, but the following passage seems especially pertinent (emphasis mine):
We have determined, in order to meet this probable calumny, to make use of the wise counsel, duly and cautiously applied, which several of our most holy predecessors along with highly esteemed bishops and even general councils had left attested and recommended with notable examples when they had cause to restrain the rise of dangerous or harmful novelties of this sort. 
They knew the capacity of innovators in the art of deception. In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, they sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith which is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation. This manner of dissimulating and lying is vicious, regardless of the circumstances under which it is used. For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error. 
Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual - such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it. [...]
In order to expose such snares, something which becomes necessary with a certain frequency in every century, no other method is required than the following: Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements which disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged.
Indeed, it is as Solomon said:
What is it that hath been? The same thing that shall be. What is it that hath been done? The same that shall be done. Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)


  1. New to this blog, but I've been looking for encouragement via clear, pure truth. Hard to find these days. Coming back for more. Superb observation and excellent parallel in history. Thanks.

  2. I am past the point of wondering why a particular priest acts in the way this Jesuit does. When I see/hear that a priest acts in this manner, I assume that he is an malevolent infiltrator into the priesthood and never truly had a vocation.

    Until he shows me otherwise, I cannot but come to that conclusion.

    Why do people just assume that these men are in good faith? I think the opposite assumption should be made.

  3. To say a synod "achieved consensus through ambiguity" is to say it "achieved consensus through disparate interpretation", which does violence to the word "consensus".

  4. I am so glad to find these words here:

    "I just can't get my head around how a man who has dedicated his life to the One who is Truth shows no qualms in twisting the same to achieve his ends."

    Such a man has not dedicated his life to the One who is Truth.

    This never-ending crucifixion of Truth is unbearable even to me.

  5. Good work coming up with this since it is specific to the Synodal process. Unfortunately it falls to the laity to condemn this Synod and since the church, or whatever it is, is going to continue with this lunacy annually we will be the ones getting demonized by the world AND the church.

    My only complaint is similar to Dorota's. It is hard to live in a world where everyone is happy to be insane!

  6. What damns this whole mess is the use of consensus at all. That's not how it works. The Church is not a corporation deciding which health care plan to offer employees.

    I too am sick of this whole thing. John Rao said recently (his comments are with Michael Matt and can be found on the Remnant site) that we will no longer explain our position to 'the mob,' we keep the Faith.

    I intend to live my life as if there were no years between 1960 and now. Never were, nothing happened, a new church was not begun by Satan. We have the old Mass, the old prayers, the old devotions, the old Rosary, tons of old spiritual books, and the old hymns. Remember "Faith of our fathers, Holy Faith, we will be true to thee till death…."



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