Thursday, November 16, 2017

De Mattei: Friendly Criticism of Rocco Buttiglione’s Theses

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
November 15, 2017

[Rorate Caeli] I have known Rocco Buttiglione for more than forty years. Both of us were assistants to Professor Augusto Del Noce (1910-1989) at the Faculty of Political Science at La Sapienza University in Rome, but since then our positions have diverged, mainly regarding our judgment on modernity. Buttiglione believed that the historical process inaugurated by the French Revolution was compatible  with Christianity, but I believed it incompatible.  Despite these differences, I appreciated Buttiglione’s work as Minster of National Cultural Heritage in Berlusconi’s government (2005-2006) and expressed my solidarity with him in 2004 when he didn’t attain the nomination as European Commissioner as a result of having called homosexuality “a sin”.  I refer to all this in order to show my sincerity in my “friendly criticism” of his theses, just as Buttiglione is truly sincere when he argues with Professor Seifert, his “life-long friend” in his most recent book (Friendly Responses to the Critics of Amoris Laetitia, which included an essay introduction by Cardinal Gerard Ludwig Müller, Ares, Milan 2017, p. 41).

The volume recently published has 200 pages, divided into four chapters. There is nothing in it that Buttiglione’s readers don’t know.  The chapters are in fact made up of essays previously published in several places, between 2016 and 2017. This explains the numerous repetitions, which, nonetheless, aid in a better understanding of his basic thesis: the possibility of admitting the divorced and remarried to Communion, since  in certain cases, “even if the acts are illegitimate” , people “may not fall into mortal sin because of the absence of full knowledge and deliberate consent” (p.172).

I have already had the occasion to criticize this position (see here: Additionally, in order to justify it, Buttiglione introduces a fallacious distinction between “grave sin”, “specified by the object (by grave matter)” and “mortal sin”, “specified by the effects on the subject (it kills the soul)”. He writes “ all mortal sins are also grave sins, but not all grave sins are also mortal. It may happen in fact that in some cases grave matter has not been accompanied by full awareness and deliberate consent.” (p. 173).

This thesis had already been rejected by John Paul II, who, when faced with the proposal by some theologians and Fathers at the 1984 Synod, of introducing a threefold distinction in sins – venial, grave, mortal – declared, in the Post-Synod Exhortation  Reconciliatio et paenitentia, that in the Church’s doctrine grave sin is identified with mortal sin. Here are his words: This threefold distinction might illustrate the fact that there is a scale of seriousness among grave sins. But it still remains true that the essential and decisive distinction is between sin which destroys charity and sin which does not kill the supernatural life: There is no middle way between life and death […] Hence, in the church's doctrine and pastoral action, grave sin is in practice identified with mortal sin”. (Reconciliatio et paenitentia n. 17).

Certainly, there are degrees in gravity of sins. Our Lord’s Crucifixion, for example, was not of the same gravity for Pilate as it was for the Jewish leaders (John, 19, 11). However, all grave sins are mortal and all mortal sins are grave.  According to Buttiglione, on the other hand, cohabitation is always a “grave wound” for the moral good of the person, yet not always a “mortal wound” (p.174). It all depends on the “circumstances”, which, “do not change the nature of the act, but may change the judgment on the person’s responsibility.” (p. 174). The Church, therefore, “may exceptionally give the Sacraments, if it is verified, despite objective disagreement with Christian morality,  that the subject finds himself in a condition of mortal sin as a result of  subjective attenuating  circumstances.” (p. 197).  The adulterer, for example, may find himself in a situation of sin, but not mortal sin” (p.175).  Thus, while the rule is valid without exceptions, the behavior unlike  the rule, is not always culpable in the same way.”(p,185). The exception counts for the behavior, not for the rule,  but – one wonders  - how can the moral rule be violated if not by behavior?

Buttilgione denies that Pope Francis’ position and his own fall into “situational ethics”, condemned by the Church, but to be convincing it is necessary to demonstrate what it affirms and what it denies. Unfortunately I have to reiterate, along with Josef Seifert, Carlos Casanova, Corrado Gnerre, Claudio Pierantomni and other excellent critics of Buttiglione, that the position of Amoris laetitia, coincides with that of “situation ethics” or more precisely “circumstantial  ethics”.

A typical characteristic of situation ethics, is, according to Father Angelo Perego, “the denial of the decisive and constitutive function of the morality of the objective order” (Situation ethics, Edition “La Civiltà Cattolica” , Rome 1958, p.106).  In traditional morality, the ultimate rule of human action is being, not the acting subject. Hence, traditional morality is essentially objective, as it springs from being [itself] and is continually in proportion to being.  Situation ethics, on the other hand, are based on subjective becoming. In Buttiglione’s and Pope Francis’ situation ethics, the ultimate constitutive element of morality is of a strictly subjective nature. The moral law becomes an extrinsic norm which contributes to determine practical judgment, without it ever being the determining element.  What is the decisive factor? Discernment” of the circumstances, on the part of the confessor, who, like a magician, can transform good into evil and evil into good.

Pius XII said: “We oppose with three considerations or maxims against situation ethics.  The first is We concede that God wants above all and always, an upright intention; but this is not enough. He wants also good action. The second is that a bad action is not permissible in order for good to come from it (Rom, 3,8). The third is that there can be given circumstances, in which a man, especially a Christian, must remember that it is necessary to sacrifice everything, even his life, in order to save his soul. All the countless martyrs even in our time, remind us of this. But would the mother of the Maccabees and her children, Saints Perpetua and Felicitas  without regard for their babies, Maria Goretti and thousands of other men and women, venerated by the Church, against  the circumstances,  have faced in vain and even wrongly a sanguinary death? Certainly not; and they remain, with their blood, the most eloquent witnesses to the truth, against the new morality”. (Discourse , April 18, 1952, in AAS, 44 (1952), pp. 417-418)..

Furthermore, as a friend of mine  noted, if Buttiglione’s doctrine of the imputabilty of guilt was valid, it would follow that even abortion could become a grave sin, but not imputable to the woman who aborts, considering her psychological-economic situation at the time of terminating her pregnancy and of the psychological-economic  problems that would be imposed on her in giving birth to a child.  The same can be said of euthanasia, and a fortiori of sodomy, which would be the sin that cries out for vengeance, but not imputable to the “sodomite” who is not like that by choice, but by nature.

Rocco Buttiglione’s intellectual effort is also sterile, as, beyond the words, the facts remain. And the facts are, that, in the confessional, an increasing number of priests, on the basis of Amoris laetitia, are reassuring penitents that Divine mercy covers their irregular situation and are inviting them in all tranquility to receive Holy Communion.

Finally, we ask Professor Buttiglione: Have the number of sacrilegious Communions and invalid Confessions increased or diminished since Amoris Laetitia? Has the notion of the indissolubility of matrimony been strengthened or has it been diminished?  The answer is clear. The new “pastoral strategy” is destroying matrimony and the Sacraments; it is dissolving the natural law and paving the way for new errors and heresies on the doctrinal level and at the level of praxis.  No sophism can deny this.

Translation: Contributor  Francesca Romana


N.D. said...

C.S. Lewis stated that "the idea that reality is whatever we want it to be is the error beneathe all error". This is true because it denies objective, universal truth, which comes forth from The Word of God.

"Buttiglione believed that the historical process inaugurated by the French Revolution was compatible with Christianity..."
The idea that a conscience that is not in communion with The Word of God, could declare what is Good, is that notion that set Salvational History in motion.

"4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
It is Through, With, and In Christ, in the Unity of The Holy Ghost, that Holy Mother Church exists.

The denial of The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), is the source of all heresy; There Is only One Word of God, One Truth of Love Made Flesh, One Lamb of God Who Taketh Away The Sins of The World, Our Savior, Jesus The Christ, thus there can only be One Spirit of Perfect Love Between The Father and The Son, Who Proceeds from both The Father and The Son, in The Ordered Communion of Perfect Complementary Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity.
There is nothing Good about denying The Unity of The Holy Ghost, even if one attempts to do so in a friendly way.

"The same can be said of euthanasia, and a fortiori of sodomy, which would be the sin that cries out for vengeance, but not imputable to the “sodomite” who is not like that by choice, but by nature."

Although we do not choose every person we exist in relationship with, we choose how we are going to behave in those relationships. God desires that we desire to overcome our disordered inclinations, heal our wounds, and become transformed through Salvational Love, God's Gift of Grace and Mercy.

Although it is true that many who have developed a same-sex sexual attraction have done so as a result of some trauma, this does not change the fact that recognizing that Love, which is rightly ordered, can make all things new again as our beloved sons and daughters heal their wounds and learn to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love and thus respectful of their inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter.

It is not Loving or Merciful to desire that we not overcome our disordered inclinations, for we would then be led into temptation and sin; for if it were true that it is Loving and Merciful that we not overcome our disordered inclinations, we would not need our Savior, Jesus The Christ, to deliver us from evil. Amen.

Catholic Mission said...

How about some friendly criticism here ? When I met him he said that he was not a Feeneyite. So he interprets EENS with an irrationality.The same irrationality Buttilone is using to interpret Amoris Laetitia and Mattei objects.
Similarly with the same irrationality that Mattei interprets EENS he interprets Vatucan Council II which becomes a rupture with Tradition. It is the same for the St. Benedict Centers, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whom we admire.
NOVEMBER 18, 2017

Theologically the St.Benedict Centers are rejecting the ecclesiology and salvation theology of Fr.Leonard Feeney and his times

N.D. said...

Dismas, the good thief, at the hour of his death, recognized Christ in all His Glory, and came late to The Fold.
"No on can come to My Father, except Through Me." Jesus The Christ.

Catholic Mission said...

O.K.But there is no known Dismas in 2017 to be an exception to Feeneyite EENS.
Also if someone was allegedly saved in the past, he or she cannot be an explicit and objective exception to EENS in 2017.Some one must be present to be an exception. An invisible case cannot be an exception to all needing to be incorporated into the Church in 2017 for salvation with no exceptions.
A possibility or speculation from the past cannot be relevant to the dogma EENS in the present times(2017).
This is simple reasoning which Mattei and even Atila S. Guimarães missed out when they wrote their books on Vatican Council II.

Atila S. Guimarães made a mistake in the interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus : with the same irrational reasoning Vatican Council II emerges as a break with Tradition for him

N.D. said...

“And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith to me: These words of God are true.”

It is Through, With, and In Christ, in the Unity of The Holy Ghost, that Holy Mother Church exists.

One Bridegroom, One Bride, on earth.

One Bridegroom, One Bride, (One Holy Mother Church, outside which, there is no Salvation), in Heaven.

As to the number, Hopefully, it will be a multitude who come late to The Fold.

N.D. said...

"[34] But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. ... [35] And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe."

To signify the waters of Baptism
On John 19:34, St. Thomas Aquinas writes:
Another reason why this happened was to show that by the passion of Christ we acquire a complete cleansing from our sins and stains. We are cleansed from our sins by his blood, which is the price of our redemption: "You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things, such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Pet 1:18). And we are cleansed from our stains by the water, which is the bath of our rebirth: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses" (Ez 36:25); "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness" (Zech 13:1). And so it is these two things which are especially associated with two sacraments: water with the sacrament of baptism, and blood with the Eucharist. (St. Thomas Aquinas, commenting on John 19)
You see how St. Thomas understands both blood and water as agents of cleanliness. Though he does not mention it in the immediate paragraph above, the idea of blood as a means of cleansing is very Biblical and very Johannine. For instance, John, who also wrote Revelation says: "[T]hey have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:14) and John again: "[T]he blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)