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Monday, March 19, 2018

‘The New Paradigm,’ Conscience and the Death of Catholic Morality

E. Christian Brugger
National Catholic Register
Originally published February 23, 2-18

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in a recent interview with Vatican News, contends the controversial reasoning expressed in the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) represents a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s reasoning, a “new approach,” arising from a “new spirit,” which the Church needs to carry out “the process of applying the directives of Amoris Laetitia.”

His reference to a “new paradigm” is murky. But its meaning is not. Among other things, he is referring to a new account of conscience that exalts the subjectivity of the process of decision-making to a degree that relativizes the objectivity of the moral law. To understand this account, we might first look at a favored maxim of Pope Francis: “Reality is greater than ideas.”

It admits no single-dimensional interpretation, which is no doubt why it’s attractive to the “Pope of Paradoxes.” But in one area, the arena of doctrine and praxis, a clear meaning has emerged. Dogma and doctrine constitute ideas, while praxis (i.e., the concrete lived experience of people) is reality: “Ideas — conceptual elaborations — are at the service of … praxis” (Evangelii Gaudium, 232).

In relation to the controversy stirred by Amoris Laetitia, “ideas” is interpreted to mean Church doctrine on thorny moral issues such as, but not only, Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, and “reality” is interpreted to mean the concrete circumstances and decision-making of ordinary Catholics.

The article is here.