Why Papal Silence Might not be a Bad Thing
Lots of people think that in the name of truth and with the mission of clarity in proclaiming that truth which is an essential facet of the papacy, Pope Francis should answer the Cardinal's dubia about Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis is after all the final and magisterial arbiter of doctrinal contention. It would be very powerful if he answered them by reaffirming the teaching of Christ.
However, in this recent post, Dom Hugh argues that the papal silence in this regard, especially if it is true that Pope Francis thinks this teaching should be changed (and that is still a big if at the moment), might not be such a bad thing after all!
In defence of this position he quotes Sheed:
Infallibility means that the Pope cannot (in the appropriate circumstances) give the wrong answer—the Holy Spirit will not let him. That leaves him with two possibilities as against our three—he can give the right answer, or no answer. What decides? Whether he knows: infallibility does not in itself mean inspiration. The Holy Spirit might in a given situation enlighten the Pope’s mind, but that is now what infallibility is about. In the general way what a Pope does not know he must find out, like anyone else. (pp.59-60)Basically Sheed explains that papal infallibility can be secured by the Holy Spirit in a positive way, definitive teaching for example such as that on Our Lady’s assumption, or in a negative way, in that even the most scandalous of popes were preserved from teaching error ex cathedra. In that case, their silence was at least silver, if not golden. So too now, papal silence might not be as bad as we think.
Dom Hugh goes on to explain:
So, if Pope Francis really does believe that remarried divorcees should be admitted to Holy Communion, despite the implications of our Lord’s explicit teaching and the unchanging doctrine of the Church, then it is better that he keep silent. It is not ideal, of course, but in the world of fallen human nature the ideal is rarely realized. Sometimes we have to settle for the sufficient.
So, if the ideal is not yet achievable (but are we praying for it?), then let us settle for the sufficient. Let the pope keep silence. If it is the best we can hope for, let it be done. We can cope for now.In a further post, he makes another very good point, one which I have made in my own diocese:
So while we should be praying for the pope, and praying that he bring to an end the current fractious debate, we can be also praying that our local bishops step up to the plate and start hitting some doctrinal home runs. Pope Francis has expressed esteem for collegiality. So the bishops can start employing it to a good end, teaching clearly and with charity what Christ has revealed as the truth on marriage and family life, and human sexuality. The combined weight of their positive teaching will itself encourage the strengthen the pope to do the same. This presents at least one positive aspect to the often problematic conception of collegiality.Bingo! I think so much of the worry about Amoris Laetitia would be alleviated if only our own bishops would step up and affirm the teaching of the Church! Many, many lay people (and not a few left leaning clergy) right now are assuming that Pope Francis has already made serious changes to doctrine, regardless of the protestations of Cardinal Muller, Archbishop Chaput, Bishop Egan, et al. Our bishops surely have a duty to clarify this to their dioceses? Instead, apart from the few usual (faithful) suspects, we have silence. One assumes because of inner politicking and the fear of "upsetting" those who do not agree. It makes me sick frankly!