Theologian: Here’s how Pope’s teaching is being used to reject Humanae Vitae

LifeSiteNews | 4/12/2018 | Staff
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WASHINGTON, DC, April 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – “If you insist upon the commandments, it’s like throwing stones at people.”

Famed Catholic author Janet Smith, speaking to a group gathered at The Catholic University of America (CUA), in Washington, DC on April 5, warned of new challenges to the Church’s teaching against contraception that will arise in coming years, centered around the concepts of conscience and discernment.

Theologians - Smith - Identifies - Discerners - Authority

In particular, theologians who Smith identifies as “discerners” will focus not on the authority of conscience as it is traditionally understood, but on a “very different understanding of what the conscience is. This is what we very much have to catch.”

“In a general sense, the interpreters, the discerners of Amoris Laetitia say that the development in moral theology in Amoris Laetitia is pastoral, not doctrinal,” said Smith. This is key, because it frees them to say, “we’re not changing doctrine at all; we’re just changing how we apply doctrine. We’re not even applying doctrine. We’re just helping consciences discern.”

Humanae - Vitae - Way - End - Run

Humanae Vitae won’t be rejected head-on because they’ve found a way to do an end run around it based on passages in Amoris Laetitia. In essence, the discerners are saying, “So we don’t need to refute the arguments that defend Humanae Vitae because we’re not looking for a doctrinal change. We don’t have to question the authority of doctrine because it’s not a doctrinal matter that we’re pushing here; We’re pushing a pastoral approach to these issues.”

In other words, “substantive matters are now irrelevant,” because “they read Amoris Laetitia in light of a psychological view of conscience,” while putting aside the traditional view of conscience. Their view rejects “natural known moral norms.”

Smith - Passages - Amoris - Laetitia - Basis

Smith cited passages of Amoris Laetitia that provide the basis for this new understanding of conscience.

She began with paragraph 37, which reads:

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