What is a post-synodal apostolic exhortation? Arguably, “an apostolic exhortation is a type of communication from the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It encourages a community of people to undertake a particular activity but does not define Church doctrine. It is considered lower in formal authority than a papal encyclical, but higher than other ecclesiastical letters, Apostolic Letters and other papal writings. Apostolic exhortations are commonly issued in response to an assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in which case they are known as post-synodal apostolic exhortations.”
What is scandal?
"Scandal is any sinful word, deed, or omission that disposes others to sin, or lessens their respect for God and holy religion.” [1885 Baltimore Catechism No. 3, Question 1279]
“The fifth commandment can be broken by giving scandal or bad example and inducing others to sin, because such acts may destroy the life of the soul by leading it into mortal sin.” [1885 Baltimore Catechism No. 3, Question 1279]
“Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.” [1994 CCC 2284]
“Any action or its omission, not necessarily sinful in itself, that is likely to induce another to do something morally wrong. Direct scandal, also called diabolical, has the deliberate intention to induce another to sin. In indirect scandal a person does something that he or she foresees will at least likely lead another to commit sin, but his is rather tolerated than positively desired.” [Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, definition of Scandal, page 491]
What is Scandal of the Weak?
"Disedifying morally weak persons by permissible conduct. Circumstances determine the duty in charity to avoid giving scandal to the weak. The existence of such a duty is clear from the teaching of St. Paul, who would not eat meat that had been offered to idols lest he scandalize the weaker brethren. He warned the early Christians not to rationalize their conduct but to follow his example, lest “by sinning in this way against our brothers and injuring their weak consciences, it would be Christ against whom you sinned” (1 Corinthians 8:12). This obligation in charity is such that one may licitly refrain from fulfilling even a grave positive precept that is not necessary for salvation in order to prevent serious scandal to the weak. Behind the obligation is the mandate of selfless love that seeks not only to help another in obvious need but also by self-restraint to protect another from spiritual harm. (emphasis supplied)” [Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, definition of Scandal of the Weak, page 491
What else does the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) say about scandal?
(CCC 2285) Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep's clothing.
(CCC 2286) Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to "social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible." This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.
(CCC 2287) Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!"
Does Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) evoke scandal? Decide for yourself. On April 16, 2016, John-Henry Westen, wrote:
“On the flight returning from Greece, Pope Francis was asked if the Apostolic Exhortation contained a "change in discipline that governs access to the sacraments" for Catholics who are divorced and remarried. , “I can say yes, period.” Adding, however, that this would be "too small" of an answer, the Pope then urged reading the presentation of Cardinal Schönborn, calling Schönborn a “great theologian who knows the doctrine of the Church.”
On April 18, 2016, wrote,
“EWTN’s show The World Over presented a politely devastating critique by Fr. Gerald Murray, Robert Royal and Raymond Arroyo. The participants described passages to be examined here as “dangerous,” “very disturbing,” “very problematic,” “not the language of the Gospel,” “very odd,” “very strange,” “a big mistake,” “set[ting] up straw men to knock down,” “a direct contradiction of John Paul II in Familiaris consortio and subsequent documents,” “not in accord with what the Church has said until now,” “false mercy” favorable to “‘Father Friendly’ who wants to sell the store,” that would make receiving Communion “a badge of honor that you receive even you though you know what you are doing is contrary to the teaching of the Church,” and an “attempt to paper over what really is a change of doctrine… but denying that you’re changing the doctrine.” As Arroyo observed, according to the general tenor of the document “the exception becomes a very difficult rule, or no rule at all” while the Church, to quote Father Murray, becomes involved in “the excuse-making business, not the Gospel business.”
Diverse authors also wrote critical articles, opinions, and reviews of Amoris Laetitia. For example:
On April 18, 2016, Deacon Jim Russell, published Amoris Laetitia and the “Brinkmanship” of Pope Francis, in Crisis Magazine, a voice for the faithful Catholic laity.
On April 18, 2016, Clifford Longley, published Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis has created confusion where we needed clarity, in The Tablet, the international Catholic news weekly.
On April 18, 2016, Christopher A. Ferrara, published Amoris Laetitia: Anatomy of a Pontifical Debacle, in The Remnant, a national Catholic newspaper.
On April 19, 2016, Hillary White, published Does No One Care About the Pope's Immortal Soul?, in Fetzen Fliegen, a Remnant newspaper blog.
On April 20, 2016, Claire Chretien published Exhortation allows Communion for divorced/remarried on case-by-case basis, claim 3 German bishops, in LifeSiteNews.
On May 9, 2016, John-Henry Westen published Voice of the Family calls on Pope Francis to withdraw Amoris Laetitia, in LifeSiteNews.
On May 9, 2016, Claire Chretien published Archbishop: Pope told me we must avoid speaking ‘plainly’ on Communion for remarried, in LifeSiteNews.
May a person fraternally correct a person in a higher position – to include a prelate? To the extent that Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) evokes scandal, who may fraternally correct the Pope Francis?
In Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote: "Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you (emphasis supplied), is therefore in greater danger. But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected (emphasis supplied). I answer that, A subject is not competent to administer to his prelate the correction which is an act of justice through the coercive nature of punishment: but the fraternal correction which is an act of charity is within the competency of everyone in respect of any person towards whom he is bound by charity (emphasis supplied), provided there be something in that person which requires correction.” (Summa Theologica, II-II, Question 33, Article 4)
“We have been weighed upon by the thought that a matter of this kind [i.e. error in respect of the Faith] is so grave and so dangerous that the Roman Pontiff(emphasis supplied), who is the representative upon earth of God and our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who holds the fullness of power over peoples and kingdoms, who may judge all and be judged by none in this world, may nonetheless be contradicted if he be found to have deviated from the Faith(emphasis supplied). Remembering also that, where danger is greater, it must more fully and more diligently be counteracted, We have been concerned lest false prophets or others, even if they have only secular jurisdiction, should wretchedly ensnare the souls of the simple, and drag with them into perdition, destruction and damnation countless peoples committed to their care and rule, either in spiritual or in temporal matters; and We have been concerned also lest it may befall Us to see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by the prophet Daniel, in the holy place. In view of this, Our desire has been to fulfil our Pastoral duty, insofar as, with the help of God, We are able, so as to arrest the foxes who are occupying themselves in the destruction of the vineyard of the Lord and to keep the wolves from the sheepfolds, lest We seem to be dumb watchdogs that cannot bark and lest We perish with the wicked husbandman and be compared with the hireling.” (Cum Ex Apostolic Officio, Apostolic Constitution by Pope Paul IV, given in Rome on February 15, 1559, paragraph 1)
Did Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) evoke scandal? Is fraternal correction of Pope Francis an option?
Before answering this last question, it behooves all of us to revisit the definition of Catholic modernism (about which we were warned in 1907 by Pope Saint Pius X – long before the Second Vatican Council); revisit the parameters of fraternal correction; and, revisit the election of Pope Francis pursuant to Universi Dominici Gregis.
In moving on, it must be emphasized that the issue is not heresy, sedevacantism, schism, or the indefectibility of the Church. The issue is fraternal correction of scandalous Catholic modernists. To what end fraternal correction? Preferably rehabilitation, healing, and return of the prodigal sons – else excommunication.