The Need To Avoid Ecclesial Petitions

A very interesting article from Massimo Faggioli on the phenomenon of theological petitions within the Catholic Church – both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the current pope – and the reason why they are harmful to the life of the Church. Writing in the context of the ‘fraternal correction’ petition issued by some people within the Church regarding the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and the resulting petition in support of Pope Francis, Faggioli sees the advent of competing petitions as something to be regretted – and something to be avoided.

The danger, in summary, is that of ecclesial populism, rather than the more time-consuming practice of tradition and reception. As Faggioli puts it so eloquently, “Only with the passage of time will we be able to verify if the teaching of Amoris Laetitia has been received or not. And, then, we will see which parts of the teaching have been received and how so”.

Faggioli quotes Yves Congar, the famous French Dominican, on the proper way to deal with revolt and dissent within the Church, focusing on Congar’s five criteria for doing so:

1.) It can never destroy or wound the bond of charity; 2.) It can never call into question the hierarchical structure of the Church’s pastoral life; 3.) It can never deny or question the articles of doctrine in a hasty, superficial or irresponsible way; 4.) It can never fix parameters for the “limits of fraternity”, excluding those who think differently; and 5.) It cannot admit expressions of protest within the celebration of the liturgy.