Fr Hunwicke

Fr. John Hunwicke

Fr  John Hunwicke blogs : Documents emerging from the Domus Sanctae Marthae often seem to beg the questions: Is this part of the Magistrium? If it is, at what level?

Fortunately, PF has given a clear answer to this question. “In the preparation of Laudato si, I had a source of inspiration in my brother Bartholomew, the Orthodox Patriarch, who has spoken forcefully of our need to care for creation. In this case, I have felt particularly encouraged by the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. with whom I met in Abu Dhabi, where we declared that ‘God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties, and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.’ This was no mere diplomatic gesture, but a reflection born of dialogue and common commitment. The present Encyclical takes up and develops some of the great themes raised in the Document that we both signed. I have also incorporated, along with my own thoughts, a number of letters, documents and considerations that I have received from many individuals and groups throughout the world.”

You coudn’t want a more honest admission that this document is not the result of searching the Scriptures, examining the Fathers, scrutinising the arguments of the schoolmen; the manualists and the liturgy, as well as the Roman Pontiffs and the Ecumenical Councils of two millennia, have not been ransacked. “My own thoughts” have played a large role; and so have materials received from “many individuals and groups”.

Readers of this blog will not need this umpteenth reiteration of the teaching of Vatican I: that the Holy Spirit is promised to the Successors of S Peter so that, by His help, they may religiously guard and devoutly put forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; the Deposit of Faith. In Tutti Frutti there is so sense that the Bishop of Rome is setting forth what he has received from the long line of his predecessors. Primacy is accorded to “my own thoughts”. Vatican II may have discussed whether Scripture and Tradition make up one ‘Source of Revelation’ or two; but little more than half-a-century later, both of these have been smoothly displaced by “my own thoughts”.

I expect this lengthy document will, confusingly, appear in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, but even that cannot cancel out the frank … indeed, forcefully situated … admission in paragraph 5.

Benedict XVI did the same when he presented Jesus of Nazareth. “It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search … Everyone is free, then, to contradict me”.

Different words; different men. But the point is the same.