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What is expected of Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation? Unity or Truth? Is the Pope always foolproof? Don Bux replies.

Claudio C.



Interview with Don Nicola Bux* by Vito Palmiotti. Here the original  Italian Version.

In view of the imminent publication of the Apostolic Exhortation that will follow the Amazon Synod , we are witnessing a radicalization of ultra-style positions to the point that, for example, if Ratzinger and Sarah write reflections, they shout at success on one side and scandal on the other, there is a sort of standing ovation of a faction to the only hypothesis of withdrawal of the signature of Benedetto, only to be indignant when this in fact remains somehow on the cover. So again we are witnessing a series of epithets aimed at describing Benedict as "shiny only half an hour a day" (and maybe it is precisely the half hour in which he wrote then he would return to a soporific state for twenty three and a half hours) and if so if it were not then it becomes a serious interference with something that nobody knows but that is pulled by the jacket here and there, interpreting the thoughts of the one - the father - who must give an indication, hopefully clear, among other things , on a delicate issue such as the possibility of opening to the uxorato clergy, in some "particular situations" as the synod fathers ask in the final document of the controversial and discussed Synod on the Amazon.

The impression obtained is that there is a lack of a Catholic gaze and a sense of reality. What will the Pope do? Cardinal Charles Journet, a distinguished patrologist, said: "As for the axiom" Where the Pope is, there is the Church "applies when the Pope behaves as Pope and head of the Church; in the contrary case, neither the Church is in him, nor he in the Church ». D. Nicola Bux participated, as an expert invited by cardinal Ratzinger and then pope, to the synod on the Eucharist in 2005 and to that on the Middle East in 2010: therefore he knows how things are going. Of course, if this can-can continues, nothing but a synod: the pope could resent and change something.

VP: What does synodality mean, a word with which everyone fills their mouths?


The varied fans of St. Francis are perhaps unaware that he called himself a Catholic and apostolic man: the first is now a rare word to hear, yet it indicates the look at reality 'according to the totality of its factors'. From the Greek katà olòn. Unfortunately, the moral of the 'case by case' and the emphasis on the 'local Church' contributed to oblivion. In fact, it is believed that giving Communion to a divorced and remarried couple in a remote village, and not giving it to a city parish, can be done without affecting the unity of the whole, which is then the Catholic Church. Precisely on this we must dwell. Unity is the most precious asset, says St. John Chrysostom, provided that the differences are not adverse to each other, but converge towards unity, that is, they are uni-versus, universal. Here is the universal or Catholic Church. The Pope should be a sign and a bond of this. We must hope that the Exhortation will serve this purpose: to be Catholic, it should not refer to the Final Document of the Synod. If this is so, it will also be due to the contribution of Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah with their book on priestly celibacy, and of those in the Church who have not stopped telling the truth without failing in charity, without giving in to the temptation to to separate, which is mainly due to the lack of patience of love. Behind that book there is a not small part of the Church, which the pope, as a pater patruum, cannot fail to take into account; not only that: there are two thousand years of traditio of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, which, with Scripture, is the source of revelation. Patience is the first characteristic of love indicated by Saint Paul: charity is patient. In conclusion, synodality can be synonymous with a journey and a common gaze (always according to the Greek etymology) and in this sense, every Christian and the Church must use it. But the Church is not a permanent Synod and not even a Council, but a hierarchically ordered community. If the final document expressed the word of the bishops and of the other synod fathers, the exhortation will communicate the word of the pope, who does not necessarily have to agree with that. Remember the praevia note made by Paul VI affixing the Lumen Gentium constitution. The Synod is representative and not a substitute for the entire Catholic episcopate.

VP: Is the Pope always foolproof?


The magisterium is there when the pope and all the bishops agree (Compendium CCC 185) - I stress 'agree' - in proposing definitive teaching on faith and morals. What does definitive mean? It must be - like high definition photos - with sharp outlines. In fact, as in extraordinary dogmatic acts, the pope uses three verbs: we pronounce, declare and define, so in ordinary teaching, if discord were to persist, there would be no magisterium. Today it happens that many bishops do not agree but are disagree even on a doctrine already believed by faith: the discordance means that there is no infallibility, but this does not mean that the faithful are not required to obey it, unless that teaching contrasts with the depositum fidei. If a father says something and the mother the opposite, who should the children obey? We have reason to hope and pray that the Exhortation will be clear and without exception. If this were not so, the approach of the 'great apostasy' which would enslave the Church would be favored; the proof that will shake the Church (CCC 675-677) far beyond the current crisis of faith: persecution.


*Msgr Nicola Bux. Ordained priest on December 6, 1975, he studied and taught in Jerusalem and Rome. Professor of Eastern Liturgy and Theology of the Sacraments at the Apulian Theological Faculty, at the Institute of Ecumenical-Patristic "San Nicola" of Bari.Close collaborator of Benedict XVI, during his pontificate he was consultor to the Congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments (since 2010), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Office of Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. He was wanted in these roles by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He was a personal friend of the latter as both theologians and animators of the international theological journal Communio. He was perished at the synod of bishops on the Eucharist (2-23 October 2005). Since the early 2000s, Archbishop Bux has also collaborated with the periodical Il Timone.



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