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Querida Amazzonia? A Pyrrhic victory

Interview with Don Nicola Bux * by Vito Palmiotti.

Vito Palmiotti: The post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia aroused unexpected reactions according to the different ways of reading and accepting it. Perhaps that was precisely the purpose that its author intended to achieve.

Nicola Bux: In fact, on the one hand it caused a great disappointment, as well as a real disgust, in the Amazonian environments, which expected - in logical continuity with the whole synodal process and with the final document - a clear and frontal opening on the two themes that have been the leiv motif from the beginning: the conferral of the sacrament of order to the viri probati (with the consequent weakening and annihilation of priestly celibacy) and the permanent diaconate of women, as a first step towards the female priesthood. The frustration caused in this specifically local context has spread internationally to all progressive contexts, surprisingly affecting a good part of the Church, especially in Germany.
In the same environments, however, another reaction occurs, more conciliatory and masked with fake serenity in front of the evident reverse of the last moment. It is a reading of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation according to a criterion, not well specified, of complementarity and harmonious harmony between the two documents, the post-synodal and the final one of the Synod, which should be read together, in a synoptic I would say. Those who want to read everything as a process open to new developments are placed in the same line.

Palmiotti: On the opposite side, the post-synodal document has aroused optimistic reactions from traditionalist and conservative sectors, which, without an overall view, believe they have finally won the battle of orthodoxy. Thus, many naively think that the Pope would return to defend sound doctrine by exercising his role of confirming his brothers in the faith.
Bux: Indeed, it seems that he wanted to prove that he is not as heterodox as is thought in these circles. If after seven years of pontificate, this has not been understood, it means that his underlying vision of the Church, mainly socio-political, has not yet been grasped. Finally, even in the circle of those who are in line with the good tradition and ecclesial doctrine, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation is realistically seen only as a magisterial text that makes silence on the most controversial points, leaving in the imprecise cloud of uncertainty what deserved a clear stance.

Palmiotti: In doing so, at first glance everything would seem apparently in order, while in reality the seed of chaos is sown which will sooner or later produce its fruits. If the metaphor is valid, it could be said that the fire in the Amazon rainforest has been partially extinguished, but burning embers still remain under the ashes.
Bux: The same "theologian" of Francis, Msgr. Viktor Manuel Fernandez, bishop of La Plata, got it right, saying to Religión digital: «Sin embargo, tampoco hay que afirmar, como han dicho algunos medios, que Francisco ha cerrado las puertas o ha excluido la posibilidad de ordenar algunos hombres casados. De hecho, en la introducción Francisco limita los alcances de su propio documento: “No desarrollaré aquí todas las cuestiones abundantemente expuestas en el Documento conclusivo” (2). Se refiere al documento con el cual concluyó el Sínodo de los Obispos celebrado en Roma. Está claro que si el Papa no desarrolla algún punto no es porque queda excluido, sino porque adrede no quiso repetir al Sínodo». And he adds: «Por primera vez una exhortación apostólica no quiere ser una interpretación del Documento conclusivo de un Sínodo ni una restricción de sus contenidos, ni un texto oficial que deja atrás lo que el Sínodo concluyó. Sólo es un marco complementario de ese documento y dice explícitamente: “no pretendo reemplazarlo ni repetirlo” (2). Tan claro es que no quiere reemplazarlo, que lo que hace es “presentar oficialmente” (3) ese documento y pedir que todos los obispos y agentes pastorales de la Amazonia “se empeñen en su aplicación” (4)». The same "theologian" of Francis, therefore, does not hide the fact that, with the Exhortation, a sort of Catholic-Amazonian religion was created, a new religion, founded on the almost syncretic or contiguous union between the Catholic faith and the rites and the superstitions of the Amazonian populations. In fact, he declares: «Al mismo tiempo, muestra una enorme apertura a los ritos y expresiones indígenas, pidiendo que no se las acuse tan rápidamente de paganismo o de “idolatría” (79) y deja lugar a un posible “rito amazónico” (nota 120). En el Sínodo se dijo precisamente, en las discusiones que llevaron a un cierto consenso, que ese era el marco adecuado para pensar en la posibilidad de los “viri probati”»." and all the other "innovations".

I also remember the words spent in the presentation of the Exhortation by card. Michael Czerny, who said that the issue of diaconal ordination of women and ecclesiastical celibacy are not resolved by the exhortation. And not unlike the card. Hummes, general speaker of the Pan-Amazonian synod, who recalled that there would be a plan to develop and complete the issue of celibacy. According to some observers, the Exhortation would represent a sort of "Trojan horse" for the ordination of women and for the abolition of priestly celibacy.
We leave out the issues of the Amazonian rite and the acceptance of the idolatrous traditions of the Amazonian populations (in the video presentation of the Vatican News exhortation).

Palmiotti: If you want, what you have described is a sort of third way (as I think a few days ago, on the occasion of the publication of the Exhortation, Francesco's biographer, Austen Ivereigh on an article in The Tablet) or door ajar. Pope Bergoglio did not close the door to the demands of the progressives, but at the same time he did not open them wide. He left the door open just enough, so that he, or his successor, in the future, can provide for complete opening. It is perhaps, therefore, a Pyrrhic victory. And probably not even a victory. On the other hand, it is necessary to clarify the value of the final document of the bishops at the Amazonian synod: will this be the key to interpreting the Exhortation?


Bux: If, as card. Baldisseri that document would not fall within the magisterium, but would have a mere moral value, it remains to be understood whether it could nevertheless assume the value of the interpretative key of the Exhortation, so that this should be interpreted in the light of that document, which Francis invited to read and keep in mind entirely.
In conclusion, Querida Amazonia has raised a set of conflicting feelings in which the bitterness of those who have been disappointed, the illusion of those who hope for a future opening, the naive look of those who believe in a fictitious return to true intertwine doctrine, but the only remaining point is the ambiguities on issues that still require a clear answer today. Last but not least, the unclear language, a "pastoralese", so to speak, made up of insinuations and not of affirmations, as prof. Stefano Fontana, who does not make it clear what the faithful Catholic must comply with.

 

** These and other observations by Monsignor Nicola Bux, priest of the archdiocese of Bari, professor in Jerusalem and Rome, professor of Eastern liturgy and of theology of the sacraments in the Apulian Theological Faculty, already an expert at the synod of bishops on the Eucharist and consultor of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for the Causes of Saints; consultant to the international theological magazine "Communio". He was appointed by Benedict XVI as consultor to the Office of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.



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