Newman’s verdict on Amoris Laetitia

SIR – Tom McIntyre’s letters are always well informed, articulate and thought provoking, but I think his last one (December 2) rather misses the point. Of course the essential nature of marriage has not changed. The question is: has the essential nature of second marriages while the original spouse is still alive changed? Christ himself said such marriages were adulterous. Are we now being asked to redefine adultery – indeed, in some cases to redefine it out of existence? And are we also being asked to set aside on occasion St Paul’s strictures in 1 Corinthians about the unworthy reception of the Eucharist?

Cardinal Schönborn said we were seeing a development of doctrine and cited Blessed John Henry Newman in support. Newman gave seven notes to assist in distinguishing true development from corruptions. The sixth such note says that the development should show “conservative action upon its past”, and in it Newman says quite clearly that “developments which do but contradict and reverse the course of doctrine which has been developed before them, and out of which they spring, are certainly corrupt”.

In the deliberate ambiguity surrounding the practical implementation of Amoris Laetitia it is not difficult to detect such a reversal of doctrine, but I am only a confused layman. We are all of us, not just the four cardinals, owed answers and clarification.

Yours faithfully,

Hugh Dwan

Wokingham, Berkshire

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