Bishop Stefan Oster
A Good Text or a Bad One?
13th April 2016
Thoughts on 'Amoris Laetitia' following the first public reactions.
By Bishop Stefan Oster.
Passau (kath.net/facebookpage Bishop Oster)
First reactions to our Pope's new letter, "Amoris Laetitia", are as divergent as they are contradictory. The day after its publication, some people are already celebrating "an Epoch-making text" which would mean, for instance, that Communion could no longer be refused to any divorced and remarried person ; whilst others understand that everything will stay the way it is and always has been, thank God. Why is this ? And is the text on that account good or bad, then ? An attempt at interpreting it.
Love as the Victory of Truth
One section in our Pope's letter particularly moved me. In §311 he writes : "It is true . . . that mercy does not exclude justice nor truth, but first and foremost we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God's truth." This sentence rings many bells for me, because it expresses some essential aspects of my own motto (taken from Augustine) : "The Victory of Truth is Love."
The problem is that these words are marvellous and lovely, but are not easy to understand, not easy to digest, and not easy to live-out (and in order to avoid any misunderstanding here : of course, it's not easy for me, either !).
Jesus did not even abolish the Old Testament law, but fulfilled it with his whole life and his entire existence. And its fulfillment was precisely his path of entire self-sacrifice, the path leading to the Cross, which passed through suffering and death into the light of the Resurrection. He himself, in person, is the reconciliation of justice and love as mercy.
He himself could be tremendously strict and unyielding : against the hypocrites, against the Pharisees, against every kind of unrighteous anger, against the impurity of heart that looks at a woman only to lust afer her, against all those who are not prepared to repent ; and against other people and other situations. And at the same time there was in him an unfathomable depth of love, mercy and personal self-sacrifice : he was the Lamb of God who is led to be sacrificed for his people, so as to heal them of their sins and their hard-heartedness ; the Lamb who does not open his mouth, who does not defend himself, who allows himself to be crucified for those whom he loves, and especially for his friends - yet equally for his killers !
The Truth which he uttered and which he is himself, as a living person - this Truth hangs upon the Cross as Love. Here is the victory of the Truth which is not a self-glorifying act of emphasizing and holding fast to propositions, but an introduction into a reality of salvation, into the opening-up of a new Life, which is already the business of all those who believe in him.
Translated by Henry Taylor