Crossing the Bridge between Nostra Aetate & Amoris Laetitia

Amoris Laetitia has built a bridge between our conceptions of ecclesial communities and conjugal unions, showing us how they can all variously realize positive goods and approximate the ideals of ecclesial & conjugal relationships. James Martin has shown us how to walk across it.

Continuing our explorations regarding the positive elements in all lifelong covenant relationships:

There is much value that can be realized by placing Amoris Laetitia in dialogue with Nostra Aetate, which addresses the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions. Whether we are talking about various conjugal unions or ecclesial communions, however one may conceive the ideal, whatever the constellation of human value-realizations to which they aspire, we can discern their positive elements and describe their approximations to the ideal.

From the perspective of a theological anthropology, some have described the shared soteriological trajectory of the world’s great traditions as well as indigenous religions in terms of Lonergan’s secular conversions, i.e. intellectual, affective, moral & social. This shared trajectory fosters these conversions toward the end of human authenticity.

The ortho-doxic character of each tradition’s creeds, cults, codes & communities can be authenticated in terms of how well each, ortho-praxically, fosters these conversions, realizing their values & approximating their ideals.

From Nostra Aetate: The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men. … We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8). No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.

In dialogue, then, with Amoris Laetitia, let us not fail to recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among those in other forms of lifelong covenant relationships.

Let us reject nothing that is true and holy in these relationships.

Let us not fail to regard with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, which, though differing in many aspects from the ones we may hold and set forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.

Let us not fail to treat them in a brotherly way, created as they are in the image of God.

Continuing from the perspective of theological anthropology, looking at the world’s religions, while they may ortho-doxically share an essential soteriological trajectory which fosters authenticity, poly-doxically they otherwise diverge in their diverse sophiological trajectories which foster sustained authenticity. As great developmental theorists like Maslow, Frankl & Lonergan all came to realize, human self-actualization, self-realization & authenticity were not, themselves, end-products, which could be sought after. Seeking after them, like seeking after Enlightenment, for their own sake, would even lead to the frustration of the values to which they are ordered. Instead, these soteriological value-realizations must ensue as by-products of the sophiological trajectory toward being-in-love, which entails self-transcendence.

The transcendence of self broadly involves a growth in one’s relationship to God, others, the cosmos and even to one’s own self. It involves a process of intimacization or growth in intimacy that then leads to what Lonergan called a sustained authenticity.

As diverse ecclesial communions realize soteriological & sophiological efficacies in degrees approximating an ecclesiological ideal, so, too, can various forms of conjugal union realize such efficacies, poly-doxically fostering growth in self-transcendence, being in love, growing in intimacy with God, others, the cosmos & even oneself, thus fostering the secular conversions, thus realizing the manifold values of a sustained authenticity.

Amoris Laetitia has built a bridge between our conceptions of ecclesial communities and conjugal unions, showing us how they can all variously realize positive goods and approximate the ideals of ecclesial & conjugal relationships. James Martin has shown us how to walk across it.

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