Renewed Respect for Canon Law Can Address Modern 'Antinomianism'

Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Patrick Koroma Deliver Written Interventions

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By Pietro Gennarini

Yesterday, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and Bishop Patrick Daniel Koroma of Kenema, President of the Sierra Leone Episcopal Conference delivered their interventions in written format to the Synod fathers. The interventions, which were not presented in the hall, summarized their view on how to address the new evangelization.

Cardinal Burke lamented the modern version of "antinomianism", or the belief that Christians are freed from the moral law by virtue of grace. "Among the most serious wounds of society today is the separation of legal culture from its metaphysical objective, which is moral law," he said. This separation is most blatant when people view "actions which are intrinsically evil as legal," such as abortion, artificial conception for embryonic experimentation, euthanasia, same-sex unions and "the negation of the fundamental right to conscience and religious liberty,” listed the Cardinal.

This separation has also "infected post-Council ecclesial life,” encouraging "an attitude of indifference towards Church discipline, if not even hostility.” This can only be addressed by a renewed respect for Canon Law, he stressed. "We have the task of laying the foundation for awareness of the disciplinary tradition of the Church and respect of the law in the Church,” says the Cardinal, keeping always in mind the Lex Suprema (supreme law) which is "the salvation of one soul”.

Bishop Koroma addressed the completely different sociological situations of Sierra Leone and Gambia. He underlined the "phenomenon of detachment of faith” and gave a detailed description of its African causes. First and foremost is "the lack of integrated catechesis,” followed by ethnic and tribal divisions which trump loyalty to the Church.

"Bishops are rejected on the grounds that they are from another tribe/ethnic group or region,” he deplored. The list continued with "the religious and cultural beliefs, the little knowledge of the social teachings of the Church," the mixing of "African religious practices, superstition and the Church’s sacraments and sacramental."

The way towards a solution, repeated Bishop Koroma lies in "integrated, life-centered catechesis that takes into account the life situation, especially the religio-cultural experiences of the people being evangelized." To do so, he concluded, "we should give ample recognition to the role of the Holy Spirit.”