Monday, October 13, 2014


UPDATE: The relatio has already occasioned some pushback. Following its presentation in the synod hall, 41 bishops spoke about the content, and several pressed for clarifications on specific points:
-- Some asked whether, in the section on homosexuality, there shouldn’t be a reference to the teaching that “some unions are disordered,” a reference to the phrase the church has used to describe homosexual relations. That information came from Cardinal Peter Erdo, the primary author of the relatio, who spoke to reporters at a Vatican press conference.
-- Sources said other bishops questioned the analogy the relatio drew between the principle of finding “elements of sanctification and of truth outside” outside the visible structure of the church, expressed in the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, and the broader idea that positive elements can be found not only in sacramental marriage but also in irregular unions.
-- At least one bishop asked what happened to the concept of sin. The word “sin” appears only rarely in the 5,000-word relatio.
At the press conference, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines emphasized that this text was not the final version and said with a smile, “So the drama continues.”

My Comments first: Below you can read Vatican Radios summary so far of the discussions of this preliminary Synod on the Family. Thus far this is only a discussion and no firm pastoral changes codified by the pope will take place until after next year's actual Synod on the Family makes pastoral recommendations to the Pope. But change is in store in terms of the Magisterium's tone and style of presenting the moral teachings of the Church and is in line with much of the pastoral theology I was thought in the 1970's which moves away from rigorous and rigidity to pastoral workers being like medical personnel treating people in a gradual way that leads to salvation, thus taking each "patient's" pulse and seeing what is possible and not possible at any given time.

Here is my take on the summary below my comments:

1. This will be a bombshell for some nations but not for western nations such as the USA which have already incorporated much of this pastoral approach since the 1970's.

2. It presumes that people don't instantly make regular their sinful situations but only gradually over time, what is called "graduality." Pope Benedict noted this when he spoke of a  man with aides using a condom to product his partners (I think in the context of gay sex) and that this was a sign of moral growth this desire on one hand to not spread his disease while on the other hand in a sinful context.

3. It also presumes that we not be voyeurs in a voyeuristic culture. In the past most of us did not jump to conclusions or kept our conclusions to ourselves if we knew of same sex couples who were roommates. We were happy to leave it at that. All my life as a lay Catholic and now as a priest, I have known of these situations and I was happy to leave it at that and not think about their sex lives at home if there was one. Even in the pre-Vatican II Church we saw roommates receiving Holy Communion. People make these decisions and they will be judged at their personal judgment for any sins they committed and any pastoral solutions reached in the privacy of their conscience and hopefully in consultation with the Church's pastoral ministry.

4. What is novel from the Magisterium's point of view, at least even the discussion of it thus far, is that we see the bishops acknowledging that there can be good in sinful situations, such as Pope Benedict did with his condom comment.  So a gay couple who might be actively gay are actually in love, not just sex hogs, and take care of one another, support one another and when one or the other is sick, they stand by each other. The same with some cohabitating couples and those in marriages not recognized by the Church. Shouldn't pastoral workers work with the good while acknowledging the sin too?

Here is the Vatican's Summary. It is a bit of a bombshell and yes there will be concern. But folks this is how it has been working in the USA now for more than 40 years. Nothing new here except that we are hearing it from the Vatican and in a somewhat open forum. For some Europeans and for Africans this will be a bombshell but not for most American Catholics:

(Vatican Radio) As discussion at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family got underway Monday morning, it was announced that the second phase of this process – next year’s Ordinary Synod – will be held October 4-25, 2015, and will have theme: The vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world.

Following the announcement the General Rapporteur, Cardinal Peter Erdő, presented the mid-term report outlining the main questions highlighted over the past week of General Congregations which will now be examined in by the bishops, fraternal delegates, auditors and experts in the ‘minor circles’ or small working groups.

Cardinal Erdő began by highlighting that the Synod Fathers spoke of how Jesus looked at men and women with love, accompanying them patiently and with mercy. He spoke of how Jesus Christ, "the Truth, became incarnate in human fragility not to condemn it, but to heal it”. Jesus – he said - taught marriage was indissoluble, but showed understanding of those who didn't live up to this ideal.

In the mid-term report the Synod Fathers speak of how it's the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries.  They appeal to the "law of graduality," as a reflection of the way God reached out to humanity and led His people forward step by step.

The need was noted for further reflection on whether sacramental fullness doesn't exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements even in imperfect forms.  For example, whether there are positive elements in irregular marriages.  The Synod Fathers make the point that when a civil marriage is stable, shows deep affection and care for children, then the Church should work to accompany it toward Sacramentality.

Card. Erdő  spoke of the need for a missionary conversion, that the Church cannot stop at an announcement that is merely theoretical, but must go beyond. Christian marriage has to be a vocational decision taken with the proper preparation in an itinerary of faith. This because the Gospel of the family is the response to the deepest expectations of a person.

In the report the Synod Fathers state that the Church is particularly called to recognize suffering of abandoned spouses and how children are the real victims of family breakups.
Many synod members expressed the need for reformed, simplified procedures for annulments .  Card. Erdő spoke of how this annulment reform will require diocesan bishops to take on new responsibilities and perhaps delegate a specially trained priest.

Regarding divorced and divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, the report speaks of the need for "courageous pastoral choices” and “new pastoral paths”. The report calls for case-by-case discernment according to law of graduality, particularly regarding access to the Sacraments. Card. Erdő said dialogue on this topic will continue in local Churches over the coming year and responses will be brought to next years Synod.

The report noted that the question of cohabitation might indicate commitment-phobia, but also a choice that is taken "while waiting for a secure existence” such as a steady job and income.
The question of homosexuality was then addressed, with a call to serious reflection.  The Synod Fathers noted that homosexual persons have gifts and talents to offer the Christian community and that pastoral outreach to them is an important educative challenge.

In the report, the Synod Fathers also reaffirm that same-sex unions cannot be considered equal to matrimony. And it is unacceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology. 
Finally, stating that openness to new life is essential part of married love, the Synod Fathers affirm the message of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae regarding the need to respect dignity of person in moral evaluation of methods of birth control.

Concluding his presentation of the mid-term report, Card. Erdő said that in  imitating Jesus' merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters marked by wounded and lost love.

Find the full text of the Midterm Report at Vatican Radio by pressing HERE.


Anonymous said...

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Church's ultimate trial

Any bets on how long it will take them to throw out them CCC completely, they are doing it with scripture after all.......and I'm not even going to say told you so.

675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.(574)The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth(575) will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576 (769)

676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatalogical judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.578 (2425)

Anonymous said...

So St. Paul was wrong?

9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

And what about the Ten Commandments? Thou shalt not commit adultery. Is it going to be. It's understandable if you want to commit adultery because life is tough. Oh wait we are being told we can't even use the word adultery.

Insanity and yes, evil is coming from Rome. I'm sticking with Jesus. I'm sticking with the saints and the Fathers of the Church not Francis and Cardinal Kasper.

John said...

The ends do not justify the means.


One cannot do wrong to obtain a good objective.

Yet, some bishops now say that these teachings are old school and the Church must get with it and accept immorality if there is some good also associated with it. The Church of God does not subsist in such teachings.

However, one cannot be very surprised that this is happening in the Catholic Church. The sexual scandal in the Church has proved that too many clerics are capable of the most base actions for selfish reasons.

I reject them and their heretical opinions. The Holy Father should do the same.

Anonymous said...

The Church as we know it is finished! But most of us knew this was coming when Bergoglio stepped out unto the Loggia.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:6-12)

JusadBellum said...

It's patently absurd to argue that since evil men can do some good, therefore their evil is not really that objectionable.

No one claims that sinners are UTTERLY depraved! Marcial Maciel did "lots" of good things...all while living a double life and secretly doing gravely evil things. And the critics of the Legion don't do these mental gymnastics to claim 'ah, well, look at all the wonderful things Maciel did do, so golly, I guess we gots to downplay his evil to a lesser degree"

No. Oddly enough, the critics demand the entire Legion to be shuttered and all members disbanded.

Until it comes to sex outside of marriage. Then suddenly it's all about how vitally important it is to know that sinners are capable of loving actions despite their sin...?

Take sex out of this...who here would deny that a murderer, an assassin, a drug cartel boss is capable of loving his wife or children? Of course they are. But that doesn't make their other behavior any less sinful.

Who here thinks that Fascists or fat cat industrialists pouring pollutants into streams were incapable of love? Of course as human beings they loved certain people close to them. But will that save them?

rcg said...

These arguments are rationalizing, equivocating and misrepresenting the problem. How is this different than buying indulgences?

Tevye said...

True or False:
Pope Francis is one of the ten worst Popes in history.

Jdj said...

"...and perhaps delegate a special priest."
Might I suggest the diocesan exorcism priest? After all, we do know who is the author of confusion and chaos...
I sure do hope this synod has at least one such priest available!

rcg, exactly!!

Gerbert d' Aurillac said...

I find this vary disturbing to say the least. While we know and understand that all men have good in them, that was bestowed upon us at creation, being made in the image and likeness of God. We also understand man has the capacity to sin greatly, does the goodness of man whipe away his sins!!! No only God can forgive our sins, this requires man to recognize his sins, and wanting to have those sins forgiven so as to mend the relationship with God. In this day and age no matter how unpopular it may be, it seems to me that it is quite necessary to make sure the faithful understand what exactly sin is, what it does to our relationship with the Father. If we rationalize sin, or make sin relative, then we have accepted that their is no one objective Truth. Then satin has won!
Why is it so hard for people to understand that Gods love requires a response, that response is obedience, and love. True love demands that we speak the Truth, for if we speak in half truths, then we have committed a grave injustice to man by jeopardizing his salvation. I just can't wrap my head around this way of thinking, say it is ok, then when you are here then we will tell you its not ok. The unrepentant will leave the Church either way. The Magestirum of the Church must be upheld in its entirety. I am starting to see the SSPX point of view???

Anonymous said...

Fr. McD, I really wanted to look at your GREAT new photo, but I couldn't see it with my back turned to the screen.

Gene said...

Tevye, too soon to make that judgement. There have been some really bad ones.

RCG mentioned indulgences…those of you who have never done so might find it interesting to read some of Luther's early treatises. Begin with, "On Indulgences."

Anonymous said...

I simply googled "Ten worst popes" and got some lists of some real beauties.

I remember when they used to give indulgences in days and weeks and they have the same calendar as us....except, of course, maybe in a different time zone.