The "crux" of Allen's article can be summed up in this paragraph concerning Bishop Borys Gudziak, who leads the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Paris with whom Allen had had a very nice Roman Pranzo (lunch):
“Almost half of the world lives with less than what a cappuccino costs in this neighborhood, less than two euros a day, and 80 percent of the world lives on less than $10 a day,” he said, with rising intensity in his voice. “There’s 150 million homeless people, 100 million orphans, 60 million refugees.” “Those,” he said, “are impediments to good family life.”
My final comment: Rather than focus on these issues and the elephant in the room that should be included with all the suffering Bishop Gudziak mentions are the million upon hundreds of millions of babies being aborted everywhere in the world as well as low birth rates in the west that is contributing to a destabilization of society and culture, the Holy Father and bishops are caught up in the narcissism of western culture, the poor people who have chosen to live adulterous lives and the bleeding hearts that insist they receive Holy Communion so they don't feel excluded and the bleeding hearts that want those with the gay agenda not to feel excluded no matter how insidious that agenda against the true Church is. It is as though giving Holy Communion to those living institutionalized mortal sin (immoral lives) is more important than one single infant not to mention millions upon hundreds of millions facing infanticide or a 150 million homeless people, 100 million orphans and 60 million refugees. The agenda of this synod at this point in history is a scandal.
Then on top of this is the silly discussion, when all these other horrible things are happening (the likes of which haven't been seen since the rise of Adolph Hitler), of making the Church more synodal. Ever since Vatican II the Church has been navel gazing and self-absorbed and Pope Francis rightly stated this at the beginning of his pontificate. But now we get more of the same as the focus of his papacy shifts the Church away from abortion (as though we've talked too much about this in the past) to reordering the Church structures once again and tinkering with the way the papacy exercises its power given the fact that non-Catholics for the most part don't like the papacy. So we have to make the papacy more attractive to non-Catholics and alienate the Catholics who think things are fine as they are.
Could you imagine Pope Pius XI or XII holding a "synod" like the one we are experiencing now during the rise and reign of Adolph Hitler?
So more self-absorption from the hierarchy a la the 1970's as we've been tinkering with liturgy, parish, diocesan and international structures and promoting Vatican II as though it was God and not God Himself and what He expects of each person who is baptized as revealed through Scripture and Tradition as well as natural law. The pastoral sensitivities of the west are pure narcissism compared to what so many Christians experience daily as Bishop Gudziak laments. And to think that these narcissistic pastoral sensitivities may well lead to the actual changing of doctrine in practice adds insult to injury!
John Allen's title of his article is "Are the Bishops Fiddling While Places Other Than Rome Burn?" when in reality it could just have well be "Are the Bishops Fiddling While Rome Burns?"
And finally this morning Russ Douthat of the New York Times, a practicing Catholic, has a fine but chilling commentary in that paper which corresponds to John Allen's article which you can read HERE. But these his final paragraphs which I'll make mine too:
"The documents guiding the synod have been written with that (preferred outcome) goal in mind. The pope has made appointments to the synod’s ranks with that goal in mind, not hesitating to add even aged cardinals tainted by the sex abuse scandal if they are allied to the cause of change. The Vatican press office has filtered the synod’s closed-door (per the pope’s directive) debates to the media with that goal in mind. The churchmen charged with writing the final synod report have been selected with that goal in mind. And Francis himself, in his daily homilies, has consistently criticized Catholicism’s “doctors of the law,” its modern legalists and Pharisees — a not-even-thinly-veiled signal of his views.
And yet his plan is not necessarily succeeding. There reportedly still isn’t anything like a majority for the proposal within the synod, which is probably why the organizers hedged their bets for a while about whether there would even be a final document. And the conservatives — African, Polish, American, Australian — have been less surprised than last fall, and quicker to draw public lines and try to box the pontiff in with private appeals.
The entire situation abounds with ironies. Aging progressives are seizing a moment they thought had slipped away, trying to outmaneuver younger conservatives who recently thought they owned the Catholic future. The African bishops are defending the faith of the European past against Germans and Italians weary of their own patrimony. A Jesuit pope is effectively at war with his own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the erstwhile Inquisition — a situation that would make 16th century heads spin.
For a Catholic journalist, for any journalist, it’s a fascinating story, and speaking strictly as a journalist, I have no idea how it will end.
Speaking as a Catholic, I expect the plot to ultimately fail; where the pope and the historic faith seem to be in tension, my bet is on the faith.
But for an institution that measures its life span in millennia, “ultimately” can take a long time to arrive.