Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I saw this at Rorate Caeli:

A Priest Responds to the 2015 "Family Synod" Preparatory Document:

"Vague, secular, naive, sentimental, discouraging."

A response to the [Lineamenta, the preparatory] document on the Synod of the Family, submitted to the Very Rev. Michael Pavlakovich, V.F. at the request of the Archbishop of Denver.

1. In the Preface the desire is expressed to "find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront." I suggest concentrating on one or two difficulties, and trying to solve those. 

For example, if the Universal Church tried to stop cohabitation of couples, and was at all successful, then many other problems would improve. This would mean a united effort, with at least the Pope and the bishops working together. But trying to address all the numerous problems outlined in the Relatio at the same, time is not realistic.

2. The language of sin and redemption was missing from the documents.
Instead, we were treated to sentences like "The challenge for the Church is to assist couples in their emotive maturation and affective development." This is an example of substituting sociology and psychology for the Word of God and the teaching of the Church, examples of which may be found throughout the document.

3. Many of the statements were too vague to understand. 
For example, "...a reflection capable of reframing the great questions about the meaning of human existence, can be responsive to humanity's most profound expectations." I do not know what this means. And there seems to be little in the document about our obligation to be responsive to the expectations of the Lord.

4. Throughout the document there is a sentimental notion of mercy which can be quite misleading. 
For example, "Jesus looked upon the women and men he met with love and proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God." Except when He didn't. The words He used to condemn the Pharisees were not words of tenderness.

5. It seems that the writers of these documents went to great lengths to avoid talking about sin. 
For example, "...the Church turns with love to those who participate in her life in an incomplete manner..." If there is no sin, then there is no need of salvation. Which is why I suppose, that the sentence continues with "...recognizing that the grace of God works also in their lives by giving them the courage to do good, to care for one another and to be of service to the community in which they live and work." There is no salvation in the "courage to do good etc.," as the pagans do as much.

6. I could find no distinction between short term and long term goals, or even a mention of the desirability of setting these.

7. In #32, there was a call for missionary conversion by everyone in the Church.

But for this to take place there must be doctrinal unity – a unity of faith – at least amongst the pope and the bishops. In the document there is no mention of this.

8. In the same paragraph we read "...the crisis of faith has led to a crisis in marriage and the family..." 

I could not find a definition of this crisis of faith, nor what the causes of it are, in this document. Unless this is clarified, there will be business as usual, with no indication of how we can assess progress. The paragraph further states, "In the face of a strong faith, the imposition of certain cultural perspectives which weaken the family and marriage will cause no harm." This too is undefined, and in my opinion, naive. 

There are elements of secular Western culture which can utterly erode the foundations of faith, and make it almost impossible to practice. Pornography is one of these, and it tears apart the family and the vocation to marriage, yet is not even mentioned in the Relatio, nor are other elements such as the current confusion about gender, or strains of feminism which are utterly opposed to the Church.

9. Beginning with #33, a list of solutions is proposed. 

" espousing values," "...a more positive approach to the richness of various religious experiences," and denunciations of poverty stemming from "market logic." 

I have no idea what these mean. 

Reading the Bible, increased catechesis, older couples lending a hand in formation are mentioned, and while these make sense, it seems to me that this has already been going on for some time. "Meaningful liturgies" are mentioned, but this is vague and sentimental.

10. The "trauma of family break-up" is mentioned, closely followed by a proposal to streamline the annulment process.

How such streamlining can possibly address the trauma is not discussed. We can streamline the process of annulment all we want, and the trauma to the children of divorce will remain.

11. Admittance of the divorced and remarried to the sacraments (bypassing the annulment process altogether) proposes in itself another question, namely, why not open the sacraments to anyone, for any reason, no matter what they have done or what their state of life is?

[12]. The section on persons with homosexual tendencies (#55) is exceedingly vague, with the exception of #56.

[13]. It was a relief to read #'s 57-58 and it’s clear teaching regarding the transmission of human life. It was the only part of the document that was clear to me.

In short, I found the document vague, secular, naive and sentimental. It was discouraging to read.


The Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP

[Source: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Personal Parish, Archdiocese of Denver. Tip: Twitter follower. Emphases added, with slight correction in paragraph enumeration.]


rcg said...

Lots of fresh air in Denver. Breathe deeply.

John said...

Vatican Council II assimilated the modernist agenda championed by western theologians. The Iists of carefully chosen words and phrases in its documents lead to questioning of long accepted doctrines. The questioning never stopped. As a result many lost the faith. Many left the Church.

The Synod on the family last October, gave conclusive evidence of the Episcopal disarray in the Universal Church. Disunity among bishops first became painfully evident during the Council proceedings and has continued unabated ever since. The revolutionary majority has been running the show since then, although John Paul II and Benedict XVI have made brave attempts to correct problems.

John Paul II appointed many faithful bishops. In addition, Benedict XVI, in his 'reform of the reform' initiative made a theologically valiant attempt to reconcile the pre- and post conciliar Church teachings. He was obstructed in this effort unfortunately. His untimely resignation left the Church with many unresolved issues and reopened some that were thought settled.

Unfortunately, the present papacy is doctrinally incapable of averting a growing disaster, mainly because it has been adding ideological fuel to a host of problems we face in our post conciliar Catholic Church.

God help us! I believe only he can.

Anonymous said...

Actually, that may not all be "fresh air", rcg...The deep breath in Denver may contain a bit of "weed".

Rood Screen said...

It appears that the VF is the recipient of the letter, rather than its author.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jim Jackson, FSSP. My seminary classmate......

Paul said...

Perhaps one can become so pastoral that evil is cloaked in the processes and that good is lost in the quagmire of words.

No wonder the permissives are having a field day. These documents speak in their language.

I hope and pray these words are guided by the Holy Spirit.

JusadBellum said...

To be "pastoral" comes from the root word "pastor". Our Pastor is Jesus Christ. So when we stand "in loco pastoris" we stand for Christ and ought to lead people TO Christ.

Anything that does not lead souls to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ as we know him from the scripture, tradition and magisterial teachings of the Church down through the ages (vs. random theories spun by 'theologians'), is not 'pastoral' but various forms of heresy or false witness.

You can't slap the name "pastoral" on ANYTHING and be accurate. But that's the conceit of many: they declare any heresy at odds with doctrine as OK on the grounds that they are being 'pastoral'.

It's one thing to be tactful and gently lead souls towards the truth in a Socratic step by step fashion. But it's quite another to give into human respect and cover an actual capitulation to their doctrine as 'pastoral'...especially when one never gets around to challenging their error or leading them to the truth!

How many pastors counsel married couples to "follow your conscience on contraception" in confession? I know of some here in the diocese who have told people it's OK, wink wink, nod nod. But how is that "pastoral"?

It would be one thing if the counsel was "wean yourself off the Pill, talk this over with your Husband..." such that the pastor is leading the soul BACK TO "THE PASTOR" JC and not just rubber stamping the sexual revolution's idol of EROS.

Or what if a man confesses to masturbation? A kind pastoral approach may be to affirm the truth that this is sinful... but also that there are many factors involved that CAN lessen one's culpability and make it a hard habit to overcome....but that it CAN be overcome and then provide suggestions and encouragement to frequent confession and adoration and altruism to get the soul from self-focus and direct one's energies to the good of others....

It is NOT a "pastoral solution" to encourage him to not worry about it since it's 'healthy' so long as it doesn't become obsessive (that's essentially the secular world's opinion which is at odds with Catholic moral teaching, the saints and mystics etc.)

Being pastoral means bringing people to Christ. It doesn't mean leading sheep, period. After all, many shepherds are bad and lead sheep to wolves or worse.

Rood Screen said...

Father Kavanaugh,

No way! Must have been and interesting class!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

JBS And the bishop of Lincoln, Jim Conley, was also our classmate. Yes, we had interesting tomes....