Synod, Day 16, Monday October 19, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

Synod, Day 16, Monday October 19, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

It’s official: The Vatican joins the Catholic Left in promoting the sodomite agenda, which “might merit a Synod of their own, accompanied by further exploration of the theological understanding …”! – With the likes of the covert Cardinal Wuerl and the overt Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien? The latter “retired” after his “activities” with seminarians and priests (including in Rome on more than one occasion – such as his 2003 installation as cardinal and the 2005 conclave electing B16) became public before the 2013 conclave electing Francis.

[The Homosexualist Holy See Press Office? ~ “further exploration of the theological understanding” of homosexuality proposed by bishop on Vatican Radio]

[Hat-tip for title to Toronto Catholic Witness]

2015-10-19 Vatican Radio

The Synod of Bishops on the family moves into its third and final week on Monday with participants meeting in small language groups to discuss further changes they’d like to see in the concluding document.

Over the first two weeks the Church leaders have been seeking to resolve tensions between two different visions of family life and ministry, one focused more on the traditional teaching of the Church and the other searching for new ways of engaging with people in relationships or situations that do not conform to Catholic doctrine.

To find out about how the Church leaders are hoping to reconcile these two visions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the bishop of Northampton in central England, Peter Doyle.

Bishop Peter says he came out to Rome conscious of that ”gap that has to be bridged” but he adds that some of the small groups are moving in that direction through seeing Jesus as both truth as well as compassion and mercy.

He expresses concern that some bishops sense “a little fear” of reconciling what he describes as “a Church upholding the eternal truth of faith” and “a Church offering healing and mercy to those who have failed to live up to that teaching”. He says those who are wanting to explore “what is God’s will for us are in no way trying to undermine the traditional teaching of the Church”, but adds it’s essential to find a way of responding to those in difficult situations…

Bishop Peter says that in preparation for the Synod he was in contact with supporters of sides of the debate. Regarding the concerns of Catholics from the LGBT community in the UK, he says he’s concerned that the Synod “doesn’t seem to have faced up to those issues”, but rather to have pushed them “into a siding” because the bishops do not know how to respond. He says we cannot “leave people in limbo” yet the biblical understanding of male and female does “not leave room at the moment for same-sex relationships”.

While hoping there may be some further discussion of this topic, Bishop Doyle suggests that issues around homosexuality might merit a Synod of their own, accompanied by further exploration of the theological understanding of anthropology.

In England and Wales, Bishop Peter says, Church leaders are learning to be much more open and recognise people in different situations. “Perhaps we can encourage people to face up to these issues in open dialogue”, he adds

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4 comments on “Synod, Day 16, Monday October 19, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

  1. [The end is in sight: Will it go out with a bang or a whimper?]

    Has the Synod Turned a Corner?

    Grant Gallicho. October 19, 2015 – Commonweal

    ROME—Hoping to see a resolution to the most neuralgic issues being debated at the Synod of the Family by the time it ends next weekend? Don’t hold your breath. That’s the message that came through during today’s briefing at the Holy See Press Office. While “there is confidence” among the synod fathers that “something can emerge from this process of fermentation,” according to Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, there is no consensus on questions related to Communion for the divorced and remarried, homosexuality, and others living in “irregular relationships.”

    That makes it highly unlikely that the final summary document, which synod fathers will vote on—paragraph by paragraph—later this week, will include definitive language on any of the contested issues. That doesn’t mean Pope Francis won’t step in at some point—my money is on a post-synodal study commission—and it certainly doesn’t mean that these three weeks of discernment have been a waste. To the contrary, as Francis made clear in his remarks commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the synod on Saturday, the synodality established by this meeting of bishops is a preview of what he wants to see from the whole church. “A synodal church is a listening church, aware that listening is more than hearing.” He continued: “It is a reciprocal listening in which each one has something to learn.”

    Synoding is hard work—this has been a constant refrain of all the synod fathers who have appeared at the press conferences. And who could doubt it? It’s not unusual for participants to put in twelve-hour days. Coleridge spoke of a sense of “weariness” among the synod fathers. “I have a strong sense that we wonder how we’re going to get through to Sunday morning [when the synod concludes]—how we’re going to write a final document.”

    Asked how he would measure the success of the synod, Coleridge said, “I’ve got no crystal ball.” Still, “there is no ground swell of support for the change of church teaching,” he explained. Coleridge referred to an earlier interview in which he speculated that 35 percent of the synod fathers supported finding a way for some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. But today he admitted that “in fact I have no idea.” He could not recall any synod fathers calling for the church “simply to admit the civilly remarried to Communion,” at least during the large-group discussions he attended. (Of course, I’m not aware of any synod fathers proposing that all divorced and remarried Catholics be permitted to receive Communion en masse.) In Coleridge’s small group, he sensed little support for the so-called penitential path, a proposal that would allow some civilly remarried Catholics to able to receive the Eucharist, depending on their situations and dispositions. “My hunch is that the support for readmission to Communion…is in fact very very modest indeed,” Coleridge said. “The numbers might have even dwindled as the synod has unfolded.”

    Does that mean the final synod document will close the door on that issue? I don’t think so, even if at least one synod participant is “far from optimistic about the end of this week.” First, Coleridge was unclear about what he was talking about exactly. Is there modest support for the penitential path or the here-comes-everybody path? And second, it appears that there is more and more talk of considering some “irregular” situations “on a case-by-case basis,” as Beatitude Fouad Twal put it at today’s briefing. What is the point of considering anything on a case-by-case basis—or any other—if there is nothing to decide? Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, also suggested that such considerations could fall to the local church or bishop—another theme that has emerged in recent days, which Pope Francis sharpened on Saturday.

    It looks to me like the stage is set for the synod to punt this issue to a study group, perhaps one “spearheaded by the German bishops,” as one report suggests, that will examine the issue in all its complexity, especially with respect to the question of conscience and the internal forum—a subject that has been woefully neglected during the synod. Of course, tomorrow the Holy See Press Office could bring out a few other synod fathers who present a totally different story, but, given recent developments, I tend to doubt that.

    Cardinal Gerhard Müller, for example, reportedly would not rule out Communion for the divorced and remarried in “extreme” cases. This is a notably softer line than the one Müller had been taking during and after last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Last week the German language group—which includes both Cardinal Walter Kasper and Müller—submitted its modifications to the instrumentum laboris. Not a single member disagreed with the report. If the Germans can get (or have already gotten) Müller to sign on to the idea of allowing some divorced and remarried Catholics—however few—to receive Communion, then the synod may have turned a corner on this issue, at least for now.

  2. These people think that with a sufficient number of votes they can override Christ’s teaching.

  3. [A bishop after his own heart]

    Australia’s Archbishop Mark Coleridge: Finally, a Bishop Who “Gets It” !

    October 20, 2015– Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

    There’s still just under a week to go at the synod, but I think it’s not too early to say that my vote for “Star of the Synod” would have to go to Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia. Coleridge was one of three guests at the press briefing yesterday, and he easily stole the show. It’s not just his substance which is so good, but the fact that he is so forthcoming with information, instead of talking in vague generalities. (Coleridge is maintaining a daily blog about his synod thoughts and experiences which you can access by clicking here.)

    I was amazed at what he was saying because they were things that I have wished church leaders would say publicly for decades now. They are the simplest things, hardly revolutionary, but just a more common sense approach to the way our Church could be operating. [If you want to watch the YouTube video of the entire one-hour press briefing–which includes two other participants: Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Bishop Enrico Solmi of Parma, Italy –click here. It’s worth a view to get a sense of Coleridge as a personality. He has a very positive media-presence.]

    I mentioned him in an earlier post from the synod, when he first caught my eye because of some positive remarks he made about lesbian and gay couples. But, more recently, he has expanded on an important theme that has emerged here at the synod: a move to less judgmental church language about marriage, family, and sexuality. I have to admit that when I first heard about this idea, I was more than a little skeptical. It sounded like trying to dress up old concepts in different terms as a way to attract people. It also sounded like a theme we have heard a lot of from U.S. bishops, namely, that if church leaders would just present traditional teaching more effectively, people would start accepting it.

    But when Archbishop Coleridge talks about changing language, his approach is much more comprehensive. Trained as a Scripture scholar, he is very aware of the power of words, and the misuse of them, too. His insights into language show he is aware of the importance of social and cultural changes which affect communication. For Coleridge, changing language is a lot more than just replacing words. It involves a whole new attitude, one that is more sensitive to new realities.

    In an email response to me, inquiring about his views, Coleridge stated:

    “To me the key thing . . . is that people like me, the pastors of the Church, actually listen to real human stories, the truth of human experience. This is what I’ve called a new listening for a new language. When I speak of language, I don’t mean something cosmetic, because (as Scripture insists) words create worlds. We need a new language to speak about homosexuality in the Church, and a new listening is where that will begin. At this stage, therefore, the pastoral question is: How can that new listening happen? It seems to me that there’ll be no change to the core of what the Church teaches on homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is possible. A great deal is possible, and it’s a challenge to our pastoral creativity (the Synod and the bishops generally) to work out what that creativity might mean. They’ll need help in that.”

    In a wonderful two-part interview with National Catholic Reporter’s Joshua McElwee, Coleridge explained that while some people think the synod should toss out church teaching and others think they should do nothing, he sees an opportunity in a vast middle ground of pastoral care. In the first installment of the interview, he explained:

    “I think we have to explore all kinds of possibilities in that vast middle ground, where I think the Spirit is moving and calling us to be. And that’s where I begin to talk about a language event.

    “As I have said in the small group, one of the things this synod could profitably and practically do is to compose a list of very practical things that we could do to support families and to help families in trouble.

    “Not just come at them with waffly churchspeak — as I have said, there’s oceans of that. But to push beyond that kind of churchspeak, to speak a language that is utterly faithful to what we believe and teach but is simpler and more accessible and more contemporary and less gobbly-gook.

    In part two of the interview, McElwee asked him specifically about church language concerning gay people. Coleridge responded:

    “The language of intrinsically disordered — that kind of thing.

    “If you’re one of the insiders, you know what that means. But see a point that I have made … is that some of that language we simply have to revisit because it no longer communicates in the way that we think it does.

    “For instance: The distinction between sin and sinner breaks down, particularly in the area of sexuality. I don’t think we can any longer say that we condemn the sin but not the sinner.

    “Because, you see … a person will say in the cultures that you and I come from that my sexuality isn’t just part of me, it’s part of my whole being. Therefore, you can’t isolate my sexuality by identifying it with this act that you call intrinsically disordered that is somehow distinct from or separate from me, the sinner.

    “So to say that this act is intrinsically disordered is now taken for granted to mean I am intrinsically disordered.

    Finally! A bishop who gets it! And who is not afraid to state it publicly and point out a major problem in the Church. That’s one of the things I’ve been liking best about Coleridge: he’s a truth-teller, not afraid to say where he thinks problems lie, instead of glossing them over with ambiguous words.

    Coleridge’s approach has another important element, and that is the distinction between public and private. He basically sees a major problem in the fact that church leaders will often say very severe things publicly, even if they act quite mercifully privately. That has always seemed a form of hypocrisy to me, even if it doesn’t follow the general form of hypocrisy which is to say one thing nice publicly, while doing something opposite privately. Coleridge explained his concept to McElwee:

    “Another distinction that’s broken down is the distinction we relied on for a very long time between public and private. We do truth in public and mercy in private. In other words, the compassion of the confessional tempered the clarity of the pulpit.

    “That doesn’t work anymore. I think you see in Pope Francis — and it’s one of the most powerful things about his pontificate — the public enactment of mercy. And I think that’s one of the directions we have to move in. I’m not saying we cease to minister mercy in private. Of course we do. But we’ve also got to enact mercy publicly.

    “Now, when the pope when asked a question about homosexuality says ‘Who am I to judge?’ he’s not changing church teaching, but very publicly he’s enacting something else. . . .

    “One of the key questions, I think, in exploring this vast middle ground is what might it mean for us to enact mercy publicly? Just as, I’ve suggested, how might we speak differently of sin and sinner in a way that communicates with people today?

    “Because in ways that we scarcely imagine the language we bishops take for granted, and perhaps even find wondrous, it is absolutely incomprehensible and alienating to most people, even Catholics — let alone those who are not Catholics.

    “There’s also the language of gesture, and I think Pope Francis is a very good case of that. He’s modeling something that we need to ponder very carefully. And the question becomes how in the area of marriage and family do we enact mercy publicly and not just privately?”

    Coleridge also recognizes that pastoral care is about reading particular people and situations, not generalizing broadly about ideas and theories. When asked about people who remarry after divorce or about gay and lesbian couples, he responded:

    “I’m not prepared to generalize about second marriages just as I’m not prepared to generalize about same-sex unions.

    “I think in these extremely complex situations, we as a synod have to be very careful about broad generalizations. At the same time, we have to keep an eye firmly on core principles but modulate the way those principles are applied by looking at particular situations.

    “That’s what the Catholic church has always done. I’ve been a priest for over 40 years and in the confessional, in a counseling situation, you’ve got to negotiate the detail of this person’s situation or these people’s relationship. That’s why I say that broad generalizations are simply not enough.”

    Coleridge has a frankness about him that is refreshing in a bishop. He brought a bit of laughter to the press briefing yesterday when he told a story:

    “Last year a married couple told me that this was primarily a synod about sexuality, but you wouldn’t know that necessarily from the working document or from the interventions in which sexuality was mentioned, obviously, but it tended to be rather muted and abstract, which may have had something to do with the composition of the synod assembly.”

    While obviously he was alluding to the fact that the assembly were all vowed celibates, he may have also been referring to the fact that they were all highly educated, theoretically-minded people.

    Coleridge is perhaps most like Pope Francis when he promotes the idea that the Church needs to be a “listening Church” (a concept Pope Francis elaborated on in a talk on Saturday during the Vatican’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the institution of the synod. Coleridge contends that all pastoral care must begin with listening. At the press briefing yesterday, he said:

    “Pope Francis said on the weekend that a synodal church is, in the first place, a listening church. I think it’s been one of the deep enduring themes to emerge from this synod, that we need to listen in new ways.”

    “New ways,” huh? There’s kind of a nice ring to that phrase, don’t you think?

  4. [Is this the “great et, et” in the author’s words: “Many in the blogosphere both think half or more of the synod fathers are heretics and consider the pope a scoundrel”?]

    The Synod and the “great et, et [both, and]”

    Michael Sean Winters | Oct. 20, 2015 | National Catholic Reporter

    The work of the synod enters into its final stretch this week, with the thorniest issues at the center of the discussion. It is time for the synod fathers to come together and engage in the hard work of reconciling their divergent opinions. In the past few days, we have seen some of the dividing lines become public, and it is worth looking at some of them to understand how steep a road the synod fathers face.

    In an interview published at Catholic Philly yesterday, Archbishop Charles Chaput was asked about a previous intervention by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in which the cardinal called those who live faithful, heroic lives a “new minority.” It was a plea for the workers in the field who worked all day for the agreed wage, and then resented the fact that those workers who came late, were paid the same as they. But these words of +Chaput’s strike me as key to the problem facing the synod. He said:

    Reaching out to alienated groups like persons with same-sex attraction is important. But our first priority needs to be the families and married couples who really believe in Jesus Christ and already live their faith vigorously. Going to the peripheries can’t be done unless we first nourish the faithful people who provide the cornerstone of our Church life.

    You see the problem, yes? The archbishop seems to think that there are two groups at issue, “families and married couples who really believe in Jesus Christ and already live their faith vigorously” and those other “alienated groups.” He seems incapable of imagining that there are, among the alienated, those who “really believe in Jesus Christ” but who, for whatever reason, have trouble with the Church’s teachings on marriage and the family.

    The fact that a person has trouble in living the Christian life should not surprise. Last Sunday’s Gospel reminded us of the cost of discipleship. We all have crosses to carry. But, the issue before the synod is whether some of the crosses the people of God are made to carry come not from Christ but from a theological and canonical approach to family life that is anachronistic. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of gay and lesbian Catholics. For thousands of years, no one inside the Church or outside really understood gay people to be constitutionally so. Same-sex behavior was considered an aberrational choice. But, in the past fifty years, at least in the West, we have come to recognize that gay people are more or less born gay. This does not mean we set aside two thousand years of Christian teaching about the proper ends of marriage. But, I think it is undeniable that the Church’s teaching on, and theology about, homosexuality is inadequate. The more conservative prelates at the synod fret publicly about the need for clarity, but there is nothing clear about the Church’s teaching on gays and lesbians.

    I am reluctant to engage in armchair psychology, but sometimes it is impossible to avoid. In that same interview, +Chaput says, “If my conscience disagrees with the guidance of the Church on a matter of moral substance, it’s probably not the Church that is wrong. Human beings – all of us – are very adroit at making excuses for what we want to do, whether it’s sinful or not.” I hope he remembers that first sentence when, and if, Pope Francis delivers authoritative teaching that conflicts with the arguments +Chaput has been making at the synod. And, the bit about being adroit in making excuses brought to mind the least commented upon aspect of the now infamous letter from the thirteen cardinals challenging the procedures at the synod. One of the strongest criticisms of the Instrumentum laboris has been that it is too rooted in sociological analysis instead of theological bedrock. Yet, in that letter, the cardinals wrote: “The collapse of liberal Protestant churches in the modern era, accelerated by their abandonment of key elements of Christian belief and practice in the name of pastoral adaptation, warrants great caution in our own synodal discussions.” Need I point out that this is itself a sociological point, not a theological one.

    It is clear that the opposition to any changes in Church discipline is organized. They have written books, published op-eds, given interviews, all in an effort to restrict what the synod can do and, by extension, how the Holy Father can proceed. Last week, there was an effort to hijack the Canon Law Society of America and enlist its good offices in an anti-Pope Francis stance ( ). That effort was rejected, thankfully. You can tune into EWTN almost any night and hear some tendentious renderings of the synod proceedings. And, of course, the many in the blogosphere think half or more of the synod fathers are heretics and consider the pope a scoundrel.

    The “great et, et [both, and]” must be the answer of the synod to the questions they are facing in these final days of the synod. The task is not one of choosing moral doctrine over pastoral solicitude, but forging a synthesis between mercy and teaching, between the clarity of doctrine and the messiness of life. That can only happen when the “we” to which a synod father attaches himself consists of those who falter and those who fail, not only the heroic and morally upright. The “great et, et” must be the method of the Church because we proclaim, at the heart of our Creed, the greatest “et, et” of all time, the incarnation of God Himself in human history.

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