Synod, Day 17, Tuesday October 20, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

Synod, Day 17, Tuesday October 20, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

[The end is in sight: Will it be win, lose or draw?]

Synod ends where it began, in disagreement

During an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Oct. 1, Pope Francis pope outlined his vision for how the entire church must be “synodal” with everyone listening to each other, learning from each other and taking responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel.

Thomas Reese | Oct. 20, 2015 | National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN CITY With time running out, the synodal fathers appear no closer to resolving their conflicts over issues facing the family than they were a year ago. One of the principal sticking points is over Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics who do not have an annulment. Another controversy is over the language to be used in speaking about homosexuals.

The Synod of Bishops concludes this Sunday after meeting in Rome since Oct. 4. The synod has been discussing issues facing families, the same issues discussed at a similar gathering of bishops last October.

The pope and the bishops argue that the synod is about the family and decry the media’s focus on homosexuality and divorce, but there is no question that these are the topics around which the bishops have conflict. There is little disagreement over other issues.

One group of bishops, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, would like to see a pastoral solution that would allow a penitential process leading to Communion for such Catholics, but this is opposed by others, perhaps a majority, who feel that this would violate church doctrine.

Many bishops hoped that they could find a pastoral solution that would not involve a change in doctrine, but conservative bishops are not buying this approach.

The problem is that conservatives do not see divorce and remarriage as simply one sin, which can be confessed and forgiven. They see it as a continuing sin each time the couple has sex. Since they will not stop having sex, they cannot go to Communion. There is no willingness to accept the first marriage as irrevocably broken and destroyed, which would allow the parties to move on with their lives.

Some have portrayed this as a conflict between truth and mercy. Should the church emphasize the teaching or the mercy of Jesus?

For a short time, there was hope for a solution when word got out that the German-speaking small group had reached a consensus. This group contained a wide spectrum of theological heavyweights of opposing views, including Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith. But the consensus was on such an abstract level that it was pastorally irrelevant. The Germans had agreed that mercy, truth, and justice were not in conflict because they coexist in God. Big deal!

The bishops appear oblivious to the fact that, at least in the West, the success of the synod will be judged by whether there is an opening to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. With around 40 percent of Catholic marriages in the United States ending in divorce, every family has someone touched by divorce. Remarriage for many of these people results in new relationships and responsibilities that are seen as very positive.

One bishop spoke of a child who at his First Communion gave part of his host to his mother and father who were not allowed to go to Communion. Does this child understand something that the bishops do not?

Kasper does not have the votes in the synod for his solution. At this point, a victory for the progressives would be a synodal call for continued study of the possibility of finding a pastoral solution without changing church doctrine. Simply leaving the issue open for further discussion would be a success.

Meanwhile, bishops are talking about pastoral outreach to divorced and remarried Catholics that does not include Communion. They are using words like “accompany,” “listen,” and “welcome.” This has been caricatured as “You are welcome to come into our house, but you can’t eat dinner with us.”

And how do you “accompany” people you believe are in such serious sin that they cannot go to Communion? What does “listen” mean if you have already decided that you will not change your mind no matter what you hear?

In any case, this is better than referring to such couples as “living in sin.” Perhaps the progressives believe that bishops will be changed by such ministry, while conservatives hope to give couples absolution on their death beds.

Whether this pastoral outreach without Communion will sell back home remains to be seen. I doubt it.

The more likely result will be that certain parishes and dioceses will become known as places where divorced and remarried Catholics are unofficially welcomed at Communion — don’t ask, don’t tell. Pastoral practice will change, and theology and the bishops will catch up eventually.

Meanwhile, other parishes and dioceses will publicly bar such Catholics. Divorced Catholics who cannot find a welcoming parish may well find a Protestant church where they are welcomed.

In the West, there is also some support for modifying the church’s approach to homosexuals.

Let’s be clear: No bishop is talking about blessing gay marriages. Nor are any bishops talking about the positive aspects of these relationships as they did at the last synod.

But some bishops would like the church to stop using terms like “intrinsically disordered,” which is heard as demeaning by gays. Even language such as “hate the sin, love the sinner” is seen by some bishops as not helpful since sexuality is experienced as intrinsic to a person’s identity.

On the other hand, some bishops are obsessive in their opposition to homosexuality. Some still see it as a lifestyle choice. Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, a lay auditor and head of the Association of Catholic Doctors in Romania, gave an impassioned speech at the synod linking homosexuality and Marxism while arguing that homosexuals can be cured.

One wonders what would have happened if one of the U.S. bishops had offered their 1997 pastoral message to parents of homosexual children, Always Our Children, as a model for the synod. This 18-year-old document is light years ahead of where many of the synod fathers are today. The American bishops pretty much ignore it also, wishing it had not be approved but afraid to disown it.

Most of the synodal bishops realize that their teaching is not convincing. To those who see themselves as countercultural prophets, this is irrelevant. “We are right, the rest of the world is wrong.”

For those who still have pastoral concerns, there is hope that the church’s teaching can somehow be repackaged in new language so that it is more convincing. But a new language could also mean a new theology that could lead to new approaches to old problems.

The bishops are currently trapped in the old theology they learned in the seminary. They are afraid of new ideas and are not consulting with theological experts who could show them other options. As a result, it is unlikely that new pastoral approaches will be coming forth from this synod.

Some progressives still hope that Pope Francis can somehow magically pull victory from the jaws of defeat. I don’t think so. Pope Francis is conflicted. His pastoral instincts are leading him in one direction, but his respect for collegiality is stopping him from getting too far out in front of the bishops.

Never in my lifetime have I heard of bishops and cardinals being so disrespectful of a pope, challenging his organization of this synod, even a few referring to him as a Protestant and threatening a fractured church if he goes against their wishes.

The pope may have the support of the people, but could he win a vote of confidence from this synod?

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3 comments on “Synod, Day 17, Tuesday October 20, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

  1. Blasphemy, Heresy, Schism and the “Collapse” of the Church (but, hey, at least the bishops will get to vote)

    Written by Hilary White
    The Remnant

    When you were a kid, and went to the pool, did you play the “how low can you go” game? Using keys or any object that would sink to the bottom, you stood at one end of the pool and threw it as far as you could into the deep end, then swam down after it. The game was really about nerve. Most pools are only about 10 feet at the diving end, and the lifeguard was always watching, so our daredevil diving was harmless.

    But I get the impression that no matter how far down any bishop goes in the current synodal version of the game, there’s going to be someone ready to follow him a few feet lower. And the lifeguard on duty doesn’t seem to care one way or another. This rivalry among the Synod’s ultra-progressives (“heretics,” in Catholic) to see how outrageous they can get, right in front of the pope, seems to be bringing us to new depths that perhaps most ordinary Mass-going novusordoist Catholics had previously never guessed existed among the episcopate.

    Starting with one Canadian bishop right out of the gate, the game was on with the relatively mild suggestion (the lightweight!) that women should be ordained as deacons. Since then, after a few rather sorry efforts by another Canadian, Fr. Tom Rosica – something about changing the Church’s language… ho hum… – we have gone all the way to the archbishop of Chicago – personally appointed to the US Church’s “second see” by Pope Francis, and subsequently personally invited by the same to the Synod – saying there ought to be a way for active and unrepentant sodomites to receive the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

    But while the pelvic issues are getting all the press attention, a number of items have caught my eye in the last week that pertain more directly to the Faith itself.

    The archbishop of Chicago’s spectacular dive for, perhaps, the deepest and most nausea-inducing depths of open heresy – as yet completely unremarked upon by the pope – has certainly received enormous media attention. It is, after all, just the sort of thing most of the mainstream secular media came to Rome for. And it definitely did up the ante.

    But I would like to present another contender for the prize of “Lowest Any Modern Bishop of the Church has Yet Sunk” in his public hatred of the Holy Faith, specifically, his direct hatred of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

    The main difficulty faced by those who would push the Church to “tolerate” “second marriages,” as Cardinal Kasper put it, are the plain words of Christ in the Gospel. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity threw a divine spanner in the works by rather undiplomatically telling the Jews that it was for their “hardness of heart,” their failure in mercy, that Moses had allowed them to divorce, and that by His own divine authority, that was all off from now on. Staring right in the face of the claims of the German and Kasperite Synod group, is the plain black and white print of every Bible ever published: Jesus said the exact opposite of what they are proposing.

    In fact, according to the Author of all facts, it is indissolubility that is the product of the mercy and love of God for us humans.

    This Gordian Knot for the progressives was cut in spectacular style in the Synod’s first week by Panamanian Cardinal Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, who simply proposed that the Church should drop Christ out of the consideration. Just ignore Him, since He was clearly no Moses.

    Lacunza is one of the bishops given the “surprise” nod at the last consistory, reportedly because of his position on what the pope regards as the Church’s “peripheries,” precisely, in other words, because he was a nobody. But perhaps now this report of his incredible step forward – into the howling void of blasphemy – for the cause of Catholic acceptance of divorce, has earned him a proud place in the court of the Kasperites. It would also suggest that being geographically and politically peripheral wasn’t his only qualification for the red hat.

    Though the orders from on high (the office of the Synod Secretariat) came down not to publish any interventions but his own, the intrepid head of the Polish Bishops, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, hadrecorded the Panamanian’s remarks for all the world to see:

    “Moses drew near to the people and gave way,” Lacunza was reported as saying. “Likewise today, the ‘hardness of hearts’ opposes God’s plan [to allow divorce]. Could Peter not be merciful like Moses?”

    This implicit but crystal clear denunciation of Our Lord for lacking mercy went almost completely unnoticed by the Catholic press, and totally unremarked by the secular media. It is possible that the Holy See Press Office understood its gravity, since Rorate Caeli reported that they had ordered it removed from the website of the Polish bishops. Before it was removed, however, Rorate published a copy of Cardinal Lacunza’s comment in French as it was reported originally by the Poles:

    Card. José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán OAR (Panama), président de la Conférence épiscopale du Panama. Moïse donne le consentement au peuple, il cède. Aujourd’hui, la “dureté de cœur” s’oppose aux plans de Dieu. Est-ce que Pierre ne pourrait pas être aussi miséricordieux que Moïse ?

    With this statement, thanks to Abp. Gądecki and the bloggers, all the Catholic world now knows that a hand-picked man, (yet another hand-picked man) at the Synod does not believe that Jesus Christ – the Son of God, the Word Made Flesh, who will come again to judge the living and the dead… yes, that Jesus Christ – had the authority to tell the Jews that they had been wrong about divorce.

    Maybe Cardinal Lacunza was among those to whom Archbishop Henryk Hoser was referring when he commented in an interview that many of the Synod fathers appear to be completely ignorant of basic Catholic doctrine on the family. It can hardly be a surprise, one would think, if they are also ignorant of the Church’s basic dogmatic teaching on the nature of Christ. “The only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through whom all things were made…” Ring any bells?

    Perhaps the reason this gained no attention was simply that those reporting on the Synod themselves know so little about the Faith that they were unable to recognise blasphemy when they hear it, and consequently do not know it to be a far more serious sin than mere sexual malfeasance. There’s a reason the sex-sins are sixth on the list and that whole blasphemy business takes up the first three.

    This week also saw the launch of yet another lay petition addressed to the Synod fathers, this time asking them to leave the Synod if there appears to be no way to steer it in a Catholic direction. (Full disclosure: I was one of the “Synod Walkout” petition’s authors, together with a group of other concerned Catholic laymen, writers, journalists and theologians.) That petition surprised us with a very fast jump in support. Within nine hours of its publication it had passed the 1500 mark, and a day after that it had reached 2500, a surprisingly robust start out of the gate.

    The call for a walkout grew out of fears that the Synod has been “rigged” from the start, and that it matters not one whit what the bishops say in their groups or statements.

    As the text of the letter states:
    “We have witnessed with profound sorrow the ongoing development of this crisis, beginning with last year’s extraordinary session in October, 2014, making it difficult to have confidence in the outcome of the Synod.

    “The irregular changes to the rules governing the current synodal process practically assure that the existing Instrumentum Laboris will be largely adopted. This revised process also appears to reject openness, transparency, and collegiality, and the committee drafting the final document of the Synod seemingly rejects any substantive input from the Synod fathers. We note with regret that the highly visible and widely adopted filial appeals and open letters have not been acknowledged, and have produced no discernable amendment by the Synod organizers.

    Several high-ranking Cardinals have brought concerns to the Pope, only to have them summarily dismissed as unworthy of consideration – with unfair accusations against those who are legitimately concerned that their voices will not be heard.”

    Of course, the last refers to the big news of the whole week, the increasingly strange story of the “Letter of 13 cardinals.” The press treated it like a “conservative” revolt against the attempts by Francis to bring about a long-overdue reform in the Church… mainly because the press isn’t very imaginative. The “mainstream” Catholic press brushed it off, and some in the Italian press reported with typical glee that the Pope had torn a strip off the cardinal signatories, red with rage.

    Shortly after this, the pope made his first direct intervention in the “synodal process” by denouncing the “hermeneutic of conspiracy,” an expression that has become prominent in Synod reporting since then.

    Rorate carried a report by Antonio Socci that the letter had bluntly warned the pope of a complete disintegration of the governing structures of the Church should the Synod continue on its present course. “Communion to the divorced and remarried…if it were accepted… would make the entire doctrine on marriage and the sacraments collapse.”

    This would result in a domino effect that would bring about “‘a collapse’ in other words – the end of the Church.”

    Nevertheless, Socci reports, Cardinal Pell, one of the letter’s signatories, also assures us that the “Kasper-Bergoglio line is in the minority,” that nearly all the bishops at the Synod want to uphold the traditional faith… which would be fine if the Church were a democratic body and the Synod were deciding through voting which direction it should take.

    But we have also been informed, by the pope himself, shortly after this whole kerfuffle, that whatever the bishops say or recommend, whatever is going to happen is totally, completely and exclusively up to him.

    In this Vatican Radio report, it was widely understood that he was hinting of the possibility of a formal invocation of papal infallibility:

    “Finally…the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, called upon to speak authoritatively [It. pronunciare] as ‘Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians’: not on the basis of his personal beliefs, but as the supreme witness of the Faith of the whole Church, the guarantor of the Church’s conformity with and obedience to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and the Tradition of the Church.”

    Now, just stop for a moment and think about these items one at a time:

    · The pope has been acknowledged to have allied himself with a notorious heretic who has, with the support of an entire episcopal conference, been, for fifty years, bent on the obliteration of most Catholic moral teaching, and a goodish part of its teaching on ecclesiology.

    · This pope has been warned by some of his highest ranking officials that the proposed direction, called “the Kasper-Bergoglio line,” will lead to the “end of the Church,” its complete disintegration into chaos and schism.

    · This warning the pope shouted down privately and then rebuked publicly.

    · A few days later the pope followed with a declaration of his grip on total, supreme power – the power, apparently, even to destroy the Church of which he is head – like a small boy declaring that he can break all his toys if he wants, because they are his and no one can stop him.

    And what was Cardinal Pell’s response to our little petition? The one in which we suggested that things being in such a dire condition, that, teetering on the edge of catastrophe, we begged him and his fellow bishops to at least not be themselves complicit in the destruction of Holy Mother Church by history’s strangest pope and his chosen group of hand-picked heretics and blasphemers?

    Peace in our time. The 13 Cardinals’ concerns have “substantially been addressed.”

    John Allen reports that the good “conservative” Australian cardinal rejected any suggestion of a walkout, saying that he had received “reassurances,” from the Synod secretariat “that the final result ‘will faithfully present the views of the synod.’” They have been assured that the bishops will be allowed to vote on each paragraph of the Instrumentum Laboris.

    Won’t that be nice?

    “He also said that members of a drafting committee for the final document have vowed to be true to the content of the synod’s discussions, rather than using the text to promote their own views,” Allen continued.

    “That’s all we want, for whatever the synod says, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent, to be represented,” Pell said. “That’s in the long-term interest of everyone, because no matter how it might turn out, people want to feel that the bishops got to that situation fairly.”

    Well, I’m sure we’re all terribly happy that the bishops feel they are going to get their money’s worth out of the whole charade, and when the schism gets underway, I’m sure we will all feel better that “the bishops got to that situation fairly.”

    But I did rather hope that they might exercise themselves in the defence of the Faith and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, since “whatever the Synod says, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent” we, the remaining Catholic faithful, would like there to still be a Catholic Church by Christmas 2016.

  2. Cardinal Napier: No more concerns about synod process, optimistic about outcome

    Joshua J. McElwee | Oct. 20, 2015 | National Catholic Reporter

    VATICAN CITY One of the 13 cardinals said to have signed a letter to Pope Francis sharply criticizing the ongoing Synod of Bishops has said he no longer has concerns about the gathering and is even optimistic about its outcome.

    South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier told reporters at a briefing Tuesday that Francis’ response to the letter — addressing the entire bishops’ gathering on its second day of work Oct. 6 — “made a huge difference … in the scale of confidence and of trust” in the pope and the synod process.

    After hearing the pontiff that day, Napier said he felt “that the concerns had registered, they were being taken care of and therefore, from there on, everyone was going to work at the synod with all they’ve got.”

    “I think that’s what I’ve experienced and that has been why I feel that this synod takes up where that first week of the last one had left off, when we were all optimistic and looking forward to really looking together on the issues as a team,” said the cardinal, referring to an earlier synod held in 2014.

    Francis has called two synods — worldwide meetings of Catholic bishops — for 2014 and 2015 to address issues of family life. The 2015 event is being held Oct. 4-25.

    Intrigue surrounding this year’s gathering reached a high last week with publication of the letter from the cardinals to the pope, which had been delivered to the pontiff privately Oct. 5 but was made public by an Italian journalist Oct. 12.

    One American cardinal, New York’s Timothy Dolan, has confirmed signing the letter. Another, Galveston-Houston’s Daniel DiNardo, is said to have signed the letter but has not offered comment on the matter.

    Napier, who heads the South African archdiocese of Durban, said Tuesday that the document was a “private letter” that was “written in the spirit of what Pope Francis had said at the beginning of last year’s synod, when he said please speak openly and honestly but listen with humility.”

    The cardinal also renewed his criticism of the 2014 synod, saying that there were “certain individual items that were of concern” to him about that gathering. He mentioned in particular the mid-term report that was released by the synod last year.

    That document, he said, “was already saying things which I know were only said in the hall at the most by two or three people, but was presented as if they were the reflection of the synod.”

    “Now, that certainly gives you the impression that the synod is being pushed in a certain direction,” said the cardinal, in reference to the 2014 gathering.

    Napier, who served on the drafting committee for the final document from the 2014 synod, is now serving as one of four co-presidents of the 2015 gathering.

    At Tuesday’s briefing the South African cardinal also fielded a question from a reporter concerned that the Synod might decide to use new language when referring to gay people.

    “I think that’s a detail we couldn’t give you an answer on right now because the official text is going to be in Italian, first of all, so I can’t tell you what they’re going to write there,” Napier responded.

    “I think when we look at the problems that we’ve been studying during these three weeks, there are two possibilities,” said the cardinal.

    “The one is to look at it from the pastoral point of view, where you’re trying to reach out to people and minister to them,” he continued. “The other one, which I would say has been deemphasized during this time, even at the synod last year, is the prophetic. Where, like John the Baptist, you say you’ve got to repent and these are the sins and you name them, as they are.”

    “This has certainly been a very much more pastoral synod, looking at how can the church be as servant and minister to those people in difficult situations,” he said. “There’s been a lot of emphasis on using language that doesn’t offend.”

    The some 270 prelates at the synod were to meet in open session Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday is expected to see the release of the final round of public reports from 13 different small discussion groups at the gathering.

    • [Another Catholic Lefty perspective on His Eminence]

      Not All Synod Bishops Agree That a Change in Language Would Be Helpful

      October 21, 2015 – Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

      As I review the blog entries I have posted from here in Rome, I’m afraid that I might be giving folks too positive a view of the synod, especially about discussions around LGBT issues. There have been a lot of positive messages coming from the synod fathers, no doubt, but I hope I am not giving the impression that those are the only messages that have been expressed here.

      For example, while I have presented some proposals for making language about sexual ethics and marriage rules more pastoral and inclusive, that doesn’t mean that all bishops agree with those proposals. At yesterday’s press briefing, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, OFM, of Durban, South Africa, was asked a pointed question from a reporter who obviously disagreed with any language changes: “Can you tell me what specific wording, if any, has been suggested for replacing the term ‘intrinsically evil’ [in regard to homosexual acts]?”

      Napier’s direct answer was that he couldn’t give any specific wording, particularly because the official synod report will be issued in Italian. But, then, he went further:

      “I think when we look at the problems that we have been studying during these two weeks, there are two possibilities. The one is to look at it from the pastoral point of view where you are trying to reach out to people and to minister to them. The other one which has been de-emphasized during this time, even at the synod last year, is the prophetic, where like John the Baptist you say “You’ve got to repent and these are the sins,” and you name them as they are. I think that’s the difference. This has certainly been a very much more pastoral synod, looking at how can the Church be a servant, a minister to those people in difficult situations. There’s been a lot of emphasis on using language that doesn’t offend, politically correct language, if you like. I’m not sure that that’s the best way to be prophetic. It is certainly a way of trying to be more pastoral.”

      Napier’s answer indicates that he is not happy with a language that is weighted to the pastoral, and has a preference for including language that is more judgmental, which he sees as prophetic.

      How many other synod bishops agree with Napier? Now, that’s a good question! It’s hard to say since not many have spoken out about the language issue. But, especially since Napier is a vice-president of the synod, it would seem likely that he has some followers for his ideas.

      Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, seems to be in line with Napier’s approach of wanting to maintain a strict judgmental dimension to the way bishops approach family issues. In his official intervention at the synod, he stated:

      “Too many have lost confidence in Jesus’s doctrines and doubt or deny that mercy is found in his hard moral teachings. The crucified Jesus was not afraid to confront society, and he was crucified for his pains, teaching his followers that life is a moral struggle that requires sacrifices, and his followers cannot always take the easy options. He did not tell the adulterous woman to continue in her good work, but to repent and sin no more. The Prodigal Son acknowledged his sins before he returned home.”

      Both stress the difficulty of following Jesus. Though didn’t Jesus say, “My yoke is easy and my burden light” ?

      A more middle-ground position on the use of a more pastoral approach to language came from Washington, DC’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Although not addressing the topic of changing terminology, Wuerl did discuss the need for church leaders to be more sensitive with their communication style. In a National Catholic Reporter interview, Wuerl laid out his views about language and accompaniment:

      ” ‘The church’s teaching is quite clear,’ said Wuerl. ‘But the church’s pastoral life is the application of the teaching to where people are. And that’s always been the pastoral challenge of the church.’

      ” ‘You have to speak with clarity, but then knowing what the fullness of the teaching is, you go out and meet people where they are,” he continued. “And the Holy Father keeps saying to us, “Accompany them.” ‘

      ” ‘You don’t go out to meet people where they are to scold them,” he said. “You go out to bring them the truth but sometimes to be heard you have to let the person know you know their struggle if you’re going to accompany them at all.’ . . .

      ” ‘You have to listen in order to know how to say what you want to say so that you’ll be heard,’ said Wuerl.

      ” ‘I think that’s what the tension is between those who put the greatest emphasis on simply saying it — and saying it over and over again — and those who are saying if it’s not being heard, we have to go out and begin to listen so that we know how to say this in a way it will be heard,’ he said. ‘That’s the difference. In neither case are we changing the teaching.’ “

      While certainly not in the same camp as Napier, Wuerl’s approach also differs substantially from the one described by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, outlined in yesterday’s Bondings 2.0 blog post. Wuerl has a much clearer stand about holding onto the teaching. He strikes me as someone who just wants church ministers to be more welcoming, but he doesn’t seem ready to me to give up the terminology and categories that official doctrine uses.

      Along the same lines as Wuerl is the opinion of Archbishop Thomas Msusa, of Malawi’s Blantyre archdiocese. In a National Catholic Reporter interview, he stated:

      ” ‘Pastorally, we have to be very sympathetic with them,’ said Msusa. ‘But according to the teaching of the church, we don’t see us blessing’ same-sex unions.

      ” ‘In our Christian heritage we received from the missionaries, there is nothing of that inclusive language,’ said the archbishop. ‘And there’s a proverb in Africa that says we have to really be careful because they say: “We shouldn’t be so quick to destroy the fence before understanding why that fence was constructed.” ‘”

      ” ‘We shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth, even if sometimes it is painful,’ said Msusa. ‘That is what St. Paul tells Timothy: Tell them, whether they accept it or not. But you have to tell them.’ “

      So, the discussion on language and communication has actually been quite wide-ranging, surfacing a variety of opinions. Cardinal John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand, was one of the first people to raise the issue, calling for less judgmental terminology, and he serves on the commission to write the synod report. We will have to see if his ideas gt translated into the report’s recommendations, and, if they do, if they will be voted for by a majority of the bishops. As a synod document is only consultative, not definitive, it will then remain up to Pope Francis whether to institute any of the recommendations.

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