Synod, Day 20, Friday October 23, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

Synod, Day 20, Friday October 23, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

“[I]t is the end of a Church that passes judgment on every situation. It is the sign of a Church that is open.” – Archbishop Van Looy

Synod of bishops fine-tuning final document on family life

23/10/2015 : Vatican Radio [with additions from the report in blockquotes]

With just two days to go until the end of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, participants on Friday gave their reactions to a draft of the final document which is now being fine-tuned and will be voted on by the bishops on Saturday.

At a press conference following the morning session, Fr Federico Lombardi was joined by Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana, Canadian Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec and Belgian Archbishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent to talk about their hopes for the outcome of the three-week meeting. [Where was Fr. Tom Rosica: Checking out the “internal forum”?]

In his presentation, Fr Lombardi noted that Pope Francis yesterday announced the creation of a new dicastery for the family. In response to a reporter’s question on the same issue, Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said, “The announcement that the Holy Father made yesterday [. . .] can be presented as the end of a process, because this is not the first time that the Holy Father has brought up the issue at a public meeting with cardinals and bishops. [. . .] He has done it twice, first with the heads of dicasteries, then, at the end of the meeting of the Cardinals after the last Synod, he came up with the issue.”

“It is a desire of the Holy Father to reform the Curia,” the cardinal explained. “At that time, these two possibilities were addressed: bringing together the family and the laity on account of the proximity of the subject matter and then probably strengthen them with two other offices for youth and women. That was the way it was presented at the beginning. Yesterday, we had the final form decided upon – the family, the youth and the Pontifical Academy of life brought together and probably supported by the two other groups. [. . .] About the possibility of the other coming together, nothing was said yesterday.”

After Francis’ address, the members of Council of the Secretariat of the Synod were elected. Their names will be announced when the pope makes the final choice.

Long days and sleepless nights – that’s how Cardinal Turkson characterised the work of the drafting committee, currently trying to integrate over 1,350 proposals for changes to the original working document put forward by the Synod’s small groups. On top of that, there were over 50 further comments made in the Synod Hall on Friday on subjects ranging from biblical quotations, to pastoral formation to the crucial question of the relationship between the Church’s moral law and the individual’s right to follow his or her own conscience.

Is it possible to integrate so many differing perspectives without watering down the contents of the final document, journalists wanted to know? Will the substance of the debate on key issues really be reflected, or must it be sacrificed to the need for consensus that can be accepted by all? Cardinal Lacroix noted the final Synod document is not a legislative text so it doesn’t have to reflect unanimity among the Church leaders – on the contrary, he said, differences of opinion reflect a healthy engagement with the difficult issues under discussion.

Among them are the ever-present questions of how to help divorced and remarried couples be reintegrated into the life of the Church and how to approach the issue of homosexuality, which some Synod fathers suggest has not been adequately dealt with at this meeting. Not so, said Cardinal Turkson, revealing that in his small group some bishops and cardinals themselves had shared experiences of gay members of their families. The cardinal also reiterated the view of another Ghanaian participant who told journalists that attitudes in Africa on this issue are changing, faster than they are in other parts of the world.

All three participants pointed to the important experience of synodality, as outlined in the Pope’s own words, allowing bishops in the different parts of the globe greater freedom to exercise leadership, while allowing the Pope to draw on the wealth of local expertise and experience.

Archbishop Van Looy said another key word of this Synod is tenderness, heralding a new attitude of the Church to stop judging and start journeying with people in whatever situation they may find themselves. While it’s vital to support families who do live up to Church teaching, Cardinal Lacroix said there is no such thing as the perfect family and the Church must remain close to all those looking for God’s grace in times of struggle and need.

At the briefing, Mgr Lucas Van Looy, bishop of Ghent, said that “this synod is the end of judging people; it is the end of a Church that passes judgment on every situation. It is the sign of a Church that is open, one that speaks with clarity. But for me, the last word that comes from this Synod is the word ‘tenderness’ that the Church has made its own for every situation; not just in the family, but for everyone. It could be the beginning of a new Church.”

Cardinal Lacroix from Canada answered a question that the issue of homosexuality. “I do not know how the final document will be. What is certain is that during the whole Synod we spoke of homosexuality in our families. It is possible that the topic will be included in the text. This was not a synod on homosexuals, but homosexuals do exist. I would not say it was about a taboo because it was discussed in an open and shared fashion.”

“The topic was also discussed in my work group,” added Cardinal Turkson. “We heard bishops and cardinals with experience of homosexuality in their families. [. . .] Let us not criminalise this phenomenon,” he said, “but let us not victimise those who have a ‘problem’ with it.”

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7 comments on “Synod, Day 20, Friday October 23, 2015 – As Seen by the Catholic Left

  1. But the Synod of the Media Has Already Toppled the Real One

    It doesn’t matter how it actually ends. World public opinion has already formulated its verdict. With the help of many churchmen

    by Sandro Magister

    ROME, October 23, 2015 – The bombshell news, automatically denied, of the “spot” on the pope’s brain made the media explode all over the world. But the synod’s no laughing matter, either.

    Never before had such a gathering of bishops made the front page of the newspapers and television breaking news. But with Francis it happens. It is another masterpiece of this pope so out of the ordinary.

    It took just a few decisions and a few judiciously administered soundbites, starting with that memorable “Who am I to judge?” which has become the emblem of this pontificate, to unleash an unprecedented conflict in the Church and ignite within public opinion the unheard-of expectation for an overturning of the Catholic paradigms on key questions like divorce and homosexuality.

    The secret of this communicational success is Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s exquisite ability to play on two registers.

    Between the synod of 2014 and this one of 2015 Francis chalked up more than fifty public statements perfectly in line with the traditional doctrine of the Church: against “gender” ideology, against the divorced and remarried who “demand” communion, and even in favor of an old forgotten virtue like chastity before marriage. “Catholic doctrine is not to be touched,” he repeated at the opening of this synod.

    But all this talking of his doesn’t make the slightest impression in the media or in the body of the Church, where the triumph goes instead to the pope’s continual reproaches against the “border guards” devoid of mercy and his incessant appeals to throw open the doors to the divorced and to homosexuals.

    This twofold effect in the media, of silence and fanfare, is something Bergoglio is aware of and wants. And following him in the Church are many who repeat the mantra that there is no intention of changing doctrine, but only “discipline.”

    But there are also many who are not persuaded. Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput has put down in black and white in the Wall Street Journal that the more one continues to proclaim faithfulness to doctrine in words, the more the suspicion grows that the aim is to change it through deeds, because “practice inevitably shapes belief”:

    > How to Read the Vatican Family Gathering

    One revolution that Francis has already set in motion on his own, presenting the synod with a fait accompli, are the new procedures for annulments, easy, free of charge, and superfast. Technically they have nothing to do with divorce, but public opinion has already classified and applauded them as such:

    > Forbidden To Call It Divorce. But It Sure Looks Like It (15.9.2015)

    And if the synod were to approve communion for the divorced and remarried, many would consider it the end for the dogma of indissolubility.

    The hypothesis is unrealistic, because two thirds of the synod fathers are against it. But if one looks at how the synod has been set up to work, at how the commission of papal appointment for writing the final document is composed, and at how the synod’s work behind closed doors is communicated to the media, it comes as no surprise that thirteen cardinals of the highest rank should have expressed their “concern” to Francis by letter:

    > The Letter of the Thirteen Cardinals to the Pope. Episode Two (14.10.2015)

    > Thirteen Cardinals Have Written to the Pope. Here’s the Letter (12.10.2015)

    When the letter was still secret, the media counteroffensive against the thirteen cardinals had already gone out from Casa Santa Marta, with pope Francis himself speaking at the synod to stigmatize the “conspiracy hermeneutic” and with the vaticanista friend closest to him, Andrea Tornielli of “Vatican Insider,” singling out the thirteen themselves as the conspirators:

    > The Letter of the Thirteen Cardinals. A Key Backstory (15.10.2015)

    But even more indicative is what happened after the publication of the letter on the website of l’Espresso. Because more than against the author of the “scoop” the media counteroffensive, Vatican and otherwise, was unleashed against the thirteen signers of the letter, who nevertheless represent the elite of the world hierarchy, including the archbishops of New York, Toronto, Houston, Utrecht, Bologna, Durban, Nairobi, Caracas, plus the emeriti of Sydney, Regensburg, and Conakry called to or confirmed in the curia by Pope Francis himself.

    The most venomous attack against his thirteen confreres came from another cardinal favored by Bergoglio, Washington archbishop Donald Wuerl, in an interview with “America,” the magazine of the “liberal” New York Jesuits:

    > Cardinal Wuerl Calls Out Pope’s Opponents

    Fr. Thomas Rosica, the official synod liaison for the English-speaking media, immediately had Wuerl’s interview circulated together with his own enthusiastic approval: “I fully share Cardinal Wuerl’s assessment of the synodal situation and wish to share his interview with you.”

    While Fr. Manuel Dorantes, the Spanish-language liaison, is responsible for the showstopper about the boy who at his first communion gave a little piece of the host to his divorced and remarried father.

    “The story touched the synod fathers,” he vouched. And it promptly made the front page of the newspapers. The synod of the media has already toppled the real one.

  2. Pope’s encouragement of airing heresy is severing the Church

    John-Henry Westen


    ROME, October 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — I’m writing this while flying home from Rome currently after an exhausting nine days of covering the Synod on the Family for LifeSiteNews and working with Voice of the Family to assist Synod Fathers in their task to defend the teaching of the Church. The work is grueling — sometimes twenty-hour days with very little time for anything but prayer and work. And prayer is a definite part of the work. A regular regimen of Mass and rosaries to implore the help of the Almighty and the assistance of the saints are not an option in this battle, which is more spiritual than anything else.

    The stakes are incredibly high; they literally portend a major schism in the Catholic Church. The reality is, despite the presentation of non-negativity and fraternity inside the Synod hall, or aula as it is called, those upholding orthodoxy have been fighting a pitched battle with powerful foes openly proposing heresy with not a word of correction from Pope Francis.

    The heart of the hero-faction of this year’s Synod has shifted from the Africans last year to the Eastern Europeans. They have spoken out, naming bluntly the evils being proposed by cardinals and bishops as having been inspired by the devil. But a powerful cardinal shot back by accusing faithful bishops of bringing “division,” the hallmark of Satan, he said. Interestingly, when Archbishop Tomash Peta referred to the “smoke of Satan” entering the Church through the Synod’s heretical proposals he was being deadly serious. When Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn retorted with his “smoke of Satan” rejoinder he paused for laughter at his Kazakhstan counterpart’s expense.

    The most vociferous of the heretics at the Synod and those wielding the most power and meting out punishment are the Western Europeans with assistance from liberal Americans. German Cardinal Walter Kasper it seems has taken a back seat to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, who with his intervention, published on the conference website, spells out his anti-Catholic proposal to allow Holy Communion to couples remarried after having left “canonically valid” marriages while their former spouses are still living. Even the escape hatch of the new couple living in continence as “brother and sister” was ruled out: Cardinal Marx said, “The advice to refrain from sexual acts in the new relationship not only appears unrealistic to many. It is also questionable whether sexual actions can be judged independent of the lived context.”

    The Americans are split down the middle at the Synod with the appointees by Pope Francis touting heresy and shutting down those who were elected by their brother bishops in America to attend. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich suggested openly to the media that even active homosexual couples could be given Holy Communion. Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl just completed a media tour using harsh language to put Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput in his place.

    As for the Canadians, there are three who have garnered much attention. The heroic act of Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins as one of the thirteen Cardinals to sign on to the letter to the Pope expressing grave concern about manipulation at the Synod caused him much suffering. I met him at a restaurant and he looked very tired. I expressed a simple thanks and offered him prayers on behalf of life and family activists. Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher planted himself firmly in the progressive camp along with Fr. Thomas Rosica early on in the proceedings.

    All the while Pope Francis has presided in silence, never correcting the heresies but in his private homilies in Casa Santa Marta denouncing again and again those “doctors of the law” who lack mercy and whose “self-righteous attitude” betrays them as Pharisees.

    The bombshell of the Synod came Saturday when, apart from the Synod itself, the pope presided at a celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI establishing the modern Synod of Bishops. He used the opportunity to speak of a “decentralization” of the Catholic Church. Ironically he used and cited the Church’s strictest teaching on papal authority to enforce a change which is being interpreted as divesting the papacy of that very authority. The Christ-appointed authority of the Rock of Peter is unique to the Catholic Church and was given only to Peter (the Pope) to guarantee its unity and fidelity.

    There’s hardly any other way to interpret what’s happening now in Rome. Prior to the Synod we had Cardinal Marx, one of the pope’s nine top advising cardinals, openly say that the German Church was “not a subsidiary of Rome” and that it would go ahead with its proposal to give Holy Communion to remarried divorcees. He’s spelled it out as direct heresy at the Synod with no objection from the pope. And Pope Francis has ordered decentralization.

    What is it exactly that bishops conferences are unable to do now other than alter Church teaching? As Cardinal Arinze told me in my interview with him in Rome, they can do just about anything except change faith and morals, and if we’re changing that we’re no longer Catholic.

    All the old errors of the 60s seem to have come back to haunt us. By gently chiding them rather than stamping them out and disciplining or ousting their proponents, we now have seven new evil spirits along with the first infesting the Church. There are surely harder times coming with even greater confusion in the Church.

    While the picture may seem bleak, we have no cause for worry. We believe Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. Moreover, a great hope was instilled in me during my brief journey to the heart of the battle. It was a hope which came from witnessing and working with God’s littlest ones; with those clergy and laity, young and old, ready and willing to lay down their lives for the faith. These are regular heroes ready to forgo fame and fortune, prestige and honor, to be faithful to the teachings of Christ in good times and in bad. These are the little ones who form the “calcaneum Mariae” or the heel of Mary which is predicted in Genesis 3:15 to crush the head of the serpent.

  3. Pro-life leaders say Vatican’s new department ‘demotes’ life and family

    Steve Weatherbe

    ROME, October 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis has combined the Vatican’s existing departments, or dicasteries, for life, the family, and the laity into one, a move which two prominent Catholic pro-life leaders decry as a “demotion” for life and family issues.

    Pope Francis said in statement released yesterday, “I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family.” He later added the Pontifical Academy for Life in the new dicastery. It follows recommendations of a relatively new Council of Cardinals Francis created to streamline the Vatican.

    John Smeaton, head of the London-based Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) and co-founder of Voice on the Family, who is in Rome for the Synod on the Family, described the move as “a particular incident in a world war.”

    Smeaton went on to warn LifeSiteNews, “There is a world war on the sanctity of life and on the family being waged by the most powerful politicians and organizations in the world.” What is more, “A small but highly influential group at the highest level in the Catholic Church structure appears to be dismantling the edifice of institutions and teachings which defend the family and defend life. It seems to be all too likely that the reduction of three dicasteries to one is in one way or another connected to the bigger program I have described.”

    One lay leader took a perspective, however, arguing that the reorganization is a positive step towards a more efficient operation. “You have to look at it in that context,” Henry Capello, president of Caritas in Veritas International, an alliance of Catholic youth evangelization groups, told LifeSiteNews.

    For example, the existing pontifical councils for justice and peace, migrants and Cor Unum are expected to be combined in one. Capello said that the dicasteries for the laity and the family had overlapping functions. Their combination into a single unit would fill “a need to be more co-ordinated,” and save money through downsizing of administration. “I have high expectations,” said Capello.

    Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, an organization based in Virginia devoted to opposing population control programs, echoed Smeaton’s concerns however.

    “This is a demotion,” Mosher, a social scientist and adult convert to Catholicism, told LifeSiteNews. “I know bureaucracies and how they work and therefore I have to see this as a move in the wrong direction. It is one step down in the hierarchy for life and family, a reduction of their influence by two thirds.”

    Mosher explained that under the previous structure the heads of the dicasteries on life or the family would have had “direct access to the Holy Father.” But now those focusing on these issues would have access only to a director who split his interests three ways.

    Meanwhile, the Vatican has created new secretariats for “the Economy” and “Communications.” Commented Mosher, “This reflects directly what is seen as important and what is not.”

    Holy See press officer Fr. Federico Lombardi offered another perspective, stating “the council [of cardinals] also plans to give more specific attention to issues relating to the laity, so that this dimension of the life of the Church is properly and effectively recognized and followed by the governance of the Church.”

  4. Strong concerns linger at Synod as bishops prepare to vote on final report Saturday

    Lisa Bourne

    ROME, October 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The battle for the identity of the Catholic Church continued at the Vatican’s Ordinary Synod on the Family as the concluding week progressed toward final consideration of the Synod’s final report.

    Onslaughts to the Church’s teaching in the areas of marriage and human sexuality have been ongoing since last year’s session of the Synod, jeopardizing the Church’s very identity as one, holy and catholic.

    At the forefront is the threat of abandonment of Church morals through acceptance of homosexuality, fornication and adultery in practice – in particular by opening up the reception of Holy Communion to people in such objective states of sin – and through the adoption of more “inclusive,” and ambiguous, language.

    As it has become obvious at the Synod this year and last that a majority of fathers would not support such proposals, advocates have shifted to calls for allowing local bishops’ conferences to make their own decisions on these issues.

    Nevertheless, orthodox bishops have fought to hold the line on Church teaching.

    Synod fathers appear to reject Kasper proposal, but strong concerns linger

    The Synod’s 13 Circuli Minori (small groups) concluded their work Wednesday, without having endorsed German Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to allow Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, or given approval for allowing individual bishops’ conferences to decide pastoral practice policy themselves.

    The content of the final Synod document remains to be seen, however, and concerns over its drafting linger.

    Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who said in an October 19 interview with the homosexual advocacy group New Ways Ministry that the Church should be open to people identifying as homosexual, is one of ten bishops on the final document drafting committee. New Ways was clearly happy with the cardinal’s responses to their questions.

    His comments at a Thursday press briefing fueled fears in both the areas of Communion for the divorced and remarried, and what’s been called Church decentralization.

    The Church is one universal body, Cardinal Gracias said, but there are diverse circumstances in that body. He went on to state that the Church had to deal concretely with situations, and therefore he thought it would be appropriate for episcopal conferences to study behaviors that occur in their context.

    The cardinal also said that a way forward for divorced and civilly re-married Catholics should be explored further. “To be honest, we don’t have a solution,” Cardinal Gracias ultimately said.

    But despite this not receiving support from the small groups, he stated that it could be mentioned in the final document scheduled for presentation to the Holy Father Saturday.

    Arguably causing the greatest concern was Cardinal Gracias’ attempt to suggest the question was open by appealing to paragraph 84 of Pope Saint John Paul II’s 1980 document Familiaris Consortio, even though the late Holy Father said clearly in it that divorced and civilly re-married Catholics could not be admitted to the Eucharist.

    Cardinal Gracias told the press conference that while a number of issues were similar as at the time of Familiaris Consortio, circumstances have changed.

    He said Familiaris Consortio holds that individual cases should be looked at carefully, and in that particular paragraph Pope St. John Paul II had said all people should not be placed in the same category.

    The cardinal advocated further study of scripture, moral theology, doctrine and tradition, so that deepened understanding could lead to “a way forward.”

    However, in Familiaris Consortio, the late pope stated in part:

    They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
    No division? German cardinal calls out orthodox cardinal at press briefing

    While many bishops continue to dismiss claims of division among the Synod fathers, individual dust-ups between more orthodox bishops and their liberal colleagues have intermittently emerged throughout.

    The most recent occurred on Wednesday involving German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, and Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy.

    Earlier this year, Cardinal Marx said German bishops would go their own way in determining whether to allow Communion for individuals in “irregular” sexual unions, stating, “We are not a subsidiary of Rome. The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.” He also criticized “traditional” young people for wanting “to be clear in their positions,” saying this is a path to “terrorism.”

    Cardinal Pell, widely regarded as a leader in the camp of orthodox bishops, does not support the Kasper proposal. “You can’t separate practice from moral teaching,” he stated late last week in a Wall Street Journal interview. “Christ’s teaching on adultery and second marriages is very clear.”

    The German small group had favored the Kasper proposal, but the group went one step further in its report, incorporating criticism of “dismay and sadness” directed toward unnamed Synod fathers who had “violated the spirit of the Synod,” and caused division.

    After bringing it up at the Wednesday press conference, Cardinal Marx proceeded to “out” Australian Cardinal Pell for statements Cardinal Pell made in an interview with France’s Le Figaro magazine that Cardinal Marx said portrayed the Synod conflict as a battle between supporters of his fellow German bishop Cardinal Walter Kasper and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

    “We didn’t want to make a discussion of names,” Cardinal Marx stated to the press conference. “But we were negatively touched by Cardinal Pell’s interview.”

    “It was not useful for the Synod to talk this way. I think Cardinal Kasper was very touched (negatively) by this,” he said. “In the synod, we are not in a battle. We are not Ratzinger versus Kasper. That is not okay.”

    Also in the press briefing Cardinal Marx continually referred to marriage as a “dream,” or an ideal people have, versus a commitment and the Sacrament Christ established it to be. He also spoke more than once about the Church “staying with” people when their dream fails. Staying with people, Cardinal Marx said, “Doesn’t destroy indissolubility or discourage marriage.”

    He referenced as well a “way of reconciliation,” in the German group’s document, a term often used to reference making Communion available for those in regular unions.

    Cardinal Marx also said doctrine and theology are not the same thing, and that doctrine is “living tradition.” “We don’t change the truth, we are owned by the truth,” he stated. “We don’t own the truth.”

    “I hope this Synod will be a Synod of open doors and not of closed doors,” the cardinal said.

    Final vote on Saturday

    The bishops heard the final draft report of the Synod’s working document Thursday afternoon before having the evening to review it and then assembling again Friday morning to hear interventions on it.

    The revised final report will be read to them Saturday morning, to then be voted on Saturday afternoon paragraph by paragraph, with two-thirds comprising an approving majority.

    Pope Francis can take the final document into consideration or not, before promulgating an apostolic exhortation at a time of his choosing.

  5. Bishop Bonny: Better the Synod Say Nothing on Gay Marriage Than Something Bad

    October 24, 2015 – Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

    Yesterday, we got a small peek into what the synod report might have in store for LGBT issues. The three Belgian bishops attending the meeting held a press conference at the Belgian College in Rome, where they spoke about their synod experiences, as well as hinting at what might and might be in the final document.

    I was able to ask Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp a question about LGBT issues at the press conference:

    “Bishop Bonny, in December 2014, you became perhaps the only Catholic bishop to call for a blessing for lesbian and gay couples in the Church. I’m wondering if after these three weeks, and the recognition that the synod has opted for marriage as only between a man and a woman, if you have been discouraged from that request , and if you haven’t been, then how do you think the Church can proceed to make that request a reality?”

    The bishop answered candidly and pastorally:

    “That is a question I will take up [how to go forward with his proposal] many times at home. First of all, I didn’t really ask for the blessing. That was what the headlines said. I asked for recognition of the values that are present in that kind of relationship. I hopefully will return to that request.

    “It is true that in the synod this question was not really discussed. It was at the end of the Instrumentum Laboris. In most groups, very short time was left for the last chapter. But that’s not the main reason. The main reason is that in this synod, bishops did not really need or have the attitude to discuss the question. It is true that most bishops of Western Europe and the Western world, we speak more or less the same language and feeling. But the readiness and the atmosphere was not there.

    “The synod was not prepared to discuss the question. You need more input from human sciences, Biblical theology, moral theology, for discussing it in a good and complete way. I think it is better that there was no paragraph or no extensive paragraph than a bad one. I think the feeling was better leave the question open for further study than having a bad text. Something will be said on this issue [in the final document], but that is a point for next time. I say it in a positive way. Let them leave it for the next time and a good time instead of discussing now in a bad way.

    “In the small group I participated in, there was no way for bringing that forward. As soon as it was mentioned, bad feelings were mentioned. There was no way of discussing it. It was better to avoid it than push it and arriving that is something wrong. More time will be needed.”

    In a one-to-one conversation I had with Bonny after the press conference, he repeated his though: “It is better that the synod said nothing on this issue than if they said something harmful.” My sense as he was talking–and I stress that this is only my impression–is that he was saying that perhaps if the bishops did make a statement that it would have made the state of the discussion of LGBT issues much worse, set it back a bit, perhaps.

    [Rogues’ gallery at the Belgian College in Rome:] Bishop Johan Bonny, Cardinal Godfried Daneels, Bishop Lucas Van Looy

    Bonny’s evaluation of the sense of the synod is probably colored by the fact that he participated in the French B small group, which was moderated by Cardinal Robert Sarah, who made probably the most homophobic remark of the synod.

    In response to another question about whether lesbian and gay people might be disappointed by the final report, Bonny said:

    “The synod is a moment. We are in a process. If you see what has happened since Pope Francis was elected, we see a process. People do not expect us to resolve all questions in one moment. They want the church to travel with them. And that is the way we intend to go.”

    Bishop Bonny was joined at the press conference by Cardinal Godfried Daneels, Archbishop Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, and Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent.

    Van Looy said that what he learned at the synod is that tenderness will change the Church.

    The Tablet quoted part of his statement:

    “Life is stronger than theory about marriage and the family. One learned in this synod not to judge. We have accepted what people have said. We are an example of listening and accompanying. We have done this in the last three weeks.”

    Van Looy summed up the lesson of the synod rather poignantly:

    “We learned in this synod not to judge. Who are we to judge?”


      by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D., ex-L.C. (aka Mrs. Elizabeth Lev Glendon)
      24 Oct 2015

      As the Vatican synod on marriage and the family draws to a close with no significant change in Catholic doctrine or practice, liberals are left nursing their wounds over yet another revolution that didn’t happen.

      The poster child of progressive bitterness is Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, a long-time proponent of liberal reforms in the Catholic Church, who saw in this synod a chance for the sort of sea change that couldn’t have happened under Popes John Paul II or Benedict XVI. And yet it didn’t happen here, either.

      Though the synod was convened to discuss the many issues facing Christian families in the world today, Reese and his cohort had a considerably more narrow focus: Communion for the divorced and remarried and a softening of the Church’s condemnation of homosexual sex.

      The “success” of the synod would be the degree to which these two objectives were reached.

      As Reese himself wrote on Oct. 20: “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.”

      The irony behind Reese’s hubris in attempting to speak for the entire “West” is unfortunately lost on a man whose gauge of the western mind is limited to whatever the New York Times and the Washington Post are spouting.

      What of the innumerable faithful in the West who are grateful for the Church’s teaching on marriage? What of the astonishing letter of more than 130 notable converts to Catholicism, who appealed to Rome not to change its precious teaching on marriage and human sexuality?

      In their letter, the converts expressed their hope that the bishops “will be encouraged by the multitude of lay faithful who were, and continue to be, attracted to the Church in large part because of what she proposes about the human being in her teaching about sexual difference, sexuality, marriage, and the family.”

      As other Christian communions have little by little caved under the pressures of modern society–abandoning age-old Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality and adapting their standards to a secular morality–the Catholic Church alone has stood firm, they asserted.

      But Father Reese and other liberal reformers do not like the Church the way it is. They want to remake it to be like the Anglican Church, a body that modifies its teaching every few years to keep up with the times and mirror the secular world around it. Yet none of these reformers takes the logical step of actually becoming Anglicans, because then they would cease to be relevant.

      The liberal desire to make marriage perishable is accompanied by their wish to see homosexuality celebrated as part of God’s plan for humanity.

      “In the West,” Reese writes, “there is also some support for modifying the church’s approach to homosexuals.” He opposes tried-and-true Christian language such as “hate the sin, love the sinner,” because gays experience their sexual inclinations as “intrinsic” to their identity. Progress would mean loving both the sinner and his sin.

      Alas, this has not happened either. As Reese laments, “some bishops are obsessive in their opposition to homosexuality” and a lay woman invited to speak at the synod made the mistake of speaking of homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice,” anathema in the LGBT world.

      The root of the problem, Reese writes, is that 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.” Never mind that all these bishops attended seminary after the Second Vatican Council. Never mind that Catholics consider the 2000-year-old teaching of Jesus and the apostles to be “Good News” today just as it was when it was preached for the first time.

      The fact is, that the bishops have been bombarded with many “new ideas” and after considering them they have said no.

      In the end, the Pope and bishops’ resistance to the sirens of the liberal agenda gives hope to the many Catholics who like being Catholic and who expect their Church to be true to the teaching of Jesus and its own tradition.

      Yes, the bar is high and none of us clears it all the time. Yes, the gospel message is demanding and requires sacrifice and self-denial, things our fallen nature rejects. And yes, being Catholic means recognizing our own need for mercy because we have all fallen short of the glory of God. But this acknowledgement of our weakness and need for redemption is not demeaning or belittling, but liberating. Being challenged doesn’t make us smaller, it encourages us to pursue greatness.

      “Who is left who can offer the world something other than an echo of its own cynicism?” the Catholic converts wrote in their letter. “Who is left who can lead it toward a real experience of love? Now more than ever the world needs the Church’s prophetic witness!”

      The bishops, together with Pope Francis, have said “Amen” to that.

      • Whoppers:

        As the Vatican synod on marriage and the family draws to a close with no significant change in Catholic doctrine or practice, liberals are left nursing their wounds over yet another revolution that didn’t happen.

        … In the end, the Pope and bishops’ resistance to the sirens of the liberal agenda gives hope to the many Catholics who like being Catholic and who expect their Church to be true to the teaching of Jesus and its own tradition.

        … The bishops, together with Pope Francis, have said “Amen” to that.

        Yep, Pope Francis has been exemplar, upholding doctrine and tradition, squelching the modernists and heretics at every turn. Libs are limping home, tails between their legs.

        Tom, thanks for the LC tip. Every time I see an article by Williams on Breitbart I get this funny twitch in my eye.

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