LifeSiteNews on the end of the Synod (or the Church as we know Her?)
Synod document received generally strong approval from bishops, but there are ‘time bombs’
October 24, 2015 (updated October 26, 2015) – Three important reports related to the Synod on the Family were published by LifeSite Saturday. Since those were written, the final Synod document has received generally strong approval (with the exception of certain paragraphs as noted below) and passed by the Synod fathers. However, as explained below, there are still reasons to be quite concerned about the Synod outcome.
With the approval and release of the final document, the Synod on the Family is finally over. It has been an exhausting challenge for all concerned.
The lengthy document, which is currently available only in Italian, contains many surprisingly encouraging paragraphs reflecting the persistence of the orthodox prelates in the Synod discussions who were intensely prayed for and encouraged by faithful Catholics and supportive media.
Once again, the Internet age permitted LifeSite and many others to almost instantly convey to the world the attempts to weaken the Church’s moral absolutes. The discussions therefore became accountable to all the faithful in the world and could no longer be ruled by the progressives’ usual past hidden manipulations.
Those “progressives” were significantly trounced by the faithful bishops who fought attempts to lower the standards of Catholic teaching on marriage, homosexuality and morality in general.
Damian Thompson of the Catholic Herald wrote Saturday that,
I’m going to stick my neck out and say that conservatives basically ‘won’ this synod – they fought successfully behind the scenes and in the debates to block changes to pastoral practice that (a) they believe go against the teaching of the very anti-divorce Jesus of Nazareth and (b) would have outraged the increasingly powerful churches of Africa.
Gloria TV reports that according to Cardinal Pell,
…the Synod did not focus at all on the three topics Communion for the divorced and remarried, on the idea of conscience or on the acceptance of homosexuality: “Catholic doctrine is stated clearly.” Pell admits that the language is “different” and verbose. It is not a document that he would have written: “Some people will say it is terrible, but it is not terrible.”
“For him,” continues Gloria TV,
the final version is almost a miracle if compared with the draft: “The Synod itself is much, much better than the worst we have feared.” “There is nothing there endorsing Communion for the divorced and remarried. There is nothing there endorsing a penitential process. There is nothing there that is saying homosexual activity is justified.”
With that, the cardinal confirmed there was indeed a battle that could have been disastrous for the Church.
However, there are still ambiguities and items of serious concern in the document that the progressives insist “leave the doors open” to what they have been seeking. There is no doubt at all in my mind and many others, given past experience, they will exploite these openings to the maximum to change the Catholic Church.
Like the infamous and false “Spirit of Vatican II” that was often invoked to justify many very damaging actions not at all intended by the majority of Council fathers, the “Spirit of the Synod” will now be invoked to justify similar manipulations against the true intentions of the majority of Synod fathers.
Prominent Vatican blogger Sandro Magister, warns that, as happened with Vatican II, The Synod of the Media has Toppled the Real One. That is, the many heretical or near heretical proposals that were permitted to be stated, and which were accurately made public by the media (along with many inaccurate ones) during the Synod, have already had a major effect.
That effect, as Cardinal Napier bemoaned about the media-released, false mid-term report of last year’s synod, cannot be undone. Napier stated then that, because of all the media exposure of that terrible document, the Synod fathers are now “working from a position that is virtually irredeemable.”
That is, no matter whatever good is in the current Synod’s final document, the public mind has already been formed by what Pope Benedict would have called “the Synod of the media,” about things that were actually stated in and around the Synod, that the Church has changed its attitude and teaching on crucial moral issues. As a result, here and there all over the planet, those false understandings are forming the basis of decisions by uninformed Catholics and others.
Rorate Caeli has translated and listed the six most controversial passages or “time-bombs” that could be exploited to yet cause much grief to the faith and to family life. The Church progressives are hoping that Francis will prevail in the end and impose liberalizations that they, and some of which also Francis, were determined to obtain from the Synod. There are other problems being discovered as well, as more English translated paragraphs become available.
Pope Francis is said to be clearly unhappy with the final result and the pushback that occurred during the Synod to the working document (Instrumentum Laboris), including the historically very significant critical letter from 13 cardinals. His closing speech contained harsh words for those who worked most diligently to defend the authentic, scripturally supported undertandings of Catholic teachings and pastoral application on the issues discussed in the synod.
Austen Ivereigh of the Washington Post summed up that the final result of the Synod “appears to open up space for conscience. Both sides can be happy.” That should be seen as very concerning.
The homosexual activist New Ways Ministry, which actually had one of its members accredited with a press pass by the Vatican, found the outcome of the Synod to be positive in its direction. It stated on its blog, “While the final report of the Vatican’s Synod on the Family has not said much in regard to LGBT issues, in fact, a great deal has changed in regard to the discussion on these topics at the highest levels of the Church.” They are looking forward to “a totally separate synod in the future on LGBT issues.”
At a press conference on the day the final report was approved, one of the leading progressives, Cardinal Marx, said: “I am very happy that we made a step ahead”… “There have been doors opened, especially for people in difficult situations,” and “I am very, very happy.” Also, on the same day, Cardinal Kasper stated, “I’m satisfied; the door has been opened to the possibility of the divorced and remarried being granted Communion.”
Much caution should therefore be exercised against excessive optimism over the final, greatly improved document. The battle is far from over.
As the progressive Vatican English-speaking press spokeman, Fr. Rosica, is quoted in the liberal Jesuit America magazine, “the Synod is a work in progress.”
They haven’t remotely given up.
The Synod’s final report is a victory for liberals on homosexuality – here’s why
ROME, October 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The truth of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality is so far removed from the mainstream media’s debates over same-sex “marriage” it is nearly impossible to achieve an accurate reading of the Synod’s final document (Relazione Finale) without an in depth understanding of the Church’s teaching in this regard.
The most essential and basic teaching is that homosexual acts are gravely sinful, which means they separate the perpetrator from God and can lead to eternal damnation. (Naturally the inclination to commit homosexual acts – popularly called a homosexual orientation – is not sinful, just as the temptation to any other serious sin is not sinful in itself.) Every subsequent understanding of homosexuality in the Catholic Church develops from this truth – and this teaching is missing from the Synod’s only paragraph concerning homosexuality.
The Relazione Finale paragraph on homosexuality speaks first and foremost about respecting and welcoming homosexual persons and avoiding unjust discrimination toward them. It couches the issue in terms of families experiencing homosexual persons within them and calls on the Church to have special care to “accompany” such families.
This can fit into Catholic teaching with a proper understanding of what is meant. There can be no respect or welcome for homosexual acts, there can be no encouragement of the “intrinsically disordered” acts or pride in them. Accompanying of such families must mean a recognition of the grave danger to which the family member is susceptible. Those clarifications come in the Catechism by way of language appropriate to the gravity of the offensiveness of homosexual acts.
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,” says the Catechism, “tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’” It adds: “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
However, all of that language is missing from the Synod’s final document. The war over language in the Synod hall was all about getting rid of clear language condemning homosexuality and other sins, and the liberals have achieved their goal in the final document. Gone are references to even the sinfulness of homosexual acts let alone that they are “intrinsically disordered” and that the inclination even though not sinful is itself “objectively disordered.”
Surprising to many will be the fact that the Catechism never even mentions gay “marriage.” That is simply because the opposition to it flows from those essential teachings about the gravely sinful nature of homosexual acts. Without the basic understanding that such acts are so harmful that they can lead to eternal separation from God, there is no absolute basis for opposing homosexual relationships. And that is exactly what is missing in the Relazione Finale even though it does rule out gay “marriage.”
After the language about respecting, welcoming and avoiding unjust discrimination, the Relazione Finale quotes another Church document saying that with regard to treating homosexual unions as equivalent to marriage, “there is no foundation whatsoever to assimilate or establish even remotely analogous between homosexual unions and God’s plan for marriage and the family.”
The Church document quoted (Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons) contains all sorts of clarifying language to denote the gravity of homosexual acts:
Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law… Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
None of that is quoted in the Relazione Finale.
Of note, another Church document dealing with homosexuality underlines the problem with this omission in the Synod’s final text. The 1986 Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons recognizes that true mercy consists in lovingly presenting the truth. It stresses the need for “clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral,” and adds, “we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral.”
Explaining how silence on the immorality of homosexual acts such as that in the Relazione Finale can be seen as “neither caring nor pastoral,” the author, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote, “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”
The final document’s paragraph ends with a sentence which comes as a nod to the grievances of African bishops who have been pressured by the West to accept gay “marriage”: “The Synod believes that it is completely unacceptable that local churches suffer pressure in this matter and that international bodies make financial aid to poor countries conditioned on the introduction of laws that establish ‘marriage’ between people of the same sex.”
While in the outside world, the battle is about same-sex “marriage,” that has not yet emerged as a battle inside the Catholic Church. Although liberals within the Church may have that as their long-term goal, the first step to achieve it requires stepping away from clarity and toward ambiguity on the sin of homosexuality. That goal is achieved in the Relazione Finale.
Pope criticizes those who ‘hide behind’ the Church’s teachings in closing talk at Synod
“The true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit.”
ROME, October 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The mainstream media has picked up on Pope Francis’ closing speech at the Synod, calling it an attack on so-called “conservative” Church leaders upholding the Church’s doctrine, and there are plenty of statements from the pope to support that assertion. In his address, Pope Francis condemned “the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”
America magazine, the English-language Jesuit publication that has run some of the pope’s most significant interviews, suggests that Francis was criticizing especially the faithful prelates in the Vatican’s curia. Gerard O’Connell, a more than thirty-year Vatican correspondent, notes that the pope saw “four senior collaborators who head offices in the Roman Curia—Cardinals Muller, Ouellet, Pell and Sarah—rowing in a different direction to him.”
In his address, Pope Francis said the Synod was about “trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”
On a theme similar to his previous statements about decentralizing the Church and giving bishops conferences real authority even on doctrinal matters, Pope Francis said: “We have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion.”
In another apparent swipe at faithful Synod fathers, Francis said, “The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness.” We must, he said, overcome “the recurring temptations of the elder brother and the jealous labourers.”
“The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas,” he said, “but to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord.”
The emphasis of the closing address was markedly different than the one he gave at last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family, when the pope criticized both “traditionalists” and “progressives.”
Synod’s final report ‘misleading,’ lacks ‘clarity’ on indissolubility of marriage: Cardinal Burke
ROME, October 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke is raising serious concerns about the Synod on the Family’s final report, saying it is misleading and lacks clarity on a crucial Church teaching.
In comments to the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin, Burke took issue with the section titled “Discernment and Integration” —paragraphs 84-86 — which deals with baptized Catholics who are civilly divorced and remarried.
The section, he says, is “of immediate concern, because of its lack of clarity in a fundamental matter of the faith: the indissolubility of the marriage bond which both reason and faith teach all men.”
The Synod’s final report, which carries no magisterial weight and does not alter doctrine or previous discipline regarding Communion for the civilly divorced and remarried, calls for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to be “more integrated into Christian communities in the various ways possible.”
“The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral accompaniment, so that they know now only that they belong to the Body of Christ which is the Church, but that they may have a joyous and fruitful experience of this,” an English translation of the report states, adding that pastors must “discern” each case of non-sacramental unions.
Burke told Pentin that “integration” is a “mundane term which is theologically ambiguous.”
“I do not see how it can be ‘the key of pastoral accompaniment of those in irregular matrimonial unions.’ The interpretative key of their pastoral care must be the communion founded on the truth of marriage in Christ which must be honored and practiced, even if one of the parties of the marriage has been abandoned through the sin of the other party.”
“The grace of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony strengthens the abandoned spouse to live faithfully the marriage bond, continuing to seek the salvation of the partner who has abandoned the marriage union.”
“I have known, since my childhood — and continue to meet — faithful Catholics whose marriages have, in some way, been broken, but who, believing in the grace of the Sacrament, continue to live in fidelity to their marriage. They look to the Church for that accompaniment which helps them to remain faithful to the truth of Christ in their lives,” he said.
When the synod’s report goes on to quote paragraph 84 from Saint John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio on a pastor’s obligation to exercise “careful discernment of situations” when it comes to irregular unions, Burke called the use of the quote “misleading.”
“While, in no. 84, Pope Saint John Paul II acknowledges the different situations of those who are living in an irregular union and urges pastors and the whole community to help them as true brothers and sisters in Christ by virtue of Baptism, he concludes: ‘However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.’”
“He then recalls the reason for the practice: ‘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.’ He also rightly notes that a different practice would lead the faithful ‘into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,’” he said.
Liberal German Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has called the word “discernment” key to understanding the entire final report passage dealing with irregular marital situations, giving weight to speculation that the term will be used to admit civilly remarried divorcees to Communion.
But Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria told LifeSiteNews last week that people in objectively sinful situations cannot receive Communion.
“There is such a thing as objective evil and objective good. Christ said he who [divorces his wife] and marries another, Christ has one word for that action, ‘adultery.’ That’s not my word. It is Christ’s word himself, who is humble and meek in heart, who is eternal truth. So, he knows what he’s saying.”
“That’s the case where St. Paul said, ‘let the person examine himself; he who receives unworthily receives judgment against himself.’ That is very severe,” he said.