Thursday, 25 June 2015
I Will Pray for The Synod and Will Try Not To Worry
According to NewsVA, the official Vatican network, when presenting the Instrumentum Laboris for the 2015 Synod, ‘The general secretary of the Synod of Bishops noted that it makes reference to “the family and ecclesial accompaniment, the streamlining of procedures for causes for annulment, the integration of faithful in irregular situations, the eventual introduction of a penitential route, the pastoral problems regarding mixed marriages and disparities of worship, as well as questions related to responsible procreation, reduction of births, adoption and fostering, respect for life from conception to natural end, and education of future generations.’
If the General Secretary is quoted correctly (and I have no reason to think he is not), and if he is relating the Instrumentum Laboris correctly, we are courting both a division within the Church of today, and a division of the Church of today from her sacred Tradition and previous Popes. In effect, we would have two schisms in one.
Take just one problematic clause in the General Secretary’s statement: “The eventual introduction of a penitential route”. I know priests already tell people in Confession to feel at ease about coming to Holy Communion because they “were the innocent party” or simply “made a mistake and now have new obligations”. These penitents come to me intuitively uncomfortable with the direction they have been given. Since a number of priests are already acting contrary to the good of souls and to Divine law, I wonder who the penitential path is for? If it is for the “innocent party” to the marriage breakdown, are they undergoing penance for a situation in which they did not sin? They must be, because they are not undergoing penance for their second, actively-chosen, irregular situation, since that would have to include leaving that situation behind. And what is to be said to the abandoned spouse of those who marry others? “Sorry, but we are ignoring your Sacramental Marriage for the sake of supporting yours spouse’s adulterous relationship with its new responsibilities?” Where is the mercy and justice in any of this?
The whole idea of a penitential path that does not include giving up the sin is not a penitential path but a path by which Holy Communion can be purchased: “if I do six months of a certain penance I will be allowed to return to the sacraments.” This is simony of a very dangerous kind: no money changes hands to be sure, but the sacraments are definitely ‘purchased’ by a period of ‘penance’ because the ‘penance’ is not real penance since it will not include the giving up sinful situations and/or acts. maybe we can all go to Confession without a firm purpose of amendment but in order to allow us to continue sinning with the Church’s approval?
I think there is may be some scope for streamlining annulment procedures, but I can see no way to integrate ‘irregular situations’ with the Body of the Lord, at least not beyond what is already available: attendance at Mass, use of Spiritual Direction, a life of prayer, charity etc. The reception of Holy Communion being allowed for those in public and formal adultery is in fact, a nonsense, since a penitential route must include repentance, and repentance includes the giving up of the sin. The General Secretary’s words clearly indicate finding some way to unite a sinful situation to the Body of Christ. This is dangerous to souls; it is gravely wrong and reprehensible since it will give persons in irregular unions a feeling that “all is well” when making sacrilegious Communions, something the Church cannot eradicate by majority vote or even by papal decree: it is divine law that teaches us second unions are adulterous (Mk.10v10-11) and adultery is contrary to Divine Law (Ex.20v14). The Church (by Synod, Council or Papal act) absolutely cannot alter Divine Law any more than they can overrule the law of gravity. Those who think the Church can so alter Divine Law have an exaggerated belief in their own importance and of their power as Bishops or Pope.
Let us remind ourselves of the very real limits of Papal Infallibility/Authority as defined by Vatican I: “The holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.” thus, there can be no change in doctrine or in the praxis by which we live-out that doctrine. Should the Synod and the Apostolic Exhortation which )normally) follows a synod contradict Casti Connubii, Humanae Viate, Familiaris Consortio and the post-Vatican II Catechism in any way, they go against infallible teaching in view of its constant repetition by the Magisterium, and as inconsistent with to that teaching it and ought to be summarily rejected. The Faith is a given -indeed it is given by God, and no power on earth has the right to reject the word of God in order to give the Church a ‘merciful face’ by accommodating the sexual irregularities of the day.
Such a merciful face would be a lie (and the father of lies is Satan, whose smoke has entered the Church according to Pope Paul VI); it would imply that all kinds of sexual irregularities and social groupings (which are wrongly labelled ‘family’ by liberals) are acceptable to God, and thus give false hope and a false sense of security to souls who have rejected Truth (Christ) for a lifestyle pleasing to their emotional needs. Since not even a Pope can change infallible teaching, we could legitimately quote the words of Our Lord in John 8v44 to those who seek to make changes to Catholic teaching and practice, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires; he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Since no Pope, Council or Synod can give us new doctrine on marriage and sexuality, I deep down think we need not worry too much. What has been taught by scripture and held in Tradition from the beginning must be held and transmitted to the end of time and the Synod has no choice about that. For the synod, a Council or a Pope to allow for those in adulterous relationships (irregular situations) to approach the Lord in Holy Communion and they would be guilty not only of a dereliction of duty but a betrayal of the Gospel and of Christ. As such, we should not worry too much that the Synod will seek to alter either pastoral practice or doctrine on marriage and the family. Unless the Bishops and Pope are very dim or so arrogant that they think they can overrule God and sacred scripture, the Synod will try it, since they know that by doing so they place their own souls -and the souls of those they seek to help- in danger of hell. Can anyone say our current Pope and Bishops are that dim or that arrogant? I hope we can give them credence for being men of faith and humility, a faith and humility they can demonstrate (or not) at the Synod.