Saturday 11 October 2014
Stacking The Deck Against The Synod
I think there is room for folk of the future to claim that the current Synod is being engineered (manipulated) by ecclesiastical progressives (‘Pastoral Modernisers’) rather than open to the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Personally I expect the Holy Ghost will keep the Synod on track , but that does not mean folk may not claim there was a human engineering going on at the same time.
While no one denies that a full and frank discussion of the issues surrounding marriage and sexuality for today’s Catholics is essential, we should have begun with the teaching of Christ, not the sinfulness of man. For the synod to begin with the experience of sinful man rather than the Gospel is to begin in the wrong place; it is man-centred, not God centred. The talk about subjugating Doctrine to pastoral practice for the sake of the person’s conscience flows from this wrong starting point. Extremism on ‘primacy of conscience’ aside, why might some say the Synod is engineered by man and not guided by the Holy Ghost?
Because first of all the step was taken to put out a questionnaire on marriage which was always going to be of much more interest to those living outside the Church’s norms than to those within the norms: It is those who have ‘gripes’ that go back to suppliers to make complaints; happy customers rarely return to give thanks.
Second, because with the support of the Pope. the man chosen to present the theme (Cardinal Kapser) set the Synod on a divided road from the off by challenging the Church’s teaching via her Eucharistic discipline (though the two cannot be separated: lex credendi, lex Vivendi ‘The law of belief is the law of living’).
Third, because by speaking not of the beauty of the Church’s teaching but of the need for pastoral practice to take precedence, the Modernisers are not doing the work of illuminating the world with the teaching of Christ but adapting the teaching of Christ to the world. This is not the purpose of the Church. She is to be a light to the nations, not enlightened by them.
Fourth, the establishment of a Commission to look into Annulment process before the Synod even began suggests a desired outcome has been taken for granted, which makes the Synod a paper exercise.
Finally, the secrecy that surrounds who is making what interventions is not the ‘Transparent Church’ we were expecting under Francis. It smacks of intrigue and concealment. Such secrecy is a new phenomenon; one not known at previous Synods (or any General Council to my knowledge). And secrecy is not a work of God; His children do things in the light; it is the devil who acts under cover of darkness: “this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (Jn.3v19).
If in time to come the Synod is indeed seen as being ‘engineered by man’ the responsibility lies with Rome, not those who make the assertion. Added to which, folk may say it replicates the engineering that went on before Vatican II -and shows ‘the Church from Vatican II onwards generated negative fruit’.
Personally I believe the Holy Ghost will take the Synod under His control; it is too important a topic for Him to simply bow out altogether. That said, Synods do not produce Doctrine as do the General Councils; Synods are but talk shops. Even the Apostolic Exhortation that will follow will not have the weight and authority of the Encyclicals which have addressed this topic, ie., Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae (1880); Casti connubi (1930); Humanae Vitae (1968) and Familiaris Consortio (1981).