Tuesday, 27 October 2015
Now That The Synod Is Over...
The Synod has come to an end, but its impact is yet to be known. While both sides seem to be claiming victory in these early days, the fact is that it all depends upon what Francis does. There has been much talk about Doctrine not being changed, only practice (which is nonsense since practice flows from doctrine: lex credendi, lex vivendi), and while chsnging practice but not doctrine might keep liberals from falling into formal heresy it cannot keep them from being charged with treachery, for to practice what is contrary to the Truth is to play false to the Truth, and the Truth is Christ. My concern is the spectres of softer language, ‘accompanying’, decentralisation and conversion of the papacy are now hovering around, and no matter what the Final Relatio says, it is Francis who will have the last say.
I have grown weary of the talk about ‘mercy’ and ‘accompanying’ folk in irregular situations. I need mercy as much as the next man, if not more (for ‘from him to whom much has been entrusted, much more will be required’, Lk.12v48), but I need true mercy which recognises my sin, my repentance and my amendment of life; a mercy which accompanies me in my attempt to change, not in my sin: no one wants to die in a state of sin no matter who is accompanying them in it. The mercy Our Lord showed to the woman caught in adultery was to tell her that her sins were forgiven and that she was to go and sin no more. His Church must do the same since she is to speak for Him (Lk.10v16), not for secular society (or for ‘today’s different circumstances’). Only when we walk away from sin can we be forgiven for it: we cannot clean and dry the child who refuses to come out of the dirty water of the local pond; the towel itself becomes wet, dirty and useless -and we end up the same by ‘accompanying them’ in the dirty water.
As to ‘penitential paths’ and the inviolability of conscience as a means of admitting the remarried divorcee to Holy Communion –how can it be applied? An internal forum ‘solution’ could be used to allow everyone to return to the Communion, and then the teaching on indissolubility means nothing and the treachery is clear for all to see.
The call for ‘new language’ is also problematic. It can only be a watering down of The Faith since it is not easy (if at all possible) to render ‘intrinsically evil’ (as in contraception) ‘adultery’ (civil marriage after divorce/cohabitation) or ‘intrinsically disordered’ (homosexual acts) in any other way that equates with the terms ‘adultery’ and ‘intrinsically disordered’: even ‘irregular’ does not carry the same connotation of sin. Unclear language distorts the Truth into a deception; a lie whose father is the devil (Jn.8v44).
The idea of a ‘conversion of the papacy’ is also questionable. What on earth does it mean? A dissolution of the papacy to a lesser or greater extent is the only thing it can mean. As for ‘devolution of authority’, such devolution would cause difficulties that cannot be surmounted. For example, there is a divide between the Bishops of Poland and Germany on the readmitting of the remarried divorcee to Holy Communion, and even between individual Bishops within single nations, such as Burke and Cupich in the USA. The nonsense of devolution would be that for those living near a Country or Diocesan border one may be out of communion with the Church in one location and in Communion with her 15 minutes down the road –presumably grave sin disappears and reappears across borders like some mysterious mist. One could be in a state of sin at one end of the road and in a state of grace at the other. All in all, the problems may not be in the Synod, but in the spectres of ‘softer language’, in ‘accompanying’, and in the ideas of ‘decentralisation’ and ‘conversion of the papacy’.
Note: I must admit I am wearied by Francis caricatures of Traditionalists. In his final speech he described those who hold to the Gospel as ‘those who would “indoctrinate” it in dead stones to be hurled at others’, saying [the synod] was about ‘laying bare 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..’ Not only can Francis be seen as saying that the Lord did not give us a doctrine, but that the Synod was about correcting those he considers have closed, stone hearts. He is also demonstrating that he labours under the uninformed, prejudiced caricature of Traditionalists present among many of the seminary professors in the 1980’s. I do not recognise any Traditional priest I know in such caricatures; those I know do not meet wounded families with a closed heart or a position of superiority from the chair of Moses (who Francis thus appears to equate with hard-heartedness); rather, the Traditional priests I know meet wounded families with clear teaching but gentle manner and kind words. Pope or not, Francis is espousing a judgemental attitude toward faithful, Traditional members of the Lord’s flock, and I am wearied by what feels to me like a continuing lecture on how bad Traditionalists are.