Saturday, October 18, 2014

How We Got Where We Are

First, it's become obvious that the Synod wasn't some kind of modernist carnival with non-stop heretical hijinks. There were good things being said. They were just all being ignored in favor of giving free rein to The Adversary.

Hey, it happens.

Before we get into the more explosive events of recent days, I offer a few tidbits from the lead-up, per Zenit.

Humanae Vitae got great affirmation from some of the married couples asked to speak. Consider the testimony of Olivier and Xristilla Roussy from France:

When we were engaged, we chose to conform to the natural regulation of births. After the arrival of our third child, Xristilla was exhausted. We could no longer live peacefully our conjugal unions. So we decided that Xristilla should take a contraceptive pill for some months. The choice of contraception was supposed to calm us down; it had the opposite effect. We lived that period very badly. Xristilla was often in a bad mood, desire was absent and joy disappeared. In truth, we had the impression of no longer being ourselves. We were not united. We understood that we had closed a door to the Lord in our conjugal life. So we decided to take up again a natural regulation of births. It was seemingly a more difficult way that invited us to be continent during fertile periods at the same time that we desired more strongly to unite ourselves. It is often hard to accept and to choose it each time. However, we live it together. It is a joint adventure that pushes us to want the happiness of the other. Much more than a method, this way of life enables us to receive one another each day, to communicate, to know one another, to await one another, to have confidence, to be delicate. We chose this way, we do not suffer it, and we are profoundly happy despite the efforts it requires.

And then here from the Zamberlines, a Brazilian couple and the supporting comments from Cardinal Vingt-Trois:

At a Thursday morning session on the “Pastoral Challenges Concerning an Openness to Life,” Brazilians, Arturo and Hermelinda Zamberline gave a testimony on contraception. They concluded by calling on the Holy Father and the synod to help Catholics understand and obey Humanae Vitae, Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical that affirmed Church teaching against birth control, reported CNS.

The couple, who have been married 41 years with three children, are also country leaders of “Teams of Our Lady,” an international Catholic movement.

Saying that "often, contradictory advice only aggravates their confusion," they noted: "If couples, as well as clergy, could at least find illumination and support, that would already be a great encouragement."

"We ask, may the magisterium hasten to give priests and faithful the major lines of a pastoral teaching programme to help people adopt and observe the principles laid out in ‘Humanae Vitae,’” the Zamberlines said.

Then there was some great commentary about the connection between family life and vocations and the threat of secularism to both.

Africa, of course, looms large. Let's take a look at some of the initial comments. There are those here:

From various quarters there emerged the tendency of several states and organisations based in the Western world to present, especially in the context of Africa, various concepts (including abortion and homosexual unions) as "human rights", linked to economic aid and strong pressure campaigns for the promotion of such concepts. In this respect, it was highlighted that the expression "rights to sexual and reproductive health" does not have a precise definition in international law and ends up encompassing mutually contradictory principles such as the condemnation of forced abortion and the promotion of safe abortion, or the protection of maternity and the promotion of contraception.

And here:

Numerous interventions, especially in relation to Africa, drew attention to the many challenges the family must face in this continent: polygamy, levirate marriage, sects, war, poverty, the painful crisis of migration, international pressure for birth control, and so on. These are problems that undermine family stability, placing it in crisis. In the face of such challenges, it is necessary to respond with in-depth evangelisation, able to promote the values of peace, justice and love, an adequate promotion of the role of women in society, thorough education of children and the protection of rights for all victims of violence.

More on Africa in a later post, thanks to Cardinal Kaspar.

This didn't keep there from being a certain amount of mushiness in how the proceedings were reported and summarized. Keep in mind that the individual interventions have been basically censured. We know very little about the specifics. Consider this particular item from the 7th General Congregation:

Firstly, it re-emphasised the indissoluble nature of marriage, without compromise, based on the fact that the sacramental bond is an objective reality, the work of Christ in the Church. Such a value must be defended and cared for through adequate pre-matrimonial catechesis, so that engaged couples are fully aware of the sacramental character of the bond and its vocational nature. Pastoral accompaniment for couples following marriage would also be useful.

At the same time, it was said that it is necessary to look at individual cases and real-life situations, even those involving great suffering, distinguishing for example between those who abandon their spouse and those who are abandoned. The problem exists – this was repeated several times in the Assembly – and the Church does not neglect it. Pastoral care must not be exclusive, of an “all or nothing” type but must instead be merciful, as the mystery of the Church is a mystery of consolation...

And then:

Similarly, while emphasising the impossibility of recognising same sex marriage, the need for a respectful and non-discriminatory approach with regard to homosexuals was in any case underlined.

Who is doing all this emphasizing and underlining? How much of it is there in each case? For example, Fr. Lombardi, at one point, went on record saying that out of around 265 interventions that had been given that he remembered one that mentioned homosexuality.

Likewise with this language from the 6th Congregation:

It was remarked that it is important to carefully avoid moral judgement or speaking of a “permanent state of sin”, seeking instead to enable understanding that not being admitted to the sacrament of the Eucharist does not entirely eliminate the possibility of grace in Christ and is due rather to the objective situation of remaining bound by a previous and indissoluble sacramental bond.

How absurd is it for the Church, Mother and Teacher on all things relating to faith and morals, to avoid making moral judgments?

By now, I'm sure most readers have heard the controversy over the Relatio that was circulated at the mid-point of the proceedings. It's a remarkable document that with all the theological promise of a Charles Nelson Reilly performance. If you are overly masochistic, the parts with the most disturbing language are #50 et seq,

Just keep those in mind for now. I will post on the more explosive events later. It is worthwhile to have in mind the above, though, to understand why things have happened how they have happened.

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