Thursday, October 30, 2014
I'm a little late coming with this, but it's probably a good thing because there has been more of a chance for the information to sink in, and I haven't really had the time to throw anything up on the subject anyway.
By now, pretty much everybody knows that this whole thing followed the Vatican II playbook. Tight media control. A warping of perception. Sly maneuvering of document drafts. All this was set up for the final declaration of victory and return home to re-interpret sacramental dogma to fit the whims of the Prince of This World.
Then reality hit. Bishops began complaining about the media spin. Cardinal Erdo disavowed the interim relatio. The dominoes fell from there. Cardinal Kaspar lost his mind and basically said that the African and Asian churches had to be limited in the whole synodal discussion (that's my charitable way to put it), then lied about saying it, then apologized when caught in his lie. Cardinal Pell's demanded publication of the "small group reports" was the biggest deal, and I encourage everyone to read the efforts from Cardinal Burke's group, as well as that of Cardinal Sarah (a huge thank you to Stomachosus for the translation) who I gain more and more respect for daily.
Since that time, we've had much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how this is a set-back for the "updating" of the Church," albeit only a temporary one. With that summary, I give you my thoughts on the biggest things to come out of this.
1. First, for all the hand-wringing about the final votes on some of the more controversial language, keep in mind that this was a cherry-picked crowd. If ever there was a field ripe for the planting of this crap crop, it was there at the Synod. And it still didn't work.
2. Cardinal Dolan came back with strength. Whether or not he might "go wobbly" under the glare of spotlights again is up for debate, but his comments this time around were a far cry from his applause of Michael Sam or his posture on the St. Patrick's Parade.
3. I am in wholesale agreement with fellow blogger Boniface at Unam Sanctam re: his point #7 on Cardinal Kaspar. Is he racist? I doubt it. This is the same type of attitude he's always had with people who have dared to disagree with him. Is he a jerk? I think so. But now, he can go back to the hole Pope Benedict had buried him in. His entire reputation has been blown to hell right where his theology belongs.
4. Given that Cardinal Kaspar spent this whole time talking about how tight he is with Pope Francis and how any disagreement with him is an attack on the Pope, I figure Pope Francis has some fences to mend with those same African and Asian churches that were smeared.
5. Given Point #4, I think the ripples from this are going to last all the way to the next conclave. No way are the Africans going to throw their votes to anyone who is going to put them in this kind of position again. Ditto for the Asians. These are prelates who have spent a lot of time and energy to combating the regularization of homosexuality and the difficulty of the Church's teaching on marriage. They aren't going to let the Catholic Church go the way of the Anglican Communion. They will be looking for someone speaking with clarity and prudence on these matters.
6. We've seen the Pope come out with some pretty strong verbiage in the last few days. I assume some of this is in response to the backlash from the Synod.
7. While much attention has been given to Cardinal Muller's role in all this, I am much more fascinated by what Cardinal Erdo was doing. In a lot of ways, it was his action with the relatio that definitively proved that there was funny business going on with the drafting. I wouldn't say it forced the other bishops' hand to rise up, but it was a big step in clearing the way for them. We'll probably know more depending on what happens to His Eminence going forward. If he's tagged as Cardinal Burke's roommate in Malta, that will be a clear sign. Regardless, I think Cardinal Erdo is important. If he can be a European counter-weight to guys like Cardinals Marx and Schonborn, that would be a huge deal.
8. Speaking of Cardinal Burke, I'm not sure people are really appreciating what has happened to him. The level of his proposed demotion is ridiculous. Really, that is probably an understatement. Consider every prelate you know who has been implicated in sexual abuse and cover-up. None of them got a gut-punch like this one.
9. As we alluded to in another post, the notion that any substantive reform of the Curia is actually happening or going to happen is a pipe dream. If anything, the wolves are going to dig themselves in deeper and continue their war against the orthodox. Malta is going to get awful crowded before this is all over. The bottom line, though is that it's pretty difficult to see guys like Cardinal Danneels and Sodano getting special treatment or an institution like the German church being so influential in promoting heresy just to secure its cash flow, while guys like Cardinal Burke or the FFI or whoever are essentially cast into exile. Sure, we might get some reforms of the Vatican Bank, but this is all window dressing while the rot spreads.
So that's the way I see it for now. Pray for our bishops. Fast. Do penance. The recipe hasn't changed.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014
We all know that Pope Paul VI is to be beatified at the close of the Synod.
I'm making a prediction now. Write it down. Remember where you heard it first.
After Pope Paul is beatified, new evidence will be "discovered" or old evidence will "resurface" to resurrect the rumors alleging that he was a homosexual.
I hope I'm wrong.
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.
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...
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.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
His Excellency, Bishop John Chrysostom Lan Shi has passed away. This brave shepherd has passed away at the age of 89. He spent 14 years as a prisoner in a Communist labor camp.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
A couple of things should be noted from the outset, First, remember that you are only hearing from the Synod scraps and bits and pieces. This echoes what happened at Vatican II. Why would it be any different? This model has worked well for the revolutionary elements in the Church. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Second, it is truly audacious to see these kinds of comments:
This morning we will concentrate our attention and our debates on Chapters 1 and 2, which concern, more particularly, eight well-defined topics. First of all, in the framework of Chapter 1: God’s Plan on Marriage and the Family (1-7), a first topic addresses The Family in the Light of Biblical Gifts (1-3). Thus this permits a rereading if the gifts of Revelation on the family, from Genesis to its perfecting in the teaching of Christ, which offers as the foundation of spousal love irrevocable divine fidelity and participation in God’s creative work.
We are given a second topic on considering The Family in the Documents of the Church (4-7). In the course of the centuries, the Church has not failed to offer her constant teaching on marriage and the family. Closer to us, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI recalled the fundamental lines of a family pastoral and of the presence of the family in society. Even more recently, His Holiness Pope Francis also addressed the bond between the family and the faith in his Encyclical Lumen Fidei.
Chapter 2: Knowledge and Reception of Holy Scripture and the Documents of the Church on Marriage and the Family, offers us the six following topics. First of all Knowledge of the Bible on the Family (9-10) and that of Documents of the Magisterium (11), which form the counterpart of what is presented in chapter 1 and completes it by combing faithfully the situation within the People of God.
When you look at the arguments posed by the revolutionaries, they pay absolutely no heed to Scripture as understood by the Church, the magisteria of any of the popes mentioned, or the Church's magisterium in general. What you do have is a thoroughly Protestant notion of revelation going on as Scripture texts are re-interpreted according to the whims of the speaker, rather than the Church. It's shades of Gene Robinson. This isn't a new thing:
As also in all his [St. Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:16
Notice what is the grounding of all this talk:
From many quarters, however, there has emerged the need to adapt the language of the Church, so that doctrine on the family, life and sexuality is understood correctly: it is necessary to enter into dialogue with the world, looking to the example offered by the Vatican Council, or rather with a critical but sincere openness. If the Church does not listen to the world, the world will not listen to the Church.
Wait a minute. Last time I checked, we've been "dialoguing" with the world for the last five decades. Is the world listening the Church any better? When does the world get to teach the Mother and Teacher? I suggest that it is irrational to think that the world has anything to offer that the Church hasn't been able to glean to this point. What more openness can the Church offer and what has that openness wrought? Good fruit or bad fruit?
Consider this also:
Furthermore, it was underlined that even imperfect situations must be considered with respect: for instance, de facto unions in which couples live together with fidelity and love present elements of sanctification and truth. It is therefore essential to look first and foremost at the positive elements, so that the Synod may infuse with courage and hope even imperfect forms of family, so that their value may be recognised, according to the principle of graduality. It is necessary to truly love families in difficulty.
Notice the classic formulas of ambiguity raising their head again. "Imperfect situations" rather than "sinful" just like "imperfect communion" took over from "outside the Church." "Positive elements" supplant the call for conversion. "Graduality" is the mechanism for holiness rather than penitence. It's a fantastic 1970s glossing over of Church teaching and straight from the revolutionary playbook. Again, if it ain't broke...
Finally, there was this marvel of rhetorical craftmanship:
Like yesterday afternoon, the debate focused on the need to renew the language of the proclamation of the Gospel and the transmission of doctrine: the Church must be more open to dialogue, and must listen more frequently (and not only in exceptional cases) to the experiences of married couples, because their struggles and their failures cannot be ignored; on the other hand, they can be the basis of a real and true theology. Again, in relation to language, some perplexity was expressed at the suggestion – included in the Instrumentum Laboris – to deepen the concept, of biblical inspiration, of the “order of creation” as a possibility of rereading “natural law” more meaningfully: it was added that it is not enough to change the vocabulary if a bridge to effective dialogue with the faithful is not then created. In this sense, the much foretold and widespread need for change may be understood, it was said, as pastoral conversion, to make the proclamation of the Gospel more effective.
The reason this is such a great paragraph is that it is pure modernism. It doesn't even try to hide it. Basing theology on sentiment and experience? Hell, why not just say "vital immanence" and get it over with? What "biblical inspiration" is in all this? One that allows a "re-reading of natural law." And all in the name of dialogue. Not Truth. Not salvation. Just talking.
We'll have more up later today that should bring us entirely up to speed. I do ask for your prayers, bytthe way. My wife's pregnancy has been a difficult one. We are nearing the end, so any prayers offered would be most appreciated.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
A couple of items as the Synod draws nigh.
First, in the interest of some of the items we posted here, we are going to try to step back from some of the focus given to ecclesiastical politics. Scandal is easily spread, and there are many who flirt with despair because of the corruption/naivete/blindness of churchmen.
Second, I want to throw out these recent words of Pope Francis to the bishops of Chad with regards to the doctrines of the Faith vis a vis the focus many have on "pastoral" issues or matters of social justice:
“The civil authorities are very grateful to the Catholic Church for her contribution to society as a whole in Chad. I encourage you to persevere along this path, as there is a strong bond between evangelisation and human development, a bond that must be expressed and developed in all the work of evangelisation. Service to the poor and the most disadvantaged constitutes a true testimony of Christ, Who made Himself poor in order to be close to us and to save us. Both the religious congregations and lay associations who work with them play an important role in this respect, and they are to be thanked for this”.
“However”, he observes, “it is certain that this commitment to social service does not constitute the entirety of evangelizing activity; the deepening and strengthening of faith in the hearts of the faithful, that translates into an authentic spiritual and sacramental life, are essential to enable them to withstand the many trials of contemporary life, and to ensure that the behaviour of the faithful is more coherent with the requirements of the Gospel. … This is especially necessary in a country where certain cultural traditions bear considerable weight, where less morally demanding religious possibilities are present everywhere, and where secularism begins to make headway”.
Therefore, “it is necessary for the faithful to receive a solid doctrinal and spiritual formation. And the first locus of formation is certainly catechesis. I invite you, with a renewed missionary spirit, to implement the catechetical methods used in your dioceses. First, the good aspects of their traditions must be considered and accorded their due value – because Christ did not come to destroy cultures, but rather to lead them to fulfilment – while that which is not Christian must be clearly denounced. At the same time, it is essential to ensure the accuracy and integrity of doctrinal content”.
So there's that.
Third, there have been some questions coming in about the Synod itself.
We will report on events there to the best of our ability. However, everybody should prepare for Humanae Vitae, The Sequel. We aren't the only ones making that comparison, so I doubt anybody is seeing it here for the first time. The amount of hype given the Synod has been ridiculous and worthy of mockery from anyone familiar with Catholic teaching. But most have no such familiarity or either ignore what they do know in favor of the gods of their bellies.
Pray. Fast. Then pray and fast some more. And when you think you've prayed and fasted enough, redouble your efforts to pray and to fast.
On another question as to a good saint for intercessory prayer for the Synod, there's always the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and St. Michael for these kinds of things. Outside of them, I offer the example of St. Leo the Great, or our more recently canonized pope, John Paul II. Consider that the wolves promoting the Synod as one of "change" have as their primary goal the complete overthrow of the moral laws that were most championed by him.
Just my suggestions.