21

Blunt Truth From Down Under

There’s only one way to stop this. Cardinal Pell, it’s rumored today, stood up during the proceedings on Thursday when the Synod leaders seemed to have decided on their own authority not to publish the reports of the small groups, presumably because they were uniformly tough on what’s been too soft. He slammed his hand on the table and said, “You must stop manipulating this Synod.” That forced a general vote – and the reports were published.

Robert Royal, The Catholic Thing

 

 

 

 

Hattip to Father Z.  One of the heroes emerging from the Synod is George Cardinal Pell.  It is a pleasure to hear the blunt spoken Aussie in the above video.

 

Cardinal George Pell said working-group reports from the Synod of Bishops on the family finally give a true picture of the assembly’s views, counteracting what he characterized as a misleading midterm report.

We wanted the Catholic people around the world to know actually what was going on in talking about marriage and the family and, by and large, I think people will be immensely reassured,” Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Catholic News Service Oct. 16, the day the reports were published.

“We’re not giving in to the secular agenda; we’re not collapsing in a heap. We’ve got no intention of following those radical elements in all the Christian churches, according to the Catholic churches in one or two countries, and going out of business,” he said.

In a surprise move, synod members voted Oct. 16 to publish summaries of comments by 10 small groups into which they had divided to discuss an Oct. 13 midterm report by Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest. As the assembly’s relator, Cardinal Erdo has the task of guiding the discussion and synthesizing its results.

Cardinal Erdo’s report stirred controversy inside and outside the synod hall with its strikingly conciliatory language toward people with ways of life contrary to church teaching, including divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, cohabitating couples and those in same-sex unions.

The midterm report was “tendentious, skewed; it didn’t represent accurately the feelings of the synod fathers,” said Cardinal Pell. “In the immediate reaction to it, when there was an hour, an hour-and-a-half of discussion, three-quarters of those who spoke had some problems with the document.”

“A major absence was Scriptural teaching,” he said. “A major absence was a treatment of the church tradition,” including teaching on the family by Pope Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

“The secret for all Catholic vitality is fidelity to the teachings of Christ and to the tradition of the church,” said the cardinal, who sits on the nine-member Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on church governance.

Cardinal Pell said only three of the synod’s 10 small groups had supported a controversial proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, even without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriages.

“Communion for the divorced and remarried is for some — very few, certainly not the majority of synod fathers — it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions,” Cardinal Pell said. “The church cannot go in that direction. It would be a capitulation from the beauties and strengths of the Catholic tradition, where people sacrificed themselves for hundreds, for thousands of years to do this.” Continue Reading

1

Sin and Eternity

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Father Peter Stravinkas at One Peter Five has some invaluable insights into the Synod:

There was apparently significant concern raised that we should not employ “offensive” or harsh-sounding language to describe certain life-styles. While there is no need to go out of one’s way to be hurtful in discussing morally problematic matters – and it can even be counter-productive to do so – one cannot resort to sugar-coating behaviors which have eternal consequences (presuming we believe that). There is no easy, palatable way for an oncologist to inform a patient that he has a malignant tumor and what the remediation process involves. Similarly, people who engage in sexual intercourse outside the bounds of marriage – and especially those who do so habitually (whether heterosexual or homosexual) – face the prospect of eternal punishment, so say Jesus and Saint Paul and the entire Christian Tradition. The fact that there is no “nice” way to issue the wake-up call is proof positive of the seriousness of it all. The stark language is, as a matter of fact, an act of charity, saying, “I love you so much that I don’t want you to spend eternity in Hell.” The physician who would refrain from offering an honest and forthright diagnosis would be deemed a bad physician, derelict in his duty. No faithful believer – and surely no loving one – can stand by and watch those he loves head toward damnation. Continue Reading

15

PopeWatch: Sheer Jaw-Dropping Ineptness

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Robert Royal of The Catholic Thing gives us more details from the fallout at the Vatican over the Relatio:

 

I’ve  said here that Monday, the day the document officially known as the Relatio post disceptationem (Synod interim report) was issued, was the strangest day I’ve ever spent in Rome. I take it back. Yesterday, the daily Synod press briefing essentially retracted much that was said Monday and by implication parts of the document, while stopping just short of admitting as much. It was a 180-degree turn such as may never have been seen in so short a radius on Vatican soil. Ever. Throughout the ages.

And as details emerged Tuesday, the rollout of the relatio looked to rival the rollout of Obamacare for sheer jaw-dropping ineptness.

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier was perhaps the most candid participant. Like all the others, he pushed the line that the relatio presented Monday was wrongly seen as a set of conclusions, when it is in fact a work in progress merely intended to guide further discussion. More on that below. But he also admitted that a message went out that was not the right message. And even ventured that, though the final document will doubtless be better balanced and much better worded, the misimpressions fostered in the press by the document and already given wide dissemination have put the Synod in  a position that may very well be “irredeemable.” (His term.)

I myself look forward to hearing more from Cardinal Napier. But it seem wrong – for once – to blame the media for misunderstanding what the Church is doing. The media emphasized the troubling parts of the text, of course, but for the most part understood quite well what the text and the way it was issued had done. It would have been quite easy for Vatican spokesmen – or the text itself – to have made clear that the relatio was only a series of points the bishops had in fact discussed. That was not made clear. And in Tuesday’s indirect recantation, it was hard to determine, despite persistent questions by journalists, how this sorry mess ever saw the light of day.

Before things even got started at yesterday’s briefing, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office and panel discussion leader announced that he had been asked to issue a declaration and “clarification” by the General Secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri. According to official sources, at least forty-one bishops who are involved in the Synod were quite surprised – and quite “agitated” – at the appearance of the document Monday.
Continue Reading

18

What Do We Tell Him?

Pope Francis Facepalms

 

‘I am not a pillar of the Church, but more like a flying buttress — I support the church from the outside.’

Winston Churchill

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a question for us:

 

 

I have a serious question for which I’d like a serious answer.  And I’m not going to provide any commentary of my own just yet; I’m much more interested in what you guys think.  But should we flying buttresses of the Catholic Church, to borrow Churchill’s analogy, start seriously worrying right about now?

In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.

Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.

As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.

In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. Continue Reading

10

Cardinal Burke on the Relatio

Raymond Cardinal Burke

 

Raymond Cardinal Burke is one of many clerics speaking out against the Relatio, go here to read all about it, at the Synod on the Family:

 

Cardinal Burke responded late yesterday to questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about his concerns, his view of the mid-term report, and why he thinks a statement from Pope Francis is “long overdue”.

CWR: In what way is information about what is happening in the Synod being either manipulated or only partially reported and made public?

Cardinal Burke: The interventions of the individual Synod Fathers are not made available to the public, as has been the case in the past. All of the information regarding the Synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the Synod which clearly has favored from the beginning the positions expressed in the Relatio post disceptationem of yesterday morning.

While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church.
 
CWR: How is that reflected in the Synod’s midterm document, released yesterday, which is being criticised by many for its appeal to a so-called “law of graduality”?

Cardinal Burke: While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable.

The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called “revolutionary”, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.
 
CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?

Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue. The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.

The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church. Continue Reading

19

All is Well!

 

 

If a Pope decreed that all Catholics must paint their bottoms yellow,  I suspect Mark’s only response would be to inquire what shade.

Donald R. McClarey

For those of you disturbed by the Relatio of the Synod, go here to read about it, Mark Shea explains at length why you are simply a misguided “Reactionary”:

The latest in months of Reactionary panic (ongoing since March 2013 with the election of Francis) was on display last week in the fears about “gradualism” being discussed at the Synod. What’s gradualism? Gradualism is the common sense fact that conversion usually takes a long time and sinners typically require baby steps to change.  Calah Alexander, who is, like Yr. Obdt. Svt, a wretched sinner, has some rather appreciative words for gradualism. To which I say, “Hear! Hear!” I’ve never met a confessor who was not a gradualist and I doubt you have either. Indeed, most confessors I know tend to discourage gigantic vows of massive instantaneous conversion, particularly with entrenched sins. Why? Because when we fail to keep them, as we almost surely will, we can fly to the opposite end of the spectrum and despair. So the counsels tend to be “slow and steady wins the race”.

Unfortunately, Reactionaries (who tend to lack people skills) tend also to understand “gradualism” to mean “Let’s gradually change basic Church teaching until it conforms to the world, the flesh, and the devil.”  When they hear “gradualism” they don’t hear “How can the Church welcome sinners and help them to become saints by baby step?”  They hear “How can we slowly pervert the teaching of the Church until  abortion and gay marriage are the eighth and ninth sacraments?” Continue Reading

4

Bizarre Days At the Vatican

Bizarro Days

 

 

Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing is reporting from Rome and his one word description is a good summary of what is going on:  bizarre:

I have been in Rome, by my rough count, 100 times during my adult life. Some visits had to do with secular matters of culture or politics, most with questions related to the Catholic Church. But I think I can say without the slightest doubt that yesterday was the strangest day I’ve ever passed in the Eternal City.

By now, almost everyone interested in Catholic matters knows about what can only be called the truly bizarre document that the Vatican released Monday: the relatio summing up the first week of work by the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. I was at the press conference after the release and it, too, was a very strange thing indeed. More on that below. But before you despair – I can tell you that there were some questions from utterly astonished old Vatican reporters in that room and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after – things are both bad and maybe also not so entirely bad as they might first seem.

First, the bad. For reasons that may only be know to certain figures involved – or to the God who searches the human heart – a document coming from the Vatican now has passages like these:

    50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.
     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority. [All emphases added.]

If you find your head spinning at the language italicized above, you aren’t the only one. Several of the journalists in the room put very carefully worded questions to the four members of the press conference panel, trying to elicit clarifications. I’m sorry to say that with the exception of Cardinal Erdö, every one of them engaged in a level of spin unworthy of a Church that seeks to proclaim the truth about the Good News of our redemption by Jesus Christ.

I won’t mention the names of respondents out of respect for the nakedness of our fathers. But let me suggest some of the dynamic in the room. One female reporter for RAI Radio, the Italian state-run broadcast services, asked pointedly in response to the last section above about the rights of children, whether they don’t have a right to be raised by a male father and a female mother (an argument that in Europe, especially in France, has been very prominent)? The reply from an exalted cleric was to enter a thicket of platitudes about parental rights to educate a child, which no one objects to or has ever objected to, insofar as they were intelligible. But the fundamental question of having a real mother and a real father went entirely untouched – by a prince of the Church talking about a burning current question.

Similarly, an American journalist raised a question about the absurd phrase in section 50: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” In one way, of course, this is true, since all people have gifts and qualities. The journalist wanted to know, however, whether the Synod fathers were saying that homosexuals have gifts to offer precisely because of their homosexuality? That seemed to be implied.
Continue Reading