It is a bewildering time for faithful Catholics as the Synod on the Family lurches on from one scandal and rumour to another. Increasingly there is a sense of genuine chaos at the centre; with accusations of manipulation of process threatening the credibility of the Church. What is going on in Rome?
It is difficult to say given a total lack of transparency in the new process. As clericalism seems to take hold we can only hope and pray that the Holy Father knows what he is doing. That he is able, not only to bring order out of this chaos (which he himself created) but in a way that holds everyone together in unity. It will surely prove a defining moment in this papacy. Is Pope Francis giving modernists rope to hang themselves before he authoritatively defends Church teaching? Or is he part of the modernist crisis engulfing the church today? By the end of this Synod we should, at least, be nearer to answering this huge and significant question.
But it is not the only question. Indeed I am not sleeping well at present as many others keep going through my head. So here is a list of the questions I would love answered to clear up all the confusion.
A) Why is this Synod being held at all? It is not as if Catholic teaching on the family and sexuality was in doubt. Nor can fundamental teaching be changed. Didn’t Humanae Vitae answer the questions being raised? Wasn’t the legacy of dear Pope John Paul II crystal clear teaching on family life as seen in his theology of the body et al? Which leads to another pertinent question; why aren’t his writings centre stage at this Synod? They are after all key texts for us all.
B) Why is the Pope allowing established teaching on sexual morality and family life to be eclipsed by some rather juvenile demands from modernist clergy? It has me scratching my head. These voices wouldn’t be given a platform in my parish for they attack the faith and sow confusion amongst the faithful. So why does Pope Francis give them credence?
I speak of those who look to the world, not the Gospel, for inspiration; whose ideals are grounded in fear not faith. (This post from the archives explains the source of modernist demands) The ones who call for a new “mercy” but only offer us a rehash of the demands of secular culture. An embracing of the sexual revolution leading to an impossible tension between doctrine and praxis. No head master worth his salt would let school rebels set the agenda. So why are these men in the ascendency under Francis?
If you doubt the serious threat these men pose consider, as the letter from worried Cardinals suggested, the plight of liberal protestant bodies that have abandoned doctrinal beliefs. There we find not only decline and confusion but, in the most advanced cases, clergy involved in grave evil. Just ponder this image of American Anglicans and Methodist clergy holding a prayer meeting to celebrate the murder of unborn children. That is where capitulation to the secular culture eventually leads.
C) Next we must question the secrecy. Why has the Synodical process been changed? What is being said that needs whispering in shadows away from public scrutiny? It is not those who behave well who fear the lights being turned on! Are we not children of light not darkness? This question becomes all the more serious given allegations of rigging and manipulation coming from very high ranking figures in the Vatican. Something is clearly not right.
Is the Synod genuinely seeking to uphold the faith of Christ crucified or has it been compiled to push forward a set political agenda? Ambiguous politician’s speech and the promoting of flexible luke warm observance should have no place in the life of the faith.
D) Why all the delight in chaos and confusion? It is fast becoming the most obvious characteristic of this papacy. God brought order out of chaos in creation. The great contribution of the church in all ages has been to bring order to a world plunged into chaos by the fallen human state. So why the delight now in stirring things up with no obvious goal in the stirring? Why does Pope Francis say he delights in messing things up? I cannot find any precedent for this in the life of the apostles after Christ.
Pope Francis delights non Catholics and the cultural elites of the West, and this is good for church PR, but increasingly he puzzles and frustrates the faithful. If the Holy Father does not wrap up this Synod conclusively it will cause great damage to the clarity of Church teaching. By debating what, in truth, the church cannot change it only encourages misinformed people to hunger and lobby for the impossible. How is this of service to the Gospel? Which leads to the next question…
E) Why does the Holy Father speak ill of faithful Catholics? Since the start of his papacy he has this tendency to taunt those who uphold church teaching. He calls them rigid. Cassock wearing clergy have been bashed, as have old ladies who offer rosaries. It is an extraordinary thing for any pastor to do.
Would an Abbot chastise the brothers who faithful kept to the rule? Or a head master attack the children who kept the school rules most faithfully? Why then does Pope Francis delight in attacking those who uphold church teaching? No business flourished that did not care for its most faithful customers. And by bashing the few remaining faithful at a time of church decline seems suicidal to me. How the morale of faithful Catholics has plummeted during this papacy. What is the point?
Perhaps it would help if, instead of speaking vaguely, he named these rigid clergy? Who are they? I am not sure they exist, certainly on a scale that presents a problem to us all. Why you couldn’t keep a straight face suggesting the church in England is held back by rigid rule keepers! More truthfully churches have toned down teaching and fidelity has fallen in the years since Vatican II.
So who are these rigid clergy? Is it an Argentinian issue that has no rightful place on a global stage? Or just a straw man erected to suit the modernist agenda? Is Pope Francis in danger of seeing the friends of the Church as enemies and it’s enemies as friends?
F) Where are the family in this Synod? Real family issues seem to be entirely absent. We hear nothing of the needs of children. Nothing about parents as prime educators who need protecting from State interference. Nobody speaks of abandoned spouses when discussion centres on the divorced. Cohabitation seems a non issue whilst homosexual unions are ever placed before us. Yet surely the moral state of the sex within these two couplings is one and the same? Where is there any discussion on human trafficking or the effects of war and displacement on families?
Cardinal Dolan spoke out in defence of Catholic families this week. He said those adhering to Catholic teaching are heroically living out the faith but that they seem a minority today; the church must do more to support them. Quite. But his voice is a lone one at present and in contrast to the main thrust of this Synod. Why are homosexuals and those entering new relationships after divorce seemingly more important to the Cardinals in Synod than the actual families in their care? Should they not be championing marriage as the family is attacked not giving greater support to those living outside of it?
G) Is this really a Synod on the family then or just a platform to raise the demands of an ageing and modernist generation; the ones for whom this represents a last roll of the dice? Certainly nothing has arisen thus far that speaks powerfully to me as a parent or as a priest. How can it be that a Synod on the family leaves me, a family man, bewildered and increasingly demoralised? Why do I feel that my desire to uphold the teaching of the faith actually leaves me in the margins?
There then are my questions. It is a time of concern, I think, for all who look to the church for clarity and fidelity. What is to come of it? Will the Holy Father pull a rabbit from the hat and help us understand method in the madness? Will he use this Synod to show us how far from Catholic teaching many Cardinals have drifted and then call them to account? Or are we facing a most serious crisis for the church? As modernism- the mother of all heresies for it attacks all doctrines at once- shows itself not only in the church but at it’s very heart. We would be wise to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. We may need to be brave in standing by the truth of all ages. So then to the final big question again-
H) Are barbarian modernists about to be dealt with once and for all? Or are the barbarians now in the camp and in need of robust condemnation?