Small Groups Release Concluding Reports on Instrumentum Laboris

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

The Synod on the Family moved closer to a conclusion with the release of small group reports. It appears that the English-speaking reports call for no change so far as the issue of communion for divorced and remarried couples is concerned.

Rather than try to summarize these reports, I’m going to link to them at the National Catholic Register, so you can read them yourselves. Remember, this link is only for the English-speaking reports. I’ve read the some of the reports that are written in other languages differ from them.

To read the reports, go here.


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He’s Out! Bishop Laicizes Priest Who “Came Out” on Eve of Synod

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dennis Jarvis Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dennis Jarvis Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

My friend Kathy Schiffer has the story.

Remember the high-ranking Vatican priest who chose the opening of the Synod on Marriage to announce that he’s gay and then ride off into the sunset with his boyfriend and a book deal? His bishop has laicized him.

I wonder how this guy managed to rise so high in the Church in the first place.

Here’s a bit of what Kathy Schiffer has to say about it:

The Polish priest who declared his homosexuality on the eve of the Synod on the Family, Fr. Krysztof Charamsa, has been laicized. Bishop Ryszard Kasyno, bishop of Pelplin (Poland), sent a letter to Fr. Charamsa on Wednesday, October 21, notifying him that he may no longer celebrate Mass, administer the sacraments or wear a cassock.

The action against Fr. Charamsa comes as no surprise, considering the priest’s carefully executed attack on the Church he served. Charamsa, who held a press conference October 2 with his boyfriend and announced their love relationship, had apparently been planning to disrupt the Synod with his “coming out.” He presented a 10-point “liberation manifesto” against “institutionalized homophobia in the Church” and announced the upcoming publication of a book detailing his twelve years at the heart of the Vatican bureaucracy.

He was immediately fired by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he had worked as a senior official; but it took just a little longer to complete the investigation which resulted in his removal from priestly service.


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No Matter What the Synod Does, I Will Keep on Doing What I’ve Been Doing

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department

Conscience is a weak reed on which to lay the foundation of your eternal destiny.

I know from personal experience that I can convince myself of anything. I also know that I am not the only person with this problem. In fact, I would guess that this ability to justify oneself to oneself is part of the universal human condition.

The truth is, people cannot do that which they cannot justify to themselves. I have no doubt that Hitler had justifications that worked for him for everything he did. Ditto for Pol Pot, John Wayne Gacy, abortionists and corporatists alike.

They all manage to justify what they do, at least to themselves. The rapist’s “she asked for it,” works perfectly fine to allow him to sadistically degrade, brutalize and harm another person, just as the corporatists’ blather lets their greed fuel wars, create poverty and destroy hope.

I learned a long time ago that nothing makes a person meaner than being challenged on their self-justifications. The worse the thing they are justifying, the meaner they get when the justification is challenged. Thus we have men who beat their wives yelling “You made me do it!” and following that with another blow to silence any challenge to their justification. We have nations going to war rather than treat their own citizens as full human beings.

Nothing makes a person meaner than telling them they cannot kill somebody they’ve decided it is their right to kill. If you try to confront them with the reality of what they are doing, they become dangerous to you, as well.

The one thing you cannot rely on to make them change their behavior is the whispering of their own conscience. Conscience is an unworkable guide precisely because conscience is so easily shaped by the forces of self interest and human weakness. Perhaps the number one human weakness that damages conscience is the desire to be accepted and liked by the people around us.

That weakness works against good judgement and right conscience in an insidious and steady sort of way. It is buttressed by sophisticated arguments that excuse virtually anything. Today’s advocates for dissolute living are skilled in making good sound bad and bad sound good.

They can and do convince people that everything from killing grandma with euthanasia to dismembering our children with abortion is a positive good. Our conscience is no defense against them unless we have a reliable touchstone by which to judge and evaluate what we are hearing.

For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has provided that reliable touchstone. For two thousand years, the Church has held fast in its teachings and dogma. Individual priests and bishops have been all over the map in their moral teaching. They are all over the map right now on the core challenges facing modern Christians. But the Church itself has never taught that which is not true. It has not deviated from following Christ and Him crucified.

That is why so many Christians found the discussions at last year’s Synod disturbing. That disturbance is why they are distrustful of this year’s Synod. They become restive when Synod fathers talk about allowing individual conscience to be used as a guide for when it’s ok to ignore grave sin because they know — we all know — that our own consciences can lead us straight down the road to perdition.

We need a Church that we can trust to present us with Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We do not need and will not benefit from theological experimentation that runs perpendicular to the explicit teachings of Our Lord and of Scripture.

Jesus said, For this cause a man shall leave his mother and father and join with his wife and they two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one. What therefore God has joined together let no man put asunder … anyone who divorces … and marries another … commits adultery. 

He was speaking directly and explicitly about the question of divorce, which he said Moses had allowed due to the Israelite’s hardness of heart. Marriage is between one man and one woman and it is for life. Period.

St Paul said, … whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup unworthily shall be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord … and brings judgement upon himself. 

These teachings put a crimp in things for a lot of people these days. If they are true, then a great many men and women are living in adultery. If they are not true, then the Scriptures themselves are false.

People don’t like hearing things like that. They want Jesus. They know they need Him, and they want Him. They crave communion with the Lord, and Christ in the Eucharist is the best and easiest way to achieve that.

They are good people. Many of them repent of their mistakes and are trying to do better. Divorce is a scalding experience that wounds people to the core. That’s because marriage is exactly what Jesus said it was; the binding of two people together as one for life. Tearing that apart is painful beyond pain.

There are often serious reasons for divorce. Violence, infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse are not fixable unless the offender is committed to changing. The only thing the victim spouse can do is end the marriage and try to rebuild.

That is why the Church has developed the process of annulment; to determine if the marriage was invalid. It lets people move forward.

This is a thorny subject for the Church right now precisely because certain bishops are pushing to place Christ’s teaching on a shelf and ignore it in actual practice. They want to say that Jesus said what He said, and the Church is not changing doctrine, but it will ignore the doctrine in its pastoral life.

To my way of thinking, this is inherently dishonest. It also sets the Church on the path of unraveling the cords that bind it together. The Catholic Church is the Eucharist and the Eucharist is a sacrament.

The Eucharist is a sacrament, established by Our Lord. Marriage is a sacrament, established by Our Lord. No one — including bishops — has to power to undo or nullify a sacrament.

If the sacrament of Holy Matrimony can be dismembered into a meaningless nothing that has no actual power in how people live their lives, and the core meaning of the Church, which is the Eucharist, can be taken by force and popular demand, then the Church itself has come unwound.

Holy Orders are meaningless if the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony are meaningless. If the Church puts doctrine on the shelf and ignores it in its actual, pastoral practices as they pertain to the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony, then the sacraments become pro forma to the people in the pews.

I do not understand anyone who would take the Eucharist by force. I do not.

I don’t “get” people who know that they are living in violation of Church teaching and then demand that the Church change what it teaches to suit them. Their job is to change how they live in order to follow Christ. And Church teaching has, up until now, been a reliable guide on how to follow Christ.

Why would anyone take communion when they know they are in mortal sin? Do they think that Jesus can be fooled? Do they think they can lie to Him and He won’t notice? Why would a bishop deliberately lead people into doing this? Doesn’t the bishop fear God?

I understand full well that much of the arguing in the two Synods has been a manifestation of the culture wars raging in the Western world. I believe that a number of politico-socio movements, including the gay rights movement and the new atheism, have a vested interest in tearing down the Church’s teaching.

Trashing the sacrament of Holy Matrimony would weaken the Church’s witness in the world today far more than even the priest sex abuse scandal has done. If the Church walks away from the sacraments, then it walks away from itself.

The fact that so many secular interests perceive the Synod as something they can influence to act in ways that are contrary to 2,000 years of Church teaching says a lot about at least some of the bishops who are meeting there. The other fact, that so many faithful Catholics who have stood by the Church through all the wounds she has inflicted on herself in the past 15 years, are deeply mistrustful of the Synod, says a lot about the danger that lies within the Church if such a change is made.

If the Synod Fathers accede to pressures from the German bishops to radically change Church practice on marriage in these fraught times, they will make the Church the pawn of special interests.  At the same time, they will alienate many of their most faithful followers.

They don’t seem to understand the synergy at work here. To put it simply, a decision to change Church practice would comfort the Church’s enemies, including those who seek to destroy faith altogether. It would, at the same time, alienate and create confusion and mistrust among those who ardently try to follow the Church. It would weaken the loyalty of the people the Church must turn to for help when it is attacked.

I pray about the Synod, but one thing is absolute: No matter what happens with these bishops, I will not leave the Church. To paraphrase St Peter, where would I go?

What I will do is read whatever the Synod produces carefully and prayerfully. Then, I will think about it. I imagine I may go through this read-pray-think process more than once. If the Church wounds itself with unsound practices, I will pray for wiser minds to undo this mistake in the future.

Whatever the Synod does, I plan to keep on doing what I’ve been doing for quite a while now. I will do my best to follow Jesus within the confines of the Catholic Church.


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Nearly 500 British Priests Urge Synod to Stand Firm on Communion for Remarried

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski

Nearly 500 British priests sent a letter to the Synod Fathers, urging them to stand firm on the question of communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

The priests called for the Synod Fathers to issues a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage.

From Catholic Herald:

They write: “We affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.”

One signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

Another, who also asked not to be named, said the issue of Communion for the remarried was “a matter of pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel”.

He said: “Mercy requires both love and truth. There’s a lot at stake. Not all priests would be comfortable expressing themselves in an open letter, but I’d be very worried if there were priests who disagreed with the sentiments it contains.

“The letter calls for fidelity to Catholic teaching, and that practice should remain ‘inseparably in harmony’ with doctrine. The priests state that they remain committed to helping ‘those who struggle to follow the Gospel in an increasingly secular society’, but imply that those couples and families who have remained faithful are not being adequately supported or encouraged.”

Notable signatories to the letter include theologians Fr Aidan Nichols and Fr John Saward, and Oxford physicist Fr Andrew Pinsent. Fr Robert Billing, spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster, Fr Tim Finigan, blogger and Catholic Herald columnist, and Fr Julian Large, provost of the London Oratory, have also signed the letter.

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How to Tell the World that You Love Jesus

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ward

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ward

Evangelization is not only awkward to say, most of us find it awkward to do.

It’s all very well to talk about converting this culture. But how do we do that? Is there a roadmap somewhere to help us on our way to this worthy goal?

Most Catholics are considerate of others. We don’t go door to door on Saturday mornings, rousting people out of bed to ask them where they think they will go when they die. Neither do we dominate dinner parties and family gatherings with demands that our friends and family call the local parish and sign up for RCIA.

We do our best to live and let live. We carry this to the point that we often let internet bullies defame both us and our Church without arguing back.

So, given all that, how are ordinary pew-sitting Catholics going to convert this culture? That’s an important question because, if this culture gets converted, it will be by ordinary pew-sitting Catholics. Priests are preoccupied with running parishes, editing magazines, running universities and dealing with Church administration. Not only that, but they clearly don’t have any better idea how to convert people out there in the hustings than we do.

I see the priests’ role as empowering and equipping the laity to do the work of converting the culture. I see our role as the laity as living our faith in the world, taking the brickbats that go with that, staying faithful and, yes, converting the culture, one step, one person, at a time. No one of us is going to convert this culture. But if we each do our part and we do it every day, we can get there.

The question underneath this remains. How do we convert the world, one person at a time?

I’m talking about a kind of relational conversion that Catholics have pretty much left out of their spiritual kit bag. What has happened is that the laity thinks that conversion is the priest’s job, and the priest thinks that his job is running the parish 24/7.

Let’s cut to the chase here and acknowledge that we, the laity, have the job of converting the culture.

That’s number one.

Next, let’s go about the business of figuring out how to actually do that. By that I mean, let’s start the work of brainstorming for ideas about how we can go about this eternity work that has been given to us.

My fellow Catholic writer, Nancy Ward, has authored a CD which starts the ball rolling in that direction. It’s a three-parter titled Sharing Your Faith Story that begins with Nancy’s own faith story and ends with ideas for how to share your faith story. I think that’s a great place to start the work of converting the culture because each one of us has a faith story, and that faith story is our personal witness to the truth of Christ. For almost all of us, our faith story is a love story, and that makes it even more powerful.

We need to learn how to tell this powerful story of love between us and our Jesus. That’s the first step toward leading others to a love story of their own.

Nancy is running a contest in which you can win a free copy of her CD. Go here for details. To learn more about the CD, check out an interview Nancy gave here. Or, you can buy the CD on Amazon.

Evangelization may be an awkward word to say, but it doesn’t have to feel awkward to do. We just need to put our heads together and figure out how to do it well. The first step is to learn how to tell our faith stories. Our individual faith story is our personal witness of what we believe and why we believe it. Nancy’s CD can help us learn to tell our faith stories, and that is the beginning of converting this culture.

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Synod Leaders are “Log Rolling” Say Cardinals

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

A group of Synod Fathers, including Cardinal Dolan, have written a letter to Pope Francis expressing concern about the way the Synod is progressing.

I wrote about that for National Catholic Register today.

Here is part of what I said:

“You cannot serve God and Mammon.”
—Jesus Christ

The German Catholic Church has a long and ignoble history of playing fool for its government. During the murderous reign of the Third Reich, there were isolated bishops who stood against Hitler. But many of them joined their Lutheran brothers in allowing themselves to be coopted by the pagan cult we call the Nazis.

The Nazis created an economic system in which the government and the economic powers coalesce into one unit working for their mutual benefit. We call that fascism. They also created a mythology or a quasi-religion to go along with it. This quasi-religion was mostly a deliberate return to Germany’s pagan past with a mix of astrology and other whatnots.

At the same time that they were privately voicing contempt for Christianity and implementing plans to destroy it, the Nazi leaders pandered to the churches in their public statements. They sought — and were able — to silence the prophetic and moral voice of the churches by means of coopting them.

Christian churches in much of the world, and certainly in Germany, were already following the false god of nationalism long before Hitler and the Nazis were born. They had given moral gravitas to the abuses of colonialism and the insanity of World War I.

This made them easy prey for the claims of extreme nationalism that came from the Nazis. However, I believe that the thing that pushed German churches down the rat hole to acquiescence with (and even support of) the Nazis was not primarily nationalism. I think they were following another master. It was the “master” that Jesus specifically singled out as one that Christians could not follow if they would follow Him. It was money.


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Men: Your Women and Children Need You

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light.

Bishop Olmsted has written a powerful call for Catholic men to step up and be men. I am particularly impressed because he did this without attacking women. A couple of his brother bishops might take a page from him in this.

I wrote about this pastoral letter from a woman’s viewpoint for CatholicVote. Women need manly men in their lives, as do children and the whole of our society. Men and women together are the foundation of all human civilization.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

John White wrote an article for CatholicVote a few days ago about a pastoral letter to men from Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix. Bishop Olmsted called this pastoral letter “Into the Breach.”

I want to thank the bishop for writing a letter that calls men to be men, but does it without attacking women. That alone was a breath of fresh air. This powerful letter is important to women, as well as men. Because we need you.

Women need the strength and power of manly men. So many women, and even more children, lead blighted lives because they do not have the strong male presence of a husband and father to uphold them.

Men, take note. Your women and your children need you. We need your presence in our lives. Look around you. Look at the messed up people who grew up in messed up homes with no fathers. Look at the gender-confused, feral young people who are so damaged that they can’t marry, form their own families, and raise their own children.

What have we done?

By “we” I mean all of us, men and women, the great we that is the human race. What have we done that we have created this mess? How can we heal it?

- See more at:

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Two Priests In Trouble for Having Boyfriends. Is There a Difference Between Them?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski

This is a post about two prominent priests.

The first prominent priest held a powerful Vatican position and taught theology to priests. He told the world — in a press conference, no less — that he’s gay, sexually active and proud of it. He denounced the “homophobic” Catholic Church and departed with a book deal and his boyfriend.

The second prominent priest is from Chicago. He attended Pope Francis’ address to Congress last month. It turns out that he also has a boyfriend. His archbishop removed him from his parish assignment.

The Chicago priest, Father Marco Mercado, is asking for prayer, and says that his priority is the Gospel. He says he’s sorry if his actions have scandalized anyone.

Scandalized? Us?

After the past 15 years, this barely causes a blip on the Church scandal meter. Those of us in the pews are just relieved it was between adults and something is being done about it. After all, the pope himself told us that there was a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican, and just about every Catholic over the age of 12 knows that many of our priests are gay.

What we have here is a tale of two priests. One fell off the chastity wagon and says he’s sorry for what he did. The other denounced the Church for calling his sin a sin.

This situation illustrates a big issue for the Church. How are we going to go forward in this onslaught of satanic evil that is coming down on us if our priests bunt instead of swing away?

It’s not a question of whether or not we should have priests who are homosexual. We do have priests who are homosexual and everybody knows it. The question is, which column does the priest fall into? Is he a priest, who happens to be homosexual? Or is he a homosexual, who happens to be a priest?

I don’t care if a priest happens to be homosexual. I care if he is an authentic follower of Christ. The day is past when we could get by with priests who went to seminary so that they wouldn’t have to tell their mamas they were gay. We need holy priests who will lead us through these times.

It doesn’t bother me to learn that a priest has fallen flat on his face and done something stupid and sinful. Intimate involvement between two adults is definitely not the worst thing I’ve ever heard of a person doing. People long for other people.

As one of life’s all-time sinners whose only hope was and is the love of God, I do not have the qualifications to be anything but understanding about other people’s sins. I have been forgiven too much to draw a line on forgiveness to others.

But forgiveness presupposes that the person acknowledges their sin and asks to be forgiven. We all sin, repent, get cleaned up and try again. That’s life.

The priest in Chicago says he’s sorry. I don’t know the situation, and I leave its resolution in his bishop’s hands, but I’m assuming that his relationship with an adult man did not involve someone who was vulnerable, such as a parish employee or a counseling situation. All I know is that he says he did wrong and that he’s sorry for it.

The priest in Rome wants the Church to stop telling him his sin is a sin. He’s self-righteous and accusatory toward the Church that trusted him, educated him, promoted him and gave him enormous power.

The fact is, he was ripping off the priesthood and it sounds as if he was doing it deliberately. Given his attitude, he had no business wearing a collar, much less being that close to the seat of power within the Church.

Linda LaScola is an atheist blogger here at Patheos who writes in support of Christian clergy who become atheist. She has made comments that I think accurately describe the impact of fallen clergy. Here’s part of what she says.

… There are clergy who are purposely or inadvertently discouraging their parishioners from holding some of the foundational beliefs of their religion. 

… Liberal clergy will continue to lead the move away from biblical religion. They are humanists’ natural allies … We predict they will keep discarding bits of Christian doctrine until it’s gone. 

This is a post about two prominent priests. One fell off the chastity wagon and seeks forgiveness. The other condemns the Church for saying his sin is a sin.

One affirms Christian doctrine and wants to be forgiven for his human weakness. The other demands that Christianity discard 2,000 years of teaching concerning human sexuality and condemns the Church for adhering to it.

Which of these two priests would Ms LaScola consider “a natural ally?”


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We Already Have a Statement on Gay Marriage from the Pope

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kasia

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kasia

I was like everyone else. I thought at first that the Holy Father’s visit with Kim Davis was exactly what the Vatican has now said that it wasn’t: A form of support. Deacon Greg has the full story. All I care about is the bottom line: The pope’s visit to Kim Davis was evidently meaningless.

That means that we’re back at square zero. Pope Francis has not given us the clarity we crave concerning the family. And the almighty Synod is looming ahead like a bad dream.

Last year’s synod was such a mess that I began to feel the same way about it that I feel about the United States Congress. I was relieved when they went home without doing any real damage. Now, I’ve been reading that serious money is being used to lobby the Synod Fathers on behalf of getting them to support gay marriage.  The African bishops have announced that they will present a united front on behalf of marriage and the family. May God go with them.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided in an absolute sort of way that I’m all through reading the tea leaves of Pope Francis’ various actions concerning marriage. I love Pope Francis. But I don’t — none of us do — need him to give me my marching orders on this issue. Saint John Paul II already did that for us.

The papacy is not a political office. When we inaugurate a new president, that often means that we are also beginning a change of direction for our government. But popes do not come into office with a mandate to overturn the teachings that went before them. In fact, they come into office with a clear mandate to continue the teachings of those who went before them. Pope Francis, has, for instance, reaffirmed Saint John Paul’s teaching that the priesthood is reserved to men so many times I’ve lost count.

He has not reaffirmed Saint John Paul’s teaching on marriage, or at least not as specifically and clearly. But that does not mean that those teachings are no longer valid. Pope Francis is Peter. He is the inheritor of the apostolic succession that goes all the way back to day that the risen Lord told the Apostle to “feed my lambs.” He is, in many ways, the protector of the Church’s teachings and the depository of faith which has been handed to him.

The teachings of Saint John Paul II are just as valid now as when he published them. And, since they were written down and published in explicit form, they have real weight. We could spend all day, trying to interpret off the cuff remarks and random actions by Pope Francis, but none of those things have the teaching authority of Saint John Paul’s official teachings.

I wrote about what this means to our concerns as Catholics and how we should approach the gay marriage issue for Catholic Vote.

Here’s part of what I said:

The pope has spoken about what we should do if our government legalizes gay marriage. Saint Pope John Paul II published a document in 2003 titled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. 

I am familiar with this document because I was a Catholic lawmaker, serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, at the time it was issued. To be honest, I found it troubling because of the onus it put on me as a lawmaker to do things that I knew would affront my gay friends.

I loved these people, love them still, and it was tough, going against them. It cost me dearly on a personal level.

But there is nothing unequivocal about Saint John Paul II’s teaching in this matter. I prayed and blew off steam to my pastor, but there really was never a question that I would obey. The pope was quoting Scripture and talking Jesus. I had no choice.

Today’s Catholics, me included, are hungry for a repeat from Pope Francis. We want something concrete like the document Saint John Paul issued. However, it’s entirely possible that Pope Francis thinks that Saint John Paul has already said all that needs to be said and that all he has to do is make it clear that the pope’s opposition to gay marriage continues.

If that’s true, then, my fellow Catholics, we already have our marching orders.

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It’s Synod Time Again. That Scares Me.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

It’s almost Synod time again.

After last year’s Synod on the Family, I almost wish they would all stay home. I’m afraid of what craziness the cardinals and bishops are going to cook up concerning marriage.

We need leadership from our Church in this time of upheaval. What they tried to give us last year was theological experimentation that walked off from the Gospels into their personal wish list for Jesus as they would like Him to be so their jobs would be easier.

I wrote about all that in a post for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s a bit of what I said:

Last year’s Synod on the Family was the low point in my Catholic faith.

It wasn’t the dueling cardinals and their clashing press comments that got to me. What pushed me close to despair was the fear that the Church might actually walk away from Jesus.

After I converted, I found a few of the Church’s teachings difficult to accept. But I hung in there and slowly came around to acceptance and a profound gratitude for the Church’s fidelity to Christ down through the centuries.

I have always understood that the members of the priesthood, including those in the papacy, are fallen men. I knew from many experiences in my life that they were capable of all sorts of sin. I didn’t expect anything else of them.

That’s how I got through the sexual abuse crisis. I was not, as many Catholic commentators said on television last week, “ashamed” of my Church because of the sex abuse crisis. I was angry with the bishops who allowed this to happen. I never, not for one moment, felt the inclination to excuse them by saying that they had “made mistakes.” Mistakes don’t involve lengthy court action, pay-offs and conspiracy to suppress evidence. Those actions were considered and deliberate. They were not blunders or momentary lapses.

But this never made me doubt the Church itself. I expected that human beings would do bad things. I don’t put my trust in princes, not even princes of the Church. I believed that, whatever wrong-headed things individual men in the Church hierarchy might do, the Church itself was a trustworthy teacher of the unchanging truths of Christ Jesus.

I was called to the Church by Christ in the Eucharist. I accepted difficult Church teachings and got past the scandal by believing that the Church taught truth, even when its leaders erred on a personal or professional level. But when Cardinals in last year’s Synod began yakkity-yakking about changing one of the sacraments; a sacrament that was instituted specifically and directly by Our Lord, it challenged that belief.

I thought then, and I think now, that these men who did this were using about one-half their brains. It’s clear to me that marriage is the basis for Holy Orders. The theology of Holy Orders is tied to the theology of marriage. Both of them are sacraments instituted by Our Lord. If one of them is conditional and up for grabs, then the other is also.

I could not see how these clerics could be so blind. If they trample on Jesus’ teachings on marriage, then Holy Orders, and their own authority, come tumbling down alongside it.

More to the point, no one — no one — can unsay what Jesus said. After 2,000 years of consistent teaching, no one can unteach what the Church has taught. Marriage is between one man and one woman. It is ordained of and by God.

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For other thoughts on the Synod, check out my Patheos colleague Dave Armstrong and The National Catholic Register’s Deacon Nick Donnelly.

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