I’m haven’t been writing about the Synod on the Family because I don’t have a clue what’s really happening.
The quotes from various bishops are confusing, to say the least. They’re also disturbing.
That’s what happens when the press gets their hands on public statements. It isn’t usually a deliberate thing on their part. It’s more a function of what occurs during a game of gossip.
Did you ever play gossip?
The way we did it when I was a Brownie Scout, is that we’d all sit in a circle and the Scout leader (who was usually my mama) would whisper something to the first girl, who would then whisper it to the next. By the time it got all the way around the circle, a simple statement like “the sky is blue” would have become “Godzilla is attacking at dawn.”
Scout leaders used the game to teach little girls the inaccuracy of gossip. As I often tell people, “If you don’t believe the garbage that’s said about me, I’ll return the favor and not believe the garbage I hear being said about you.”
Many of the quotes coming out of this Synod are not only enough to chill a faithful Catholic to the bone, they are flat-out stupid. I’ve read a couple of them and thought, either this is taken totally out of context and probably misquoted a bit on top of that, or this bishop is an idiot.
I decided, not in the name of charity, but in the name of common sense, to take all these quotes as background noise and wait and see what the Synod actually says and does in an official capacity. Even if all our worst fears are realized and the Church does decide to rescind marriage as a sacrament and allow what it has always taught us is sacrilege and begin performing gay marriages and basically drop kick Jesus Christ off the altar, even if every bit of that turns out to be rock-hard true, there is no percentage in wringing our hands over it now.
Besides, how likely is that?
It looks to me like various factions among the bishops and cardinals are trying to lobby the public through the press to exert public pressure on other bishops and cardinals in other factions to go along with what they want. Ergo, we have been treated to blabbermouth bishops and cardinals, (mostly cardinals, from what I’ve seen) running to the press to spill their stuff.
What does this mean in the bigger picture?
All I can say for sure is that it appears that some of the cardinals and bishops have a problem with their big mouths. It also appears that they have the mistaken notion that they can control a story once it’s out there.
I wish they’d asked me about this first. I could have told them that once you say something in a public forum, it’s like launching a handful of helium balloons. Where it goes, or if it even flies at all, is entirely out of your control. You can’t call it back. You can’t unsay it. And you can’t dictate how it will be presented or how people will react to it.
What these bishops and cardinals have accomplished with their talk is scaring the tom fool out of faithful Catholics who are really trying to follow Church teaching. They’ve also got a whole lot of people who have already demonstrated that they don’t care at all about Church teaching by the way they live their lives, slavering at the post, ready to take the bit between their teeth and run with whatever the final outcome is, claiming that it validates their sinfulness.
Just for the record, let me say the obvious. Even if the bishops rescind the law of gravity, I would not recommend jumping off the side of the Grand Canyon. That goes double for things like sleeping around and engaging in serial marriages with this person and the next person.
Jesus made marriage a sacrement. He also put the kibosh on divorce.
If the bishops try to undo what Jesus said, if they try to limit the sacrament of marriage and make it conditional, they will also pretty well do away with their own authority. The Catholic Church is built on the sacraments. If marriage is conditional, then so is Holy Orders, which means that bishops who step all over marriage as a sacrament are also setting up the end of their own authority.
Things roll down hill from the marriage-is-conditional theory of sacramentality pretty quickly, and the Church itself comes unraveled in the process.
So, are the bishops going to do all the things that their quirky statements which are coming to us through the press filter seem to say?
My thought is don’t hold your breath.
If the Eucharist can be had by cultural force, and the sacraments can be watered down to fit the times; then what is the Church?
How likely is it that the bishops are going to do such a thing?
This Synod is not going to overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching. I think we can trust that. However, it may very well develop ideas for new ways to reach out to those who falter in following those teachings. After all, the business of the Church is bringing people to Jesus, not casting them into hell.
That’s why I’m not writing about the Synod. Because all I know about it is coming from one-sentence quotes coming from bishops and cardinals who are obviously using the press to hit at one another. That, and the garbled commentary that the Synod itself releases.
There appear to be factions within the bishops and cardinals, and they appear to be playing to the press.
Things said to the press never come back around sounding even vaguely like what the speaker thought they said in the first place. It’s like playing that children’s game of gossip in real time and to a wide audience.
My advice, brothers and sisters, is go to mass this weekend. Pray a Rosary for the Synod. And live your lives.
As to what the bishops are really intending, we’ll find out soon enough.