The Bishop Must Stand. If the Bishop Fails, All the People Will Run Away

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service https://www.flickr.com/photos/125093371@N02/

The Synod on the Family has finally adjourned, leaving behind a document for us to read and ponder. In many ways, this Synod, like the one last year, ended up resembling the United States Congress. Here are a few of those ways.

1. Most of what they talked about doing was so disturbing that the people in the pews breathed a sigh of relief that, in the end, they did nothing. People were praying, saying their rosaries, signing petitions and writing blogs, all to the purpose of imploring the Synod Fathers not to overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching. We feared with a real fear that our Church was going to go against the direct words of Jesus Christ and essentially deep-six the sacramental basis for the entire Catholic Church.

It was a scandalous debate, this consideration of taking the official position that bishops would officially ignore Church teaching in practice while not changing it in writing. It was scandalous, and it scandalized.

To that extent, the Synod did harm rather than good. The Synod Fathers managed to convince huge numbers of faithful Catholics that such a thing was possible. This damaged the essential trust between shepherds and flock, even though it didn’t, ultimately happen.

In short, the Synod was like the United States Congress.  The changes it was willing to seriously consider were so disastrous and appalling to the people in the hustings that everyone breathed a sigh of relief and considered it a victory when they ended up doing nothing at all. We felt safer when they finally went home.

2. The Synod did not address the cataclysmic discrimination and violence facing Christians all over the world in a meaningful way.

Christians are being wiped from the earth in a genocide in the Middle East. Christians are subject to horrific persecution in North Korea and other places. Christians live under active discrimination that flares into violence, rape and murder in many other places such as India. Christians are subject to government oppression, unjust imprisonment and active government discrimination that can include arrest, torture and long prison sentences in such places as China.

Christians in the West are subjected to constant hazing and bashing. Christianity is slandered and attacked in the media, on-line hate blogs and other Christian-bashing outlets. Christian children are subjected to constant anti-Christian propaganda and pressure in the public schools.

Christians, including Christian elected officials, are subject to legal harassment, arrest and loss of their livelihoods in the so-called Christian West. This has gone so far that the Church itself is subject to lawsuits aimed at trying to force the bishops to stop teaching Catholic faith and practice in Catholic institutions. The Church is also currently fighting a draconian mandate handed down by a stacked anti-Catholic committee and signed by the President of the United States.

3. The Synod did not effectively address the destructive effects that many aspects of our modern world has on families. Drug addiction, discriminatory images of Christians and morality in the media, joblessness, low wages, sex education in public schools, job discrimination against pregnant women, violence against women and pornography mow down families and grind them into the dust. These problems cross cultures.

For instance, here in America, both parents in working class families often have to work more than one job each to make ends meet. This means that young children are often shifted from one baby sitter to the next, and then, when they are barely school-age, left alone for long hours. They end up being raised by other children, the public schools and themselves.

This destroys parental involvement in their children’s lives and leaves the children at the mercy of the larger culture. These same families are forced to send their children to sub-standard schools where they are indoctrinated in the anti-Christian zeitgeist.

In other areas of the world, poverty is so extreme that it leaves children without the basics of human life such as adequate food, clean water and shelter.

Catholic schools cost far too much for most working class parents to afford. They have often deteriorated into prep schools for wealthy kids, many of whom are not Catholic. Meanwhile, Catholic children are forced into substandard public schools. Catholic higher education, at least here in the United States, is an on-going scandal precisely because of the anti-Catholic atmosphere and teaching found in many Catholic universities. Also, Catholic higher education costs far too much to be accessible to most Catholic young people.

Catholic education has become so trendy, “inclusive” and expensive that it excludes most Catholic children.

The Synod was like the United States Congress in that it failed to address the very real needs and challenges of the people in the pews and went off after its own arcane interests that were in fact an affront to Catholic teaching. As I said earlier, we ended up being grateful that, while they did no good, at least they didn’t do the harmful things they had considered.

4. Finally, the Synod on the Family is like the United States Congress because it was lobbied by big money special interests who were bent on persuading the Synod to abandon Catholic teachings in favor of following the “teachings” of the world. These people did not persuade the Synod to subvert Catholic teaching and abandon the clear words of Jesus Christ, but they did control the agenda of the Synod.

The entire Synod revolved around a debate as to whether or not the Church should adopt the agenda of the special interests who were lobbying it. This agenda was presented to the Synod by the German bishops, but it was clear to someone like me who has lived through a lot of this stuff that the puppet masters were the special interests. That is precisely the way these things work in politics, including, it seems, Church politics. Outside special interests get their followers inside the legislative body to present their ideas and hammer them home.

To put it bluntly, the agenda of a few special interests dominated the Synod. The issues at hand were all about how or if to weaken the Church’s teaching on marriage, which is consistent with that agenda.  Not much else was really considered.

It took the efforts of the people in the pews — who counter-lobbied through petition and prayer —  in concert with a group of determined bishops, to stem this move toward clerical nihilism. At the end of the day, we are all saying Hallelujah! because at least the Synod did no harm to the doctrines of the Church.

Was the Synod a complete failure? I don’t know. That depends on what happens next. In short, it depends on Pope Francis and how he responds to the Synod’s recommendations.

I do know that this fight about weakening the Church from within is only just beginning. Those lobbies are not going to stop. They will be back, and next time, they will be smarter.

The pressure on individual bishops to walk away from Church teaching in practice while giving lip service to it is only going to increase. Then, each bishop who falls — and it appears that an entire segment of them in Germany, plus quite a few elsewhere, have already fallen — will be held up as an example as to why Church teaching is unworkable and must be ignored.

Before too long, we will be hearing about how Church teaching is utterly impracticable and the evidence will be the practice of these fallen bishops and their failed leadership. That will create pressure to spread this travesty of leadership further.

The lobbying, the money, the lavish media productions, the steady drip-drip-drip of hate directed at the Church is not going to stop. It is going to become more widespread and aggressive.

To withstand this pressure, a bishop is going to have to endure all sorts of personal indignity, ranging from shunning to open vilification. Bishops begin as priests, part of a brotherhood. They move up the clerical ladder by appointment from those higher up. Then, they find themselves in a position where they have to stand alone or fall, and if they fall, they will take a lot of good people with them.

Years ago, I interviewed an Anglican bishop from northern Nigeria. This man had seen parishioners beheaded right in front of him. Churches in his diocese had been burned to the ground. His own daughter was taken for a while. His wife said something to me that is perhaps the truest thing I ever heard about being a bishop.

The bishop must stand. If the bishop fails, all the people will run away. 

That is the simple of fact of what it means to be a bishop, what it is to be a shepherd. Fancy dinners with the rich and powerful, getting all decked out in extravagant vestments and having people kiss your ring have nothing to do with it. In a time of trouble — and this is a time of trouble raised by powers of ten — it comes down to faith and courage.

Those of us in the pews do not need to be whipped about by bizarre theological experimentation acting on the behalf of special interest groups who are trying to destroy the Church from within. We need trustworthy leadership that we can be proud of and follow.

 

I know this is not going to happen, but what we need is for the bishops to start speaking with one voice for Christ and Him crucified. We need bishops who stand on the Gospels and don’t flinch when they are criticized for doing so. We need Church leadership that stops being obsessed with itself and begins to look at us, the people who make up the vast Body of Christ in this world and who are being mowed down by the wolves.

 

We need shepherds.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Persecution, not Divorced and Remarrieds, is the Most Serious Issue Facing Christianity Today

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

My colleague Kate O’Hare interviewed Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Bahai Soro about the holocaust of Christians that is taking place in the Middle East. 

To be honest, reading this interview put the hijinks of the Synod on the Family in perspective. It made the whole thing seem a little bit like an exercise in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It would have been better to hold a Synod on Christian persecution in much of the world, coupled as it is by increasing harassment, bashing and legal attacks on the rights of Christians in the so-called Christian West.

Christianity is under attack as it has not been since the Muslim wars of conquest in the Middle Ages. Today’s line of attack is even more aggressive because it has not one, not even two, but several fronts. Christians are being subjected to genocide in their ancient homelands. Christians endure violent persecution in places like North Korea and certain parts of India. Christians are subjected to government control and abuse in places such as China, and Christians are under social and legal attack in an attempt to drive them from public forums and banish their ministries in much of the West, including the United States.

That is the most serious issue facing Christianity today.

From Angelus:

Many, if not most, of the Christians will be forced to leave Iraq forever, but some are determined to stay and see that Christianity maintains a living presence in some of the places that first heard the message of the Apostles.

In America, there are those determined to help. They can’t work a miracle, but you have to start somewhere.

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mar Bawai Soro resides at the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle in El Cajon, in San Diego County. It serves approximately 60,000 Catholics in several western states who are part of the Chaldean or Assyrian Rite. Many are immigrants from the Middle East, especially Iraq and Iran.

Bishop Soro was formerly a bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East. A longtime advocate of the primacy of the Apostolic See of Rome — he proudly displays thick albums of photos of the times he has met Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis — Bishop Soro was received into the Catholic Church in January 2008.

He recently joined forces with Kingdom Special Operations, a Las Vegas-based private security company. Staffed by former intelligence officers and military Special Forces members, it goes on assignments worldwide for the U.S. government and other entities.

But the CEO of Kingdom, Orange County native Roger Flores, is a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus, and he has always maintained that part of Kingdom’s mission is to help his fellow Christians.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Fr Dwight: Blowing the Whistle on Liberal Hypocrites

 

Photo Courtesy Fr Dwight Longenecker

Photo Courtesy Fr Dwight Longenecker

Father Dwight Longenecker went on a rant, and it was too true. The only thing I would add is that there are a bushel and a peck of conservative hypocrites to sit on the shelf alongside the liberals. But that is another post, one which I need to write.

Here’s part of what Father Dwight said:

The attack on hypocrites in religion typically focusses on the uptight, self righteous conservative Catholic who judges others while they themselves are guilty of the same sin.

You know the schtick: “Mildred is always saying what terrible sinners young people are for sleeping around, but it turns out she’s been having sex with her neighbor’s husband!”

or “Those Catholics are such hypocrites. They’re always talking about helping the poor, but they’re sitting pretty in their big houses and driving their posh cars.”

The first thing to observe is that every Christian is a hypocrite to a certain extent simply because we uphold a moral standard that is impossible to achieve until we have become saints. In other words, we fail. We stumble and fall. Furthermore, we cover up our failures and we hide our shame.

So we’re all hypocrites. My hand is up. I’m a hypocrite. You’re a hypocrite. If we are not yet saints, then we are still a work in progress and we must admit that we stand for a heroic standard of behavior that we are still trying to attain.

What nobody ever talks about, however, are the particularly Catholic form of hypocrites which are paraded in front of us all the time with absolutely no shame. In fact these hypocrites wear their lying, two faced hypocrisy on their sleeve and seem to be proud of it.

I’m talking about liberal Catholics who think it’s smart to be “cafeteria Catholics”.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Archbishop Blogs from Inside the Synod

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by http://www.bosnasrebrena.ba/photos/thumbnails.php?album=45

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by http://www.bosnasrebrena.ba/photos/thumbnails.php?album=45

Want an insider’s view of the Synod? Check out Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s blog. He gives a daily update on the doings from his catbird seat on the inside. It’s engaging, informative and fun.

Here’s a sample:

When we made it back into the Hall yesterday, the Secretary General said the Pope wanted to say a word. My ears pricked up. This Pope doesn’t take the microphone just for the sake of it. What’s going on here, I thought. Well, again he caught us on the hop. For some time there have been rumblings that we may have a couple of new Congregations in the Roman Curia, and the Pope took this opportunity to announce one of them – a Congregation for the Laity, Family and Life.

Not sure why he chose this moment to make the announcement. It may have been a way of saying that things are moving in Rome in order to counteract a sense that has emerged at times in the Synod that nothing either is moving or should move. A gesture against immobilism? Who knows?

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Pope Francis Combines Family, Laity and Life Into One Dicastery

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Pope Francis has enacted an internal reform of the Vatican by combining Family, Laity and Life into one dicastery.

I don’t understand the inner workings of the Vatican. But looking at this from the outside, it makes sense. If I am correct, a dicastery is a department within the Curia. The ministries relating to family, laity and life are certainly bound together by common interests.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Pope Francis announced Thursday to the Synod on the Family that he has chosen to establish a new office in the Roman Curia that will deal with issues of laity, family, and life, as part of his reform of the curia.

“I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,” Pope Francis said Oct. 22, according to a communique from the Holy See press office.

“To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December.”

The Pope added that in addition to the pontifical councils for the laity and the family, the Pontifical Academy for Life will also joined to the new office.

This move is significant because it streamlines three separate offices into one; it is also meant to give greater attention to issues relating to the laity in the Church.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

The Synod: German Bishops Take One Last Shot

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Mary Rezac, at Catholic News Agency, wrote a pithy summary of the German bishops’ efforts to change pastoral practice within the Catholic Church as it applies to marriage.

Here’s part of what she said:

Ok everyone, last German bishops blog for the duration of #Synod15! (At least, I think. I hope?)

As they near the end of an eventful three weeks, the 13 small groups of the Synod on the Family, divided by language, have released their last reports before the conclusion of the meeting on Sunday.

For those of you just joining us, the German-speaking group of bishops has been in the spotlight during the Synod as some of the main proponents of what has become known as the “Kasper proposal”, by which Cardinal Walter Kasper has promoted allowing some divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive sacramental Communion after a ‘penitential path’, among other controversial proposals.

This proposal has been shut down multiple times by the Church over the years, and yet, it continues to crop up, particularly amongst German bishops. Hence this blog. And this one. And this one. Oh and also this one. 

In their small group report on the third part of the synod’s working document, the German bishops suggest that divorced-and-civilly-remarried couples discern in the “internal forum” their ability to receive the sacraments, following their conscience and aided by their confessor. Read the rest here.

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Drug Addiction is a Catastrophe for Families

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Imagens Evangelicas https://www.flickr.com/photos/imagensevangelicas/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Imagens Evangelicas https://www.flickr.com/photos/imagensevangelicas/

I wish that the Synod on the Family had been able to spend more time considering ways in which the modern world destroys families, often from the inside out. If they had, drug addiction would surely have found a way onto the list.

Nothing is more insidious or difficult to address than drug addict family members. The rest of the family ends up paying a horrendous price for the love they feel for the addict, and the addict is destroyed utterly by both the addiction and the things they do as a result of the addiction.

I wonder that there is so little genuine attention given to this plague by religious thinkers. I honestly do not know why this is so.

I wrote a post for the National Catholic Register about my own struggles with a family member of mine that I love with all my heart who suffers from a life-long addiction to drugs.

Here is part of what I said:

If you doubt that drug addiction is evil, consider what it does to love.

I’ve been dealing for years with the heartbreak and disaster of a beloved niece who suffers from cocaine and meth addiction. I’ve watched and suffered as the drugs destroyed her personality, health and sanity.

It’s as if the drugs were devils who consumed her. They disassembled her personality and shredded her rationality until there was nothing but rage and violence left behind.

Drugs eat the person alive, hollow them out and leave them as clanking and unworkable faux versions of themselves. Drugs degrade addicts in horrible ways. They do things to themselves and others that scar and mutilate them spiritually and morally, as well as physically. The worst of it is that drugs turn them sociopathic. They become manipulative, dishonest, and without conscience in their dealings with the people who love them.

No one can have a practicing drug addict in their life and stay sane and happy. You can’t help them. If you try, they will pull you into their insanity and destroy you, along with themselves. The choice inevitably becomes a choice to either cut all ties with the drug addict, or be destroyed by their addiction, along with them.

That’s why I said that drug addiction is evil. It destroys life, personality, morality and sanity. But its worst crime against the people it infects is that it turns love into a weakness and a weapon.

Read the rest here.

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/drug-addiction-is-a-catastrophe-for-families/#ixzz3pJFlvmjj

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

Small Groups Release Concluding Reports on Instrumentum Laboris

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

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.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

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.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

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.

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X