Fr. Barron Brings the Sanity

Fr. Barron Brings the Sanity October 14, 2014

Having Patience for the Sausage-Making Synod

By Very Rev. Robert Barron

Father Robert Barron is the founder of the global ministry, Word on Fire, and the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary. He is the creator of the award winning documentary series, “Catholicism”  and “Catholicism:The New Evangelization.” Learn more at 

The midterm report on the deliberations of the Synod on the Family has appeared and there is a fair amount of hysteria all around. John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement “an earthquake, the big one that hit after months of smaller tremors.” Certain  commentators on the right have been wringing their hands and bewailing a deep betrayal of the Church’s teaching. One even opined that this report is the “silliest document ever issued by the Catholic Church,” and some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II. Meanwhile the New York Times confidently announced that the Church has moved from “condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness, and mercy.” I think everyone should take a deep breath.

What has just appeared is not even close to a definitive, formal teaching of the Catholic Church. It is a report on what has been discussed so far in a synod of some two hundred bishops from around the world. It conveys, to be sure, a certain consensus around major themes, trends that have been evident in the conversations, dominant emphases in the debates, etc., but it decidedly does not represent “the teaching” of the Pope or the bishops.

One of the great mysteries enshrined in the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church is that Christ speaks through the rather messy and unpredictable process of ecclesiastical argument. The Holy Spirit guides the process of course, but he doesn’t undermine or circumvent it. It is precisely in the long, laborious sifting of ideas across time and through disciplined conversation that the truth that God wants to communicate gradually emerges. If you want evidence of this, simply look at the accounts of the deliberations of the major councils of the Church, beginning with the so-called Council of Jerusalem in the first century right through to the Second Vatican Council of the twentieth century. In every such gathering, argument was front and center, and consensus evolved only after lengthy and often acrimonious debate among the interested parties. Read John Henry Newman’s colorful history of the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century, and you’ll find stories of riots in the streets and the mutually pulling of beards among the disputants. Or pick up Yves Congar’s very entertaining diary of his years at Vatican II, and you’ll learn of his own withering critiques of the interventions of prominent Cardinals and rival theologians. Or peruse John O’Malley’s history of the Council of Trent, and you’ll see that early draft statements on the key doctrines of original sin and justification were presented, debated, and dismissed—long before final versions were approved.

Until Vatican II, these preliminary arguments and conversations were known only to the participants themselves and to certain specialist historians who eventually sifted through the records. The great teachings of the Councils became widely known and celebrated, but the process that produced them was, happily enough, consigned to the shadows. If I might quote the great Newman, who had a rather unsatisfying experience of official ecclesial life in Rome:  “those who love the barque of Peter ought to stay out of the engine room!” This is a somewhat more refined version of “those who enjoy sausage ought never to watch how it is made.” The interim report on the Synod represents a very early stage of the sausage-making process and, unsurprisingly, it isn’t pretty. Two more weeks of discussion will follow; then a full year during which the findings of the Synod will be further refined, argued about, and clarified; then the Ordinary Synod on the Family will take place (the one going on now is the Extraordinary Synod), and many more arguments and counter-arguments will be made; finally, some months, perhaps even a year or so, after that, the Pope will write a post-Synodal exhortation summing up the entire process and offering a definitive take on the matter. At that point, I would suggest, something resembling edible sausage will be available for our consumption; until then, we should all be patient and refrain from bloviating.

The historian and theologian Martin Marty commented that our debates today about sex and authority are analogous to the arguments in the early centuries of the Church’s life concerning Christology and to the disputes about anthropology and salvation around the time of the Reformation. Those two previous dust-ups took several centuries to resolve, and Marty suggests that we might be in the midst of another centuries long controversy. I’m glad that Pope Francis, at the outset of this Synod, urged the participating bishops to speak their minds clearly and fearlessly. He didn’t want a self-censorship that would unduly hamper the conversation and thereby prevent the truth from emerging. This does not imply for a moment that Pope Francis will agree with every point of view expressed, and indeed he can’t possibly, since many are mutually exclusive. But it does indeed mean that he has the confidence and the patience required to allow the Holy Spirit to work in his preferred fashion.

Some of us recall when an entire papal commission recommended that the pope just go ahead and approve of artificial contraception.  He declined to do so.  Because the Holy Spirit is in charge.

Relax.  This is the the Church holding itself in suspense, thinking things through messily, and making up its mind about stuff.  It won’t last forever.  Trust God.  Be at peace.  Do the next practical thing.

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  • Athelstane

    “…some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II.”

    That would be the head of the Polish bishop’s conference.

    • “…some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II.”

      Did Fr. Barron really say that? Ha. </pedantic grammarian>

      • Athelstane

        I assume that Fr. Barron meant “flouts.”

  • BHG

    An interesting juxtaposition in that today, the the day after the relatio was released, it is the feast of Pope Callistus. Pope Callistus I is the one who opened the sacrament of penance up for frequent confessions against the long standing practice of once-only confession. One wonders whether his opponents accused him of gradualism and flaunting the teachings of St. Peter? Have faith in the Church!

  • Cypressclimber

    Some of us recall when an entire papal commission recommended that the pope just go ahead and approve of artificial contraception. He declined to do so. Because the Holy Spirit is in charge.

    Yes, and surely you recall the great damage done, for many years, precisely because so many began to expect a change in teaching that never came? We’re only now plowing out, almost 50 years later.

    Many of us saw this whole debate about remarried being given communion playing out the same way; and now, for a bonus, we have talk of changing Church teaching on same-sex behavior.

    I appreciate your emphasis on calm and trust; but you’re “nothing to see here” strikes me as either naive or whistling past the graveyard, so to speak.

    There is something here. Forces within the church are joined with those outside to try to press as much change as they can, if not in doctrine (which won’t change), than in “pastoral practice.” And this time, they have a synod they are seeking to hijack–the stakes are higher.

    And in the midst of this is our holy father who, it must be said, has made some curious choices. Why did he, for example, bring Cardinal Kasper in from the cold to be the face of this?

    Pope Paul VI was heartbroken by the nastiness directed at him and the Church after Humanae Vitae. I fear Pope Francis, or his successor, may come to experience something similar, as a result of this orchestrated effort to hijack the synod — a foreseeable outcome that could have been protected against to a greater degree than we’ve seen.

    • Athelstane

      Hello Cypress,

      Mark is not entirely wrong for thinking that some trads and conservatives could stand to spend a little less time in front of the PC/tablet and more time in prayer. That said, however…

      I appreciate your emphasis on calm and trust; but you’re “nothing to see here” strikes me as either naive or whistling past the graveyard, so to speak.

      It’s a pollyannaish irenicism, and I fear that Mark may have a terminal case of it; which seems a more charitable assumption than the suspicion that he’s trolling with clickbait. If he really thinks this way, he ought to spare some criticism for all of the prelates expressing alarm over this document, and how it was put together.

      • chezami

        It is the job of the prelates at the Synod to wrangle about the document. That is what the document is for: to be wrangled over. It’s title in English “Report after Debate”. The problem is not prelates wrangling. The problem is internet selfappointed bishops and Inquisitors *concluding*.

        • Red

          Perhaps this is true. Then again, I tend to sympathize with the reactionary types. They’re surrounded by a culture that absolutely hates them in regards to anything relating to sex. They’ve learned to be defensive, especially as of late. They’ve committed to Church teaching as its been communicated through the catechism. The Church only has itself to blame for the fallout that’s coming from the upcoming change to the teaching involving divorcees receiving communion. The Church that proclaims that its teachings are “infallible” will be forced to admit that the Eastern Orthodox had a point. So long papal infallibility.

          • Sherry

            Without screaming fire about the synod, some of us have concerns as we read and listen to what is being let out into the world, both for what is said and what is perceived. Some of the talk of softening the approach to divorce, I welcome, having been part of three annulment processes, but poor translation or not, there seems to be a lot to find troublesome. I don’t recall anyone ever from a pulpit or a blog or a newspaper that held a Catholic point of view dismissing people because of the type of sin they gravitated toward, be it contracepting, living outside of marriage, or favoring one’s own gender, but I have seen reams of articles in the secular world castigating those who follow Church teaching as hateful. I understand wanting to invite everyone to the wedding feast, that is the Church’s job, but that does mean that each of us should show up properly attired, meaning we want to come. It can’t be that if you are faithful, you can’t look at this and say, what is happening and what does it mean because it doesn’t sound quite like what I’ve known. Ought we to be thoughtful questioning people, people who believe but also recognize that while the Holy Spirit guides the church (and the gates of hell shall not prevail), it doesn’t mean the synod is not incapable of saying things in error, (They took a poll for issues, so presumably, the rest of us have equally valid opinions which could be considered if polling makes the difference). As someone who believes and will believe, and who knows she cannot believe otherwise, I suppose we can’t complain without incurring the charge of being the older brother resenting the feast for the prodigal son, or the ungrateful worker who is paid a just wage for a whole day’s work, but being human, it is a temptation just the same. But it would be nice to be noticed for trying as hard as possible, to live out this faith life in this world so diametrically opposed to it, and to not feel dismissed both by the world for believing, nor by the Church because we’re not as far as we can tell, the issue. Of course, that begs the scary question, am I the problem? Are we the problem? Which can only be answered, probably yes.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Dear Lord, how I beg that I too were not the problem!

              Do you hear yourself, Sherry? It sounds like you are bemoaning being much farther along the path of sanctity than I. I have no doubt you are. It isn’t hard. But, you really probably are closer to the Lord than me. Soak in His love! Be thankful you do not receive the Church’s attention!

              You are standing, sword in hand, your armor intact. I am dying, ran through, rotting. I need triage, and I need treatment.

              And I need you to cover the medics who might come to rescue my sorry,weak,perfidious butt! Fight on, Sister! But please don’t lose heart! You’ll have His glory, and someday after a long stint in purgatory, if I make it to the Barracks of the triumphant, you’ll have my everlasting love too.

              • Sherry

                I don’t quite understand all you say. I didn’t think I’m on the path to sanctity, only seeking to be, but also I don’t like the diametrically either everything is awesome approach or something wicked this way comes…thinking about the Synod. It may be sausage, but as a chef, I can say, I’m not sure we should put that in the sausage can’t I?

            • Athelstane

              I have seen reams of articles in the secular world castigating those who follow Church teaching as hateful.

              No question about it – as Mark himself has documented on many occasions here. And it’s only intensifying, alas.

              • [Sherry] I have seen reams of articles in the secular world castigating those who follow Church teaching as hateful…. [Athelstane] And it’s only intensifying, alas.

                Sure, and let’s make sure they hate us for what we do think and not for what we do not. Pope Francis is doing a fairly decent, if imperfect, job doing that.

          • petey

            “a culture that absolutely hates them”

            no, they don’t bulk that large in the culture’s thinking

            • Red

              Wow. You’ve totally outdone me. You’re right. These people totally ripped out of thin air that the Church does actually teach that homosexual sex acts are intrinsically evil. Genius. I’m so impressed by this unbelievable insight. You should write a book on the subject. You could call it “How the modern Catholic completely invented the idea that sodomy is intrinsically evil, as opposed to the teaching of the church fathers and the bible”. I bet you’ll sell a ton of books.

        • Athelstane


          In other words: “Pray, pay, and obey.”

          Sure didn’t stop you from ripping Bishop Cupich apart in post after post after post (at least before his Franciscan imprimatur). But perhaps you became a self-appointed bishop when I wasnt’t looking.

  • tj.nelson

    This is a good reminder:

    “The historian and theologian Martin Marty commented that our debates today about sex and authority are analogous to the arguments in the early centuries of the Church’s life concerning Christology and to the disputes about anthropology and salvation around the time of the Reformation. Those two previous dust-ups took several centuries to resolve, and Marty suggests that we might be in the midst of another centuries long controversy.”

    We live in exciting times.

    • HornOrSilk

      What a chinese curse we have been given.

  • Sam Schmitt

    Fr. Barron has a point – that the discussions at other councils and synods surely covered over a whole range of viewpoints, even those outside the boundaries of orthodoxy. It’s just that these were not usually released to the world as if they represented where the discussion was going, along with a press (both secular and Catholic) eager to proclaim a “sea change” in the Catholic understanding of the these issues.

    • HornOrSilk

      You really have not read what happened at the councils…

      • Sam Schmitt

        Yes, I understand the political machinations, propaganda battles, and even violence that went on, so in that sense the latest episode is pretty tame. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.

  • Pete the Greek


  • Mike

    “Some of us recall when an entire papal commission recommended that the pope just go ahead and approve of artificial contraception. He declined to do so. Because the Holy Spirit is in charge.”

    I wasn’t around that long ago but Wow, Really? Like an official commission? Interesting to say the least.

    All this commentary seems to me to be pointing to the fact that what Catholics need most is education about their own Church and its storied history.

    • All this commentary seems to me to be pointing to the fact that what Catholics need most is education about their own Church and its storied history.

      Amen! Everyone should spit on his hands, get a really good grip on his faith, and then read Paul Johnson. You don’t have to agree with his analysis, just pay anything like close attention to his accounts of the heresy and misbehavior of various early church members, including some the church call “Fathers”. We in the West have been living with far too romantic a view of the church, I think.

      • Mike

        why do you mention his analysis? is he a “dissenting” catholic?

        • Not that I know of. I’ve heard some complain that he’s too “liberal” in his History of Christianity, that he paid too much attention to people like Erasmus and treated Augustine poorly. It’s been a while since I read it, so I can’t definitively judge, but I remember feeling at the time like, “Holy crap, God’s holy church has always been a bit of a hot mess.”

          • Mike

            ok thanks.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Silly Mark, it’s not the Holy Spirit that guides this process to reveal the truth, but the impotent rage of the comboxes. Why, even now, the synod combs said comboxes to discern the will of God.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      We really are doomed if this happens.

  • Willard

    This interim report reflects the mind of the Holy Father. He is simply not going to allow the “culture warrior” bishops to focus on homosexual sodomy committed by at most 3 percent of the population while those same culture warriors turn a blind eye to the ubiquitious strip clubs, pornography, and heterosexual sodomy that litters the land. This Pope HATES hypocrisy.

    • Red

      Good point. That brings forward a good question though. Is sodomy actually sinful? Thoughts?

      • Athelstane

        Well: The Catechism (#1867) reaffirms the “sins that cry to heaven” for vengeance: the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.

        Such sins can be forgiven; but the Church has always taught that they are mortal sins.

        • Willard

          The catechism also says this about masturbation:

          “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.”

          So from the very magisterium of the Catholic Church, a gravely disordered act like masturbation may very well not be a mortal sin.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Of course, since to be a mortal sin, it takes more than just the grave matter: there also have to be full knowledge and full and free consent, factors such as those mentioned in your quote, that are in the sinners’ hearts and that God alone fully knows (sometimes even the sinner him/herself may not fully be aware of some of these things until several years later – as in my own case in a different area of sin) and that you are not allowed to try to measure or judge in others…

    • Alexander

      Huh? Catholic “culture warriors” are turning a blind eye to pornography? Are you kidding? And I’d be equally disturbed if the bishops issued a statement asking Catholics to “accept and value” the desires of strip club patrons or heterosexual sodomites.

      • Red

        Come on Alexander, surely you realize that the bishops silence on things such as strip clubs, masturbation, and heterosexual sodomy are actually endorsements of this behavior. Willard’s right on here. Regarding any, ANY “sin”, as it pertains to sex, the Church should remain silent.

    • Andrew Attaway

      Yes. He is going to do whatever it takes to make it look like the synod is following his line. Must say, I really don’t love the guy.

    • Athelstane

      Of course, the greater likelihood is that we’re not going to hear denunciations of *any* sexual sins by most of the Magisterium, if things play out the way some hope.

      After all, let’s remember what spurred this Synod in the first place: Lots of Germans and other Europeans having sex and cohabiting out of wedlock (or worse, in adultery), and wanting a Church imprimatur for it – pretty much all of them heterosexuals, I believe.

      • Willard

        It’s got to be one or the other. I’m praying for consistency and not hypocrisy.

      • Marthe Lépine

        The Magisterium has already denounced sexual sins, just read the Catechism and you will find it there. What seems to be the matter of this synod is to work out ways to help people apply the teaching in their current circumstances.

        • Athelstane

          That’s not what Cardinal Kasper is trying to achieve, Marthe – and you know it.

          • Marthe Lépine

            I think that you are making a lot of presumptions here. Who gave you the ability to read Cardinal Kasper’s mind?

            • Athelstane

              Well, Cardinal Kasper did, by saying what was on his mind – in public.

              He has a long paper trail on these and other issues.

  • Willard

    Another thing that bothers me. Read this from the catechism on masturbation:

    “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.” To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

    Funny, I don’t remember that paragraph getting the same kind of attention. Could it be that it is so much easier to be understanding and merciful when the sin in question is one you could be tempted by? And how much easier it is to be against a sin that you will NEVER be tempted by?

    • Surely you realize other people’s sins are much worse than our own?

      • Willard

        Of course. Wasn’t that in the Sermon on the Mount?

        • Red

          Exactly!!! We need to come around to the fact that sodomy isn’t even a sin!

          • Marthe Lépine

            But… Maybe that is not what is being discussed? Seems to me that the point here is to find ways to better help some people who are struggling with that sin. Maybe it is not whether a sin is a sin, but whether the other conditions for a sin to be a mortal sin are always present, in the case of all and every sinners, and to help people to gradually climb out of the pits their sins have put them in.

  • Andy

    A couple of things I learned over time. First, I can’t stop people – for example Bishops, Cardinals and like from talking about things. Second conversations about complicated topics tend to be messy and subject to change, frequently. Third, I can’t make in this case Bishops and Cardinals and Pope do what I want, they won’t listen to me. Fourth, interim reports about what was said, who said what and the like rarely are accurate to the degree those driven by absolute precision ,even though I have yet to meet an absolutely precise person. Finally, until something final comes out I am not going to worry. My job is to pray that a wise and thoughtful , prayerful and correct outcome occurs.

    • Paxton Reis


  • Carlos

    While I generally agree with the whole “take a deep breath and calm down approach ” when it comes to these kinds of matters, I think this situation is far different. We have to acknowledge the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face manipulation games that are being played by those controlling the synod. Heck, two highly influential members of the curia, Cardinals Muller and Burke, have both spoken out against the shenanigans going on with regard to the secrecy and controlling of information, with Cardinal Burke even going so far as to call on the Holy Father to finally come out and make a clarification on the Church’s views on these matters.

    • Dan F.

      Exactly! Nothing says “Secrecy” and “Controlling of information” like publishing a brief report on what’s been said so far. wait, oh, hmmm…

      • Carlos

        The point, as Cardinal Burke has implied, is that the report is NOT representative of what is actually taking place inside of the synod. Unlike past synods, which were open and recorded, this one is kept quiet, and the information being released is carefully controlled and manipulated. Even Cardinal Erdo didn’t want to take responsibility for the report, and that’s his job.

        • petey

          “The point, as Cardinal Burke has implied, is that the report is NOT
          representative of what is actually taking place inside of the synod.”

          unless it is. how would we know? the word of burke alone?

        • Andy

          Where did you find this – that information is being controlled and there was a change to not having an open synod or recording what was said? I just looked for this information and all I found was that the changes were that voting members had to submit their prepared comments two weeks in advance.

    • Fr. Denis Lemieux

      And so…? We shouldn’t stay calm? I don’t get your point, really.

      • Carlos

        My point is that we can’t just whistle on by like what is taking place is no big deal. Yes, ultimately the Church is going to uphold doctrine, as She always has, but what good will that do when massive scandal has broken out in the meantime. With all of the dis-information and confusion that has been released so far, this issue of marriage cannot be allowed to fester for another year. Souls are in the balance. Clarity is needed NOW.

        • Fr. Denis Lemieux

          OK, point fairly taken. And hey – I’m doing my bit on my own little blog to help clarify stuff! But my point is still that we go a lot further a lot faster in that clarifying work if we maintain a level tone, keep our tempers, don’t hurl accusations around (which you aren’t doing, I do realize), and generally act like Christian gentlemen and ladies. Which many are doing… and some are not, in this matter. God bless you!

          • mike

            Interesting that the faithful are the only ones told to “keep our tempers” and “keep calm”. Father, we are quite familiar with the tactics employed by liberals in every arena as they are the same- “let’s dialogue” really means let’s reduce things to a common denominator, create division within the ranks, put out as many “red herrings” as possible (treat gay people with respect, when was this NOT our position?!), separate the opposition for ridicule, and create as much confusion as possible. From politics to the church, the left destroys.
            One last thing- they have said much about understanding and treating with care, etc., have you seen or heard one, just one, mention of The Cross? Why not? His yoke is light, is it not?
            While everyone takes a breath, they should contemplate if Jesus’ love is really being considered. Or, do those liberals in the Church only focus on the understanding part.

            • Fr. Denis Lemieux

              Now, I hope you’re not suggesting I’m one of those ‘liberals’. That would be kind of funny to me, as I’m usually accused of being on the other end of the spectrum. At any rate, I have written and published enough that at this point I don’t have to establish my orthodox bona fides – go look me up if you have doubts on that score.
              Myself, the very reason (and I think I’ve made this clear) that I’m counselling people to be calm and measured is that that is precisely how to ensure your views are heard and taken seriously. The reason I don’t tell dissident Catholics to do this is because a) they would never listen to a retrograde bigot like me and b) I don’t want their views taken seriously. Let them rant! And let us reason, and offer cogent arguments based on reason, and we will see who prevails.
              God bless you.

            • Andy

              Maybe all of us should take a breath conservatives and liberals. And even better stop making accusations about one group or another.

            • Marthe Lépine

              What makes you think that you are really among the “faithful”, again? What makes you think that you are from a superior category of faithfuls? And, more importantly, who has made you the judge of most Catholic bishops and cardinals? Maybe you need to come down from your self-constructed pedestal… And maybe those you believe to be the “faithful” are the ones being told to keep calm… because they are the ones who are actually fretting too much.

  • Maolsheachlann

    The Vatican recently released a document on the sensus fidelium in which it emphasised the importance of the faithful in the development of doctrine. For this reason I don’t think it is entirely wrong for the laity to make their concerns known, although the appeals for calm and perspective are certainly appreciated. Even though the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ’s church, there can be what you might call strategical errors along the way. And there have been, as we all know. Emphasis is important; rhetoric is important. I think we can hardly overemphasize the welcome and love due to homosexuals, and I think faithful Catholics may be inclined, even against their own will, to demonize them or to see them as a threat to orthodoxy rather than human beings with a very heavy cross to bear. I plead guilty to this myself. But it’s the vagueness of the document and its ad hoc flavour that causes me some concern. It’s not especially the references to homosexuality that concern me, either. It seems to me that troubled marriages are better buttressed by a clear reaffirmation of the gravity of adultery than by holding out what might seem like a get-out-of-jail card.

  • big al

    Great. But… these matters are SETTLED DOCTRINE. Fr Barron misses the point on this. Back in the day, the Church debated things that were still open questions. There is no open question on the immorality of homosexual acts. Why debate settled doctrine?

    • Fr. Denis Lemieux

      I realize I’m commenting a lot on this thread (what can I say – it’s interesting!), but from my reading of this, no doctrine is being debated really, but rather the appropriate and prudent pastoral care of people who are living lives in contradiction to the moral law. And that is a matter open for debate – not the law, but the pastoral outreach.

      • Red

        That’s delicious father. Seriously, very insightful. That being said, I’ve known many, many, many alcoholics. I’ve yet to see a document stating “alcoholics have gifts to offer”. Why is that? Alcoholics surely outnumber active homosexuals. Don’t they? Perhaps they’re not getting the attention because that’s still seen as a disgusting weakness to be overcome by our modern culture rather than an attribute.

        • big al

          Exactly. The sin-od is a disgrace and insult to Our Blessed Lord. It is actually embarrassing. Cardinal Burke is the lone star though, and praise God for him! A truly holy man.

          • Petey

            Why do you say that?

            • linda daily

              Because he is, and we are, being invited to grow beyond a small comfort zone into a larger love that draws us and others to Christ.

        • Andy

          The person who is the alcoholic has gifts to offer – they may be hidden by the presence of alcoholism, but that does not reduce the gifts they have to offer.

          • Red

            Hmmmmm, I’m afraid you’ve completely missed the point of my comment. Reread it, rethink it, then if you’ve still not figured it out, post again. Keep in mind, if you comment further misrepresenting the point I’ve made, I’ll hold you accountable. This will reflect in my response.

            • Andy

              Perhaps write clearly and there is no need for your “threat” to hold me accountable. I read it several times and will repeat alcoholics can have gifts. If you are “referencing” the comment about no getting attention due to societies views – I too know many alcoholics and they do not see the need for special attention.

              • Red

                Well, well, well, the need for attention huh? That’s friggin awesome. I’m an alcoholic. I Guess I should’ve done more to organize my fellow alcoholics into a cult where we could pressure society into applauding, worshiping, featuring us in modern entertainment as heroes for actively practicing, perfecting, and wallowing in our alcoholism. Then maybe, just maybe, the Church would feel the need to refer to me and mine as valuable with something to contribute. Granted, It’s soooooo very nice to hear it from Andy though. Where’s your sensitivity Andy? I’ve played the victim now. Standard liberal technique. Will I be afforded the compassion and understanding you’d undoubtedly deliver to an ignorant, aggressive, obstinate, sexually active homosexual?

                • Andy

                  Yes the need for attention – obviously you need it. The alcoholics I know are saddened by their behaviors when drinking and those who are recovering bear great amounts of shame for what they did while drinking. However, you ask for compassion and sensitivity – I will pray for you and your struggle with alcohol. There are many priests and nuns, deacons and lay-people who work with alcoholics and find value in them, if you were rejected by the church for that I am sorry and will pray for your reconciliation with the church.
                  I think though that you need to know that i know few “ignorant, aggressive, obstinate, sexually active homosexual(s). I know many who are confused and in pain just as you are, but unlike alcoholics, who elect to join the available support groups, there are no support groups for them or their families. I would also suggest that being gay or a homosexual does not prevent you from having and holding a job, as does alcoholism. Being gay does not mean that you are prone to hide money from loved ones as does being an alcoholic. I know of the behaviors of alcoholics because both of parents had “drinking” problems as they were called when I was a kid. I know when sober my dad was stellar electrician and marvelous with kids; my mom when sober was tremendous mother. However, because of their drinking and other issues, by the time I was 11 I was the forgotten part of the family – both the nuclear and the extended. I also know when they died I mourned.
                  I wish you well Red in your search for peace.

                  • Red

                    Nice. I’m afraid none of this applies to me though. Actually, none of it applies to most alcoholics. I’d say a good percentage of our work lives are unaffected by our alcoholism. Not that it matters. Once again, you’re missing my overall point. You describe a world in which there’s apparently an AA meeting on every corner. Maybe this is the case in major western cities. This isn’t the case for a good portion of the rural west. Even less so throughout the rest of the world. Yet, all these rural westerners and other occupants of our world suffering from alcoholism have never had the honor of having our disordered inclinations declared as valuable by the Church. Big picture Andy. I realize in the west that the world revolves around how awesome homosexual inclinations are. The desire to make sure they’re valued and included. Good things to be sure. Call a spade a spade though. I know I’ve went to mass reeking of alcohol before. Believe you me, those weren’t looks of pity I received. Most of you hypocrites would have fallen over yourselves to shake the hand of the nearest openly gay man while sneering at my drunkeness. Obviously, I’m not referring to all of you. There are some exceptions. The Church is caught up in the drama of this world. It’s bought in completely. Next they’re going to have a synod discussing if the desperate housewives should be described as desperate. Language is a bit harsh there. As for your family that suffered from my “disorder”

                    Eternal rest grant to them oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

                    • Andy

                      Red – I shared my experiences with you so the sarcastic nice was not needed. And yes I live in the rural East where there are numerous AA meetings, at our church alone there are four a week. I do not think that the church is stating that being homosexual is valued, i think that the church is trying to say that as a child of God all of us are valued and all of us have talents. I
                      I have never faltered from talking with anyone – a person who is alcoholic, a drug addict, a person who is homosexual, unwed mother – I try, not always successfully as I would want to see people as children of God and there but for his grace go I.
                      The church is caught up in the world – it cannot escape the world – I think that the church is fighting to many public, political battles and not doing enough to reach its members in need of support. I believe that the church should be a hospital that welcomes and succors all who come to it, and not make any distinctions. If we as Catholics, and our leaders, who claim that we are part of the true church of Christ cannot do this then we are failures.
                      Thank you for the prayer about my parents.

        • Joseph

          Lots of alcoholics receive absolution and communion. What’s your point?

      • Paxton Reis

        Thank you Fr. Denis. Yes, the subject at hand is pastoral care and how Christians should exhibit the love of Christ so to lead others to Him.

        The challenge in our hectic era and in this age of global communication, we struggle with wanting immediate answers and solutions to the challenges around us.

        “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

    • When was that doctrine settled?

      • big al

        On homosexual acts? Our Lord and St. Paul. I am pretty sure they settled it. Now if you are a liberal interested in justifying your dissent, I’ll pass. I’m going to make a ham sandwich!

        • I got it. The Church settled the Inmaculate Conception doctrine in 1854, human and divine natures of Christ in 451, and inmorality of homosexual acts in the first century. The Denzinger must have missed that.

          • Red

            Yes. Obviously the description of the hypstatic union and the grace that was afforded to the blessed Mother were child’s play. Now let’s get down to the real mysterious stuff. The use of the penis and the vagina as they pertain to a sexual act. Such a mystery. Well said, well said.

        • petey

          “On homosexual acts?”

          nowhere in the quote above do i see a reference to homosexual acts. does Barron speak about them elsewhere?

    • There is no open question on the immorality of homosexual acts. Why debate settled doctrine?

      The bishops aren’t debating this doctrine, but how to respond pastorally to homosexual persons.

  • Ken Follis

    Good. I hope Fr. Barron helped you get it back.

  • Thibaud313

    This morning your first message was : “This document is perfect”. This evening, perhaps after realizing that many non-crazy persons expressed serious concerns about this document (while the media sent evangelions announcing the Complete and Unconditionnal Surrender of the Church to the Spirit of the World), your message is “maybe it will be the same thing than when a Synod called for the Pope to reverse Church infaillible teaching and the Pope refused”, which seem to me to be a much more correct assesment of the situation.

    The only (worrying) difference is that in 1968 the Synod called for the abolition of Church teaching and the Pope refused while in 2014, according to many reports, the vast majority of bishops in the Synod is calling for the Pope to not abolish Church teaching, while the Pope is pushing for the abolition of Church teaching, with the support of only a tiny minority of bishops who wrote the document heavily criticized by many sane persons in the world.

    In other words : we’re doomed unless a miracle occurs, but a miracle is inevitable, because the Lord will save His Church, even from the Pope, so there is no need to worry.

    • Guest

      My endorsement of this comment is based on the middle paragraph, which I fear is accurate, though I hope it’s not.

    • > we’re doomed unless a miracle occurs

      To admit that perhaps you are wrong in your evaluation of the situation, that perhaps you don’t fully comprehend the Church teaching and the will of God (and your assessment about the orthodoxy of the Pope and the “sanity” of those persons of the world), to imagine that, say, Kasper, has a better understanding than you about catholic things… that would be even more unthinkable than a miracle, that would be -for you- like imagining that you are the protagonist of a Truman Show, no?

  • Mike Ruffing

    Big al is spot on. Saint Pope John Paul the Second last addressed in no uncertain terms in 1994.

    And to restate an earlier comment to Father, I am increasingly frustrated with being told to calm down. Especially those of us who are striving to stay true to the God’s teachings and love The Bride of Christ. ( I can’t imagine how those brave men in Courage feel right now- what a slap to the face.)

    Why are the Catholics who hold on to the truth and reason of the Church’s teachings the only ones told to “keep our tempers” and “keep calm”. In charity I say, we are not jumping to conclusions. Regardless of stated purpose of the document, the distracting and vague language has a familiar ring harkening back to the bad old days of the 60’s and appears to have been done intentionally and with a final goal in mind- these men are too smart.

    We have seen how nuanced language is used as a type of Trojan horse that exploits people of good will- both inside the Church and in politics. We are too familiar with the tactics employed by liberals in every arena: “let’s dialogue” really means let’s reduce things to a common denominator, create division within the ranks, put out as many “red herrings” as possible (treat gay people with respect, when was this NOT our position?!), separate the opposition for ridicule, and create as much confusion as possible.

    From politics to the church, the left destroys. This is not about caring for the sheep who have been devastated by divorce and the disorder of homosexuality. It is about the Left’s insatiable desire to change The Bride of Christ to fit into this world. To make Her “more understanding” and “compassionate”. Thankfully, The Church loves her children more than any clergy who seek the approval of men instead of God’s approval. The Church is to protect and teach The Truth, even when unpopular.

    If it were simply a matter of branding or coming up with ways to better guide and provide pastoral care for the faithful, there would be absolutely no reason for all this nuanced language. None. It is a game. A tactic. A sad and heartbreaking game that does not call on us to be quite, but resolute and vigilant.

    Father, we need men: bold, truthful, Catholic men. Men who are not interested in being popular, but worthy of their charge from God. I know you are, Father. But, sad to say, I am not so sure we have enough Catholic men at the synod. I pray we do and that I am totally off-base. However, when there are things said that sound more like King Henry VIII as opposed to a Catholic Cardinal, one should understand our concerns.

    Interestingly, they have said much about understanding and treating people with care, etc. Have you seen or heard one, just one, mention of The Cross? I may have missed it, but if not, why not? His yoke is light, is it not? Ahh, but that is the rub for all too many of our Cardinals. The Cross doesn’t sell in today’s world. To do so would most certainly draw fire from the press and most of their constituents. I don’t envy being in that position and understand the challenge. BUT, that is their job. As you know, there is a reason they wear red.

    So, while everyone takes a breath, and discerns how to reconcile the irreconcilable, please consider: are every one of the cardinals and bishops truly thinking of Jesus’ love and how best to show it to the people? Or, are there a number of liberals present in the Church selling only “the understanding part” and “acceptance” part of Jesus’ love?

    And if those at the synod that just want to “share” and understand are sincere and interested in a truthful discussion (a-hem), one would think they would be proud to have their names associated with what they said. At least men of conviction would. Additionally, they would want their sincere thoughts communicated to the world accurately, would they not?

    As I understand it, that is one of the reasons there has been a long tradition of publishing documents in Latin. It has made sense for a long time as it allows for a more straightforward and accurate translation to English especially, but other languages as well. This is a peculiar break from precedent. Why now, at this time, go with Italian which risks misunderstanding?

    The bishops and cardinals stayed calm when rumblings of sexual misconduct started to surface about priests 20 – 30 years ago. Everyone was calm in the 60’s when there were deliberate efforts to confuse the faithful and ignore the Holy See on contraception.

    Yes. We should be keeping our tempers. More importantly, we are responsible to be Catholic. Catholic men. Men who recall their confirmation and the gifts that came with it. And as such, we must call those in error out, or ring the alarm at the first sign of danger, with as much charity as warranted, for as long as possible.

    Let us be open, candid, and honest- there is a contingency of homosexual clergy in the Church. Additionally, there is a significant number of bishops and cardinals that do not truly believe Church teachings. These contingencies are actively trying to change Church doctrine. The synod is just one of the early steps to that end. Their predecessors did this in the 60’s and 70’s and we are now reaping the seeds sown decades ago- a general population with little or no real catechesis, and a significant number of clergy who lied when talking their oath against modernity.

    Catholic men should not, cannot, and will not, stay calm if things continue down this path and The Lord’s sheep are lined-up for slaughter.

    I pray for the intercession of Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius.

    Thank you for the arena and chance to comment. May God Bless you Father

  • Bumbler

    “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”

    The Almighty made that promise. I believe the Almighty is mighty enough by Himself to keep that promise. So I don’t see the reason to panic.

    Does anyone think that without their puny effort, He will not be able to do the job and the Church will founder and hell will break loose?.

    Looking back on the abuse scandal — the bishops took it upon themselves to “protect” the church, “save” her from “scandal”. Fat lot of “saving” they did.

    Who is so vain enough to think that they are “saving” the Church from error, and not He? Maybe read some Ezekiel or Job and calm yourself down

    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

    • Andrew Attaway

      Yes, the gates of hell shall not prevail. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be smelling a little brimstone from time to time.

      • Athelstane

        It also doesn’t mean that the Church won’t vanish from particular areas, or particular religious orders. It’s happened before.

    • Advocate

      As one who remembers the outright insanity of American Catholicism in the 1970’s, I have a decidedly jaded view about the ability of the Church in any particular locale to implement the Church’s teachings. The English Reformation and the French Revolution envy the destruction we have wrought upon ourselves. So no, chanting “all is well” gives me no succor whatsoever.

  • margaret1910

    I am not running around with my hair on fire, mark. But, I do remember 1968. I had a chat with my Dad, about birth control. I was 9. He was clearly struggling, not that mum and he had an issue. My father was 48 and mum was 44 when I was born, lol. But, he just didn’t know what was being said? It was a shock, back then, when Catholic teaching was affirmed. This seems similar? Don’t tar us with the same brush, mark.

  • Athelstane

    Some of us recall when an entire papal commission recommended that the pope just go ahead and approve of artificial contraception. He declined to do so. Because the Holy Spirit is in charge.

    Some of us also recall how that played out, and what resulted: Namely, what George Weigel called “the Truce of 1968.”

    Expectations of a change in a key teaching on sexual morality were built up. The Birth Control Commission stacked. Documents leaked. Progressive prelates worked the media spin hard. Most were led to expect that the Pope would “develop” the teaching, and that this would be a good thing. And when he didn’t, all heck broke loose. Entire bishops conferences issued statements distancing themselves from it. Entire presbyterates issued protests. Theologians issued denunciations. But what was worst of all was that when faithful bishops like Cardinal O’Boyle tried to discipline the errant priests, the Holy See cut the floor out from under them, removing all penalties. And two generations of Humanae Vitae being a dead letter in most of the West ensued.

    It’s far from unreasonable to conclude that some in the Church are hoping for a repeat – or something bigger. The Holy Spirit might avert the latter, but there’s no guarantee it can stop the former. It didn’t in 1968, after all.

  • Joseph

    This whole internet combox warrior debate only exposes one thing. Sometimes the internet can be a blessing, sometimes a curse. In this case it’s a curse. Information is spread before it’s fully vetted and all of the omniscient internet warriors struggle to broadcast their thoughts on the matter.
    There has never been a *golden age* in the Church militant. If there had, there would be no Epistles, there would be no Great Schsim, there would be no Protestant Deformation, there would be no Lefrebereststestists (don’t have the patience to spell it correctly). It’s called man after the Fall.
    That said, how is this affecting Christian unity these days (not speaking of internal Catholic internet warfare). Has anyone heard whether or not this is further dividing or uniting the Orthodox and Catholics? Last I recall, under Pope Benedict, great strides were being made.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    How dare Father Barron interrupt our ranting and flag waving! All his common sense and reason and knowledge of the situation. Who let such a man on the Internet?!?!?!?

  • linda daily

    We can’t expect the black and white sandbox chatter of internet Catholicism to discern the slow, deliberate movements of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church.

  • chad

    I walked through the cafeteria this morning and CBS News
    morning show had headlines splashed across the screen with excerpts of the
    Relatio about the value of civil unions etc…
    boxing up the entire Synod into a tiny little box about homosexual
    pelvic issues. Cardinal Dolan came onto
    the screen. I kept walking. So disappointing. Sweet job Synod. It doesn’t matter if doctrine doesn’t change
    when 99% of the people you are trying to evangelize believe it can.

    • Cypressclimber

      This was entirely predictable. In fact, I predicted it.

    • orual’s kindred

      It doesn’t matter if doctrine doesn’t change when 99% of the people you are trying to evangelize believe it can.

      I suppose this is hyperbole. I doubt that only a few people were confused and led astray during the debates in which the Church declaired Arianism and other movements to be heresy. (I’m not sure how few would be few enough, either way.) And people still adhere to those heresies to this day. Of course, those people may not be the same people that you and I are trying to evangelize. I’m not sure why that should make it so different, though.

      • orual’s kindred

        declared of course. Ugh. Obviously I can’t spell on an empty stomach.

  • obpoet

    Wake me when it is over.