Sin and the Synod

I searched further for what “conversion” or “evangelization” might mean, and there it was in para 33

In the same way, the necessity was underlined for an evangelization that denounces clearly the cultural, social and economic factors, for example, the excessive room given to market logic, that prevents an authentic family life, leading to discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence. For this reason a dialog and cooperation has to be developed with the social structures, and lay people who are involved in cultural and socio-political fields should be encouraged.

Oh. “Evangelization” is all about denouncing cultural, social and economic factors that undermine the family. Not personal morality. Not obedience to the gospel. Not individual responsibility. Not something like “repent and believe the gospel” but denouncing economic inequality. Was that part contributed by Cardinal Marx or Karl Marx?

I am all in favor of a gentle pastoral approach and appreciate the avoidance of legalism, judging others and making people feel guilty.

On the other hand, if this is all about evangelization and how to reach people with the gospel while “walking with them, listening to them and feeling their pain” is all well and good, does this not also lead to an examination of conscience, sincere repentance and a desire to change one’s way of life and live the radical new life of Christ the Lord?

I’m reminded of the need to preach the full gospel. As St Paul writes to the Romans,

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,  for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

My main problem with the document, therefore is not so much in what it said, but in what it did not say.

It comes across as a manifesto for being nice to everyone. So this is radical?

The idea of gradualism or “meeting people where they are and walking with them where they need to be” sounds too much like St Augustine praying, “Make me chaste Lord, but not yet.”

Therefore the problem with the synod was the absence of sin.

It was strong on a loving and kind pastoral approach.

But there was nothing about preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son who came to this sinful world to seek and to save that which was lost. There was nothing about the transformative power of God’s grace active through the supernatural sacraments of salvation and nothing about the need to call for individual conversion.

Maybe that sort of talk is simply too old fashioned…

…or maybe they will get down to that in the final document.