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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Here's why the Synod will likely fail.

Let's assume that everything gets patched over. Let's say that all of the interim report's problems are resolved, the Kasper proposal gets kapped (my personal breaking point, as I've noted before), the inane shrugging at all sexual relationships that aren't matrimony are excised and that something like a sensible, genuinely pastoral program is put together. Let's say all that happens, and we get a solid bit of Catholicism pertaining to the family in October 2015.

It won't matter a whit. Why? Because the Synod will still do a faceplant unless something drastically changes.

That something is a frank acknowledgment that the shepherds have failed the Faithful. 

An unreserved mea culpa and vow to do better. 

A firm purpose of amendment, if you will.

The most galling thing about the "midterm report" isn't the slobbering over modern relationships: it's the mindset that suggests the confusion of our time is some kind of natural disaster of which the bishops were helpless spectators. It was something that happened on the other side of the world, and it made them sad.

Really--read it. It reads like a spiritual police report--something the bishops found when they arrived on scene, unable to do anything else. Really, they just noticed this stuff. What can you do?

To a man, they have failed to evaluate their own role in this mess. There's not a hint of "Wow, did we ever drop the ball since we last talked as a group about family problems. No, we didn't execute this well. And we're sorry, deeply sorry for our failures here."

The current Synod fathers are acting like divorce and cohabitation just fell from space like an asteroid since 1981. Yet, according to the 1981 Synod report, they didn't. Honest.

Huh--and back then, they even made some recommendations regarding cohabitation right there in paragraph 81:

The pastors and the ecclesial community should take care to become acquainted with such situations and their actual causes, case by case. They should make tactful and respectful contact with the couples concerned, and enlighten them patiently, correct them charitably and show them the witness of Christian family life, in such a way as to smooth the path for them to regularize their situation. But above all there must be a campaign of prevention, by fostering the sense of fidelity in the whole moral and religious training of the young, instructing them concerning the conditions and structures that favor such fidelity, without which there is no true freedom; they must be helped to reach spiritual maturity and enabled to understand the rich human and supernatural reality of marriage as a sacrament.

Sounds like a good, pastoral and charitable plan. Did any of that happen? No? Then why not? Was it too hard? They don't say, because they don't say. Instead, the new Synod is aching to lower the bar and celebrate the good in what the Church said they should work hard to address and prevent 33 YEARS AGO.


And they can't bring themselves to acknowledge it, so they pretend instead that so very, very much has changed in the modern world since the Who's last tour--er, never mind. So much for Vatican II's timeless insights into the modern world, grumbles your blog host...

Ultimately, no. Expect nothing from this Synod, even if it's yet another impressive bit of orthodoxy from the Church's Department of Paper Proclamations. Not unless it comes with something resembling an apology at the top.


  1. The Catholic Church is, at its best, at war with the world. As Jesus told us to be. That informs my every day, even when my sins make me a weak fighter.

    I think this is the perfect time to realize the "ladies who lunch" do not actually run our Church, and we have to stop breathlessly listening to every Rome twitter message.

    I recognize that's a bit too harsh of statement, but they could do better not to earn the distinction.

  2. You'll probably like, or at least agree with, this article:

    Except for a precious few of our shepherds, many seem to think that a "welcoming," less judgemental attitude toward the sexual anarchists will open their ears (and their hearts) to our message. In fact, I think they see the words coming from the synod as weakness, encouraging them in their desire to destroy this ancient institution, and in their belief that the destruction is indeed achievable.

  3. Their proposals for dealing with loosening standards reminds me of the way that the socialist "solution" for failures of socialism is always more socialism.

  4. That something is a frank acknowledgment that the shepherds have failed the Faithful.

    An unreserved mea culpa and vow to do better.

    A firm purpose of amendment, if you will.

    As it was with the sexual abuse crisis.

    In that case, I could sort of almost understand that the legal team may have advised the bishops to avoid language that was apologetic.

    I don't think this Synod has the same excuse.

    God have mercy.

  5. Well isn't this special?

    How an Incorrect Translation of the Synod Report Fueled Controversy

    Read more:

    All this hysteria over nothing.

    Two sad things here. The Media will lie & Reactionaries will believe them.

  6. I published Jim's comment to point out what a head-in-the-sand ultramontane press release looks like.

    The translation card?

    That well is dry, Jimbo. In fact, it's Stupid Visible from Space.

    Cardinals from Poland, Germany and Africa weren't up in arms over a single Italian word. As anyone not flailing in desperation to shoot the messenger knows.

    Peddle your bullshit over at Jimmy Akin's.

    You're back on moderation, Champ. At least until you offer cough up another laughable argument.

  7. The small group reports are out now and look encouraging. They say it in polite language but it is clear that they all want the whole thing rewritten. Of course some will say the damage is done with the spin that is out there, but from my point of view I mostly care that clear error be firmly rejected. The church will survive and still be the Bride of Christ, even if some folks splatter mud on her gown.

  8. Let me reiterate Dale here. If all we want out of a Synod is for them to confirm Catholic teaching, have all the Cardinals and Bishops autograph some CCCs and then go home.

    If we want to focus on actual pastoral care and not more cover for the abuses that are already happening (gay masses all over the East Coast, etc.) then Dale's suggestion of reviewing actually pastoral failings since 1981 would be a very good start.

  9. They do look encouraging, I agree. But the key will be the follow through. Familiaris Consortio was also a solid work, but most bishops left it on the shelf.

  10. Sadly, I sometimes think that all we can hope for in this day and age is that no more harm be done. It is encouraging that at least some of the Synod fathers realize that the church has failed to teach. It really all comes down to that. Here's what I find so troubling: that after the long papacies of JPII and B16, we have so many bishops out there who seem to harbor dissidence. Weren't a lot of these guys appointees of those two pontiffs and what's up with that? Are they just trying to get in with what they see as a "new line" from Rome?

    1. "Weren't a lot of these guys appointees of those two pontiffs and what's up with that?"

      Sadly, you should never underestimate the ambition of a clerical careerist. Sail-trimming is part of every bureaucracy, and we shouldn't be surprised to see it in the Church. Saddened, but not surprised.

  11. My biggest worry is that when you read the "midterm report", Catholicism is presented as something impossible to live. I don't mean the whole nonsense of "Catholicism isn't a no, it's a YES!" That's cliche but really dumb and I don't think it actually attracts anyone.

    What I mean is there's no indication that following the truth of the gospel actually leads to a happier life. "The Gospel" is just some construct nobody can live up to, so we have to condescend to them at every corner, under the guise of "meeting them where they are" and mostly just confirming their belief that our religion is all about rules, even if people choose to ignore them.

    It's because our leaders (and a good amount of the faithful) are ashamed of the Gospel. They don't think it's the only way to happiness. And as long as we have that, we will have the awful catechesis and good pastoral programs will be ignored.

    I submit that, and not an overemphasis on rules, (though that is a problem as well) is the root of our crisis of evangelization. But the current solution won't help. When you resolve to soft-peddle the harder sayings, you also soft-peddle the joy following them can bring.

    1. I've never found it a "way to happiness". Misery and suffering, yes. Occasionally, rare experiences of joy. But happiness? No. Happiness I find in spite of the Faith.

  12. Dale. Thanks for your research into the Synod of 33 years ago; very helpful and it really does spotlight the games within the Hierarchy.

    Who knows what they believe

  13. Ehhh, you're just not going to convince many people that the sky will fall and the world will go to hell if they masturbate or use contraception instead of the app that can tell you exactly when the fertile days are.

  14. The article in CRUX seems like liberal spin by John Allen calling the final report watering down the welcome.
    Allen seemed happy to quote a laymen saying that there was a tension between truth and mercy. I disagree.