LIFE MATTERS: REFLECTIONS ON THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY By Rev. James T. Bretzke, S.J., S.T.D. Professor of Moral Theology Boston College School of Theology & Ministry Email: [email protected] and Web-page: https://www2.bc.edu/james-bretzke/BretzkeWebIndex.pdf INITIAL DISCLAIMERS
Setting the Topic & Predicting the Future Difficulties A Work in Progress & Hitting a Moving Target! To begin with one conclusion: surprising little focus on Catholic politicians and voters Can touch only a limited and quite selected range of topics Will not be able to answer what might happen vis--vis Church disciplines Wont be able to handle perennial WHAT IS A SYNOD
Greek "" (synodos) meaning "assembly" or "meeting", semantically synonymous with the Latin word "concilium" meaning "council". Etymology: syn+(h)odos literally (walking) together on the way Long history of Synods throughout Church history, as gatherings for specific reasons and smaller (and less authoritative) than Church councils No independent formal teaching authority! PREPARATION FOR A SYNOD
Announcement of the theme and release of a preparatory document, inviting feedback from the worlds bishops Feedback compiled into Lineamenta and A working document (Instrumentum laboris) is released prior to the Synod Selection of ex officio, elected, and special representatives (named by the Holy Father), including several lay couples USA Hierarchs: Cardinals Burke, Wuerl, INNOVATIONS IN THIS SYNOD
Public Questionnaire that Bishops were invited to share broadly Lineamenta and Instrumentum Laboris that acknowledged frankly areas of difficulty and non-acceptance of Church teaching Frank, and even acrimonious, pre-Synod posturing by members on all points on the ecclesiological spectrum Far greater secular media attention in the secular press given to the run-up, reporting and post-Synod analysis DIVORCE & REMARRIAGE ISSUE 81, Theologian, author of Mercy, retired head of Pontifical Council for Xtian Unity 66, Current Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (soon to be replaced)
MERCY VS. TRUTH Personalist Approach Doctrinal Approach DISCIPLINE VS. DOCTRINE Invested with Tradition But are often juridical and can change, be suppressed, or added to without modifying the underlying doctrine E.g. Friday abstinence
or clerical celibacy Pastoral Application Can Develop Grow In Understanding But De fide definita (defined articles of the faith) do not change E.g., the Trinity or the 2 Natures of Christ Truths of the Faith SACRAMENTS FOR DIVORCED &
REMARRIED: DISCIPLINE OR DOCTRINE? The primary role of the Sacraments are to help and heal, and thus Reconciliation & Eucharist can (and should) do this. Admission to the Sacraments is a change in Church discipline Sacramental Marriage remains indissoluble to death The Position of Cardinal Kasper et al.
Discipline is the mirror of her doctrine Denial of the Sacraments acts as a call to conversion Admission of divorced/remarried would be a sacrilege Changing this practice would attack Truth and would ultimately harm further the couples now barred from the Sacrament The Position of Cardinal Burke et al. INTERNAL FORUM
SOLUTIONS Recognizes that the first union may have been sacramentally valid Recognizes that union is irretrievably broken Acknowledges culpability, but the penitent(s) are invited to the Sacraments as a form of healing and support NO second marriage would be celebrated in the Church Kasper: Proposed
Practice A sacramental marriage Ratum et consummatum is valid in the external forum unless a decree of nullity is issued In the internal forum, coram Deo, there must be moral certitude that evidence has been suppressed that would provide a decree of nullity in the external forum In these quite limited cases the couple may receive the sacraments provided no scandal is
given OR the couple may live as brother and sister and receive the sacraments, if scandal is avoided Burke: Current Law POPES OPENING ADDRESS Told the prelates they should speak openly, without fear of upsetting him or limiting discussions to things he would want to hear.
Using the Greek term parrhesia -- meaning to speak candidly or boldly, and without fear --"speak with parrhesia and listen with humility." Working in a synod, the pontiff continued, does not mean prelates should say only what Francis wants to hear. "This is not good!" said the pope. "A general condition is this," said the pope. "Speak clearly. Let no one say: 'This you cannot say.'" "You need to say all that you feel with parrhesia," he continued. "And, at the same time, you should listen with humility and accept with an open heart what your brothers say." RELATIO AFTER GENERAL MEETINGS CONCLUDE
Put together by a special Committee appointed by the Pope Surprisingly open language to those not married in the Church, the Divorced/ Remarried, and Gay men and women Immediate pushback from a number of Synod Fathers from center to right Dispute over the English translation of the Italian original (Translator Traditor The Translator is the Traitor) FORMAL CORRESPONDENCE OR DYNAMIC UN-EQUIVALENCE? Accogliere le persone omosessuali
Welcoming homosexual persons Providing for homosexual persons si prende atto che vi sono casi in cui il mutuo sostegno fino al sacrificio costituisce un appoggio prezioso per la vita dei partners it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners there are instances where mutual assistance to the point of sacrifice is a valuable support in the life of these persons. CIRCULI MINORES The 10 circuli minores: Discussions on a number of issues that emerged during the general meeting; examine the midterm Relatio text to suggest changes, as
well as things to add and remove 3 each English &Italian; 2 each French & Spanish (no more Latin group) Change in method of Input into Final Document ( no more thats not in the Final Document) CARDINAL BURKES GROUP Replace Listen, Judge, Act model with See, Judge, Act
Take care not to create confusion in the minds and hearts of our people. Any sex outside of marriage is never permissible No admission to the sacraments of divorced and re-married people Be careful not to imply that certain lifestyles are acceptable No GRADUALITY of DOCTRINE of faith and morals ENGLISH B: COURAGE TO KNOCK The Church must have the courage to knock on forbidden doors". [W]hat we discover surprises us: what we encounter inside is the loving presence of God which helps us to address the challenges of today, no longer on our terms, but in new ways which might otherwise have been
unimaginable. Knocking on forbidden or unaccustomed doors involves risk and courage. Fear and anxiety of what we think are forbidden doors may mean excluding opening ourselves to the God who always surprises. ALTERNATIVES TO PASTORAL CARE FOR DIVORCED & REMARRIED Examination of possible paths of repentance and discernment by which, in particular circumstances, a divorced and remarried person might participate in the sacraments; and about providing alternatives, such as a deeper appreciation of the classical wisdom and value of spiritual communion. Debate over spiritual communion: if one can make a spiritual communion
with Christ, why not a physical communion? CAREFULLY DEFINE GRADUALISM the meaning of the law of gradualness, .. should not be understood as gradualness of the law. The aim of recognizing gradualness should be to draw people closer to Christ. Truth and mercy are not mutually exclusive terms, and in proclaiming truth we also proclaim the most profound mercy that of reconciliation and unity with God; on the other hand, it is in mercy that we find truth. ITALIAN GROUPS: A,B,C
Surprise over the public release of the Relatio Effects of Migration on Family Breakup Biotechnologies pose challenges No to the idea of same-sex marriage, but the Church should appear as an house open which appreciates the gifts of everyone of good will who sincerely seeks God. Need for further study of the Orthodox and other Churches practices regarding Divorced and Remarried. Need to re-examine the annulment procedures Gregory the Great: The Pastoral Task is the Proof of Love
FINAL DOCUMENT (RELATIO SYNODI) 190 eligible to vote; 183 in the Aula (some abstained from certain paragraph votes) 58 of 62 paragraphs approved by two-thirds or higher of those voting. NO single Paragraph got unanimous support! Though all paragraphs of the Final Report passed with a majority of the 190 bishops eligible to vote, 3 problematic paragraphs failed to reach the desired two-thirds majority
Pope Francis ordered the document with individual vote tallies to be published It will likely serve as a foundation for discussion in the 2015 Ordinary Synod on the Family The 4 most controversial Paragraphs follow DIALOGUE WITH THOSE IN CIVIL MARRIAGE & DE FACTO UNIONS #41Placet 125; Non placet 54 (179 total votes with 69.9% YES and 30.1% NO) Reached a two-thirds of those voting, but just shy of a two-thirds of those eligible to vote (and so some conservatives report this Paragraph as likewise failing to gather the hopedfor two-thirds) Those voting NO probably resisted the appearance tacit acceptance of nonsacramental unions this paragraph
might be read as allowing. COMMUNION FOR DIVORCED/REMARRIED COUPLES #52 Placet 104; Non placet 74 (178 total votes with 59.5% YES and 41.5% NO) This was probably the clearest defeat for the Cardinal Kasper bloc, even though they did garner a simple majority of those voting. It was also the Paragraph least open to spin on its meaning. SPIRITUAL COMMUNION INSTEAD
53. Placet 112; Non placet 64: 176 total votes with 63% YES; and 27% NO Here the NO votes probably were from the more liberal contingent who argued that if people could be encouraged to spiritual communion they should also be allowed to receive actual Communion TREATING HOMOSEXUALS WITH RESPECT #55: Placet 118; Non placet 62: Total 180 with
65.5% YES and 34.5% NO Probably the key sentence was Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies ought to be treated with respect and delicacy Some probably voted NO believing this whole paragraph too watered down; others might have voted NO fearing it would signal tacit acceptance of an intrinsically disordered orientation Just one vote switch would have reached TwoThirds for this Paragraph THE POPES FINAL DISCOURSE Termed the process a cammino which could be translated as a road, process or even a pilgrimage Acknowledged consolations, tensions, and 5 principal temptations faced by everyone present:
Hostile rigidity to the letter of the law OR to ideological positions rather than leaving ourselves open to the Spirit Dont seek to do good that puts band-aids on wounds without first treating or healing them Dont transform stones into bread and bread into stones to cast against sinners, the weak, and the sick Dont forsake the Cross in order to adapt to the world Dont misuse the Depositum fidei either thinking ourselves its owners rather than guardians OR dont use language in such a way as to employ many words while saying nothing much at all POST-SYNOD SPIN Media (depending on orientation) list the
Final Report as either a major success or resounding defeat for Pope Francis Odium theologicum (theological hatred) Cardinal Burke acknowledges hes being removed from his post, and continues to give quite critical interviews to the Press Cardinals Burke and Muller (CDF) are the only two at the Mass of Beatification for Paul VI who fail to greet Pope Francis with the customary embrace (reported in the Italian Press) NEGATIVE VIEWS ON THE SYNOD We have many Cardinals and Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church who publicly put Gods law in opposition to Gods mercy! We have Cardinals and Bishops who say that the very words of Jesus, the same second person of
the Trinity who suffered and died so that we might live, insufficiently express love! Add to this the daily expressions of indifferentism and every other facet of Modernism (see Pascendi Dominici Gregis ) that are promulgated not only without fear of reproach, but with loud praise. To say such things and to promote such thinking is cooperation with the devil, the devil that has as its end the destruction of the Church. Whether these persons do this knowingly or unknowingly I cannot say, but I can say that it is evil. Patrick Archbold National Catholic Register 10 October 2014 CRITIQUE OF THE POPE AS WELL We have a Pope whose intentions could not have been more crudely expressed over the past eighteen months of astonishing insults and denigration of practically all the elements of apostolic and ecclesiastical tradition. Francis has clearly been preparing for this moment since the day of his election, if not before, and now it has arrived in all its inglorious splendor.
Let us call this Synod what it is: a secretive, manipulated, progressive-dominated cabal, led by septuagenarian and octogenarian diehards of the conciliar renewal, who are rushing to finish their workso rudely interrupted by Pope Benedictlest death release the Church from their clutches before they are quite done Chris Ferrara in The Remnant Pope Francis has been authorizing Communion to those in mortal sin for years. Sandro Magister Espresso And as it is Catholic doctrine that the pope is infallible, that he cannot err when speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals, this would imply that Francis was not a valid pope PHILADELPHIA ARCHBISHOP
CHARLES CHAPUT, OFM, CAP. I was very disturbed by what happened I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion. We also need to thank God for the gift of this present, difficult moment, . Because conflict always does two things: It purifies the church, and it clarifies the character of the enemies who hate her. (Clarification of above remarks): To get your information from the press is a mistake because they dont know well enough how to understand it so they can tell people what happened. In some cases theyre certainly the enemy and they want to distort the Church. PROVIDENCE RI BISHOP THOMAS TOBIN POST-SYNOD SOUND BYTES
In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, counter-cultural, prophetic voice, a voice that the world needs to hear. The concept of having a representative body of the Church voting on doctrinal applications and pastoral solutions strikes me as being rather Protestant. Pope Francis is fond of creating a mess. Mission accomplished. Relax. Gods still in charge. VOTERS ELECTION GUIDE
Surprisingly little ink this cycle, except for Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, who states he believes Providence Democratic mayoral candidate Jorge Elorza is an atheist. Aruges that even if the Republican is pro-choice this meanspro-abortion support for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo would be problematic adding in this case the vote should: 1) Choose the lesser of 2 evils candidate 2) Write in a symbolic choice such as Mother Teresa and St. John Paul II 3) Skip voting in protest The US Bishops Faithful Citizenship though recognizes in fulfilling our duties to vote we must make consciencebased prudential judgments even among imperfect candidates and/or political parties
MISUNDERSTANDING OF DOCTRINE VS. DISCIPLINE DISTINCTION NY Times Columnist Ross Douthat The Pope and the Precipice (26 October 2014): [Conservative Catholics] might want to consider the possibility that they have a role to play, and that this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him. Cardinal George Pell: Doctrine does develop, we understand truth more deeply, but there are no doctrinal backflips in Catholic history. The apostolic tradition announced first by Christ and founded in the Scriptures is the touchstone for truth and genuine pastoral practice. READING THE ROMAN TEA-LEAVES
Shifting ecclesial landscape ad intra and ad extra Attitudes toward the World & the Pope Legal vs. Pastoral Paradigms Deductive vs. Inductive Reading of Truth Moral analysis of concrete situations Gradualism of the Law OR Law of Gradualism Doctrine & Tradition: Continuity & Change Conflict of Duties & Hierarchy of Truths Primacy of Informed Conscience Sensus Fidelium and the Magisterium
WHAT NEXT? SYNOD 2015 The Synod and the Church ad extra The Final Relatio will be accompanied by a questionnaire and should serve as a working document for the discussion in the local churches over the next year. Bishops in particular are to discuss this report not only among themselves but also in their own dioceses, with their priests, the lay faithful and especially with families. Hopefully a spirit and process similar to the first sessions of Vatican II A FINAL WORD AS ANTIDOTE TO ODIUM THEOLOGICUM
In fide, unitas: in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas "In faith, unity; in doubt, liberty; in all things, charity." Attributed to St. Augustine, this is an important principle of Christian discernment: unity in faith is important, but in cases of doubt a plurality of opinions and practices should be allowed, and the over-riding principle must always be charity towards each other. PRAYER OF ST. THERESA AVILA
Christ has no body on earth but ours No hands on earth but our hands. Ours are the eyes through which He looks out with compassion on the world. Ours are the feet with which He chooses to go about doing good. For as He is the Head, so we are the members and we are all one in Christ Jesus.
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