Some Temptations to Avoid in the Wake of the Synod

102114Deep concerns remain in the hearts of many Catholics regarding the just-closed Extraordinary Synod on the Family. I have written much in the past two weeks and you know my own concerns, especially the need for clarity on Catholic doctrine in those teachings most disputed by the western world: marriage, family, sexuality, and the dignity of human life. We need to keep praying, a lot!

I must say, there are words in the Pope’s concluding address that I take to heart and hope will guide us going forward. He warns of serious temptations faced by the Church and her leaders to veer from the truth in the name of a false “compassion.”

I would like to review the temptations that the Holy Father lists and make a few remarks of my own. Although Pope Francis does list in the first temptation a challenge to those with more doctrinal concerns, I hope that you will read on and see that the rest of the temptations he lists are challenges to those who seek what I would call radical change or a departure from the clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Please read all these temptations. In toto, they are a summons to apply courageously the remedy of truth to what ails us. As usual, direct quotes from the Pope’s texts are in bold, black italics and my own remarks are in plain red text.

Noting the tense climate of the Synod, the Holy Father speaks of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

1. – A temptation to hostile inflexibility [trans. rigidity], that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

While warning of rigidity (something which I would argue that “liberals” are also very susceptible to) the Holy Father does hasten to add that flexibility must be exercised “within the law, within the certitude of what we know.” Hence what flexibility we can find is to be rooted in the humility of obedience to the truth and also the humility that we do not know everything.

For example, a Thomist might adhere rigidly to the scholastic formulations in a way that would embarrass even St. Thomas Aquinas himself, who was usually quite gracious to his opponents and would argue, “Now, because we cannot know what it God is, but rather what he is not, we have no means for considering how God is, but rather how he is not” (Prima pars, q. 3, prologue). Hence, again,  humility is an important stance with respect to sacred theology: we must have obedience to what is revealed with certainty and taught by God through the Church, but also appreciation for what we do not know with certainty and for which there can be a range of views that Sacred Tradition proposes.

But what is true for a Thomist or any traditional theologian must also hold true for those of more modern systems of thought. For example, I have met adherents to the historical-critical method who are every bit as rigid and possessed of hostile inflexibility as an iron bar. So we do well to note the Holy Father’s first caution and be aware of the temptation to be rigid when we don’t have to but to find flexibility “within the law,” and within the boundaries of certitude.

2. – The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

For in order to bind the wounds of sin we must first say and determine that there is sin. A doctor does not treat wounds by saying there is no wound. A true and good doctor says there is a wound, there is a disease or disorder, there is something wrong—and then proceeds mercifully to offer and begin treatment.

As the Holy Father states, there are a lot of so-called “do-gooders” who think that to do good is merely to please or ingratiate. He also warns that some are fearful, perhaps implying that they fear to offend or to cause the pain that healing sometimes involves.

We cannot be tempted to blindness, false compassion, or fear. Love and truth cannot be separated, though truth without love can be used as a bludgeon.

3. – The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

As Christians, we cannot deny the Cross or be embarrassed by it. The Lord points insistently to the necessity of the Cross and the endurance of suffering, and we can do no less. Saints Paul and Barnabas went about, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Paul also lamented that many  in his own day who live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Phil 3:18-19). But the same Paul also declared with conviction, We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23-24).

Yet today, sadly, many Christians are ashamed of the Cross when it moves from being an abstraction to making real demands of people. And thus those who cannot reasonably marry must live celibately. It is sometimes true that a woman who is raped becomes pregnant and yes, she must carry the child to birth and may not abort. Suffering and dying are not permitted simply to “check out” at will. People in difficult marriages need to be encouraged to work out their problems and not consider divorce and subsequent remarriage. But instead of pointing to the Cross and summoning others to courage and being ready to help them, many Catholics either go silent or insist that such crosses are not required.

Too many Catholics are tempted by the hedonism of the day, which insists that pleasure and happiness are the sole points of life, and thus tempted, they insist that the Cross is not required. Many think that God’s only goal for us is that we be happy and content. But they forget that true happiness comes from holiness and true holiness is often the fruit of suffering.

And yes, as the Holy Father also insists, we must also avoid the temptation to forget that the cross IS heavy for many. Alone it may be an unbearable burden. And thus we must help people to carry the Cross, not just point to it. We must continue to help women in crisis pregnancies as we do through the Gabriel Project and Rachel’s Vineyard; we must encourage those with same-sex attraction to live celibately as we do through the Courage Apostolate; we must work hard with couples to preserve their marriages; we must provide quality palliative care to the dying, and so forth. Sinners who struggle but are repentant must find understanding, compassion, and support in the Lord’s Church.

4. – The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

Of the Cross, I have already spoken above. Of the “worldly spirit,” the Holy Father says clearly that our job is not conform to it but rather to purify it and conform it to the truth and will of God: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. Worldliness and popularity are grave temptations.

5. – The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing!

And here too, we can never neglect the glorious faith handed on to us. But neither can we allow it not to be fresh every day.

There are great challenges in preaching an ancient faith to a world that has lost touch with the vocabulary of faith. Yet the Church in every age, when she was strong and sure in her own faith and has not neglected the deposit of faith or been compromised by the world, has always used the arts, music, painting, song, drama, and preaching to convey the faith creatively.

We must continue to translate our unchanging doctrine to a changing world and bend the world, not be bent by it. The deposit of faith is non nova, sed nove (Not a new thing, but proclaimed newly (and freshly)).

I can only hope that these remarks are reflective of a mindset going forward. The Synod, at least “as seen on TV,” seemed to show in many the temptations described here. We who worship a crucified and risen Lord in our liturgy must be willing to take that Cross out into the world and announce that the Cross is the only way to glory. The Cross is the A440, the tuning fork that assures that our proclamation is pure and Christ-like. Whatever we might wish the truth to be, or however much we might wish Christ had said or done something differently, we must, in humble obedience to the truth, conform to Christ; we cannot demand that He conform to us or our will.

Toward the end of the talk, the Holy Father says the following words, with which I would like to conclude.

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

83 Replies to “Some Temptations to Avoid in the Wake of the Synod”

  1. I understand things better having read this Msgr. Pope. Thank you for your remarks on each point, they bring greater clarity for many who do not grasp what this Pope is trying to communicate. i have a question though. If the ” forward” thinking Bishops are trying to force an agenda through that contravenes Church teachings, why then are they not subject to remedial discipline or removal? Why was Cardinal Burke removed from His job, when he appears to be fully supporting what our Church has always taught?

    1. Worthy questions. I am not a Vatican Watcher. Perhaps others will answer. It really looks bad if it is final that the Cardinal is packing his bags. I think when the official notice comes the outcry will be great

      1. It looks bad anyway. Here we have a Pope who speaks our on temptations and appears to be fully upholding the core truths and doctrines of our faith, yet, according to Cardinal Burke himself, is removing him as head of the Vatican Supreme Court. He already has removed him from the council that assists the Pope in selecting new Bishops. If it looks and quacks like a duck…..

        1. And I would add to what you say here that I have yet to see any denial by Pope Francis of assertions that his position is that of Cards. Marx and Kasper; both men said this repeatedly to reporters during the Synod. Many of us also remember the fulsome praise — in fact, embarrassingly gushy! — that the pope lavished on Kasper’s book Mercy last February. I’ve neither read nor heard anything similar about anything Card. Burke wrote. The truth is there before us if we will only choose to look at it, painful as that is for faithful Catholics.

      2. I understand things better having read this Msgr. Pope. Thank you for your remarks on each point, they bring greater clarity for many who do not grasp what this Pope is trying to communicate.

        I hate to have to mention it, but the Pope should not need explaining. What he says should be clear. What Monsignor says here is a good interpretation, but others will have their own interpretations. Certainly Cardinal Kasper will have his interpretation. Which is the right one? Who knows?

        This is, I’m sorry to say, becoming a problem. Too often Pope Francis speaks in half ideas, leaving things open-ended, as well as often presuming some “inside baseball” so to speak. Early on, people would hear Pope Francis say something and ask either “what is he saying?” or worse “is he going to change Church teachings?”

        I used to think that John Paul II was hard to read and understand, but that was because he was speaking at a level so high above me. Francis is hard to read and understand in a different way because often there is little context and what is said is ambiguous, susceptible of different meanings. In short, it is sloppy. Now, I can try to comfort myself and say that we need to simply interpret him within the whole of the magisterium before him, but that is entirely an act of trust on my part, done without any confirming evidence that it is correct. As such, I can’t blame other people that might interpret him to be suggesting something else.

        For example, “surprised by God.” What does that mean? Is speaking more to us or to God? It comes off sounding like God is arbitrary, that we can’t ever fully know what His will is, what His teaching is. Thus, since God is Truth, we can’t really ever know what the truth is, or even if there is truth. I suppose that Franics knows what he means by this, but the rest of us, not so much. It’s sloppy at best, misleading at worst. And if long-time committed Catholics scratch their heads over this stuff, what are all the non-believers out there to make of it all?

        Another vibe I’ve been getting lately is that of “hope and change.” If you know what I mean. Yeah, it all sounded good back in 2008 and now everyone is seeing how vacuous it all is.

        1. Yes, where did the “God of Surprises come from suddenly? Where did the immutable and unchanging God go? This God of Surprises language that Pope Francis has been invoking lately (almost always in the same homily or speech where he casts not-so-thiny-veiled aspersions on many of his brother bishops, characterizing them as being equivalent to the Pharisees whom Jesus despised, does not give me comfort of confidence. It does the opposite, in that seems to imply that the Pope may issue some surprising new edict at any moment.

          1. I don’t know what happened, but I replied to Matt, and now this is for BXVI. I agree with you, too!

        2. Well said Matt–and I agree. I have lived thru 7 or 8 popes and never has there been so much confusion as with Pope Francis. Writers falling over themselves rushing to EXPLAIN what he meant by a statement. As for a “God of surprises”–the only surprises are coming form this pope–God has already told us what He wants form us.

    2. I don’t know much about the issue with Cardinal Burke, but from some things I’ve read, I wonder if many of his followers weren’t losing charity, in their zeal for him, and the Pope thought it would be better for them if they didn’t have Cardinal Burke there to set up as a champion of some cause of their own (separate from Cardinal Burke’s), which is not fully in line with the Gospel. If this is the case, I would think Cardinal Burke would willingly step down, as he appears to be doing (willingly, not necessarily happily). Saint Paul had something to say about the members of the early Church who wanted to follow the preachers, not the Christ. Again, as I said, this is mere speculation.

      1. While he simultaneously elevates Cardinal Kasper, who seem to be the reflection of the ideology of those on the “left”? I am not buying your speculation.

        1. agreed—from where I sit, I see the more orthodox and traditional clergy replaced by the likes of Cardinal Kasper. But when he reinstated a priest who had been suspended because of his clinging to Liberation Theology–I felt that quite unsettling. Not a good sign at all.

  2. My reaction is that I can find far more wisdom about sex, marriage and family on YouTube than I can get from the Vatican. Girlwriteswhat alone seems to have more sense than the entire college of cardinals.

    1. If that is the case, then I suspect you really are not looking for wisdom, but reinforcement of views that have caused so much destruction in our time – of marriage, of families, of women and of children.

  3. I feel that the progressives have failed to have their way during this synod and they have another year to plan for a major ‘earthquake’ with the tacit approval of the Holy Father. In any case, the Church is Christ’s and the Holy Spirit will take care of Her.

    1. We need to pray hard. I would say we need to let our bishops know how we feel but I think most of them are set in their worldviews and are not going to “change” no matter how many letters they get. For the most part, I think that would be a waste of time.

    1. I feel your pain!

      At the Rorate Coeli blog, the following interpretation is given for the pope’s words:

      2 + 2 = 4 (too rigid)
      2 + 2 = 6 (too lax)
      2 + 2 = 5 (aaah, perfect!)

      Cardinal Kasper is on book tour, and Cardinal Burke is demoted.

      Perhaps actions speak louder than words!

  4. I was a strong supporter of the Pope before the synod. Now, quite frankly, I view him with suspicion. His speech at the end bouyed my spirits; he claims to be playing things right down the middle. Yet, it appeared that everything he did at the synod was calculated to favor one side over the other. He appointed six liberal cardinals to write the final report, as if he did not trust those who had been elected by the synod itself. It appeared he was trying to skew the results in a certain way. One of the men he appointed, Fernandez has some odd views on the church and slavery, claiming that the church was in favor of slavery when the truth is far different. But these are the things you hear the far left liberals saying, and it was shocking to see them come out of the mouth of a Cardinal, who should know better, and from one of Francis closest advisors.
    In the Pope’s speech, he spoke about his role in bringing unity in the church. This may be his way of saying, Look, I only brought Kasper forward, I only appointed the six liberal cardinals, because i want every viewpoint represented; i want both wings of the church to be understood, listened to and represented. I am the point of unity, and like a good father or mother, I make sure each child gets his due.
    That is the best spin I can put on his actions. His constant cutting down of people has always worried me. Never before have I heard a Pope cutting down people so much – cutting them down, but not with enough specificity so they can be identified and can defend themselves.
    I hope I am wrong, but the synod really made me worry about this Pope.

    1. The Synod looked more like politicians trashing each other than a group of Bishops proclaiming God’s holy truths. It’s very disturbing and embarassing to Catholics and to the world to see this in-house fighting like a bunch of little kids who can’t get their way.

    2. I can think of a reason the Pope might choose liberal cardinals. If he wanted them out in the open, where their positions could be examined and discussed, instead of remaining in the sidelines and hidden from open discussion. I rather think the synod was not for the uneducated and unchurched – I think it was for the Church, to look at what is going on inside itself; and there never really was a question of the Church changing its views away from the Gospel – Christ Himself said it won’t happen.

      1. Would that I believed this. But no signs point to this being true. These debates ALREADY OCCURRED in the Church. The ideologies of the left and the progressives were already rejected. They were dying off. The Pope has ressurected them from obscurity and made them the focus of the Synod.

        1. No, he brought them out in the open, where all could be aware of what is (still) being said. The Church is (still) not going to change to teach contrary to the Gospel. Would that you could believe this.

          1. If there is no change in Church teaching, it will not be for want of trying from the Pope.

            It was very, very clear that he was trying his utmost to steer this synod towards Kaspers ideology. Everything he did points to that.

            That he has had to backtrack was only thanks to the likes of Burke.

            And yes, as Johdedham said above, he always has a jab at someone in an underhanded manner.

    3. I agree Johndedham–all of this is painfully reminiscent of Vatican II strategies. Running out ahead of the Council and publishing or leaking things that somehow became “codified” into practice when it was never intended to be that way. The “Spirit of Vatican II” loose in the Church through a masterful strategy of “fait accompli” and I sadly see the same thing at work here. It has me deeply troubled. Deeply. All I can say is–and Monseigneur Pope I’d appreciate your feedback on this–Jesus gave us defined doctrine on marriage and human sexuality. St. Paul expands on these in his letters, the Church through millennia has always reinforced these teachings. If we veer from then now in the name of compassion then the masks are off and we will see that something is indeed rotten in Denmark/Rome. Since we have the promise that the Holy Spirit will never allow the Vicar of Christ to teach error in essential doctrine, then we have to conclude we have a seriously heretical if not apostate Pope if this Pope allows it, promotes it or looks the other way while it happens. Scary thought, but this is the only conclusion I can reach. These truths and teachings cannot be controverted because they are the words of Christ Himself! God is not the author of confusion! (so says scripture) I pray, I hope that the Holy Father will unambiguously chart a clear course for the Church according to Christ’s clear teaching-and “unambiguously” is the operative word.

  5. I question where is the true Catholic Church? If she accepts immoral acts that Our Lord specifically said no to, then something very serious has occurred. If they accept these things, then the entire thing comes tumbling down. We have no need for priests, bishops or a pope. Maybe those who said a while back that the popes have not been valid since Pius XII are correct then. Maybe the last 40 to 50 years show bad fruit of a bad tree. I am confused still. The pope talks in circles and veiled ways. Most of those who surround him are very progressive. You could almost say they sound more like Communists then Christians. O Lord why have you abandoned us?

    1. God has NOT abandoned us, some men (maybe many men), yes, but God, No NEVER!! Our confidence is in the Lord Who assures us the Church is HIS and HE IS the Church and don’t forget we too are the BODY OF CHRIST. Don’t despair dear brother, God is on the throne!! The disciples feared when Jesus was crucified that “entire thing comes tumbling down”… but then it hadn’t, had it. No, even in our darkest hour, nothing can destroy the Church, the “gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)… Praise be to GOD!!!

      1. But maybe not the Modern Liberal/Communists freaky combo. See how this is morphing into some crazy stuff???

  6. I read the Pope’s statement about the first temptation differently. I think he’s speaking of “A temptation … to close oneself within the written word, … within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve.”

    In which case, “the law” is human law (e.g., canon law), not Divine Law, and “the certitude of what we know” isn’t the certitude of faith but knowledge of that human law and how it’s been applied in the past.

    On this reading, the Pope isn’t saying God surprises us within bounds He’s already revealed to us. He’s saying that our knowledge of the law isn’t knowledge of God’s bounds.

    1. That is how I interpreted it as well. It has almost the opposite meaning of Msgr. Pope’s explanation. However, I do see the validity of Msgr. Pope’s explanation. I am confused about which one is correct because it is a very important statement and a key to much that has been discussed and might be decided in 2015. Could both be correct?

      1. I see no reason to doubt that Pope Francis believes that “what flexibility we can find is to be rooted in the humility of obedience to the truth.” But I won’t hazard a guess on what he will conclude follows from that obedience. (Nor will I insist on answering that question dogmatically myself. Personally, I find the doctrine of the Trinity much easier to understand than canon law on marriage.)

    2. I find this a very sagacious observation. One caveat I would make is this: that Canon Law is not human (positive) law simply. As I understand it, canon law borrows heavily from civil positive law (e.g., in the just disposition of church properties) but also entails extensions of moral teachings and the logic of sacramental theology. What this seems to imply is this: if you ignore or subvert some aspects of canon law, you are subverting a sacrament. For example, Edward Peters writes very cogently about the scandal of giving Holy Communion to politicians who advance abortion.
      Peters also notes that there is a right way to go about this canonically, and many wrong ways.
      The bottom line is this: being a stickler for the law can reveal God’s bounds, indeed, this is a point made by Benedict in his Regensburg critique of Islam. To wit, God does not contradict reason, and if the reasoning of the law is tight, then it tells us something about God’s Law.

      1. I’m no canon lawyer, and if I were wiser I’d be silent when Ed Peters speaks, but I don’t think it’s quite as straightforward as “if you subvert some aspects of canon law, you are subverting a sacrament,” in at least two ways. First is the old distinction between a valid sacrament and a sacrament licitly offered and received. I’ll propose that a valid but illicit sacrament subverts, not the sacrament itself, but the authority of the Church to regulate the sacraments (not that that’s a minor thing). Second is that canon law can and does change, so the current code is not the unique necessary and sufficient code for governing the admission of sacraments. Following the current promulgated code where it contradicts a previous code doesn’t subvert the sacrament, so I’d argue that doing so even before the code is promulgated doesn’t subvert the sacrament as such (though it is a bad thing to do for other reasons).

  7. I see that Crowhill has climbed down from his cross, as soon as the Pope gave us a free rein to fight back against any statement about marriage that goes against Church teaching, after the Extraordinary Synod concluded.

    Maybe he might be willing to pay the fines and do the jail time in Cour d’Alene, Idaho, where a pastor and his wife are being threatened, because they don’t believe in same-sex marriage, but DO believe in the truth of God’s word in Scripture. You willing to take that on, Crowhill, and show us what real freedom means to you, or does the worldly spirit really mean that much?

  8. Have we noticed how often humility and obedience are the virtues we need to practice our faith? When ego and pride replace humility and obedience we reject what Christ has told us and mother Church protects as revealed truths. I think Pope Francis has articulated this quite well. It is not, and should never be, about us. The Catholic Church stands as a living witness to unchanging Tradition. Jesus has promised to be with Her through it all. May all of us do our part to remain faithful! Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for providing clarity.

  9. We have many couples in our parish who are remarried. I do not know if they obtained annulments or not, so I refrain from judging.
    However, recently, we have had a husband leave his wife of twenty years and two children and take up with his mistress. He married her in a civil ceremony about two months later. This is plastered all over Facebook so no doubt there. He is very proud of her, and himself I guess for catching such a young woman at his age. Anyway, his mistress is now pregnant. The two of them strut into Mass each week, up to Communion. And are welcomed with hearty hellos and now congratulations on her pregnancy.
    I guess my point is….Is this “pastoral”? Honestly when I see these two in there together I say to myself, and what is the difference at this point if two civil-unioned lesbians were to walk in as well? Is it because they can’t “pass”? Perhaps we can all pretend that what this man has done might be ok but we all have the evidence in front of us. I don’t know, it is very disheartening as someone who tries to follow the marriage laws of the Church in all things. I wonder if things like this are the reason that so many Catholics don’t think the marriage laws are important anymore.

    1. St. Paul told us how to address these situations in 1 Corinthians 5. If they refuse to repent and reform their lives, they must be expelled from the community – for their own good and so that they understand the seriousness of the matter. But, we no longer have the guts to do it.

    2. I would guess that perhaps you do not have enough information to make these judgments though obviously
      you “think” so. Could there be the possibility of an annulment which you have not heard about or might
      not be privileged to know? Have the couple, now married civilly, perhaps straightened out with the church their irregular union? Until you can absolutely ascertain that neither of these possibilities is true, perhaps you should publically refrain from judging them even though the “facts” as you presented seem completely sinful.
      We all fail to measure up and are told therefore not to judge so that we might not be judged.
      This seems to be the point Pope Francis is making in his warning about the first temptation. Using truth to
      support our own self-righteousness is sinful and divisive.

  10. The whole thing has simply left a bad taste in the mouth of too many people. What should have been a comfort, bringing much-needed security to marriage and family, has instead brought alarm and insecurity.

    Perhaps the only good thing ultimately to come from this synod is that it was merely a dry run and not the final step in the process, it was not the last say, and maybe — MAYBE — we got all the bad blood out now, when it cannot do any lasting and permanent harm (except that it has done significant harm), and all the wrongs will be righted. But that is crossed-fingers talking.

    Why should next year be any different? If these dinosaur ideas from the 60s and 70s didn’t die out then, if they were not permanently stamped out despite the efforts of a Blessed and a Saint (called Great) and a future Doctor of the Church, those cancer cells will not be eliminated come October 2015.

    Meanwhile, after the illusion of participating in the process, what with the questionaire that was circulated last year, only to have the responses thrown in the trash as certain elements hijacked the synod with their own agenda as the synod went into secret session and the people were forced to stand and wait outside to determine their fate, as if this were a conclave, none of this engenders any kind of security or assurance for the future. Too many things are up in the air — again.

  11. Dear Msgr. Pope,
    I appreciate your gracious and hopeful review of the Pope’s words. There seemed to be no purpose to the Synod since Church teachings are clear and no one is excluded from the mercy of the Church.
    If our Church was truly concerned with the family it would do all in its power to provide a Catholic school education to all Catholic children. Instead our Church acts as a behemoth NGO tax and spend organization that supports any and all expansions of the welfare state and illegal immigration. Why does our Church not encourage each and every parish to form an independent endowment fund to help pay teachers salaries at Catholic schools? Few families can afford to send multiple children to Catholic schools so they are half full of non-Catholics looking for ‘affordable’ private school education. The endowments could be staffed by volunteers, the funds could be invested in something like the Ave Maria Funds, contributions could be tax deductible(501(c)3), local parish endowments would be safe from sex abuse litigation, benefits would be paid out per Catholic student so as not to subsidize non-Catholics taking advantage of the schools. Such a program might convince parents and grandparents that the Church really cares about strengthening the Family. As a baby boomer grandparent I’m inclined to think such a program would have a massive response. Please save our children from atheistic government schools. Is that not Evangelization? Is it not much more important than titillating atheists? Was education any part of the synod on the family? Is that not remarkable? Sorry for the diatribe. God bless you.

    1. I agree. It seemed they collected data from questionnaire, but no ranking of any real issues came up. The agenda was clearly around the controversial issues, and thanks to Bishops from Africa who intervened boldly – ‘there are many other issues too’ – actual pastoral issues.

    2. You are right about supporting the faithful as well. Without strong faithful in the Church, who is going to evangelize outside the Church. Also, what is the point of the year of evangelization, if everything is on the same level, why would anyone come into the Catholic Church? The Catholic Church is supposed to save souls, and not make us feel good about our current situation, or as you stated, only be a welcoming NGO. Any current situation is fleeting compared to eternity.

    3. Faith & Reason…well written Grandpa Shawn! Shouldn’t the first item on the agenda be to state Church Dogma or Doctrine (I still don’t know what the difference is) and then vote, I defend and proclaim this or I don’t defend nor proclaim this. All those in defense of the Faith, remain to discuss where we have failed in teaching, how we will proclaim the Beauty, Goodness and Truth found in the One True Faith. (All who don’t, sit quietly in the back so that by the end of the Synod you will convert.) How will we minister to those who have disobeyed, who have rejected Truth, are mortally wounded? One idea is to not continue to mess up as we have since the 1960s…we will teach the Faith, with clarity and with revealing the magnificent brilliance of God’s laws and teachings so that our children and children’s children will far surpass us in knowledge, thus love of God, wanting most in this life to serve Him. Help couples prior to their marriage. Obtain commitments to continue in strengthening their marriage by monthly date nights with solid Catholic families. Reject all harmful so-called entertainment (tv goes; music will be classical or donut man…) Reject communism and all who claim to be Catholic but support the murder of the unborn. Live holy lives and frequent confession for when we fall short. Support the work of Courage not other groups who pervert teaching. Teach to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow our Lord. Knowing and embracing the Truth will set souls free from serious, mortally wounding sin, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the greatest Treasure that increases when we share it with others…let’s save souls! God bless Msgr. Pope. Oh dear, a bit of my A.D.D. is showing. Time to care for the autistic children.

  12. Thank you Mgsr. Pope. With all the muddle of the news reports, you give clarity.
    We have the gift of Church teaching, but also, we benefit from the helpful commentary of intelligent and faithful Catholic commentators—you being one of them!
    This coming year’s lead-up to the 2015 synod should be for all Catholics a year of fervent prayer, for the Pope, the bishops and the Church. We laypeople need also to do our part by being intelligent, thoughtful and clear about the issues concerning marriage. We have rich resources; we must use them.
    To quote Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” There is much to do and pray about during this year coming year. In my old Irish neighborhood, a good-bye was always with the words: “Keep the faith! Let’s do that.
    Again thank you,

  13. Dear Monsignor Pope:

    From moments after Bergoglio’s election when I googled his name and saw what Rorate Caeli had written about him as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I have feared the worst from this Pope. I have hoped that I am wrong. Alas, so far it has been all bad.

    I appreciate your effort to be encouraged by Pope Francis’ final address. I hope you are right and that my understanding is wrong (that having been ignominiously defeated in his attempt to run the Synod like the Politburo heard the final speech as a fabricated effort to look above the fray (so has some criticism for everyone) when Francis had been actually the driving proximate cause of everything going wrong. The concluding remarks which include a long quote from Benedict XVI about the Pope as guardian of the deposit of faith. while insisting that everything be done sub Petrum, is particularly rich- pulling rank to indicate that in the end he, the Pope (laughs), will do what he wants to do. This reading is not too tendentious if you put it in the context of everything the Pope has said and has not said to date and awhen one considers whom he has banished and whom has he promoted. Since these forces of heterodox had barely been held in checked under the previous two pontificates, it seems increasingly likely that the pontificate of Francis will, perhaps, convert the de facto schism in the church to de jure.



  14. I believe all the admonitions the Pope cited in the closing speech at the Synod were problems he sees and laments within himself. (1) The tendency to hostile inflexibility. He treats traditional Catholics as if they were reprobates in his criticism of some of the traditional religious orders; (2) The “buonissimo” tendency exhibited by his “Who am I to judge” free-for-all. The Pope shirks from his duty to teach, govern and sanctify, but when the message is difficult. Instead he promotes mercy without truth a la secular humanism; (3) Transforming stones into bread. Divorced Catholics or homosexuals are too weak-willed to be chaste so there is a concerted effort distort and disfigure Christ’s teachings. This was evident by allowing dissident bishops (Cardinal Kasper, et al.) to promote moral positions contrary to doctrine and having them published by the media; (4) Accommodation to the world. See No. 3; and (5) Neglecting the deposit of faith. It seems the Pope is asking the Bishops the same question Pilate asked of Jesus–What is truth? If the Pope and Bishops don’t know it through centuries of solid Tradition then they are not worthy of the positions to which they are called.

    Bottom line is, the fault, dear Bishops, clergy and laity, lies not in changing Catholic teaching, but in not changing ourselves.

    1. Your last sentence is dead on. We do want to change and want the Church to affirm us in our sins. We want to be welcomed on our terms and not the terms of Christ and his Church. All our welcome now, but we are called to repentance. We desire all mercy these days without any justice or contrition on our part.

      1. Repentance? Who needs that?
        The God of Surprises will most likely surprise us by revealing that His law no longer counts hence no need for repentance.

  15. A lot of damage control will be needed in the wake of this Synod to preserve the faithful from mutiny or apostasy.

  16. Dear Msgr. Pope,thank you for that analysis. I am only afraid that this First Synod was only a fact finding session by the Pope and his inner circle. Who’s with us and who’s against us. I will continue to pray for Pope Francis, that the Holy Spirit will guide him. God Bless you Father.

  17. Honestly, I feel outright betrayed by the Holy Father. I think it is clear that he is a progressive, that the first temptation he lists is very pointedly towards those who uphold Church doctrine, and that he is squarely opposed to Familiaris Consortio. Furthermore, he has in a very short time undercut the moral and theological credibility of those of us in the trenches — teachers, catechists, (perhaps pastors? I can’t speak to this myself) — who are still attempting to instruct the young. Why, after all, ought our students live the Church’s moral teaching if it seems (whether rightly or wrongly) that not even the Pope believes in it? These are sad and confusing times. I am too young to have lived through the VII situation. Could it have been as bad as this?

  18. within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve.

    I am not convinced of your interpretation of this statement – that PF intended this flexibility to be within the law, within what we know. It seems to me, based upon the parallel structuring, the temptation to rigidity is precisely to stay within the law, within what we know, but we need to be open to what we still need to learn and achieve. By staying within the law, within what we know, we are inflexible to what we still need to learn. I take it almost opposite of how you do. But then, this is precisely the problem when meticulous language is not employed.

  19. “… and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. ”

    I think the Pope here alludes to the richness of God’s spoken word. In fact, within the confines of doctrine and tradition lies an infinite majesty of mercy, which few are able to recognize. Because of that, we find the Church’s teachings to be “rigid” or “prehistoric”. They are in reality, timeless, just as is God. It is we who are rigid.

    People need not look for immediate black and white answers, for they will not be forthcoming. Answers without questions are like seeds that fall on rocks. They never bear fruit.

    We must look within our hearts to find the questions that unlock the answers we seek. When we do, then we will more fully understand this Pope.

    1. In fact, within the confines of doctrine and tradition lies an infinite majesty of mercy, which few are able to recognize.

      You indict with a pretty broad brush. More people than you know can testify to the infinite divine mercies of God touching them personally precisely in that doctrine and tradition in their fullness, and not merely hidden within its confines that only a privileged few are able to detect.

      The answers we seek we already know — it is the unconditional love of God. This answer is not hidden. It hasn’t been for a long time. And it has practically been shouted by past popes like Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, John Paul II in his entire magisterium on marriage and family, and Benedict XVI in his positive Christianity.

      There is no lock, except for those who condescendingly charge others with not getting it, all the while ignoring that the Church has been proclaiming the answer for a long, long time. The problem is that some people, which apparently would include Cardinal Kasper and Hans Kung and Charlie Curran before him, don’t like the answer.

      1. Matt, the answers ARE hidden, behind shiny cars, big houses, important jobs, social media. Yes the message has been proclaimed for years and yes the truth is written in our hearts. Unfortunately too many of us refuse to see it.

  20. In fact, I don’t see it as much different from the position of keep the doctrine (law, certitude) but change the practice, or more likely -fail to enforce as an application of mercy. Much like odd laws that stay on the books, but are never enforced.

  21. ” i have a question though. If the ” forward” thinking Bishops are trying to force an agenda through that contravenes Church teachings, why then are they not subject to remedial discipline or removal? Why was Cardinal Burke removed from His job, when he appears to be fully supporting what our Church has always taught?”

    Yes! I have exactly the same questions! I have yet to see these answered by anyone with the authority to do so in a clear manner.

    I am deeply struggling and have a very bad queasy feeling/premonition in the pit of my stomach. There is so much confusion. It is heartbreaking. It makes me weep. It makes me angry. I keep bringing it to Our Dear Lord.

    What are we to do? The only sure answers I have are to step up our prayers and perhaps add fasting on a regular basis for our Holy Father Pope Francis, and all our church hierarchy. Ideally, a church or lay leader would start a type of Eucharistic Adoration Holy Hour specifically for the Holy Father, our church leaders for them to clearly and without apology state God’s will in the Church’s teachings in the Synod on the Family next year.

    If, in spite of this, things go badly next year, I have to believe that Our Dear Lord will honor such prayers and sacrifices for our Holy Father and the church, and give us clear spiritual light on how to proceed in charity, love, courage and truth, remaining faithful to our Beloved Church.

  22. The Pope loves to set up staw men and knock them down, and to use false dichotomies. Yes, there are a few legalistic rigorists out there who could aptly be described as Pharisaical. But it is false – dare say dishonest – to characterize Cardinals Burke, Pell, Napier, Muller, Brandmuller, et al that way. And that is the clear import of Pope Francis’ recent statements. These great Cardinals of the Church are what was considered mainstream until yesterday.

  23. Excellent post, msgr. I too found peace after reading the Holy Fathers’ words. I was very apprehensive at the end of the synod since Cd. Kasper kept saying for 6 months that he had the Pope’s backing with all he was doing.

    I was also greatly hearten by an article I read about a Presentation by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations, at the Opening of the Academic Year at the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy, 17 October 2014 and who also met the Pope Franics during the synod. This gave me great hope that we are at least listening to the other ‘lung’ of the body of Christ where good fruit is accually being born. My hope is that the Holy Father will listen to those Catholic bishops where great fruit is evident, like Africa also and not from places where the Church is dying and the past ‘policies’ have not worked.

    “At the beginning of the 1990s the number of those wanting to be baptized was such that a typical priest in a typical city or village church could baptize in the course of one day hundreds of people. Everywhere churches were restored and opened.

    “Throughout the last twenty six years in the Russian Church there have been restored from ruins or opened anew more than 26 000 churches: this means that we have opened and continue to open a thousand churches a year or three churches every day. There have been opened more than eight hundred monasteries, which have been filled with young monks and nuns.

    In the large cities Church secondary schools and church institutes of further education have appeared. Theological faculties have been opened in secular universities. The Church has assumed the direction of her activities which in the period of persecution were in effect banned: publications, social ministry and charity work.

    And all of this has taken place in the very same era which in the West some call post-Christian.ed as well ”

    Again Russia did not accomadate the culture but preached the timesless truths and the people who had being living in a culture of death and after a great deal of suffering were finally ready to listen and Christianity has caught fire. We need to hold our ground and be patient and the ‘wages of sin’ will be reaped and the people will see that this modern lifestyle will ultimately never fullfill and bring eternal life. Then westerns will be ready to accept the Gospel. But we must stand firm in the mean time.

  24. As Pope Francis said, ‘who am I to judge’. It was hard to watch the in fighting with the Cardinals. Our church is about love and mercy guided by the Holy Spirit. Thank you Msgr. Pope for this article.

    1. For my part, I am pleased that there was in fighting considering the plot being hatched.

      Imagine the scenario: the Pope steering the synod and the Church towards Kasper’s goal. And everyone either acquiescing or too frightened to speak. There would not have been in-fighting and the result would have been calamitous.

  25. Msgr. I can’t help thinking that the Holy Father recognizes the obstacles to the working of the Holy Spirit in we poor earthen vessels, the most primal of which is pride in whatever we think we excel at, thus these five temptations are inverse representations of five aspects of the virtue of humility, as perhaps pious artists and poets have often depicted in Mary’s humble receipt of the supreme gift Jesus himself at the Annunciation

    Imagine for a moment

    1º Salutación – would the Angel Gabriel’s greeting succeed if he’d succumbed to the temptation to excessive rigidity?

    2º Turbación – would Mary have recognized the heavenly message of the good news if he’d been tempted to act as a mere mortal so as not to spook her?

    3º Reflexión – how long would Mary have continued their discourse if he’d been tempted to argue with her: “Hurry up, girl. Its obvious to any simpleton. Stop shirking. Accept God’s will on pain of eternal damnation”

    4º Interrogación – assuming she extended the rude intruder one millisecond further hospitality in her most intimate domestic sanctuary, what would she be thinking to herself about his temptation to pursue a blunt assault on her senses?

    5º Aceptación – assuming her nature were more that of a pagan Amazonian warrior (not easily intimidated by the forces of invading marauders rather than the pure-hearted virgin we know her immaculate conception helped sustain) and she were to agree under these ‘extraordinary’ circumstances to take up the gauntlet thrown down by such a vile visitor, if he had been tempted to encourage her to go it alone, to leave behind her Jewish family and forget all she knew in order to fulfill her singular destiny of single motherhood, woud she have risked being stoned to death and agreed?

    Rather like Gary Chapman’s popular self-help books “The 5 love languages” (gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical encounter) where he advises practicing not the style that we are most at ease with giving but rather the style that the beloved best appreciates RECEIVING (ie when courting you try to find the best mate, when married you try to BE the best mate). Pope Francis is asking the Bishops to examine their consciences for a ‘contraceptive’ mind set – acts not open to the transmission of ‘eternal’ life to paraphrase Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae – is any sterility or futility in their current ministry due to a deficit in their love language? If the Good News is not perceived that way by the lost souls Jesus entrusted to them, do they ever wonder why?

  26. In reading all this I am developing Synod PTSD!

    For me, the best thing that came out of the Synod non-event was the publication of “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church” by Robert Dodaro, O.S.A. If you want clarity on the Synod issues this book is a good start.

  27. A dictatorship of Relativism seems to have come upon the Catholic Church. I am not hopeful in near term.

  28. Im more confused by the Pope’s speech and his dualistic language, then I was by the straightforward heresies of Kasper, or the apologetics of Burke. The pope says: something is, but is not, and same thing isn’t, but is… What a hokus pokus ! During the exchange at the well between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Jesus clearly told the woman she was a sinner, without using the word “sin”. And He left the rest up to her. He knew that the Truth He told the woman was enough to steer change in her life. Nevertheless, at least a little Fath is needed in a person, to reverse the devastating results of sin. I have the impression, the the Pope’s speech concentrates more on the correct attitude of the Church towards the sinners, rather than the sinners towards the Church. He makes victims of those who already victimized themselves by exercising their own will. THIS is falls compassion and misplaced mercy. THIS was revealed to us in Dekalogue and the Gospel. What we don’t yet know is a mystery guarded by God. No man, across the spectrum of this discussion, will decode this mystery, unless God wills it. And frankly, I’m a little bit offended by some Cardinals’ language, calling me to exercise more mercy towards the group of people in question. They don’t seem to realize that most Catholics are non judgemental. But once a homosexual or pro-abortion Catholics rub their ideology in my face, and force my children to adapt the satanic gender nonsense, I will go on the offensive because that’s crossing a moral line. Jesus at the well was a perfect gentleman. He told the Truth, didn’t offend the woman, didn’t try to convert her. The Truth itself was sufficient for the woman to change. I’m afraid that the Pope is not putting enough stress on the Truth, thus leaving the discussion open to many heretic interpretations, and therefore asserting the sinners that dwelling in sin, is not really a big deal.

      1. Rob, I agree with you. You need to start your own blog. I will be your follower. 🙂

  29. Let nothing disturb you,
    Let nothing frighten you,
    All things are passing away:
    God never changes.
    Patience obtains all things
    Whoever has God lacks nothing;
    God alone suffices.

    — St. Teresa of Avila

  30. Love, especially Eros, MUST be “principled”. The goal of Erotic Love must be self-less in it’s quest for fulfillment. It can never be simply a manifestation of the physical impulse of the individual. Eros is quite a different kind of love than Philia and Agape – which can, and should, be expressed “unconditionally”. Remember: philia is love of friendship and “agape” is charity. What the Pope seems to be suggesting is a collapse of these different, well-tested, well-defined timeless Truths about love. (Read C.S. Lewis’ “The 4 Loves” for a refresher.)

    Erotic love cannot be “unconditional”, by its very nature. It is a love that must be held to constraints for the benefit of not only the lover, but the beloved. This is why we HAVE the Institution of Marriage, to promote constraints that will lead to PRINCIPLED love. This is why there have been sodomy laws, polygamy laws, incest laws and why we identify rape as an egregious crime. Eros cannot be given the same “freedom” that Philia and Agape enjoy – remember, an act of Eros ALWAYS will include a selfish interest.

    Christians are vulnerable to discussions regarding “love”…”for God so loved the world…(John 3:16). To be successful AS a Christian, one is to strive to love – that IS the most salient point of Christianity. As a result, some confused and imprudent Christians, for the sake of love (so they posit, notice I did not say argue), cast out aside their principles and “accept” or “embrace” homosexuals AS homosexuals. In this case, Christians are not loving their homosexual brothers and sisters for love’s sake, unconditionally, but at loves expense, placing Eros above Philia and Agape. We cannot let these timeless and necessary Truths be suppressed, arrested from us, or ignored. They are indelible, ineradicable and universal.

  31. Msgr,

    The last time I posted you told me to not use “you” which I take to heart. However, I am distressed by the fact that you have not commented at all at the many posts that denigrate Pope Francis and make it seem like he is some sort of fool (charitable) or worse (heretic). I love the new mass, I go to church, I am offended by being called “Lutheran,” and I try to live as Christian a life as I can. I find the comments in this blog to be outrageous. I simply ask, why are these anti Pope Francis comments allowed?

    1. I haven’t been reading too closely today, I have been in meetings and have a hard time reading the comments on my iPhone. I therefore have not seen some of the more egregious comments you mention. However, my own comments are in the post. Of late however I have thought to allow readers to engage each other, hence you may wish to engage the readers you mention. Contextually I am sympathetic with the fact that many are deeply dismayed by the events of the last two weeks and sometimes it is good to let people express their dismay, hopefully others can call them off the ledge. I DID see one comment about PTSD that I think captures the problem. But as for me, chalk most of the “silence” from me to a new policy to try and stay back a bit more, and also to being frantically busy today.

    2. Maybe — MAYBE — there is one comment here that might come close to being “anti Pope Francis,” but there are not multiple “comments” (plural) that are anti-Francis. Instead, there are a lot of comments from people who are troubled with our Holy Father, people who naturally want to love and admire their Holy Father and instead are beginning to relate to him in terms of obligation and obedience only. And the fact that people are, in fact, troubled with the Pope should itself be reason for us all to be troubled, and not cause to silence them.

      This level of distress is not a good thing. Now, we can either tell folks to shut up and fall in line, or we can let our shepherds know that instead of inspiring us, instead of making us feel secure, they are confusing and distressing us. If they are going to listen to all the cheers and adulation, then they are also going to have to listen to the grumbling and voices of dissatisfication.

  32. Mr. Auricchia supposedly has received messages from Our Lady, Jesus, St. Michael, Padre Pio and other Saints, from 1990 to 2010. The church has not ruled on it, and its at your discretion to believe or not. One interesting phenomena about his messages is the four of his prophesies have come to pass.

    Avola, ITALY May 30, 2010 Our Lady to Giuseppe Auricchia:

    ” My children, you walk on this bridge I have pointed out , to share with us the joy and your era of peace on earth . Evil will be cast out and the victory of My Son will set you free , but you must pray for guidance , because you will soon see the schism of My Church . My faithful remnant follows the current Pope , Benedict XVI, who want to eliminate . Continue to follow him and remain faithful to Him and to the teaching of my church , established by the Apostles. Do not be fooled by the apostasy and heresy. I tell you that the next Pope will be the impostor and the evil forces behind this schism. My children , be prepared , so you can follow those priests loyal to the Pope and the Church’s teaching . Preserve the saints missals and books of the old Mass , because the apostates will change the dramatic wording of the mass.

  33. One of the problems is that most all of the bishops today came of age before John Paul II became pope. Thus, his papacy did not influence their formative years. Many of them do not seem to have any deep appreciation for his marriage and family magisterium, specifically his insights on the theology of the body. There are exceptions. Benedict did. Angelo Scola does. Marc Ouellet does. A whole generation of JP2 priests do, and countless numbers of the laity from the JP2 generation, but not a whole lot of the bishops.

    There is a reason that JP2 is called Great and why people were chanting “Santo Subito” at his funeral. It is because he was a ROCK who gave hope to hundreds of millions of people who had become discouraged at the wimpy, cotton candy fluff that was being peddled in the Church and had led so many to leave.

  34. Did not Our Lady say these days would be upon us? Diabolical Disorientation at the hands of The Dictator of Relativism… CCC 675… Fear not, The King is upon The Eternal Throne and all enemies will be made his footstool…

  35. Pope Francis provides us with an opportunity to reflect on why the Church’s teaching is founded on Tradition, Scripture, and Magisterium. Catholicism is more than the pope. We have survived bad popes before and we shall survive this hapless Jesuit as well.

  36. The issue I have with Pope Francis is really very simple: in an age when moral clarity is needed most, Pope Francis seems to be communicating moral ambiguity. The Synod on the Family is but one of the most troubling episodes…

  37. Our God is in fact the God of surprises. I say that from my personal experience how God has brought forth surprise gifts and blessings when I least expect it. Even in the larger scope of Church, our God works out surprises when we least expect it. In the Bible we read apostles facing, and some even struggling to cope with the surprise from God to invite Gentiles and all of humanity into the grace of Jesus. God continues with his miracles, and if we are not surprised by God’s works, then it’s the fact that God is not touching our lives.

    However, many conservatives accuse Pope Francis of causing “confusion” with these words. That is probably because of how the events unfolded prior and through the Synod, especially Cardinal Kasper going scot-free for his careless and provocative language, one can be tempted to attach a “liberal/progressive” tag to Francis’ papacy. When seen through such a lens, one can misunderstand “God of surprises” to any degree. Does that mean God would re-define sin ? Does that mean breaking marriage is no longer a sin ? Questions and doubts would be abound. The fault, I think, is not with papacy but with the lens many of the conservatives employed to see the course of events.

    My own take of the Synod’s outcome was a little dismal, based on the following that I observed and felt.

    1) A small group simply wanted to focus only on a few controversial issues, and it seemed they were successful!

    2) Based on Kasper’s views, it seems there is very little guidance among Western bishops on how Church’s declarations on family would be received in Africa and Asia.

    Both point to some areas that Pope Francis needed to intervene and correct. But on the plus side, it was admirable of the Pope to encourage bishops to talk from their heart, without any fear of re-probation. That some, especially those with radical views, went into public arena, is a terrible thing to have happened. But I understand it’s something Church has always lived with – Arius, Nestorius, et al. were Catholic bishops when they purported their erroneous teachings. But they were given a voice in the Synod ! Like it or not, Church must first hear them ! What purpose does it hold, if everyone is just to say an “Amen” ? So Pope Francis did make the right gesture by inviting everyone to speak and talk without fear. It seems where Pope Francis failed is in controlling them.

    1. As to point (1), I would not be that discouraged about a small group wanting to focus on the controversial issues, if it was not for the fact that the controversial issues nearly passed. Even though they did not receive 2/3s, they got the bishops’ thumbs up by more than half. That is concerning.

      And naturally, you would expect controversial issues to gain most of the attention – if something is not controversial, why would it need attention? You don’t focus too much on attention on declaring water is wet.

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