Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, said he was “shocked” by responses to the global survey on Church teaching on the family, issued ahead of October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops.
Speaking to Catholic News Service, the cardinal said he found the responses “shocking, if I am allowed to use that word… because almost in all parts of the world, the questionnaires indicated that the teaching of the Church regarding family life is not clearly understood by people.”
He added: “The language by which the church proposes the teaching seems to be a language not accessible to people. So this is my hope, not for change — how can you change the biblical teachings? But maybe a real pastoral and evangelical concern for the Church: How do we present the Good News of the family to this generation, with its limitations, with its greatness, with its unique experiences?
“We should not be talking only to one another. The gospel of the family, the good news that is the family, should be presented to families where they are and how they are.”
Is it really that the language is inaccessible? Would simplifying the language help people understand it? Or do we really have a much deeper, underlying problem?
I think it’s the latter. We have a much, much deeper problem than simple semantics or language adjustment. Some of it has to do with understanding of proper authority, especially the deference one owes God, a will to do His will.
Until people are prepared to obey God and surrender their will to His, confusion reigns. There is a mysterious connection between obedience and understanding. For a willing, obedient heart, understanding and wisdom are a light on one’s path.
Whenever self-will creeps in, we are no longer “standing under” God, and we block His light.
The teachings of the Church related to human sexuality are an offence to our self-will, our desire to choose pleasure over God, or to defy the consequences of our actions.
How do we get people to want to obey God? Well, somehow we have to show through our lives the love, joy, peace and other fruits of the Spirit that follow obedience. We have to exhibit it in such a way that people say, “I want that.”
In the meantime, suffering will teach us.