It fails to impress not because of it’s supposed “radical shift in the Vatican approach…” but because there hasn’t been a radical shift.
The vague, wishy, washy language is simply more of the same: “We really must be kind and try to listen to everyone and give everyone a warm welcome because they’re all feeling terribly hurt and wounded” that we’ve been hearing for years from the Catholic leadership.
If this document were a radical departure from the Catholic leadership it would be saying things like, “We whole heartedly affirm the joyful way of self sacrifice and supernatural living that men and women share as they embark on the adventure of life long marriage. Longing to co operate with God in the gift of new life, this radical and dynamic way of life offers a glimpse of glory and a profound way to walk in the most abundant and fulfilled path for human life. We acknowledge that this is a difficult pilgrimage, a mountain to ascend and a narrow way and few there be that find it.”
Now that would be a radical departure.
My main problem with the document, therefore is not so much in what it said, but in what it did not say.
It comes across as a manifesto for being nice to everyone. So this is radical?
The idea of gradualism or “meeting people where they are and walking with them where they need to be” sounds too much like St Augustine praying, “Make me chaste Lord, but not yet.”
Therefore the problem with the synod was the absence of sin.
It was strong on a loving and kind pastoral approach.
But there was nothing about preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son who came to this sinful world to seek and to save that which was lost. There was nothing about the transformative power of God’s grace active through the supernatural sacraments of salvation and nothing about the need to call for individual conversion.