Father D. Vincent Twomey writes in Catholic World Report a most interesting analysis of the extraordinary synod on the family so far. Here’s an excerpt, but do read the whole thing. (my emphases)
There is nothing very courageous about offering “pastoral” recommendations that fail to challenge a world that still bears the scars of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. How courageous is it to stress only the positive aspects of so many tragic pastoral situations at the expense of the negative? How could it be courageous to unsettle profoundly those faithful Catholics who, to quote one layman, ” are clinging to Christ’s teaching on marriage and chastity by their finger-tips”?None of the recommendations could compare with the real moral courage demanded of any priest who, faithful to Church teaching, tries to lead sinners to the truth and so to God’s mercy and forgiveness – or preach in those terms.
It is gravely irresponsible on the part of the Synod to cause further confusion in a pastoral situation that, in the absence of little authentic instruction on the part of bishops and priests over the past forty years, is causing havoc in people’s lives. That havoc was reflected in the worldwide survey conducted by the Vatican in preparation for the Synod. In my opinion, that havoc is the direct result of the rejection of the Church’s teaching on sexuality in the wake of Humanae Vitae by most moral theologians and several Bishops’ Conferences. That teaching is referred to (ambiguously) at the conclusion of his report by Cardinal Erdö, as though it were an afterthought, while in truth it is the main bone of contention. All the pastoral problems in this area arise from the rejection of that teaching. The beatification of Pope Paul VI next Sunday will, hopefully, provoke a new appreciation of his courageous and prophetic teaching.
Of the many glaring omissions in the reports (e.g. chastity is not mentioned once), the most striking is the absence of any reference to holiness as the goal of all Church teaching and pastoral practice. Cardinal Erdö’s report does mention sanctity once—albeit in passing—but otherwise it is exclusively concerned with assuaging people’s feelings by showing sympathy to every possible irregular situation. This might help overcome the negative image of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, and as such would be welcome, were it not in fact scandalous, in the strict sense of leading people astray from God (cf. Mt 18:6). Sad to say, the Synod’s (now not-so-hidden) agenda feeds into a bigger agenda, which is that of a secular society that threatens the traditional family to its very foundations. Even that is secondary. What is at stake, ultimately, is the Church’s mission to guide people to union with God in Christ: holiness.