This is a great post and worthy of consideration by my readers. Please pray for Pope Francis and the Synod Fathers.
So what the heck is Pope Francis trying to do with this synod anyway?
Let me begin by stating the obvious. Pope Francis is bored by the culture war. He’s bored by the politics of it. He’s also bored by what I call “the orthodoxy agenda”, that is, the attempt to restore doctrinal orthodoxy in the clergy. It’s not that he’s unorthodox. It’s not that he doesn’t think clergy shouldn’t be orthodox.
It’s not what he’s about.
He’s about “the heart”. He’s about bringing people to understand the love of God in their lives so that they can repent and turn to Jesus.
If you think Pope Francis is about anything else, you don’t understand a damned thing about him.
This attitude explains his disdain of proselytism and his love of gesture as a means of attracting people. You know how a lot of us culture warriors get on the internet and debate every issue from atheism to abortion to papal infallibility?
He’s not opposed to that, but he doesn’t think that’s the main way people will come to the Church.
And he doesn’t like the attitude that hammering people with arguments will get them to change (that’s what he thinks of as proselytism).
What he’s trying to do is to get people to understand the love of God by feeling His presence in their lives through action and attitude.
This is why he’s having a synod and not putting forth another encyclical.
As far as he’s concerned, everything that needs to be said about family life has been said, and I think he’s correct, in the main.
So he’s trying to get clergy to find ways to reach out to those very people who have been spiritually sidetracked by the culture of death: the divorced and remarried, gays, contracepting couples, etc.
He wants to find ways to reach out to them that don’t amount to a doctrinal statement. Not because he’s against doctrinal statements, but because that’s not how people are drawn into the Church.
They need to feel loved.
Now I understand many of us who are already good Catholics are of an intellectual bent, and arguments hold sway with us.
Most people in the world are not like that.
Most people need concrete reasons to believe in God, to repent, to believe in Jesus.
And if they don’t have those reasons, they’re going to reject God.
Now you’re right that human nature does tend to evil and justify itself.
But for most people, an argument doesn’t trump the heart. They need to understand what God does to a person. Why should a person ditch the gay lifestyle, or put up with celibacy after a divorce? What’s so special about God that makes giving up contraception seem sensible.
They have no idea.
When they see Pope Francis kiss a man with Neurofibramatosis, or severe cerebral palsy, they understand God’s love.
They are an initiated into it. They want to be part of it.
Pope Francis wants to take that experience of God’s love and put that in the lives of families.