The Catholic Register has posted a condensed version of Assumption University’s Christian Culture Lecture delivered by Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., Nov. 23 that looks at the recent extraordinary synod on the family.
Read the whole thing, as Fr. Rosica was inside the synod for the whole time and is the English language representative for the Holy See Press Office.
Contrary to what you may have read in newspapers and blogs and TV newscasts, there was no anger or fighting. There were disagreements, naturally. But the Pope told us to live through the experience with tranquility and trust. It was a profound experience of the Church as a family doing her best to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and express them in carefully chosen words.
The Synod’s mid-term report after the first round of discussions was seen by many as being less balanced than it could have been. The document contained new language that is respectful of people and avoids expressions or terminology that are offensive or that ordinary people cannot grasp. For example, the text does not speak of homosexuality as “intrinsically disordered” nor does it use the term “natural law.” It doesn’t categorize those who cohabit before marriage as “living in sin.”
This provisional text looked for the positive elements in the various and diversified situations in which couples live: from cohabitation, to marriage and irregular unions, to homosexual unions (which it states clearly are not to be equated with matrimony). Rather than engaging in finger pointing at the limitations, failures or defects (from the Church’s point of view) in these situations, it looked at them with tenderness and mercy, while maintaining the clarity of a teacher and insisting on the importance of accompanying people in their different and often complex situations. This is not soft mercy or cheap grace, but blatant honesty that comes from the heart.
Some would argue that the mid-term document wasn’t reflective of the balance in the discussions. There is some truth to this criticism. No one can deny that the publication of the mid-term Relatio contributed to the very intense dynamic of reflection and communication.
There has been much talk outside the Synod about how the Synod itself reflected on the situation of people of same-sex attraction. There was no suggestion that the teaching of the Church might somehow give approval to the notion of “same-sex marriage” or that its teaching on sexual morality is to change. However, two things were very clear. The first is that we should never identify people by their sexual orientation. Every person is endowed with unique dignity, both as an individual and as a Christian. Secondly, it is the teaching of the Church that all people are not only to be respected but also always accepted, with compassion and with sensitivity (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). This teaching has to be translated into loving care, in our daily life in the Church, in our parishes and in society.
It was essential and necessary that the final report, Relatio Sinodi, be a consensus document. Synod fathers voted on each of the final report’s 62 paragraphs. All received a simple majority. Three — on the especially controversial questions of homosexuality and Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried — failed to gain the two-thirds supermajority required for approval of synodal documents. The final report will serve as the working paper (lineamenta) for next October’s world Synod on the “vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”
The final report of the Synod on the Family revealed that the Synod has closed no doors, all the main questions are still on the table and an absolute majority of the Synod fathers are with Pope Francis, in favour of a Church that, like the Good Samaritan, reaches out to care for all her “wounded children.”