Bear with me, because trying to follow the synod is like drinking from a fire hydrant. Here is some analysis from the always interesting John L. Allen Jr. over at Crux:
ROME — In the abstract, Pope Francis might have reason to be a bit nervous that his much-ballyhooed Synod of Bishops on the family, an Oct. 4-25 summit he’s been touting as a potentially defining moment of his papacy for almost two years, might be about to run off the rails.
We’ve already had confirmation, for instance, that a clash among the bishops over the hot-button question of allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to return to Communion is far from resolved.
On day one, Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő basically tried to bury the issue. Yet on day two, Italian Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli used a Vatican news conference to say that it remains “completely open,” and pointedly asked that if all the bishops were going to do was to echo Erdő’s line, then “what are we doing here?”
Similarly, there was enough blowback against changes to the synod process on the opening day that Francis felt compelled to take the microphone to insist that he’d personally approved the new rules, which critics feel are designed to limit the information flow and stack the deck in favor of desired outcomes.
Father Z writes Pope Francis threw Cardinal Erdo under the bus. Funny, that’s not how I interpreted the Pope’s intervention when I first read it. But Father Z is not alone.
The intervention of the Holy Father yesterday has undermined the authority of Cardinal Erdő’s report and has signaled to the synod fathers that the Holy Father would prefer the discussions of the synod to proceed along the lines established by the heterodox Relatio Synodi rather than the orthodox introductory address of Cardinal Erdő. The Holy Father’s actions have gravely weakened the cardinal’s efforts to reorient the Ordinary Synod towards an affirmation and defence of Catholic doctrine.
Did it? I don’t know. Time will tell. I personally am trying not to jump to conclusions.
You can read the text of Cardinal Erdo’s opening remarks here at Catholic World Report. He mentions Humanae Vitae!
Joshua McElwee at the National Catholic Reporter has a good summary of what went on at yesterday’s press briefing, including the high profile suddenly taken by Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, who said he told the synod to consider having women become deacons, and raised questions whether Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics was a doctrinal or a discipline issue. Here’s an except of McElwee’s piece:
Durocher, who leads the Canadian archdiocese of Gatineau and is a former head of the country’s bishops’ conference, was asked if church practice towards the divorced and remarried represented a doctrine or a discipline — and thus, whether it fit under Francis’ reassurance that doctrine was not being questioned.
“To be quite honest, there might be differences of opinion on that,” the Canadian replied. He said he thought that issue itself might be debated among the synod’s small discussion groups.
Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian who assists the Vatican press office with English-language media, gave an overview of different themes talked about by synod participants Monday and Tuesday. He also presented what appeared to be quotations from interventions given by participants but did not identify them by name.
Rosica said some common themes mentioned were: Poverty, unemployment, migration, war, and the continuing refugee crisis. He said one participant also identified a need for a better pastoral approach for couples living together before marriage.
One of the synod participants, Rosica said, expressed that “there must be an end to exclusionary language and a strong emphasis of embracing reality as it is.” Another said that “our church can often be a dangerous place” and asked: “How do we make our homes and ecclesial communities welcoming places?”
One synod member, Rosica said, spoke of treatment of gay persons in the church, saying: “These are our children. They are family members. They are not outsiders. They are our flesh and blood.”
Archbishop Durocher gave an interview with the CNS’s Carol Glatz that further explains his views on the doctrine/discipline debate and I urge people to listen to it before leaping to judgment in one direction or another.
In the interview you can see +Durocher’s position is more nuanced than what comes across in news stories.
I personally believe how we practice the faith has a huge bearing on what we believe and am deeply saddened by many modern day practices that seem to undermine faith that Jesus is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament. We surely do not act like we believe it a lot of the time, do we?
In relation to what Fr. Rosica reported at the news conference, Voice on the Family said this:
One of the most disturbing aspects of Rosica’s summary was the suggestion that the question of Holy Communion for the “divorced and remarried” could be solved in different ways in different parts of the world. This would lead to different practices, and thus different doctrines, in different parts of the Church. Such division is, of course, inseparable from schism.
Well, Fr. Rosica is reporting on what was said in the synod hall. I wish we had access to the synod fathers’ original texts because that would help fill out the picture of what was said. I think it is too early to be too concerned about remarks reported at a news conference. Let’s wait and see whether any of these pronouncements show up in the texts of the working groups at the end of the week.
* A number of synod fathers spoke in support of Cardinal Peter Erdo’s introductory speech, including one who underlined the importance of keeping fidelity to truth about marriage, the family and the Eucharist.
* A synod father asked “What are we doing here?” and stressed the synod is about the family, not other relationships such as homosexual ones. He also stressed that if the synod accepts the divorced-remarried issue, the Church effectively “supports divorce”.
* Another said the emphasis should be the sacrament of marriage, so the spiritual beauty of marriage is brought to the fore. Often the Church is not united around the “positive vision” of marriage and family. He said instability around marriage is “against its nature”.
* A synod father referenced St. Augustine, saying some of the baptized living in “irregular situations” don’t want to approach the Sacrament of Penance; he said the crisis of the family is a crisis of faith. He quoted 2 Timothy 4:2-5
* Another intervention noted the flock are too few, and that one should show respect for families which battle and try to remain faithful, those who in particular remain faithful to their marital vows given before God, although there are controversies and difficulties.
* A further intervention stressed that the Church has to defend that which God revealed about marriage and family and that the work of prelates is to support healthy families. A danger for families are “certain cultural currents,” as well as a sociological approach. In order to serve the family one has to take point of departure the word of God.