Tuesday 14 October 2014

Lest We All Lose Our Heads

Well, sorry about yesterday. I didn't do any housework, I didn't make any flashcards and I didn't make Thanksgiving dinner. I sat in front of the computer reading about the Synod on the Family in increasing horror. It was just so astonishing and so ghastly that the bishops and cardinals could come up with a document that included sections 50-52.   How could they? Isn't the Holy Spirit supposed to prevent them from that kind of thing?

I didn't know about the interventions yet, and what might have been the sneaky behaviour of one particular archbishop.  All I knew was what I could read between frantic Facebook conversations with other believing Catholic pals (although not my pals in Rome, who were enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving Supper). By the time I was finally in Tesco, buying ingredients for the Thanksgiving Supper I had cheerfully promised B.A. this year, I was positively zombie-like. Could the family finances stretch to a bottle of gin, I asked myself. Gordon's was on sale.... Gordon's it was!

And I was halfway through a rather stiff G&T when I saw the wonderful news about the Polish bishops, so I think actually that was my first incident of drunk-blogging in years, if not actually the first.  Meanwhile, the news this morning has been getting better and better as other bishops, even its drafter, distance themselves from the document. It is now being reported that there were 41 interventions (protests) by bishops, and that the notorious passages 50-52 were penned by one man, Archbishop Bruno Forte.

Archbishop Tagle is in my bad books for saying, of the Report, "The drama continues", as if all this were a television show, not something that has led to devout Catholics, Catholics who are carrying their crosses, Catholics who have suffered for their faith, Catholics who have stuck to one man or woman all their lives, had all their children (or refused IVF), gone to Mass week in, week out,  supported Catholic charities, paid for Catholic schooling (or fought to keep it free), refused to go to certain family weddings, even though it broke their hearts, bursting into tears and wondering if they have been had.

 I, standing dazed in Tesco, wondered for the first time in my entire life if "Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia" were still true. And I was on the phone for an hour this morning consoling a devastated convert pal. Frankly, I hope the priests of the world were kept very busy last night, so that they can report to their bishops, "This is not a funny joke. Our people are going out of their minds."

However, as I said, bishops have been roaring out their objections to the document, and I hope the memory of October thirteenth, 2014 becomes nothing but a footnote in theology textbooks (Contemporary Heresies, Chapter 6: Gradualism). To remind us all of what a Catholic bishop who believes the Catholic faith says about it, here is a recent  quote from Cardinal Burke:

Vatican Radio: What would you like to see come out of the Extraordinary Synod?

Cardinal Burke: I’m hoping that it will take up again the great papal Magisterium, which is a gift to us, beginning with Casti Connubi of Pope Pius XI, the teaching of Pope Pius XII, then in more recent times, the prophetic and heroic teaching of Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, soon to be beatified at the end of this synod, as well as the teaching of Familiaris Consortio of St John Paul II. Fundamentally, what I hope will emerge from the synod is this beautiful truth about the human person, who has written into his nature the call to union and communion between one man and one woman, which is faithful, which is indissoluble, and which by its very nature is procreative; it participates in the creation of new human life in the image and likeness of God, what the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World  referred to as the “crown” of marital love, the gift of offspring.

And here is the very sensible fisking of the report by the "God and the Machine" blog. B.A. asked me to read it, and I'm glad he did. The post points out the good stuff in the report while naturally raising both eyebrows at the gobbledegook that reaches its nadir in 50-52.

And here is Father Standing-on-My-Head with some very sensible questions.

Update: It strikes me that one helpful thing we lay people can do is write to our favourite parish priests to say how we received the news of the document. If all our parish priest gets is complains from people about Church teaching, they may be amazed and gladdened to get emails from people defending Church teaching. I honestly wonder at remarks like "the drama continues." Could it be that some bishops don't think ordinary rank-and-file Catholics take Church doctrine very seriously?


  1. Previously Devastated Convert Pal14 October 2014 at 12:47

    I think this report is the craziest thing that I ever lost sleep over. Thanks for the reality check and some words of wisdom. I better go and check these other blog posts you linked to.

  2. I believe the Holy Spirit's guarantee of infallibility only applies to the Pope when making ex cathedra statements on faith and morals... I gather that apart from that the human beings that make up this divine institution are capable of error, although this error will become apparent due to its inconsistency with Scripture and Tradition.

  3. I haven't. Thank you! I am feeling better today. Yesterday I felt awful until the Polish bishop's statement. Today I just feel rather excited, reading all about the protests and watching the different kinds of Catholic newspapers organizing behind the armies they're backing.

  4. Well, in Tagle's case, remember he's from a country where, unless you and your spouse happen to be Muslim, divorce is illegal. Gay marriage is seen more as "those stupid Americans" and risible than anything else for anyone who isn't named Abunda. So he might be slightly more detached from the issue than, say, Dolan or Burke.

    Second, the problem is that fake-blase comments like this are a part of Filipino humour. Cardinal Sin, who was pretty much the drastic opposite of Kasper, was known for the same kinds of expressions. It's a cultural dissonance.

  5. Ah! Thank you for explaining that. Humour definitely changes from culture to culture, causing much offense where none was meant!


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