Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catholic: here comes everybody

As everybody knows, James Joyce once wrote "Catholic means 'Here comes everybody.'"

This has been clearly on display lately as Catholics watch and read the reactions from various Catholic writers and thinkers about what is going on at the Synod.  Here, for instance, are two very different blog posts about the Synod:

From Sherry Antonetti:
But I didn't know how to explain, that if we give the slightest sliver of a yes, God will flood through that crack, and saturate our lives with grace except to say, I know it to be true. So if you've watched Pope Francis or heard his teachings, and felt your heart flutter "Yes." at some point because of what he is doing, that's God courting your soul, seeking you in particular out, for something bigger than you imagined. The seed cannot comprehend it will one day be a redwood, or the child, an adult, or the rain drop, one day, part of the ocean. And we can't possibly get what God has in store prior to being in the midst of it, nor would we likely trust it if we knew prior. It's why He doesn't give us the whole of it all at once, but builds up our capacity over time.

So to those who worry about this Pope or the Synod, don't. For those who feel left out because they aren't singled out, don't. Open the scripture for the day, steep in it and trust it to be true, trust that God speaks, and has a magnificent plan designed just for you, only for you whether or not you're singled out by the Pope and called on the phone, or your special interest group is focused on by the Synod or the next encyclical. Regardless of worldly acknowledgement, you are called by God. Get to the business of being Catholic, of living out the Beatitudes, for lived out, that plan helps with the restoration of those three relationships on some level and will make you, feel very joyous and loved. You will be luminous if you allow yourself to stop worrying about the darkness, or about how you are not being singled out.
Some concerned friends and I got together and have produced an open letter to those faithful Synod Fathers asking them to walk out on the Synod if it maintains its current direction.
The Code of Canon Law 212 §3 states that the Catholic faithful “have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ's faithful…” 
Therefore, we faithfully request that each and every faithful Catholic bishop at the Synod, having made every effort to resist these attacks on Christ’s teaching, if its direction remains unaltered and those faithful voices remain unheard, do his sacred duty and publicly retire from any further participation in the Synod before its conclusion so as to prevent greater scandal and confusion. [Emphasis in original.]
Here comes everybody; or, rather, here comes opinions so widely divergent that only in a truly universal Church would both of them come from practicing and faithful Catholics.

My own opinion is more like Sherry Antonetti's, except that I might be even less worried about this Synod than she is.  It's not a doctrinal Synod.  Church teaching is not up for grabs and will not change.  The fears on the Patrick Archbold side of the argument seem to boil down to a fear that creative pastoral approaches and greater care in how certain sensitive topics are addressed will lead to confusion, and will especially lead to the mainstream media declaring that teachings really have been changed (and crowing in triumph about it).  But I'm far less afraid of that than I was in the pre-Internet days, because it's not that hard today to refute the MSM's perpetual ignorance of Catholic matters.  If a major newspaper could print, about a decade or so ago, a phrase about the Eucharist which assured readers that for Catholics the Eucharist represented the Body and Blood of Christ, then there is no reason at all to suppose that they'll ever get any of the more subtle or nuanced teachings right, even if they did want to, which, given their agenda, they likely don't.  But the idea that the "faithful Catholic bishops" ought to arise en masse and shake the Synodal dust off of their feet to prevent the risk that the media will tell people that the Church has changed her teachings on marriage is sadly naive, because that same media would, in the event of a "faithful" walkout, also report that "right-wing" or "conservative" bishops were jeopardizing Pope Francis' papacy and teetering on the brink of schism--because they always do see things in political terms, and a walkout is a political act they can certainly understand.

In fact, I would say that if the Holy Spirit is still leading the Church, and if He is looking at the state of Christian marriage and especially of the Catholic Sacrament of Holy Matrimony with a certain degree of concern for His children, it is somewhat unjust to get all bent out of shape because bishops are talking about these matters and what to do about it all in a way that, according to clusters of lay people, runs the risk of confusing the simple.  The simple probably aren't paying much attention to the Synod in the first place.  And those Catholics who never go to Mass and get all their Catholic teaching from the New York Times certainly won't be any worse off after the Synod than they are right now.

1 comment:

John Henry said...

Faithful bishops walking out seems kind of counterproductive. Still, I get Patrick Archbold's basic concern. It's that divorce will become the new usury: still technically condemned, but so rounded with casuistry and equivocation and hairsplitting that nearly every Catholic (lay and clergy alike) ignores the teaching in daily life.

I'm not sure that's what Francis is aiming at, though. From reading his last statement, I get the impression that he's playing a longer game, working toward reunification with the Orthodox churches. And that's going to require reconciling the Catholic and Orthodox teachings on divorce. These teachings seem incompatible to me, but then I would have said the same thing about the Catholic and Protestant views of the sola fide doctrine until Benedict XVI's recent explanation. I'm interested to see what comes out of this synod - it might wind up being better news than we could have hoped for. It could be a disaster too, I suppose. We'll see.