Sunday, October 19, 2014

Well, in terms of process, last night saw a clear reversal of the Synod in regards to transparency. In the final press briefing, those present were handed not only copies of the final amended translations of the Relatio, but copies of the Popes final address to the Synod. The Pope also required an up or down vote from the Synod fathers on each paragraph of the Relatio, a reportedly unprecedented move.

Pretty much as expected and predicted, the final upshot of the Synod -- formally anyway -- has been nothing particularly surprising: no new doctrine, no revisionism, no change in Church teaching, as the liberal press (and perhaps some liberal prelates) may have been hoping. (The fall-out from the drama of destabilizing ambiguities earlier last week may be another story, but that's another matter.) His Holiness has weighed in as Pope, whose duty, as he put it, is "that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church ... [and] reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ."

Granted, he did not once mention, let alone address, the controverted issues specifically, but rather listed a series of "temptations" to be avoided, among other things portraying the guidance of the Holy Spirit as steering between -- on the one hand, the temptation to hostile inflexibility, which he identified with today's "traditionalists" and "intellectuals," and, on the other hand, the temptation to "deceptive mercy" that treats the symptoms but neglects the radically-needed cure, which he identifies with "progressives and liberals."

One of my colleagues, thrilled after reading the Pope's closing address, suggested that perhaps he had listened to Cardinal Burke (who had called for a papal intervention). It goes without saying that some will see the Pope's address as falling somewhat short of the needed intervention, since it may too much appear that he continues to straddle the fence, like Rorate Caeli site that referenced it with the question: "Via Media or Laodicea? ..." Others, such as the radical French "progressive," Odon Vallet, sees the results of the Synod as a "resounding defeat" for Pope Francis and a "huge victory" for traditionalists, which will make it difficult for Francis to advance much beyond the present point "without risking schism." A BBC report carried the amusing headline: "Catholic synod: Pope Francis setback on gay policy"

Some fear that the unprecedented confusion permitted following the dramatic mid-term report of the Synod will carry over into a more permissive latitude in respect of the implementation of the Church teaching on faith and morals, especially on the issues of divorce and "re-marriage," and "same-sex" orientation. Whether the final upshot of the Synod, along with the Pope's remarks, will help to slow the progress of confusion on these issues or not, as Michael Voris suggests, remains to be seen.

Some interesting reading of related interest follows:
  • John-Henry Westen, "Pope Benedict’s private secretary speaks on Synod, divorce, same-sex relations" (LifeSiteNews, October 14, 2014).
  • David Warren, "Rock of Ages" (The Catholic Thing, October, 17, 2014): "Call them 'conservatives' or 'fundamentalists,' as you please. It is not the rock learned churchmen are defending. They are defending us – all liberals included – against being broken upon that rock."
  • Andrew Walker, "A Church in Exile: Hillsong Shifts on Homosexuality" (First Things, October 17, 2014): "This is, as I’ve written elsewhere, a gentrified fundamentalist withdrawal rooted in the belief that the foreignness of Christianity can’t overcome the tired intellectual patterns of cultural decay."
  • Damian Thompson, "Pope Francis, please don't turn into the Dalai Lama" (The Telegraph, May 26, 2014): "Perhaps His Holiness should take a look at the full list of 'great world leaders' honoured by CNN. They include Angelina Jolie and, God help us, Bono."


Mighty Joe Young


One can't say he does;t have an ironic sense of humor

Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,

With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit...

- One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

- The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

- The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

- The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God...

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people..

Ralph Roister-Doister


It was not a "huge victory for traditionalists" because traditionalists are scorned and undercut by this pope and are not named bishops, archbishops and cardinals. It was more of a bungle by the pope and his progressivist allies. Voris is probably correct when he says that the tiny but still influential trad media were able to focus enough attention on progressivist machinations that they could not be swept under the rug.

If this pope is the honest broker he would like to be perceived to be, then it is clear that he owes a great deal to Cdl Burke, who saved his bacon by calling upon him to strike the appropriate pose and act like one. Let us now see how that debt is repaid. My guess is that Burke should not toss his Malta travel brochures into the waste basket just yet.

That said, I would hope and pray that so much damage has been done to the idea of synodocracy as a viable method of leading the Church forward (as opposed to mere pageantry) that gridlock will prevail for the remainder of Francis's reign.