The Pope recently made some remarks about the Synod on the Family coming up on Oct. 4-25 2015. Both the liberal media and Catholics within the fold are eager to see this play out.
When I was in Rome last month, I had the chance to talk bishops, priests, and layman (some work in the curial offices of the Holy See) about the “word on the street” regarding the upcoming Synod of the Family.
I left Rome concerned and not at all encouraged regarding the place of the Family.
The buzz word for this year’s Synod on the Family is: “finding solutions.” I don’t know what it means, but that’s the phrase. It’s all about “finding solutions.”
Here’s my concern:
The contemporary political landscape is unilaterally affirming:
- reproductive “health” (contraception and abortion) as a political right
- same sex “marriage” as a political right
- “divorce for the sake of happiness” (however defined) as a right
So when the Church speaks of “finding solutions,” what is the problem?
Two possible options:
- Good Option: Could it be that the Church is going to find new and creative ways to help traditional monogamous Christians to flourish and succeed under the cloud of political oppression?
- Bad Option: Could it be that the Church is going to find new and creative ways to hallow the new political status quo by “finding solutions” for give the “rights” of full communion to those that live and/or support the newly ratified politically lifestyles.
My concern is that the “finding solutions” phrase refers to finding a way to give the Holy Eucharist for those living in adultery and in same sex marriage without technically and theologically sanctioning adultery and same-sex marriage.
The hypothetical argument for a sleight-of-hand Church sanctioning of divorce/remarriage or same sex marriage would look like the argument below.
[Note that this is not my argument or something I am suggesting. Rather, my observation and my gut tells me that this is the sort of thing that the enemies of the Catholic Church (from within) are going to try.] Here is what they will try to push at the Synod on the Family:
We must approach the emerging forms of family and the individuals involved belong to these units with a hand of mercy. People have made decisions in the past (or had decisions made for them in the past) that places them in a situations or relationships contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Due to the passing of time and/or physical/mental/emotional damage, there is no way to “turn back the clock” so that these people of good will can enter into a regular sacramental situation with the Catholic Church. For the sake of mercy, we have found a pastoral solution that does not run counter to the theology or dogma of the Catholic Church regarding monogamy and sacramental marriage. The local conferences of bishops can authorize their bishops and pastors (those with canonical cure of souls) to determine, after prayer, counsel, and interviews, whether certain baptized faithful can be dispensed from certain irregularities due to the passing of time or through physical/mental/emotional trauma. The prayerful dispensation of the bishop or pastor should be honored and respected. The bishop or pastor’s dispensation is similar to the pastor’s power to dispense of the Sunday Mass obligation or rules for fasting for those under his care for pastoral reasons.”
I’m not a prophet, but I feel pretty sure that the argument that I drafted above will be developed and popularized in the years to come, but perhaps even as early as this next Synod of the Family in October 2015.
A couple things to notice:
- It affirms the traditional teaching of the church, but…
- It introduces the ability of a bishop or pastor to make dispensations or sanations due to past realities.
Question: What do you think? Could you see this happening? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Don’t lose hope: I think this is a dangerous proposition that could emerge. But don’t worry, good people. The Holy Trinity is in charge! The Holy Spirit will be victorious! Never lose hope in Christ.
Here’s a video I made for last year’s Synod on the Family about not getting worried or depressed about these things. Watch it if you’re worried: VIDEO: Crazy Cardinals, Synod on Marriage, and Finding Peace.