The Synod on the Family: Primacy of Conscience and Willful Ignorance
Disquieting words are dripping out of the leaky sieve that surrounds the Synod on the Family. We're hearing things like papal delegate Archbishop Blase Cupich's statement that people need to 'come to a decision in good conscience' when it comes to giving Holy Communion to those who are divorced and civilly remarried. He further adds that the Church has the job to 'help them move forward and to respect that'. Past comments by German Cardinal Kasper, are also making the rounds. To the dismay of many, he has advocated for hot button topics ranging from homosexual lifestyles and communion for those civilly remarried, to acceptance of contraception.
Ignorance and Presumption
When hearing these statements attributed to various participants and observers of the synod one has to wonder what happened to the admonition for continued spiritual formation throughout one's life. Continuing catechesis is the only way to fully seek holiness and to become the saints God wants us to be. Willful ignorance is no excuse, since we have the ability and means to finely hone our consciences.
All care should be taken to refrain from the sin of Presumption, either relying on our own capacities or presuming God's almighty power and His mercy. Hoping to obtain His forgiveness, without allowing for the conversion of our souls or seeking glory without merit, will be of no benefit when it comes to the destiny of our immortal souls. CCC 2092
Is the Devil in the Details?
Sowing confusion among the faithful is further evidence that the devil must surely be in some of the details surrounding the Synod on the Family. Whether the source is those making the statements or those reporting (misreporting) what was said, we may never know. Therein lies the rub. Do we take these reported sentiments at face value and fear for the demise of the Church or is this where an unflinching faith in the Church, founded by Jesus Himself, comes to the rescue? Jesus has given us the answer.
And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
Hope, Faith, Love
Lest we allow our faith in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to succumb to hopelessness, let's give credence to the good also being shared.
Former head of Congregation for Divine Worship, Francis Cardinal Arinze said in a recent interview, "Marriage comes from God, not from human beings so human beings cannot reinvent or redefine it." Speaking of the indissolubility of marriage he continued, "Not even the authority of the Church can break it," he noted. Affirming that “the Eucharist is not something we possess”, Cardinal Arinze further said that “We must look for a way to help the divorced who are remarried, [but] we don’t help them by saying, “Come and receive Holy Communion.”
In his speech to the synod, Robert Cardinal Sarah, spoke of the need to Proclaim and serve the beauty of Monogamy and the Family. In order to accomplish this he said that we must “first promote all that represents a true Christian Initiation of adults, for the marriage crisis is essentially a crisis of God, but also a crisis of faith, and this is an infantile Christian initiation”. Lack of catechesis continues to be problematic for many baptized Catholics. Then discernment of “those realities that the Holy Spirit is already raising up to reveal” will show “the Truth of the Family as an intimate communion in diversity (man and woman) that is generous in the gift of life” – Robert Cardinal Sarah
While acknowledging the nefarious activities of some, it's comforting to know that many of the faithful are still staunchly defending Truth! We must also show love for those who may be straying from the righteous path. In all charity there must be fervent and sincere prayer for all involved.
“… Cardinals, bishops, priests, Catholic families, Catholic young people have to say to themselves: I refuse to conform to the neo-pagan spirit of this world, even when this spirit is spread by some bishops and cardinals; I will not accept their fallacious and perverse use of holy Divine mercy and the “new Pentecost”; I refuse to throw grains of incense before the statue of the idol of the gender ideology, before the idol of second marriages, of the concubinage, even if my bishop would do so, I will not do so; with the grace of God I will choose to suffer rather than betray the whole truth of Christ on human sexuality and on marriage."
What Will the Synod Bring?
In conclusion one thing stands out for us to remember about the Synod on the Family. The Catholic Church is not a democracy, nor is she subject to change through the whims of those who purport to speak for her. Jesus founded her; He alone gives the structure of her beliefs.
As Saint Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae, “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”
In a presentation to thirty-five American Archbishops (Rome, in March, 1989), Pope John Paul II firmly stated, "We are the guardians of something given, and given to the Church universal; something which is not the result of reflection, however competent, on cultural and social questions of the day, and is not merely the best path among many, but the one and only path to salvation." How pertinent to the issues at hand today!
Keep the Faith
Above all keep the Faith. As Australia’s Cardinal Pell responded to recent questions of apprehension, “One of my concerns is for doctrine, and the Pope has said the doctrine will not be touched.”
Sister Lucia of Fatima offers hope as well. “The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid…because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue…however, Our Lady has already crushed its head. Sister Lucia dos Santos, of Fatima – in an interview with Cardinal Caffara of Bologna.
Our faith and trust lies in Jesus, through His Church, alone. No mere mortal can upend what we know through His Truth. Pray for those participating in the Synod on the Family, those reporting, and those who live in irregular life circumstances. The narrow path of Jesus' followers isn't always easy, it isn't always straight, but it does always lead to the reward of Heaven.