Perspective

Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A question

Why is the church going to have the upcoming synod of the family when the conclusion to be reached has already been decided? In the news - Changes in synod process designed to increase discussion, cardinal says ...

[...] Some responses [to the Vatican survey] questioned the Church’s teaching or encouraged greater understanding of people who cannot always live up to that teaching. Cardinal Baldisseri said that the bishops “must recognise that the faithful perceive the truth” about the Gospel and its values and their input cannot be ignored. “But the bishops have the responsibility and authority to discern ways to apply the constant teaching of the Church,” he said.

Actually it was a majority of responses from every survey made public around the world that questioned the Church's teaching, not just "some". Yet the decision of the synod has already been determined before it begins: the church will ignore the results of the survey and continue with failed teachings. I suppose this should come as no surprise, given that Pope Francis has said there's no need to change church teaching on contraception and that he wants to make Paul VI a saint for Humanae Vitae.

There's a post at NCR today that touches on the pointlessness of trying to push these rejected ideas - What our parish does about contraception and family planning. Here's just the end of it ...

[...] As a pastor, I have to say that the teaching of the magisterium on contraception does not seem to take into account the reality of most people's lives.

While we pay lip service to the difficulties married couples encounter in living the church's teaching, we don't provide much of an answer. What are people supposed to do in difficult situations like the ones I have encountered in ministry?

What do I say to a mother of six children in her late 30s, who came to me once? She had chronic high blood pressure and diabetes. Her doctor told her that another pregnancy would be life threatening. Her periods were very irregular. What should she and her husband do? They also did not see how they could care for more children in their family, since her husband had recently lost his job. They were overwhelmed with trouble. Neither abstinence nor NFP seemed to be an answer. She clearly had a responsibility to her six children and her husband, as well as to an openness to life.

What do we say to women in abusive marriages? Leave your husband? Abstain from sex with him and risk his increased anger?

How can we tell families struggling with unemployment, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, natural disasters, or other serious problems that they should risk another pregnancy?

Is it prudent for families facing long separations because of things like military service or deportation to have another child?

We don't seem to have a good answer for the complex ethical struggles that beset our people. Our teaching, at times, seems inadequate. Even worse: At times, it seems insensitive. But we just continue on as before.

What does our parish do about contraception? We teach as the church teaches.

Are we having any significant impact? No.

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