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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Updated: The end of the synod

Update - The synod's final report is out. As conservative Damian Thompson writes ...

The final report of the Synod encourages pastors to ‘accompany’ divorced and remarried Catholics as they ‘discern’ their culpability – on a case-by-case basis, as not every divorced Catholic is equally guilty (very true, but a point already made by St John Paul). However, there’s no mention of readmitting them to communion. If I were a Catholic in this situation, I wouldn’t read the report as giving me any sort of permission to receive the sacrament, though I might – with a leap of the imagination assisted by liberal Catholic journalists – recognise the tiniest of steps in that direction.

As for homosexuality – no change at all. How could there be, when the most powerful African bishop, Cardinal Robert Sarah, described gay rights and ISIS as twin evils threatening Christendom? (I’m sick of pointing this out, but opposing homophobia in the Church is not high on Pope Francis’s agenda. Fighting gay marriage is.) ....

But the conservatives won’t regard this as a famous victory, and the liberals won’t despair. That’s because Francis, so far as we can tell, supports some form of pastoral change and he is, after all, the Pope.

NCR offers a more optimistic view of the final report - Synod offers striking softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment

Read more about the final report here - Synod report urges ‘accompaniment’ tailored to family situations and check here as Crux translates the report.

Now, my original earlier post ....

A couple of articles on the end of the synod ... Where were the voting women at the Synod? by Fr. James Martin SJ and Drafting committee cardinal: Synod will not provide Communion path for remarried by Joshua J. McElwee.

First, from Fr. Martin: he mentions a question asked by Thomas Reese SJ at a synod press briefing ...

[T]his morning something very disturbing was revealed, thanks to a perceptive question by Thomas J. Reese, SJ, former editor in chief of America and currently a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. Brother Herve Janson, a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus, an order noted for its poverty and simplicity, was one of the participants at the daily press briefing. It was noted that he was also a voting member.

Father Reese asked, rightly, “What is the rationale for you being admitted to the Synod and religious women not being admitted to the Synod? (The exchange can be seen on the video below, starting at 42:00)

What does that mean? Basically, Brother Janson is not ordained. Some may not be aware of this tradition, but you can be a member of a men’s religious order and not be ordained: thus the term “Brother.” Brother Janson is neither a bishop, nor a priest, nor a deacon. Technically, his canonical “status” in the church is that of a layman. That is, he has the same “status” as that of a woman religious, or in common parlance, a Catholic sister. And the same status as a laywoman as well.

In response to Father Reese’s question, which produced some uncomfortable laughter from the other panelists (who immediately grasped the challenging nature of the question): Brother Janson said (my translation from the French): “That is a big question….I felt very uncomfortable (malaise)….Before, the distinction was between cleric and lay. And now, it became between man and woman, exactly as you said very well….I asked myself the same question.” Strikingly, Brother Janson said he thought of refusing (renoncer) the invitation to be a voting member, out of solidarity with women religious. (This exchange can be viewed at 42:00 in the video below.)

This is a serious failure for the Synod. Previously, at least as far as I had known, it seemed that ordination was a prerequisite for voting. That is, there were priests who were appointed, in addition to the bishops, as voting members. There were strong theological arguments that could be advanced for that: it was a synod of bishops, and, in Catholic theology, priests participate in the ministry of the bishop through the sacrament of holy orders.

Now, it seems that the prerequisite for being a voting member was not ordination, but being a man ..... For me this is the worst kind of sexism ....

And this about the results of the synod from NCR's McElwee ....

One of the prelates responsible for drafting the final document from the ongoing Synod of Bishops has said he does not anticipate that it will propose changes in the Catholic church's practices towards the divorced and remarried.

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias -- one of ten prelates who co-drafted the document after three-weeks of intense deliberations among some 270 bishops at the Oct. 4-25 Synod -- said in particular that one specific proposal that might have allowed the remarried to take Communion would likely not be mentioned.

That proposal would have suggested that the church could use what is called the “internal forum” to allow some remarried persons to take the Eucharist on a private, case-by-case basis after seeking guidance, advice, and then permission from priests or bishops. "I don't expect that," said Gracias, speaking in an NCR interview Thursday. "I think this has got to be studied." ....

Three weeks of deliberating on all the big issues brought up in the Vatican's pre-synod survey, issues over which a majority of Catholics dissent from church teaching .... contraception, marriage equality, cohabitation, women's ordination, communion for divorced/remarrieds ...and the synod fathers have come up with nothing, not even the token "change" of openly allowing divorced/remarrieds to do what is already discretely done - receive communion with the ok of a nice priest. And, of course, as I wrote in my post about the synod's beginning, the synod has shown the world exactly how little value the church sees in women.

Moderates will spin the synod as a victory for collegiality ... the bishops all talked to each other and listened to each other. Good for them. Meanwhile, the people they should have been talking to and listening to are still screwed .... the LGBT folks who must not have romantic relationships, the women who can't even be deacons much less priests, the divorced/remarrieds who are treated like moral failures.

Now the Pope will have a chance to make a decision about the bishops' synod non-proposals. I fear he'll choose a wheel-spinning gesture ... perhaps a commission to "study" the issues further :(


Anonymous Richard said...

"discern their culpability"....:p

9:42 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Richard. I don't know what to think about the synod - everybody has a different opinion and the final report was so ambiguous that both conservatives and liberals think they won (Thomas Reese says). Maybe the Pope will make it better when he decides what to do in response - fingers crossed :)

10:32 AM  

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