Don’t Fear the Synod on the Family


I’ve traversed the murky waters of the reportage going on concerning the Extraordinary Synod on the Family for the past week or so. There have not been many breaths of fresh air in the smog of blogdom, as far as I can see. On the other hand, the vitriol is plentiful.

What finally threw me over the edge was a horrid hit piece put forth by Three Percent Nation, entitled “Catholic Church Embracing Homosexuality, Believing The Bible To Be Outdated”.

It was painful, if not surprising, to see that a Protestant friend had shared it on her Facebook wall. Her friends’ comments ranged from “This does not surprise me” to “I was so surprised to hear this!” and “OMG WHAT NEXT”.

Here are some excerpts of their brief but caustic blather:

“The Catholic Church, which previously condemned homosexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered,’ is considering embracing homosexual believers, as well as partially accepting same-sex, and other religiously unsanctioned partnerships.”

“The Synod, which has been attended by Pope Francis, has also recognized the validity of gay relationships, though it stopped far short of equating them to marriage.”

“The Catholic church is running headlong down the path to hell as fast as it can go, as evident from this latest development ….”

As I took in both the (*ahem*) report and reactions to it, I found myself spurred to post on the topic. This wasn’t something about which I had planned to write, but I couldn’t find it in my heart to ignore the calumny being spewed forth for all the world to see.

My response to my friend appears below:

This “information” is not even partially true. If we want to know what the Catholic Church is doing or not doing, we must take our questions to knowledgeable, practicing Catholics — not a secular news source. Remember, misleading headlines and lies make up much of our “news” today (think of politics, for example) — and these types of outlandish statements capture the imagination.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family going on now is simply a meeting — a place for Catholic bishops to come together with the pope and present all that is broken, in relation to family, in the world today. Before this, there was a survey of the Catholic people, asking for input on the problems they see or face. After they present the problems affecting the family and give some suggestions, even outlandish ones, they will go back home and work on ideas for a solution for a FULL YEAR.

Then, the Ordinary Synod on the Family will take place. After this meeting, the pope will gather all of the recommendations and concerns and draft a resulting statement. This will also take quite some time — no one has ever accused the Catholic Church of acting quickly.

This statement will not be able to change the doctrine of the Church — no human can do that. What it will do is suggest ways to address the concerns that have brought our world here to begin with: how to lovingly deal with people who suffer from same sex attraction, broken families, those living together outside marriage, etc. — not by changing the rules for them, but by inviting them lovingly into accepting the teachings of Christ, by giving them a loving place to go.

Hostility has no place in Christianity; yet we sometimes forget that we mustn’t hate the sinner, only the sinful acts carried out. There’s a lot of hate out there right now, wouldn’t you agree?

All in all, not one doctrine has changed in the 2,000 years the Church has been in existence. The homosexual lifestyle and living together outside a valid marriage simply can’t ever be validated by the Church.

That being said, there will always be those (inside and outside the Church) who want these changes, try to force these changes, and give false teachings. Just like any other family, the Catholic Church has her share of VERY disobedient children.

In closing, I share this rather good piece written by Fr. Dwight Longenecker entitled, “Worried About the Synod? Here Are Ten Things to Remember”. His clear-headed enumeration of reasons not to panic, quelled the fear in my soul.

Above all, let’s resolve to let cooler heads prevail, and let us trust in the words of Jesus: “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)

Amen and Alleluia!

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16 thoughts on “Don’t Fear the Synod on the Family”

  1. Birgit Jones has analysed the story that happened We know that no Catholic Doctrine can be changed by Pope or by popular votes. The confusion is caused by inadequate utterance by the Pope.

  2. A friend gently and only half – joking said to me yesterday, ”Monk, stay in your cell,’ when the online discussions finally got to me. This article is much in the same vein. Thank you.

  3. there is only one reason for the synod and it ain’t good. Pope francis called it to give him cover to throw dogma out the window. He is a Modernist Jesuit and if he says it’s ok, it’s ok, don’t worry about what that Jesus fellow said.

  4. I think that Pope Francis has acted wisely in allowing the bishops to speak freely. The tradition of the Church (as in Jerusalem in Acts 15, especially in verse 28) is not for the Pope just to act on his own. He acts in union with other Church leaders. All of this was stressed in Vatican II under the title of collegiality (with the other bishops). This in no way diminishes the role of the Pope. Just as Jesus was the God-man, the Church is human, though guided by the Holy Spirit; therefore human means (such as consultation) will always be needed by the Pope also.This is exactly what has happened in this synod which is possible due to the ease of travel in our times though after Apostolic times such meetings were necessarily rare.

  5. I would like to think that you are right, but I am much more pessimistic. If there is a much better example of perception is reality than the current Synod, then I do not know what it is. The year off between the debates will be used by liberals within the Church and the secularists to strengthen their opposition to Church teaching. If, in a year’s time, the Church does not change its teachings, when expectations are not met (false expectations I might add), there will be a major uproar and adverse reaction. It will only cement the de facto split in the Church, if not make it more public with very sad consequences. I do hope that I am wrong and the truth prevails.

    1. Birgit Atherton Jones

      With the closing of this Extraordinary Synod on the Family we have seen the hand of dissenters and we have seen, at its end, the reaction of the Church Fathers who remain firmly with the teachings of the Church. That the transparency at the end was so complete, speaks volumes as doe the fact that the offending paragraphs were cut from the final documents. It may just be that Pope Francis is as wise as a fox – bringing to light that which could have been hidden in darkness. There will always be dissenters but the cream will always rise to the top, Not even the gates of hell…

    2. ” It may just be that Pope Francis is as wise as a fox – bringing to light that which could have been hidden in darkness.”
      It may just be that Francis is as foxy as a politician. From the Observer 18 Oct 14

      ” Burke, a leading doctrinal rigorist in the church who had vocally opposed any move to ease the ban on remarried divorcees taking communion, is currently prefect of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court. But he said on Friday he was to be demoted to a lesser post. Asked by the National Catholic Reporter who had made that decision, he reportedly responded: “Who do you think?”

  6. Pingback: Synod on Family: Pope Francis & Crd. Kasper -

  7. — not by changing the rules for them, but by inviting them lovingly into accepting the teachings of Christ, by giving them a loving place to go. ”

    With all due respect, I don’t think they are going to go.

    1. Birgit Atherton Jones

      As a matter of Free Will, that is of course their choice. Therein lies the rub. The Church cannot and will not change her teachings, yet she can certainly be more comforting, more accessible, and more welcoming – not of the sin, but of the sinner. This is the effort that can (and will) attract more people to giving her a second look. In time they may come to a conversion – but again, that will be up to them. The Church is in the world, but not of the world. She can welcome and proclaim Christ in the most charitable way possible, but the ultimate result is up to each individual.

  8. Birgit, you say quite categorically: “All in all, not one doctrine has changed in the 2,000 years the Church has been in existence. ” Well, not quite true…let’s look at one example:

    “It (Roman Church) firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” (Council of Florence (1441), Pope Eugenius, Decree for the Jacobites, in the Bull Cantata Domino; Denzinger 714) In short, Extra ecclesiam nemo salvatur

    This is no longer even close to the dogma of the Post Vatican II church, is it?

    1. Sorry, Phil, Vatican II didn’t change Salvation outside the Church, “extra ecclesial nemo salvatur” at all. The Catholic Church does not change Dogma nor Doctrine. The Catholic Church rarely and only very slowly changes discipline and tradition.

      You can read all about the possibility of Salvation outside the Catholic Church here.

      The bottom line is that, Catholics who willfully turn away from the Church or blatantly ignore precepts of the Church or believe they have more knowledge than the Church does (create their own ‘church’) are not guaranteed Salvation – they are heretics and/or schismatics. Any who steadfastly refuse to believe in the Triune God – is outside of Salvation by that Triune God. The only caveat deals with those who, through simple ignorance (not willful ignorance) have not been exposed to the Triune God. It is up to God to reveal Himself to them. This caveat has been in place even historically. Of course, the final word on Salvation comes from God. We can only follow what He has revealed to us through our Mother the Church.

      I have no worries that this new Synod is going to disrupt the Church. Neither should you! God bless!

    2. Lumen Gentium:”For those people who have not heard the Gospel or formally rejected the Gospel and Catholic Church through no fault of their own, they also may be saved, if they cooperate perfectly with whatever truth God has given them and they have perfect charity and commitment to their conscience”

      Dominus Iesus (2000) “for those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation.”

      Sure sounds like a kinder, gentler version than the Lateran doctrinal damnations…loopholes evolved over time. Dogmas do not change?, but an evolution to a belief in “mercy for the person” has arisen. Note the tone of the Lateran v. Lumen Gentium v. Dominus Iesus. Good people who follow the dictates of their conscience after being informed by sources, reason and faith are saved. And we are no longer singling out Jews as infidels….now that is a change; nor do we hold them responsible for killing Jesus, now that’ a change; nor doe Novus Ordo have people pray for the conversion of Jews, now that’s a change. It’s all called evolution of a theology of “mercy for the person” who sincerely believes and lives a good life.

      I sure don’t fear the Synod is going to disrupt the Church, I hope it disrupts the status quo and extends the theology of mercy.

    3. Phil,
      The Truth still hasn’t changed. The Church has always known that God can have mercy on whomever He wishes. We do still pray for Jews during the Easter Vigil Mass (I think that’s the night we say all the intentions). I’m unaware of us calling them infidels in recent history, but I’m sure, in the past, it was done. The snippets from various Papal writings you chose use different language (probably due to the different author’s personalities more than anything else), but essentially say the same thing. The Church has always taught that Salvation comes through the Church because Jesus said so. That He allows others Salvation as well, through valid baptism outside of the Catholic Church and/or other means is completely His will. And, as the Pater Noster says, His Will be done…

      Here is a pretty good explanation of howwhy it appears as though doctrine/dogma/Tradition/tradition changes while we Catholics maintain it does not.

    4. The Catholic Church gives utmost importance to Conscience. That is why it clarified that if one does not find Christ at no fault of his, such person who live a life at the dictates of the conscience has salvation.. Catholic Church is the only organization that clarify such issues No other organization has such a central teaching

  9. Jesus: “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) EXACTLY!

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