For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
On Monday I was reading a bit from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. The revelation to her has led to, not only the institution of Divine Mercy Sunday the week after Easter, but the practice of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Divine Mercy Chapels worldwide. This is not only a spectacular triumph over the forces of evil but a great example of what can be done when one is willing to be dedicated to the words of Christ.
However considering the words of said diaries and the revelations therein that I’ve read thus far there is one thing I’ve perceived that is absolutely painful to read.
Here you have Christ, God himself, while remaining fully God becoming man and suffering torture and death for the sins and people don’t bother to take advantage of that sacrifice to be forgiven.
And when Christ says he will forgive sins he means it. It doesn’t matter what your sin is, Mass Murder, Genocide, Rape, Theft on a global scale that sin can be forgiven. No sin is so large that the blood of Christ and the divine Mercy of God can not forgive it.
Yet people don’t bother.
And it’s not like it’s a difficult procedure either. If you are a non-christian who has never been baptised it’s incredibly easy. The act of baptism cleans ANY & ALL sins from the soul, period!
Even if you are an ISIS terrorist who has been killing and raping his way across the Middle East. Even if you are an Imam who has been calling for the murder and rape of infidels. Even if you have spending your entire life doing all you can to disparage God and to persecute the church, the simple act of Baptism changes everything. Every single sin you have committed to that point, from a simple white lie, to mass murder is washed away. Forgiven, forgotten forever.
If you have previously been baptised it’s not very hard either. There are over 417,000 Priests and Bishops in the world. Each and every one of them can administer the sacrament of Confession.
Thanks to the nature of the Sacrament of Confession said forgiveness is not even contingent on the perfect contrition for sins due to the love of God, even imperfect contrition due to the fear of hell is good enough to get you absolution.
Nor does committing the sin at a later time preclude you from absolution. Temptation will always exist but as long as at the time of confession you sincerely regret your sin and intend to not commit it again you will be forgiven!
Two minutes of your life for complete forgiveness, people spend more time that waiting in line for a coffee…and they don’t do it.
Every moment of life, the hand of forgiveness is offered and every day people refuse it, ignore it or put it off.
I could be wrong but I think this is the greatest pain that Christ suffers.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.
Rory:It’s the Doctor. How did we forget the Doctor? I was plastic. He was the stripper at my stag. Long story.
Doctor Who, The Big Bang 2010
As the Synod of the family continues there is a point that needs to be made concerning mercy.
The stated purpose of the synod to analyze and determine a better way to minister to people in and the children of people in “irregular unions” who wish to move toward the church.
This is by definition a worthwhile thing, it is the job of the church to save the greatest number of people possible to help those who as Jesus says in Luke attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. In that respect the extraordinary synod is doing God work.
However there is a basic error going on that is extremely easy to miss but, once you notice it, seems so obvious that you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it, in fact I didn’t see it until I went to mass yesterday.
And that we are dodging simple truth.
The Relato talks about “irregular unions”, “complex situations”, “today’s cultural reality”, “educative challenge” , “gender ideology” and “de facto unions”. Nobody seems to want to say the two words that accurately describe the state of all of these situations.
We are forgetting that the goal is to save people and what we are saving them from is Mortal Sin, it doesn’t matter what the mortal sin is, what matters is saving people from the consequences thereof.
Now mortal sin comes in a lot of flavors and can stem from many things, bad catechises, personal habits, peer pressure, social pressure, local norms, Satanic temptation, physical or emotional trauma or and sometime simple ignorance or a combination of all of these things. Moreover mortal sin, particularly sin that has been habitual for years or even decades is hard to shake.
Consider this exchange from the 1941 movie Sgt York.
the key exchange is this:
Pastor Pile:Satan’s got you by the shirttail Alvin. Alvin York: Shor has. (to Mule) Gitup Noah! Pastor Pile: He’s gonna yank you straight down to hell Alvin York:You’re plum right Pastor Pastor Pile:You’ve got to make him let loose you before it’ too late Alvin York:I sure wish I knowed how. Pastor Pile:Wrassle him Alvin, Wrassle him like you would a bar. Alvin York:I tried wrasslin him [to his Mule] Whoa Noah but old Satan he holds on tight. Pastor Pile:You and the Lord can throw him Alvin,
Sgt York 1941
Alvin York is exactly where the people this Synod is designed to deal with are in. They understand something is wrong, they want to move toward the light of the Lord but Satan and sin are holding on tight. In fat when the Devil sees people moving in a direction he doesn’t like that’s when his efforts increase and that grip can choke you beyond what you think you can bear.
Now look what Pastor Pile does, he doesn’t sugarcoat Alvan’s situation, but he doesn’t he reject him either. He gives him the best advice he can and doesn’t give up on him and during times of trial is there to help.
The basic solution for any person in a non sanctified union is pretty clear, a heterosexual match requires living as brother and sister until said union can be sanctified, if in a homosexual union or a heterosexual union that can’t for whatever reason can’t be sanctified the solution is chastity.
Because the goal isn’t to make people feel better about mortal sin, the foal isn’t for people to receive communion so they can feel socially accepted, the goal isn’t even to have people refuse communion because they’re in mortal sin. The Goal is to get them out of Mortal sin through confession.
Again lets not sugar coat this, Years of sitcom humor not withstanding living celibately with someone you’re sexually attracted to isn’t easy any more than giving up a gigolo lifestyle or a porn addiction or drugs or booze or swearing but it can be done. It might take years of pastoral care, working with a couple or individual, understanding their problems, never doubting the mercy of God but never compromising the need for repentance for a person to finally resolve to make that key first Sacramental Confession.
That’s when it really gets hard.
Because after that first confession and the communion that follows it, the battle continues, the temptations, the urges the habits are all still there and as any person who frequents temptation can tell you, despite your best efforts and your resolutions you are likely going to fall, in fact you might find yourself spending years repeating the sins you’ve resolved to dodge and confessing them to the point of despair or even laziness.
But as long as your resolve to get up when you fall, seek sacramental confession and try again and keep moving toward that narrow gate to finish that race you can win that eternal prize.
That’s what hit me, I knew I needed confession but planned on going Friday and just skipping communion at Thursday Mass but when I walked in & noticed the priest already in the confessional I felt like a fool, realizing I’m not promised tomorrow. I’m not even promised another hour, when you know you need confession the time to get it is always NOW!
And if the other people in the pews around you don’t understand your fight, it doesn’t matter because it’s between you, your priestly coach and God.
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I know that the Enemy disapproves many of these causes. But that is where He is so unfair. He often makes prizes of humans who have given their lives for causes He thinks bad on the monstrously sophistical ground that the humans thought them good and were following the best they knew.
C. S. Lewis Screwtape #5
People began to fear the end of the world. I urged them to give away their property. To the church. We became very wealthy.
“You could have given it back, afterwards.”
“We did not.”
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle Inferno 1976
There was a remark by Ramesh Ponnuru concerning the Kasper situation at National Review Online that had two suggestions within it that really bothered me: (all emphasis mine)
Matthew Schmitz summarizes the latest intra-Catholic contretemps. I was a little suspicious of the quoted remarks by Cardinal Kasper, because they seemed like the sort of thing an especially cunning conservative would invent to make clerical progressives look bad. It was too good for the conservatives to be true. But it is true, and the cardinal has compounded the problem by lying about it.
First the suggestion that a cunning conservative would invent a lie to make a liberal Cardinal look bad. In a political campaign that’s not so odd (Cory Gardner & football for example) but the idea that a conservative Catholic would feel justified in committing the mortal sin of calumny in order to affect a synod is pretty bad and while the nature of both sin and man make it not unimaginable it’s an offensive suggestion.
The second is more subtle the whole concept that for a Conservative catholic Cardinal Kasper lying about his remarks on Africa “good”.
That’s even worse. Here’s why.
There is a difference between being wrong and being sinful. A great example of how that works comes from the book Inferno that I quoted above. The priest in the quote is in hell and explains how he got there but the conversation continued from that point:
“Did all of you end up here? The whole order?”
“No. Some truly thought the world would end. Some believed a wealthy Church could serve souls better. But I never believed the Second Coming could be predicted, and I enjoyed the wealth. “
It could very well be that Cardinal Kasper and those like him truly believe relaxing the rules for communion on divorced and/or gay couples will win souls for Christ, it may be they consider such moves reforms in the best tradition of the mercy of Christ, while I strongly disagree with this foolishness I presume that’s a question of error rather than sin.
That why I’m so distressed by the lie. That a Prince of the Church would so emphatically and publicly lie in a way, a lie that is a calumny on the reporter in question, simply to dodge an embarrassing statement. I don’t find “good” let alone too good to be true, I find such a mortal sin scandalous, setting a horrible example for his flock and bringing shame to the church.
Whatever the advantage to my position that’s not a cause for rejoicing, it a cause for tears.
Moreover it’s a trap for those on my side of the fence.
There are a lot of ways to look at Kasper’s actions Deacon Greg for example talks about it in terms of media:
1. First, Cardinal Kasper is no naif. He is a creature of the media, who has done countless interviews with the press over many decades. He’s become one of the media stars of this synod. He knew when he walked into a gaggle of reporters that his words were on the record. He likely saw a microphone or two in the gathering. If he wanted his comments to be on background, he would have said so up front. He knows the rules.
2. It was, however, foolhardy and even stupid for him to state flatly that he never said something, when a recording exists that shows he actually did say it. He was reportedly “shocked” (in some translations, “appalled”). But what appalled him? That he was suddenly and inexplicably talking to Zenit, or that the snippet in the news reports sounded so bad?
While on twitter some look at his actions in terms of something sinister
The only way that counts, in a Catholic sense is as sin. And this, like all sin has a remedy, sacramental confession, As Pope Francis ironically quoting Kasper at his very first angelus said:
“The Lord never tires of forgiving,” the pope said March 17, before leading his listeners in praying the midday Angelus. “It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”
That’s as orthodox a Catholic doctrine as “loving your enemies”. The trap here is for us to refuse to forgive or love. When any person forgiven sacramentally attains a state of grace it’s thanks to the mercy of God & the sacrifice of Christ. Needing God’s love and mercy we need to show it. Because if we fail to forgive those who God has forgiven when we ask him to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That’s what he’ll do.
Don’t think the enemy isn’t counting on it either. I’ll give the last word to Al Pacino in that role
Update: Elizabeth Scalia has an incredibly depressing update showing that Cardinal Kasper is spinning like a pol rather than acting like a priest.
Finally, what is getting lost in all of this back-and-forth over whether Pentin sufficiently identified himself to Kasper’s satisfaction is a simple question: why isn’t Kasper, responding to this whole kerfluffle with the mercy he writes about so well, and preaches so ardently?
Rather than casting aspersions on a reputable journalist, and a credible article, why is he not taking opportunity to demonstrate the sort of pastoralism that the synod is actually all about?
Why not clarify his remarks, refine his meaning, which would be the way to simply put an end to things?
Kasper is a theologian and a churchman of great intellectual repute. He should know better — and better than anyone — that shooting the messenger is no way to defend one’s own meaning and thinking.
Read her whole piece, she is showing him all the mercy possible practically begging him to follow his own advice on the mercy of Christ and dig himself out of the hole he is crawling into.
Unfortunately His dissembling brings to mind the spin and doublespeak of Priya Dua or Lucien Greaves when Elizabeth was writing on their planned activities at Harvard and prompts me to use same response
Even more significant is the translation of the German article linked by Elizabeth
Kasper’s statements on Wednesday may have led to a direct intervention by Pope Francis. Several Vatican [media] colleagues who are in contact with synod participants have confirmed to kath.net that Francis learned of Cardinal Kasper’s statements about African bishops. These Vatican colleagues regard it as altogether possible that the naming of African cardinal Winfried Napier to the editorial committee responsible for composing the final synodal document on behalf of the world’s bishops could be a direct result therefrom.
and now it seems the Africans are picking up the ball and running with it. As John Allen puts it:
For instance, when Pope Francis hand-picked a slate of six prelates to shape the synod’s final document, Africans objected that no one from their continent had been selected, so Francis added Napier on Thursday.
and while he seems to be doing some of Kasper’s spinning for him he notes
Yet the fact that the comment got spun up into a “Kasper v. Africans” melee shows just how firmly the Africans are on the radar screen here.
Bottom line from Elizabeth:
The synod fathers are not easily manipulated idiots, and the Holy Spirit does not abandon the church as she works to renew understanding and address urgent needs.
or as a fellow named Nathan once said to another man of authority trying to spin events
You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.'”
2 Samuel 12:12
There is a difference between us being unsure of God’s plans and God being unsure of them.
Yesterday the darling of progressive catholic Cardinal Kasper of Germany had some ahem interesting things to say about his brother Cardinals in africa.
In a stunning new interview, German Cardinal Walter Kasper has said that African Catholics “should not tell us too much what we have to do” and admitted that they are not being listened to at the Vatican’s current synod as it takes up matters including homosexuality, divorce, remarriage, and family life.
The African and Asian churches are going to provide the bulk of new missionaries who will be needed to evangelize the “jungle of modern Western culture”, which has scant acquaintance with Christ Jesus. Their churches are growing; their priests are excited; why does their thinking not matter?
Moreover — and perhaps this is most important — dismissing and denigrating the African bishops, and the others, could seriously impact their effectiveness as missionaries to the West. “They needn’t be listened to, except in Africa…” I really don’t think Jesus would agree.
And how awful for one bishop to imply, as Kasper does, here, that it’s okay for the African bishops to be listened to in Africa…but not here, in Europe!
This makes as much sense as the Houston Astros giving the Kansas City Royals advice on how to handle St. Louis or San Francisco in this year’s world series
Kasper’s view reminds me of when Augustine tried to convince Donatists that the Church wasn’t just in Africa. The Donatists thought they were the only Church and anyone in contact with Catholic bishops was tainted.
I respond that the Catholic Church in Africa is older than the Church in Germany. Not only that, the Church doesn’t subsist only along the Rhine.
The only things missing from what Kasper said here are the words “tribal” and “primitive”.
Wait, since when are African and Asian Catholics second-class citizens in their own Church? The arrogance of the Western liberal Kasper is unspeakable — and of a piece with the same attitudes liberals in the Episcopal Church and the Church of England have taken towards the Global South. USA Today points out that numerically speaking, Catholics in Africa are poised to overtake Catholics in Europe within a decade. The Catholic faith — Christianity in general — is utterly moribund in Europe. The churches are nearly empty. Not so in Africa. In Cardinal Kasper’s own country, only 13 percent of Catholics show up for mass on Sunday (Pew says that number is lower). What kind of special arrogance does it take to say that the Africans and the Asians do not deserve to be listened to because their views do not accord with what liberal Europeans who speak for a dwindling number of Catholics believe? Truth is not decided by numbers, surely, but Kasper represents a church that is dying not from martyrdom, but from boredom. He ought to be a lot more humble.
Remember the controversy at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion, in which angry liberals were said to have complained that the African Anglicans’ loyalty to the conservative line on homosexuality was “bought by chicken dinners”? Well, how do you say “bought by chicken dinners” in German?
Now he sounds like an Anglican – and not just because he thinks aloud on matters of the utmost sensitivity. One of the insoluble problems of that Anglican Communion, in which I try not to take pleasure, is that the liberals who patronisingly celebrate the ‘richness’ and ‘deep wisdom’ of African and Asian societies can’t come to terms with their anti-gay attitudes. Older liberals, especially, have to be careful not to slip back into the mindset of their youth, when Africans were by definition unenlightened. And Cardinal Kasper (b. 1933) does not ‘do’ carefulness.
There have been calls for an apology and defenses like this one titled: No, Cardinal Kasper is not a racist, although I submit that if you have to say “Person X is not a racist” you’ve already lost the argument.
That would explain why the media’s favorite and most quotable Cardinal words are suddenly not getting a lot of traction from the MSM that loves him. It’s true that if these remarks had been made by Pope Benedict XVI every media outlet would be calling him a racist, every MSNBC host would be in an uproar, Jessie Jackson & Al Sharpton would be marching on the Vatican embassy and an apology if not a resignation would be demanded the media.
However being the favorite Churchman of progressives has privileges which is why at this moment no major media source is saying a word.
While his words have not moved the media I suspect they will have a profound effect on the Synod because of things like this:
African priests are writing to me in shock. Cdl Kasper said the Church in Africa does not matter. They ask if he is racist. I have no words.
I’ll wager Churchmen all over the world are getting e-mails like that and while the media will do their best to ignore it the Vatican and the Synod can’t. The sunlight this will shine on those who are more worried about pleasing this word than the next will make all the difference. My suggestion pray for all involved especially the church in Africa, because they will be carrying the ball for the rest of us. Closing thought, contrast Cardinal Kasper’s words on Africa with these from Cardinal Dolan from his site: Money quote:
“The bishops of Africa are prophetic in reminding us that the role of the Church is to transform the culture, not to be transformed by the culture.”
Bingo as Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;Matt 10:34-37
Update this image says it all: That’s after 15 hours. And none of those 15 include any major newspaper or news source. I repeat, if Benedict XVI or Cardinal Burke had said something like about Black Bishops & Cardinals would there be any other story in the news?
UPDATE: The Vatican announced today that the pope has named an African, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, who had distanced himself from much of the midterm relatio, to the preparation commission of the final document. Also named was an Australian, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne.
A result of the Pentin piece brouhaha? Coincidental timing of an announcement? I don’t know. I think whatever the case, it’s good news.
Our friend Pete has coined the term Pope-a-Dope regarding the media’s spin on Pope Francis. “The Pope married people who were living in sin! The Pope is challenging taboos!” Over the decades (yes, I’m that old), I have attended Catholic weddings of couples who had lived together and were now getting married;. married in a civil ceremony, had children, and then married by the Church; and on and on, so the so-called “taboos” headlines were particularly amusing.
Following the news on the Synod on the Family, I would now like to expand the term Pope-a-Dope to include the spin on the Catholic Church in general. Not that we didn’t see it coming:
@DaTechGuyblog Get ready for more of that kind of analysis next month from the synod, too.
Now, if you’ve been reading the papers or watching television or visiting blogs and online news sites, you may be thinking:
“Hang on there, professor. Haven’t you heard? On Monday the Catholic Church changed its teachings on marriage and sexuality. There has been an ‘earthquake,’ a ‘seismic shift.’ Things will never be the same. The Church now welcomes remarried people to communion, has dropped its objections to homosexual conduct, and denies that homosexual desires are ‘intrinsically disordered.’ Or it’s about to do all of that. Francis is a new kind of Pope, and it’s a new day. He has brought Catholicism into line with the teachings of the Episcopal Church USA, the Unitarian Universalists, and the New York Times editorial board.”
Prof. George points out that the (emphasis added)
document released on Monday as an interim report on discussions occurring at a Vatican synod of bishops (called an “extraordinary” synod because it is preparatory to a larger synod—an “ordinary” synod—that will occur next year) on contemporary challenges to the family.
The relatio, then, is raw material for this week’s discussion, which will prepare for next year’s discussion, which may provide fodder for a document by the Pope.
So it’s conducive to something preparatory to something (possibly) advisory.
It has no teaching authority whatsoever.
What’s more, it proposed no changes—none—in the doctrine or moral teaching of the Church.
Read Prof. George’s article.
The bottom line is, while the media tries to actually redefine sin itself, the Church asserts that sin is sin and must be rejected.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.
Ms. Povoledo utterly misrepresented the document on which she was putatively reporting. It was not issued by “a meeting” or by “the Vatican.” It was not an authoritative document in any sense; it was an interim report on themes that had been raised in the previous ten days of debate and discussion at the synod. It had absolutely no legislative weight — synod documents are consultative, not legislative — and I am told by those who were there that various formulations in the report were seriously criticized in the synod debates. Moreover, the interim report will be chewed over in the ten synod language-based discussion groups — where, one suspects, further criticisms will be aired — before any final report is issued. To turn this kind of interim report into the virtual equivalent of a papal encyclical is ludicrous on its face.
The 2014 synod is an agenda-setting exercise that was intended by Pope Francis to help prepare the work of the 2015 Synod on the Family. The pope knows full well that marriage and the family are in crisis throughout the world. In his own remarks before the synod, he said that he hoped the synod would lift up the beauty of Christian marriage and Christian family life in a world too dominated by what he’s often called a “throwaway culture,” the throwaways all too frequently including spouses and children. That some bishops, theologians, and bishop-theologians from dying local churches in Europe have tried to use the synod to instruct the entire Catholic Church on appropriate pastoral solutions to difficult and tangled human situations will strike some as cheeky, and others as just bizarre. But whatever those synod fathers and advisers thought they were doing, what they effectively have done is to contribute to the false sense that this, at last, is the moment of the Great Catholic Cave-In.
That voices like Weigel are saying this is important but the real news out of Rome isn’t people like him seeing the media spin. The news is the people in charge at the Synod might finally be figuring out that the media or someone else is trying to game them:
The Vatican press briefing today featured a big effort from the Synod to walk back some of the analysis that took place on the release of the Relatio yesterday. Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban, South Africa expressed dismay over the release of the document, the phrasing used within it, and especially the media reaction to it. At one point during the briefing, the prelate lamented that the Catholic Church is now in a potentially “irredeemable” position. When the final document comes out and it doesn’t match the media’s take on the draft, it will look like “damage control” rather than a positive step forward in bolstering family life.
I’m glad to hear that someone is finally figuring it out. After all if NGO’s fight to keep their gravy train do you think the enemy is going to sit back while the church goes after lost or forgotten sous and let them snatch away back without a fight?
But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.
C.S. Lewis Screwtape #12
Cracker:You loved David, you love a man you make love with a man, you have a baby, but babies cost money, there’s never enough money, so you talk about abortion , you go and see Michael, his advice what does Michael say?
Maggie Harvey:Michael says we will always be welcome in his church no matter what I do.
Fr. Michael Harvey:I was trying to make it easier for you.
Maggie Harvey:I didn’t want it made easier, I wanted you to say ‘No’. I’m a good Catholic I believe, I go along to my priest a lifetime of sacrifice and all I ask for is to protect the child in my womb, but he won’t.
Cracker My Brother’s Keeper 1995
There is an old Baseball joke about the about the Devil challenging God to a game. God laughs saying the Devil doesn’t have a chance listing all the great baseball players in heaven, the Devil slyly smiles and says: “Maybe so but I’ve got all the umpires.”
I can’t help but think of that joke when I saw this piece at the Anchoress over some of the phrasing at the Extraordinary Synod on”gradualism”.
That’s the goal of gradualism. It is not about ignoring doctrine or condoning mortal sin. It is about a priest at work the field hospital God has provided, and applying powerful medicine within dosages that each patient can withstand, until they are spiritually stronger, and can withstand further treatment. Your dosages and mine will be different at different times in our illnesses.
This is an admirable goal you want to keep the fish on the line as you slowly reel it in but instead of reeling it into death you’re reeling it to life and there are examples of how this is done
The other option was that we live together but maintain a chaste relationship. “Live together like brother and sister” was the phrase we heard repeated over and over. This is a task that is widely acknowledged to require heroic virtue from even the most virtuous, yet the likelihood that two people who hadn’t attempted to live virtuous lives, basically ever, would be able to accomplish it was somehow not of interest to solicitous advice-givers.
It was of interest to our priest, however. He was interested in a great many things everyone else overlooked. He spent hours with the Ogre and me, together and separately, figuring out our strengths, our weaknesses, our fears, our limits, our feelings for each other, and our hopes for the future. I suspect he recognized that we had both lived in a state of chronic, habitual mortal sin for years and quickly decided that a quick “get out of mortal sin fast” card was not what we needed; at least, not then. I believe his ultimate goal for us was not short-term but long-term. He was trying to figure out how to bring both of us into a state of grace, how to help us learn to love God, each other, and our child, and how to begin building a foundation that might one day support a solid family.
As a rule however one size doesn’t fit all. You have gradualism on one end & cold turkey on the other. For some cold turkey can’t work because their faith foundation is not strong enough to overcome habits of sin formed over years and reinforced by culture. Contrariwise gradualism might simply be used as an excuse to justify themselves in continued sin. It’s all in how things are taken
The reactions I am seeing are a good reason why we should welcome a return to principles of gradualism while also guarding the church carefully as they are implemented. It’s very serious, because if people go off half-cocked and not listening (as they tend to do) they’re not going to understand what the church is saying, anymore than they understood that when meatless Fridays ended, they were still supposed to take some sort of sacrificial action on that day, every week.
Most people still do not know that, and if something that clear could be lost in the noise of media and spin, then much more important and nuanced thinking can become terribly misrepresented.
The problem is for every person who knows this fact about Friday sacrificial action and remembers it there are 1,000,000 people who instead remember George Carlin’s joke about someone still being in Hell on a meat rap.
That the real danger of what is coming out of the Synod not what the words say but how they’re spun.
Presumably the goal of the vast majority of the Bishops and Cardinals there is to express language that facilitates the church aiding souls in “irregular situations” (read mortal sin) to progress away from said mortal sin to eventually a state of grace with God and full reconciliation with the church.
23. Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.
However the goal of the media and those who oppose the church is quite the opposite. The Goal is to have the church decide to not only consider such states of Mortal Sin acceptable for individuals but to actually redefine sin itself as evidenced by this piece at Yahoo:
In a dramatic shift in tone, a Vatican document said on Monday that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and asked if Catholicism could accept gays and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples.
The headlines and pieces tend to shout one thing while the realities of what is actually being said is quite different as noted in this Time Magazine Piece:
The relatio reaffirms at several points that marriage is between a man and a woman. Substance on that point is not changing. The Vatican has been repeatedly clear that this Synod will bring no changes to doctrine, or even a final document with new rites. To “welcome gays” does not mean the Church is no longer equating “gay” with “sin.”
For example, if the Synod makes a statement about the “gifts and qualities” of homosexuals, keep in mind that homosexuals do NOT have ”gifts and qualities” for the Church simply because they are homosexuals.
Of course homosexuals have “gifts and talents!” But they have them as human beings, not as homosexuals. They must not be turned into some subset that can then claim rights as homosexuals. They are no better or worse than any other human being and each of them have the obligation to respect nature and God’s law.
This is completely consistent with existing Catholic Doctrine:
Catholics do not object to homosexuals participating in the life of the Church. We object to the suggestion that homosexual acts are normal, acceptable, good, proper… take your pick. They aren’t. They are objective sinful and gravely disordered. The people with the inclinations toward them are obliged to struggle against them just ever other person on earth is obliged to struggle against inclinations, to battle against and resist the world, the flesh and the devil.
Remember “errors of Vatican II” weren’t errors of the doctrines expressed, they were sound and faithful, the error was allowing the media and the church’s enemies (but I repeat myself) to spin and define said doctrines to the uninformed faithful for their own purposes. And that poor catechesis of so many Catholics is how we got into this spot to begin with.
Over the last 24 hours we have seen the same thing, Elizabeth Scalia not withstanding, thanks to the media millions of people around the world will be told that the teaching of the Catholic Church and the definitions of sin concerning homosexuality & cohabitation are something they are not.
We may have the players but the media umpires are making the calls.
In an age that is even more connected than the 60’s and with a press that is even less informed about religion than they were a half a century ago such misinformation could lead to disaster and if continued unchecked might result in the work of the Synod leading to a loss of the souls we are tying to save.
My suggestion, take the same approach Robert Stacy McCain takes on feminism, don’t take what the media says as gospel read the documents yourself (the link is here) and follow the advice offered:
12. In order to “walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. … Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.
The Church needs to thread carefully because nothing will lose souls faster than to allow The Catechism of the Catholic Church to be spun in the minds of the people and replaced by the The Catechism of the Mainstream Media.
The final version of the relatio will be issued on Saturday, and it might end up being amended and “clarified” significantly. The Synod has shifted into small-group discussions, and earlier today Pope Francis added a number of people to work on the final relatio, including the highly-regarded Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Even that document won’t be the final word; the debate will continue between the bishops for the next year until the Ordinary Synod. But the next version of the relatio will still make for lively debate, too.
Burke called on Pope Francis to issue a statement reaffirming current church teaching on marriage and family life. The summary of yesterday’s morning session, released today, affirmed that the relatio was not universally accepted as an accurate description of the thrust of the conversation. On both homosexuality and cohabitation, the summary noted calls to clarify that the relatio should not offer a “positive evaluation” (English translation) of either status or practice, as was noted in the aftermath of the release of the relatio yesterday through other sources. At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis emphasized the invitation of all to the Church — good and bad — from the Gospel reading, which seems to coincide with the thrust of the relatio.
People trying to spin the Vatican? Say it isn’t so!
Ed Morrissey is in Rome covering the Catholic Church’s Synod on the family and his latest update will disappoint many on the left who anticipated this to be a sea of change to Catholic Doctrine:
Today’s briefing did actually break a little news. The topic yesterday afternoon and this morning was mostly on difficult pastoral situations, including marriage issues, which produced intense, passionate debate — or “animated and fraternal discussion,” depending on which interpretation one prefers. According to CNS, which has done a great job of live-tweeting all of the remarks (acting a bit like a translation service for some of us), the Synod “strongly reaffirms that those who remarry without annulment cannot receive Communion,” even though the bishops also see the need for pastoral outreach for those Christians. One speaker at the Synod — the Vatican is not providing names — said that the lack of Communion “isn’t moral judgment of individual,” but objective assessment of his/her marital status (again, translation according to CNS).
But…but all those surveys wasn’t the church trying to figure out how to please all those people who didn’t believe what is being taught or not taught?
Some participants spoke of the need to “adapt the language” of the Church so that its doctrine on the family, life and sexuality is “understood correctly.” To do this, they said, “it is necessary to enter into dialogue with the world” with a “critical but sincere openness.” That dialogue could be based on common themes such as the “equal dignity of men and women and the rejection of violence.”
It was said in the assembly that the Gospel must be shown rather than explained, and the lay faithful should proclaim the Good News with a “missionary charism,” not “depersonalized,” but through a “concrete witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel.”
From ‘Defensive’ to ‘Proactive’
The challenge, it was said, was of passing from a “defensive situation” to a “proactive one” and “creating a bridge between the language of the Church and that of society.”
It sounds like they have been reading St. Pope John Paul II (via Fr. Z all emphasis his):
Numerous interventions during the synod, expressing the general thought of the fathers, emphasized the coexistence and mutual influence of two equally important principles in relation to these cases. The first principle is that of compassion and mercy, whereby the church, as the continuer in history of Christ’s presence and work, not wishing the death of the sinner but that the sinner should be converted and live, and careful not to break the bruised reed or to quench the dimly burning wick, ever seeks to offer, as far as possible, the path of return to God and of reconciliation with him. The other principle is that of truth and consistency, whereby the church does not agree to call good evil and evil good.
It will be interesting to see how the media handles things when this Synod doesn’t turn out the way they suspect.
And let us not forget that the Synod can do nothing but talk. They can vote on anything, say, that French croissants are better than Roman cornetti. In the end, they can recommend things to the Pope. The Pope decides.
and its end result:
My concern, partly validated here, is that, after this extraordinary Synod does little or nothing, we are going to have a whole year of liberal grinding in the press and pulpits, thus raising expectations of huge changes. And then, when Francis doesn’t do what they want, the revolt really breaks out into the open.
and that will be the moment when the liberals of the world finally openly turn on “the good pope” that they didn’t dare go after before.