Saturday, 11 October 2014

Further Synod Comment

Once again, it is a contribution from lay auditors that attracts my attention. It is a clear call for the effective pastoral teaching of the doctrine on birth control contained in Humanae Vitae - and yet it contains a form of language that proposes a positive synthesis of the part played by sexuality in married life. The original text is here, in Portuguese; and there is an English translation at Zenit. I quote the end below, but the richness of this testimony is really contained in its earlier paragraphs. As I usually suggest in these circumstances .... do read the whole.
Holy Father, Synoodal Fathers, ladies and gentlemen, if at least married couples found light and support with the clergy it would already be a great encouragement! Many times contradictory advice aggravates their confusion. We ask, the Magisterium to give the Fathers and faithful the great lines of a pastoral pedagogy, which helps to adopt and observe the principles agreed by Humanae Vitae.13
Necessary and urgent is the pronouncement of an easy and safe orientation, which responds to the needs of the present-day world, without wounding what is essential of Catholic morality, which must be amply diffused.
We end by reiterating our total and unconditional fidelity to Jesus Christ, through the Holy Father and the Church.
Fr Hugh has made some observations on the way in which the proceedings of the Synod are being communicated - or in reality, largely not communicated - to the wider world. Like others, including myself as the days of the Synod go by, he shares the view that the daily briefings provided by the Vatican press office are proving less than helpful. Fr Hugh also offers a critical analysis of a post by Austen Ivereigh at Catholic Voices Comment . I would share his analysis - I do not think Austen Ivereigh's posts are providing an accurate or useful communication of the events of the Synod. Fr Hugh's comments are in a post entitled: Synodalia: Losing Perspective. I have already posted on an earlier post by Austen Ivereigh here.

I think I noticed in an earlier testimony from lay auditors an observation that the couple, who worked in a marriage related ministry, knew many re-married couples who had left the Catholic Church to join other Christian affiliations that were more accommodating of their for-the-Catholic-Church irregular situations. Many other Catholics must simply cease to practice any Christian life in this kind of situation. This clearly is a pastoral challenge within the range of the title of the current Synod. Two thoughts come to my mind. The first is that, whilst there may be re-married couples who do leave the Church in these circumstances, there are also other couples, perhaps few in number or perhaps not,  who continue to live their Catholic faith, going to Mass but not receiving the Eucharist. Any kind of reversal of practice in this regard would really let down these latter couples, couples who may have lived as faithfully as they can in their life situations and experienced some anguish in doing so. The second is to reflect on Pope Paul VI's phrase, I think in Evangelii Nuntiandi, that what the Church needs more today is witnesses rather than teachers. In the context of re-married Catholics, the witnesses are those who continue to practice the Catholic faith but who abide by the Church's discipline with regard to receiving the Eucharist - even if the witnesses may be few in number and unheard in the media.

Or even more so, the witnesses are those Catholics who are divorced civilly or separated from spouses but have not re-married.

H/T to Fr Hugh for drawing my attention to the article by Louise Mensch in the Spectator: Louise Mensch: I'm a divorced Catholic. And I'm sure it would be a mortal sin for me to take Communion. Again, do read the whole as it is a moving testimony to Catholic belief with regard to marriage and with regard to the Eucharist. It might also be interesting to read Louise Mensch's account of her own situation alongside my recent observations on the Sign of Peace.

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