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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dashing false hopes


SOME friends of mine have wisely turned their backs on the thoroughly secular, anti-religion mentality that they had during the college, young adulthood and peak-of-professional life stages of their lives. They have—in Scott Hahn’s famous phrase– “journeyed home.” Some of these friends have become “conservative” Roman Catholics. They somehow disapprovingly viewed the recently concluded Part 1 of the Synod on the Family as nothing more than an effort of the Church to win some “pogi” points with most of world’s secular media, which are massively anti-religion and, specially, anti-Catholic.
But a few have become “liberal Catholics.” These were saddened by the result of the Synod, which rejected ideas that the mass media expectedly gave undue prominence.
George Weigel, the incredibly erudite and top-rate Catholic writer, who has written more than a dozen scholarly but intellectually easily accessible books, including the best-selling biography of Saint Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope and Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace, commented in a delightful article in the October 14 National Review on the false hopes raised by the liberal media.
His piece is titled “The Great Catholic Cave-In that Wasn’t.” There is a subhead that says “The Times’s wishful thinking notwithstanding, the synod of bishops hasn’t thrown out Church teaching.”
Here are the first three paragraphs of Weigel’s National Review article:
“For the better part of a half century, the New York Times, and similarly situated purveyors of news and opinion, have eagerly awaited the Great Catholic Cave-In: that blessed moment when, at long last, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, would concede that the sexual revolution had gotten it right all along and would adjust its teaching and practice to suit. A Times ‘breaking story’ on October 13, under the headline ‘Vatican Signals More Tolerance Toward Gays and Remarriage,’ might have struck the unwary or uninformed (or those equally committed to the Times agenda in these matters) as a signal that Der Tag, the Day, had finally arrived.
“Thus Elisabetta Povoledo wrote that ‘an important meeting at the Vatican used remarkably conciliatory language on Monday toward gay and divorced Catholics, signaling a possible easing of the church’s rigid attitudes on homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage.’ It would be hard to cram more misinformation into one sentence.”
“1) The notion that the Catholic Church approaches suffering people who struggle with chastity, failing marriages, or both with ‘rigid attitudes’ is slander. Yes, there are priests and bishops who sometimes display a lack of pastoral charity in these difficult circumstances. But they are a distinct minority. As any serious Catholic with experience of the Church’s confessional practice knows, confessors are far more compassionate and understanding than this kind of Dan Brown caricature suggests.”
You have to Google “National Review George Weigel The Great Catholic Cave-In that Wasn’t” to enjoy reading and learning a lot from the whole piece. Seriously, I urge you too. But only when you’re done with this Sunday Read.
One of my friends, who had been brainwashed by the likes of the New York Times article that George Weigel has deconstructed, texted me to ask: “Was the Synod outcome a loss for the Pope?” I shouldn’t have but I wickedly replied: “This one was just the preparation for the big Synod to be held next year. What this one did was flush out the extremists so the Pope would know who to sack!”
All the secular media’s news about the Synod on the family proceeded from the premise that George Weigel correctly debunked. That the Church, by its own laws and customs, is cruel to those who have sadly failed to live up to Christ’s example of sacrificing life, comfort and gratification of desires, for Love of God and neighbor. It’s not “the Church” but some–a few– of the human members of it, in the form of ordinary Catholics, priests, bishops, who are not charitable enough to always treat failed Catholics cheerfully, patiently and lovingly as the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus would have in their place.
But it’s also wrong for even the most Christlike Catholic to give up the Ten Commandments, the Commandments of the Church and its rules and regulations out of love for, let’s be honest about it– a sinner.
A friend of Pope Francis, Cardinal Walter Casper, who is 81 and has retired from active church duties, became one of the secular and anti-Catholic media heroes during the Synod.
The Kasper proposal
Prior to the Synod, he had made public, using secular mass media as well as internal church channels, what has become infamous as the Kasper Proposal. It proposes that in certain cases couples who had divorced and remarried outside the Church could, after going to confession and going through a period of penance, be given Holy Communion again without abandoning what Christ Himself without a doubt sees and condemns as an adulterous relationship.
Cardinal Kasper claimed that some examples in the early Church, and a few writings by the early Church fathers, and the model of the Orthodox churches could justify his proposal. Scholars, however, saw that his arguments were faulty and his examples did not fit the case of really adulterous second and out-of-the-Church marriages.
The 2014 Synod on the Family rejected the Kasper proposal. And, like those who also felt bad because their secular anti-doctrinal proposals during the sessions of Vatican II were rejected, Kasper proposal supporters generated lots of publicity against “conservatives” in the Church.
The bishops are now engaged in post-Synodal reflections.
Zenit’s Massimo Nardi has reported that in a two-week roundtable at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome participants plunged into “the task of translating, in the living fabric of the community of the faithful, the many issues that arose during the two week meeting.”
The panelists were Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Bishop Luigi Negri, President of the John Paul II International Foundation for the Magisterium of the Church; Monsignor Livio Melina, President of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family, and Costanza Miriano, journalist and writer.
The framework of the conference was Cardinal Müller’s book, The Hope of the Family. The conference became, wrote Nardi, “an opportunity to clear the misunderstandings and provocations that surrounded the work of the Synod.”
“One of the central points of the text is the subject of Faith. We live in an age of secularization and incredulity, which have weakened the sacramental perception,” Cardinal Müller explained. The German prelate cited several papal texts, including Pope Francis’ encyclical “Lumen Fidei,” dedicated to the subject of Faith, and the Pastoral Constitution, and “Gaudium et Spes,” one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council that addresses the subject of the dignity of matrimony and of the family.
Cardinal Müller quoted a passage from the preface of his book written by Cardinal Fernando Sebastian, which states: “In the Sacrament of Matrimony the Christian faithful, man and woman celebrate, with the Church, faith in the love of God present and operating in them as members of the Church and collaborators of God for the multiplication of humanity and of the Church of salvation.”

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