Extraordinary Synod on Family is, thanks be to God, over.

The Extraordinary Synod on the family is, thanks be to God, over.

The bishops will meet again next year at the same time in the Ordinary Synod on the same topic: the Family.

Let me start with the pessimistic take, first.

In sum, I think this Synod caused defeats for all sides.

It was a big defeat for liberals/progressivists because they didn’t get what they wanted. The liberals in the Synod weren’t able to ram through their agenda. In the end, they overplayed their hands and the conservative/Magisterium defenders rose up and said “No more!” It was also a defeat, but less so, for the defenders of the Magisterium because, frankly, some of the things which were hotly debated at the Synod, shouldn’t have been debated at all. Thus, liberals got their way a little bit: they managed to get their points on the agenda.

Also, the Catholic people everywhere were defeated: great confusion has been sown about matters such as Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and the “welcome” we are supposed to show as a Church to homosexuals. I am already hearing from priests that people as saying things like, “I’m remarried but Francis says I can go to Communion”. That’s ridiculous, but, as I said, there is confusion. Some people will have the notion that we now “welcome” (whatever that means) homosexuals because they are homosexual rather than because they are human beings. That’s ridiculous, but, as I said, there is confusion.

The Synod was positive in the sense that in the end enough bishops rose up to put a halt to the lemming rush – nay, rather – walking together towards the cliff.  But we shouldn’t be aiming at the cliff at all.

Who knows if it will be possible to halt this thing during next year’s Synod. Some of the key players who stopped the liberal surge and manipulation in the Synod, probably won’t be involved next year. I doubt Card. Burke will be there. He was there this time in his role as head of a dicastery of the Roman Curia. So were Card. Pell and Card. Mueller.  Who knows who will receive special appointments as participants. If this Synod couldn’t be manipulated, and clearly a manipulation was attempted through the control of information and texts, next year’s could be controlled by stacking the deck, changing the slate of participants to favor one side.


However, one factor that will remain is “The Five Cardinals Book”. This important book will have been read and absorbed well by next October. In the face of the books explanations, many of the liberal issues simply fall apart.

A few more points, in no special order.

First, there was controversy about how we are to “welcome” (accogliere) “gays” (I hate that word now). What on earth does “welcome gays” mean? What does it mean for the divorced and civilly remarried? This “welcome” strikes me as incredibly superficial. It reflects sentiments, not real thought.

Does “welcome” for gays and remarried mean just avoiding any words that might be imagined by some to be off-putting?  Does it mean admittance to Holy Communion? I think it does, ultimately. If that is the case, then I think we just have to say “game over”. Think about it. What does Communion become, through the open admission of those who are objectively and often openly in the state of mortal sin? Communion becomes that white thing someone puts in your hand to make you feel “welcome”, like you “belong”. Then you sing the song and go on your way. You don’t have to think about how you live, or what you are doing with you receive the Eucharist. 1 Corinthians is a dead letter. Why bother going at all? One you have obtained the victory of self-affirmation, of deciding for yourself about Communion without any regard for the Church’s perennial teaching, why even bother with Mass?

The talk about “graduality” was interesting, but again there is confusion about the term.  We do not approve sin. Sin is not good.  We are pleased when people move away from sin toward virtue.  We are happy when people sin less, but we are not happy with the sins they still commit.  Moreover, this is a way of helping individuals stop sinning and come to live a good Christian life, it is not a program for whole groups of people.  This is something to be applied in the internal forum rather than in vague phrases of “welcoming”.

Also, and perhaps I am wrong about this, but I think not… it seems to me that in the words “traditionalist” and “intellectualist” the Magisterium of John Paul II was undermined. It seems now that if you believe in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Familiaris consortio, you are a “traditionalist” and “intellectualist”. Under attack during the Synod, by liberals, was the Magisterium of John Paul II, especially as found in Familiaris consortio and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I would like to point out that everything Card. Burke wrote in his contribution to the Five Cardinals Book, is supported by the CCC or Familiaris consortio. Hey! FC is 33 years old! That’s outdated by now, right?  So, the term “dissenter” will be applied to people who defend doctrine.

Weird, no?  It is as if we are now walking about with a Salvador Dali landscape.

I sound pessimistic, I know.  I, therefore, rush to add that we can all be grateful for the participants in the Synod who, fed up, held their hands up, got to their feet, and said “No!”

A week ago, we had no idea what was going to happen.  One camp thought their scheme was going to work like a charm.  They aren’t so confident now, I think.

I am also reminded of the pessimist and the optimist who are discussing the state of things.  The pessimist says, “Things can’t possibly get any worse!”.  The optimist replies, “Oh yes they can!”

Putting on my optimist hat now, I turn my gaze to Sunday 4 October 2015, which should be the date that the next Synod begins.  In the Novus Ordo calendar it will be the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B.

What is the Gospel reading for that day?  I knew you would ask.

Mark 10:2-16

Just to refresh your memory:

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied,
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”

Yes, that is the reading for the corresponding Sunday for next year’s opening of the Synod of Bishops.

We have a year now, during which the debates are going to continue.

For a whole year, as you listen to the rhetoric about mercy v. law, pastoral v. intellectual, compassion v. doctrine, everyone will remember what Gospel they should have for the Synod of 2015.

Meanwhile, friends, do not let up.  Let’s use those provisions of Summorum Pontificum and pray and take on mortifications for the sake of Holy Church in these troubling times.

The moderation queue is ON.  Also, I have a really long flight coming up, without internet.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. FloridaJoan says:

    Hello Father,

    Yes indeed, we do have our work ( prayer and fasting ) cut out for us. Speaking of a … ” Salvador Dali landscape …” , I was shocked to read that Catholic University of America will give Cardinal Kasper an award on Nov.16 and give him a venue to deliver more of his ideas. CUA is starting to remind me of Notre Dame. Are there any real Catholic bastions out there ?
    Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

    ps have a good and safe flight

    pax et bonum

  2. NOLAChas says:

    One addition observation, after listening to the Card. Kasper interview, I have to wonders if his lack of respect for black bishops input disqualifies him for next year’s synod.

  3. John28 says:

    The Extraordinary Synod reminds me of a ‘hard count’ in football where the quarterback simulates the start of the play in order to find out how his opponents will react. During the game, the offence only has a few seconds to respond. We are now looking at 12 months before the Ordinary Synod and the Cardinals who may support tradition have all now tipped their hands. It seems highly unlikely that another “Blue Thursday” could take place.

    As to “graduality” it would work if it means the faithful gradually change their thinking to conform with the Truths of the Church, not the other way around. It worked very well in my case but, as you point out, it is an individual approach.

  4. RCC Advocate says:

    Every traditionalist has read the highly promoted book by Card. Burke and his 5 Cardinals. Have you folks read the simple little 43-page book by Card. Kasper, about which these five have felt obligated to rebut with such notoriety? [Pish. There is nothing “notorious” about the responses. This is what scholars do.] I find much beauty in the first four chapters, all on the family. Only one single chapter (5) consisting of perhaps five pages brought forth this profusion of writings. Not only in one, but in three additional books, a teleconference, multiple TV interviews and using the whole gamut of the media.

  5. jlong says:

    Another year of infighting is not best for the Church.

    I was wondering what you thought of the rumors on Rorate Caeli about the CDF being dismantled and Cardinal Muller being transferred to a German Diocese.

  6. Gus Barbarigo says:

    I guess Pope Clement VII was close-minded when he denied divorce to King Henry VIII. If only Clement were an open-minded progressive, he could have shut down the Curia, devolved the Vicariate of Christ to local bishops’ conferences, and let Cranmer bless whatever Henry wanted to do. Who cares about what Jesus said, folks? Let’s be practical!

    Better yet, let’s canonize JPII with one hand, and ignore his great theology of the family with the other!

    (Sarc off. The prevalence of Alinsky-ite tactics in Rome right now, I find to be quite frightening.)

  7. Mike says:

    Thank you for the summation, Father. I have been careful who I discuss this whole thing with, for some folks’ faith isn’t, it seems, able to tackle this kind confusion. I think it would be a good idea to invoke St. Joseph for next year–“Guardian of the Redeemer” and vanquisher of just about everything bad…

    [St. Joseph should be Patron of the Family. He is also invoked according to the Bux Protocol. St. Joseph is a powerful intercessor.]

  8. joel7303 says:

    One of the biggest problems of the synod is how many people believe now that the Church is a democracy and that a simple vote can change Holy Scripture, Tradition, and natural law.

    The Vatican should not be publicizing how individual bishops vote on these things.

    Finally, why is there even need for a synod? We know the teachings on marriage and homosexuality. It is very clear from Holy Scripture. Faithful bishops should just refuse to go next year and boycott it.

  9. AnnTherese says:

    I gave great faith in the movement of the Holy Spirit in all this. Let us pray for a deepening of humility in ourselves, kindness toward one another, and open hearts in this divided time in our Church.

  10. JARay says:

    Thank you for your summary Father. You expressed my feelings to a T. I must say that the gospel which you point out as being the one for the start next year should be stressed over and over again. Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of your hearts. Is the same thing going to happen for Communion to be given to those living in sin, because of the hardness of their hearts?!

  11. iPadre says:

    Nothing has changed in our parishes. We can just go on “smelling like our sheep.” And leading them to heaven!

  12. acardnal says:

    The Gospel for the opening of next year’s Synod is uncanny! Fr Z you should attach the “Coincidence” video that comment. LOL!

  13. Amateur Scholastic says:

    John28, the reverse is also true. The orthodox bishops now know that the other side is not acting in good faith.

    The orthodox cardinals and bishops should write an open letter to the pope urging him to uphold doctrine and re-state the Church’s perennial teaching.

  14. oldcanon2257 says:

    It’s also a big defeat for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church because now through this facade of a synod, all orthodox prelates had been identified as such, making it much easier for the powerful liberal puppetmasters to axe them from their existing posts and send them into exile in some ecclesiastical desert within the 12 months they have. As the liberals of today also doing the exact same thing the Arians did back then (using the majority to seek to crush their theological opponents by means of wrongful acts of ecclesiastical persecutions), there will be plenty of modern equivalents of Saint Athanasius and Saint Hilarius in the making.

    No doubt the participants in the 2015 synod will be all from the liberal/progressive/modernist faction, with perhaps less than a handful of relatively theologically conservative but less vocal prelates serving as ornaments for the sake of the so-called “diversity of perspectives” (well, the only “perspective” that truly matters is the words laid down by Our Lord Himself, since Our Lord is the true head of the Church.)

    Anybody remembers Malachi Martin’s novel “The Windswept House: A Vatican Novel”? Life imitating art?

  15. mrshopey says:

    What an appropriate reading.
    I didn’t realize that Burke and others won’t be there.

  16. Adrienne Regina says:

    Interesting that October 5th in Israel will be 22 Tishri, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, when Parasha 53 is read at the conclusion of the cycle of readings from the Torah.

  17. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    It never bothers me that refutations of errors are always much longer than the errors themselves. Thomas More faced the same problem in his controversial writings. He complained about a heretic making so many errors in one page that More was forced to write ten pages in correction.

  18. Patti Day says:

    joel7303: “Faithful bishops should just refuse to go next year and boycott it [synod]”.

    Wouldn’t the progressives love that. They could accuse faithful bishops of pushing for a schism.

  19. SimonR says:

    A few observations after the end of the Synod.

    1. Why are so many liberal Bishops and Cardinals obsessed about homosexuality? The secular media is obsessed with homosexuality and now it seems that the Church has become obsessed with it. Which part of Romans 1 do they not understand?

    2. As a single person who cannot find a wife and who prays unceasingly for one, could the Synod Fathers not encourage us who struggle with being single and who yearn for a family? Could they not encourage us who seek to live chaste lives in the midst of a world which shouts out that there is something wrong with you if you are not having sexual relations?

    3. I have always sought to give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. After his election, I read his writings before he became Pope. I have read his addressess and homilies as Pope. But in recent months, I have read little of his writings and find myself simply ignoring him. It is too exhausting to try and work out what he means or did not mean. Especially after these weeks, I no longer trust the Pope. I pray for the Pope every day. I hope I am wrong in my feeling that I cannot trust him. I hope I am wrong when I think that the Cardinals elected the wrong man.

    4. It is difficult not to come to the conclusion after the Synod that many Bishops and Cardinals simply do not hold to the Catholic Faith.

    5. I wept last week over the situation in the Church and this drives me more and more to praying for the Pope and Christ’s Church. Christ is the conquerer of sin and death. We need to stay united with Him, keeping our eyes fixed on Him and pray pray pray for our clergy.

  20. rob_p says:

    RCC Advocate – the church fought a big fight over one iota, homoousios vs homoiousios. This one letter is the difference between a Christ whose redemptive work has meaning for all and one who doesn’t. If one letter can make that much of difference in the faith, just imagine what “perhaps five pages” can mean, and when they come from an authoritative source, what sort of response they deserve.

  21. wmeyer says:

    Another quite excellent booklet I could recommend to many is Absolute Relativism – The New Dictatorship and What to do About It by Chris Stefanick, with a preface by Cardinal Raymond Burke. It nicely puts into perspective the modern notions of what tolerance means, and why they are stunningly incorrect.

    The bishops need only view properly the canons and the traditions of the Church. It would be as well, however, to consider the evils of relativism when composing public releases.

    When we say we are all sinners, we must every one of us realize that means we need hard lessons, frequent reminders, and not, definitely not, compromises with secular hedonism. Our goal is salvation, not the fleeting pleasure of an evening.

  22. mike cliffson says:

    my default assumption is that Italian and Spanish cognates have much the same meanings .In Italy, this has resulted in occasional hilarity.
    If,then, accogliere= acojer, this means giving refuge to, sheltering, finding a home for, anywhere between opening your heart to and giving an emergency or begrudged night on the barn floor, hiding a runaway slave or feasting a visitor like a monarch, to doing the minimum taking in of a poor relation only to avoid the neighbours talking, (cf Harry Potter at thhe Durselys ), it may be just not slamming the door in the face. making room for, more than welcoming,if you ask me, but outside the winds are raging and the storms up anthe floods are ot and the wolves howl, so inside feels welcoming were it never so.
    Me, on what basis can I be in the church other than as a poor sinner? is there any other class?

  23. APX says:

    Now for the “I Survived the Extraordinary Synod on Family 2014” memorabilia.

  24. Alanmac says:

    This situation with the homosexuals reminds me of the very deep problems the Anglican/Episcopalians created over this issue. A minority guilted the majority to be fair, monthly theological convulsions ensued, harsh words were said and ultimately gay unions were approved.
    Now, bleeding congregants, closing parishes, the Anglican/Episcopalians are facing extinction.

  25. LeeF says:

    The liberals can’t win on facts and logic, i.e. what the Gospel actually says and means and what the Church therefore must teach and practice. So I expect them to do what they do in the political sphere, ramp up anecdotal stories of victimhood and seek to portray upholders of sound doctrine as legalist unconcerned about the suffering of those who have refused to live the Gospel teachings on sexuality, and more importantly, continue to do so, i.e. not repent.

    You can already see this in the writings of John Allen, whom I greatly respect, but who is using the word “tradition” instead of “Gospel” and “doctrine”. Thus he is trying to frame the debate as one of mere human legalist tradition vs. progressive accommodations to the spirit of the times, rather than sound doctrine based on the teachings of the Gospel vs. same.

  26. Mike says:

    Bux protocol? Got it: https://wdtprs.com/2008/10/the-bux-protocol/


    St. Joseph is one of the key players is this battle for the family, no doubt!

  27. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Oldcannon2257 said what I’ve been thinking today.

    As an aside, at least then Gospel passage from Mark which will be read at the start of next year’s synod includes Jesus Christ’s statement about adultery in both their long and then shorter/bracketed version. Bugnini et.al. must have had a collective seizure when they were senselessly reordering and neutering/bracketing the Sunday readings and accidentally left something “hurtful” and “offensive” By Jesus to be proclaimed by the “actively participating reader” to the “assembly”

  28. mbutton says:

    Sometimes I get the nervous feeling that the Holy Father is flying by the seat of his pants, when it comes to him figuring out how to be an effective pontiff.

  29. The Cobbler says:

    RCC Advocate, what’s your point? The fifth idea isn’t exempt from scrutiny just because the first four are far from any need of it. Was it given undue focus? Sure: Cardinal Kasper should not have spent the past year telling everyone who would listen that it has to be on the table at the synod, since it’s clearly against the Church’s doctrine and therefore not on any Church tables worth speaking of.

    Dr. Peters, you must have the patience of a saint…

    If anyone wants to know what I think we won and lost:

    We lost the opportunity to actually address family issues such as SimonR’s #2, or even to address issues such as Dr. Peters’s three questions. Time and effort was spent arguing over stuff that can be resolved with a mere five words: “Church teaching, look it up!” Not only has all the stuff over which time was wasted arguing already been settled — it already has more than enough explanation for the lifetimes of all seven billion people on the planet.

    We won, however, inasmuch as quite possibly for the first time since Vatican II bishops from across the globe stood up together and said that not only do they stand with orthodox Catholic teaching, but the world needs to know what they stand for. Considering that the worst thing about the aftermath of Vatican II, the problem underlying even the liturgical shenanigans, was that we can no longer trust bishops to be Catholic, this is easily monumental enough to be worth the time and effort otherwise wasted. The war rages on — but in a sense the revolution is over: every attentive member of the loyal resistance now knows that they are not alone as they once were, and so the most effective tools of isolation in the revolutionaries’ hands have been critically damaged — hopefully beyond repair.

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    Great observations, Fr. Z.
    We, the laity, most likely think of ourselves as virtual outsiders, and we are outside of this unseemly process, despite all the reports and information we do eventually get. Social media has made it impossible for this drama to go on without us knowing about it, and that has it’s up side. I think the laity are going to figure in this more as time goes on. I can’t speak for anyone else. All I know is, as a practicing Catholic, I dislike intensely what has been going on, I think there is every indication it will only increase, and I can’t and won’t support it. Not only that, I intend on writing a response to our Bishop as soon as that communique arrives, and I know it will. People, Cardinals, popes, are going to pull shenanigans, but we the laity have the right to refuse to support it and also to provide little communiques of our own. This is our right and even our responsibility as the church militant. Yes, civility and respect. Yes also, to our viewpoint and our voice.

  31. Scott W. says:

    “I find much beauty in the first four chapters, all on the family. Only one single chapter (5) consisting of perhaps five pages brought forth this profusion of writings”

    There’s a saying I’ve heard that the Devil is willing to give up a dollar’s worth of truth, if it will get one to take a penny of lies. No before the indignation starts, I’m not saying that Cdl. Kasper is the Devil. I’m simply pointing out that it doesn’t matter if there are five chapters of beauty or fifty. It only takes one rotten paragraph to spoil the lot.

  32. What is really sad about this synod is that much time was wasted discussing matters that are barely open to discussion, if not completely closed, while little time apparently was given to discussing matters such as SimonR’s #2 observation as well as how to promote and give support to healthy orthodox families as well as those families led by widows and widowers, how to reduce the need for two-income families, latch key children, and the like. So often, our bishops seem to be preoccupied with rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I am reminded about how much energy was wasted on debating whether the word “men” should be dropped at the consecration, and later on the broader use of so-called “inclusive” language, while far more important matters of doctrine were neglected. I am relieved that a good number of bishops apparently found the strength to do the right things at this synod, but why on Earth do they have to expend such energy on nonsense? It’s like a pitcher who keeps throwing to first to keep Slowpoke Rodriguez from stealing, and by the time Speedy Gonzalez gets on the pitcher is exhausted and erroneously throws the ball into the stands, or his pitch count goes so high (a throw is a throw) that he has to leave the game early.

    What we really need is discussion of how to support and strengthen the orthodox and create more of them rather than ways to dumb down our faith even more than it already is.

  33. Pingback: Father reflects on the extraordinary synod | Foolishness to the world

  34. donato2 says:

    First of all, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the faithful Synod fathers for taking the actions that they did. Cardinals Napier, Burke, Pell, et al. were splendid. We know only about those who spoke to the press. I am sure that there were others too.

    I am still in shock about the attempted hijacking. It will forever color my view of Pope Francis’s pontificate. Shades of the Renaissance papacy.

    A first order of business is for the message to go out, repeatedly and loudly, that next year’s Synod will not be a legitimate Synod if it is not representative of the bishops.

  35. Geoffrey says:

    I know this will upset more than a few readers and commentators here, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the Lectionary for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite!

  36. Pingback: Morning Catholic must-reads: 21/10/14 | CHRONICA

  37. Ben Kenobi says:


    I share your plea about finding a wife. Perhaps one day Francis will see fit to welcome us.

  38. Clinton R. says:

    There is much I could say about this mess of a synod, but it wouldn’t change much. Those who love Christ and His Church will go to their last breath defending the Faith and those who wish to bring about the winds of change will forever be chasing the next novelty. Father, be safe in your travels and please pray for us as I, along with so many of your readers, pray for you. +JMJ+

  39. mr205 says:

    “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Amen.

  40. JonPatrick says:

    As others have said, the Synod disappoints because of what was not discussed and could have been. Maybe instead of talking about how to skirt the rules that prevent the divorced and remarried from receiving communion, how about ways in which we can keep people from getting divorced in the first place, or doing a better job of marriage prep? We supposedly have this emphasis on being pastoral and having the smell of the sheep, but what I see here is blatant short term efforts to appease the large number of divorced/remarried so we can keep the collections flowing into the church coffers.

    I have to say I am very disappointed in Pope Francis, after having defended him several times against people in my family who criticized him.

  41. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Geoffrey says, “I love the Lectionary for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite!”

    This is ironic Geoffrey, given the current events going on in the Church, by the fact that the Lectionary you mention *leaves out* St. Paul’s admonition that one must be in a state of grace to receive our Lord’s most Holy Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and discern that it actually *is* His most Holy BBS&D.

    “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29)

    Please understand I am not disparaging you or the OF Lectionary – I’ve just never been able to understand why these verses are left out. Peace to you.

  42. robtbrown says:

    RCC Advocate says:

    Every traditionalist has read the highly promoted book by Card. Burke and his 5 Cardinals. Have you folks read the simple little 43-page book by Card. Kasper, about which these five have felt obligated to rebut with such notoriety? I find much beauty in the first four chapters, all on the family. Only one single chapter (5) consisting of perhaps five pages brought forth this profusion of writings. Not only in one, but in three additional books, a teleconference, multiple TV interviews and using the whole gamut of the media.

    I’m not a Traditionalist, but I did read “the little 43-page book”. Your praise of it is like saying to an American football player: “You played great. Unfortunately, your fumble near the goal line with 2 minutes to play cost us the game.”

    Two problems I have with it:

    1. His interpretation of “given” in Mt 19:11 (“Qui dixit illis: Non omnes capiunt verbum istud, sed quibus datum est.” ) is backasswards. Obviously, Christ’s comment is about celibacy, but Kasper interprets it to be about marriage.

    2. On the one hand, he says–correctly–that the family is the basic unit of society. Later, however, he proposes second marriages according to his German understanding of the oikonomia of the Eastern Churches. Like many Marriage Tribunals, he doesn’t seem to realize that there are consequences (some in the family, other in society) to divorce and remarriage whether or not the Church waves a magic wand over them to permit second-change marriages.

    IMHO, Cardinal Kasper lacks the intellectual wherewithal to comprehend the damage he has done to Catholic life.

    [And then there his book on Christology.]

  43. LarryW2LJ says:

    This Synod left me feeling bummed out. And Pope Francis’s closing remarks didn’t help either. I am hoping that I interpreted his remarks incorrectly, but it made me feel bad that he seems to think that adhering to the traditional teachings of the Church is somehow a temptation.

    I understand his point of being charitable, merciful and welcoming. But mercy is nothing without repentance, and being charitable without being strong and principled will lead to nothing but getting yourself trampled by people who’s only wish is to take advantage of you.

  44. Rob22 says:

    I am concerned that, as the Pope names more progressive bishops and names prticipants for next year’s synod this changes will go through.

    And are they note changes in core doctrine. Communion for divorced and remairred Catholics, potential gay marriage (first step being civil unions as Burke noted).

    In the end if the Pope wants some of these things and even if next year’s synod does not include them can’t he just ex cathedra declare them?

  45. Marc M says:

    This might be starry-eyed wishful thinking, I know. But regarding a “stacked deck” and the expectation that Burke and possibly others may not be in attendance at next year’s Synod… when I re-read Pope Francis’ closing speech again, I wonder. Is it possible that both conservative and liberal agitators will find themselves excluded? Will Kasper be invited? There were some words for the “traditionalists,” yes, but also for “progressives and liberals,” to those who would “bow down to a worldly spirit” rather than “fulfil the will of the Father(!)”

    I mentioned this in another thread already, but I am continually reminding myself of the history of Humanae Vitae, the overwhelming liberal majority opinion of the Pontifical Opinion on Birth Control, including theologians and Cardinals, and the progressive Bl. Paul VI’s final, unequivocal, orthodox affirmation of ancient Church teaching against the liberal issue of the day. The Holy Spirit is with the Church and will lead her to all truth. I trust our Holy Father.

  46. Marc M says:

    Oops- “Opinion” = “Commission”, of course.

  47. donato2 says:

    I am have no doubt that the “The Book” prevents very persuasive arguments. I am not so sure however that it can be a game changer. Liberals are not wont to give reasons for their positions. They can denounce any book as the work of “intellettualisti” who, like the Pharisees and evil pastors of old, are mercilessly employing empty legalisms to lay upon the people burdens too heavy to be theirs.

  48. knute says:

    I think the midpoint relatio, despite “Blue Thursday,” was still a defeat for orthodox Catholicism because now the media can pit the Curia against the Pope in their “mercy” narrative. This would play especially into the hands of those who want curial “reforms” that de-fang the CDF and purge the Vatican of orthodox prelates.

    I think it all comes down to whose side the Pope is on – the Church’s, or the progressives’. If he’s on the progressives’ side, then it will show through the curial reforms. If he’s on the Church’s side, it will show through the curial reforms. Either way, I think all we can do is wait and pray.

  49. krrice1 says:

    I disagree. This was not a total or partial loss for everyone. The SSPX can sit back and say “We told you so! We knew this would happen!” and they may, charitably.

    This synod was a direct attempt to undermine the authentic teaching of none other than Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. I applaud Cardinals Burke and Muller. However, we know the fate that awaits Cardinal Burke for his charitable correction of the Pope and defense of tradition. In time, we may see what fate awaits the rest of the defenders.

    For those of us so called “Rad Trads” this synod came as no surprise. The rhetoric of the pope and his closest allies is the same rhetoric that Our Blessed Mother, Saint Pius X and the anti modernist popes warned us about. Christ said, “He who is not with me is against me and he who does not gather with me scatters.” That is exactly what this synod intended to do; confuse and scatter. Was it disobedient of those Cardinals and Bishops to openly dissent or was it their duty? Was it disobedient of Archbishop Lefebvre to openly oppose the confusion of Vatican II or his duty? Could we ask, because it is our duty, “Holy Father, what was it you intended to accomplish with this synod? Do you intend to gather or scatter?” We have a right to know because we have to save our souls.

  50. Rob22 says:

    Father, or anyone else, is there a list of de fide doctrines that can’t be changed?

    My priest says no communion for divorced/re-married Catholics is a discipline not a dogma? And that civil unions have nothing to do with dogma or would not is the Church moves in that direction.

    So if anyone has a source of dogmas please refer me to it.

    Even some Catholic radio seems to be trying to finesse this saying the communion thing is changeable.

    As to the SPPX they may argue they told us so but if big changes like these come my guess is those orthodox Catholics who object enough to leave the church will embrace Orthodoxy and not the SPPX. I know of two orthodox Catholic families who have converted in recent years to the Antiochan Orthodox church which is very active in this area.

    If you follow the CHN, one of the draws to the pastors they have helped convert was the un-changing doctrine of the Catholic church. I wonder if these rumblings of big changes coming will impact evangelical conversions to Catholicism? As in dampen them.

    Ironically the 08/09 Inside The Vatican ran a story “Is Rome Pushing Russian Patriarch Into Putin’s Arms?”. It argued that under Benedict Kirill and Hillarion were positive about constructing an alliance with Catholics against secularism and the abandonment of traditional Christian morel values but as Pope Francis has shown much less interest in these issues the growing closeness to the Orthodox may fade now. This piece was written a month before the Snyod.

  51. robtbrown says:

    Fr Z says,

    [And then there his book on Christology.]

    There were two of them that I read some years ago. The first was “Jesus the Christ”, the second “The God of Jesus Christ”. If memory serves, the second wasn’t as bad as the first.

  52. deLettis says:

    I live in a small ex-USSR country Latvia. Due to iron curtain Catholic Church is rather conservative here, without much liturgical abuse.

    It was the first time for me to feel shame for a while for being a Catholic. Last Sunday secular media had headlines like “Pope Francis lost his battle for gays’ rights”. Media know nothing about theology, they believe that bishops are fighting for corporate interests, not for Christ’s ones… After the joy of secular media about gays’ welcoming in the firat Synod’s document, our local catholic site explained that it was just a discussion, but teaching of the Church can’t be changed even by Pope.

    I’m proud of my Ordinary Abp. Zbigniew Stankiewicz (ethnic Pole) who told that day to Polish Vatican Radio (sorry for poor approximate translation of http://pl.radiovaticana.va/m_articolo.asp?c=830805)

    “We shouldn’t dance with worldly music… The world does not need a counterfeit Gospel, but is does need the Light, the Truth of the Gospel. It convinces people, because of its power. If one does not distort its message, the Gospel reaches the consciences and minds of people, convincing them and bringing forward. If something diluted is offered, people will applaud first, then they won’t need it, just for throwing under pigs’ feet.”

    I asked some people to pray for St John Paul intercession. May be one can really attribute the miracle of Oct, 16 to him….

    Thanks to Father Z. for keeping us informed. Let’s pray a lot for the Church and the Pope…

  53. mLamG says:

    (Don’t know if this has been mentioned previously). Fr. Fessio’s Oct. 20th article at Ignatius Insight points out that the Divine Office readings during the beginning of the Synod also “…offer some clear messages appropriate to issues being discussed at the Synod.” http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2014/10/i-hate-divorce-a-reflection-by-fr-joseph-fessio-sj.html

  54. Ella says:

    My first thought is to be cynical about the whole mess but then I am reminded that our newest priests are routinely devout men and excellent priests and they are the future leadership as the old (liberal) guard fades way. More importantly, Christ is the head of The Church and He will not allow it to be completely taken over by the devil (Matt. 16:19); I truly believe the Second Coming will occur before that happens.

  55. The Cobbler says:

    Rob22, setting aside your broader question for a moment (though I will come back to it)…

    There is not, actually, a discipline specifically that the divorced and remarried may not receive Communion. What there is, however:
    1) Catholic doctrine that to receive Communion while in the state of mortal sin is a further mortal sin.
    2) Canon law that balances prevention of this against other doctrines about the internal and external forum by saying (potentially huge oversimplification, anyone who knows better please clarify) that Communion is not to be administered to those in ongoing, public, objectively grave sin.
    3) Catholic doctrine that civil divorce does not dissolve a marriage and, therefore (unless the marriage is also found null by the Church), “remarriage” after civil divorce is basically adultery (in the sense of running off with another’s spouse) and sexual relations between such a couple are adultery in the strict sense of unchastity.
    4) The simple matter of fact that marriage is, by nature, ongoing and, as a rule, a public matter.

    Basic logic will get you to the conclusion that there are only two ways that divorced and remarried couples can be admitted to Communion without sin on their part or (if he’s aware of the situation) the priest’s:
    A) Find out on a case by case basis if the apparent (or “putative” to use a more precise term) marriage never actually happened (i.e. “annulment”).
    B) The couple repents of getting into the situation in the first place and ceases (as a rule) any further sin (including both sexual relations and giving others the impression that they’re sinning and receiving Communion anyway). (The fact that getting “remarried” was wrong in the first place, and the concept of near occasions of sin, both strongly suggest separating; however, if the preceding criteria are met, separation may not always be required if there are serious reasons against it such as the good of their children, in which case their priest should assist in guiding them and helping avoid scandal in that sense of giving others the impression that sin and Communion go together ok.)

    As far as I’m aware, any other “solution” would have to fly in the face of the above doctrines, the validity of logic and/or the presumption (legally enshrined in canon law, but as far as I’m aware equally important for the moral certainty of what I do with my wife) that marriage really did happen in the absence of strong evidence and definitive findings otherwise (the “annulment”).

    In other words, this is on the one hand not primarily about divorce and remarriage (which is just one example of the Church doctrines and law in question), but on the other hand the Church’s stance on divorce and remarriage and Communion follows from her doctrines the way so much of her teaching follows from revelation: not by adding more revelation, nor by merely choosing some discipline for choosing’s sake, nor by “theorizing” it out of thin air (as some Orthodox accuse us of doing — not that they should talk on or anyone should go over to them over this particular count, considering they abandoned Christ’s teaching on divorce and remarriage centuries ago), but because they are contained in and follow from the original revelation and logic merely helps us explicate them, subject nonetheless to the confirmation of the Church’s authority — as one academic I once heard put it, the question is whether the Church of today with her great many dogmas and practices is not merely historically but also logically the same Church as that founded by Jesus Christ.

    (Of course, the Protestants don’t care much for that — to grossly oversimplify their entire unintellectual movement, they have the vague delusion that we finite beings created in the image and likeness of the All-Knowing God would somehow be detracting from or at least insulting His infinite majesty if we were to have any real knowledge. I respond that this makes God something less than All-Powerful, since He inexplicably cannot really make us in His image, which would involve knowing as part of the image of the All-Knowing One. If you’ve ever seen the TV show Numb3rs, there’s a rather amusing scene in one episode where Larry Fleinhart, the nomadically inclined physics genius, gets upset over people who deny science in general for religious reasons and goes on a rant about coming to know the Creator through His creation ending with, “To deny the mind of man is to deny the mind of God!” That’s more or less the only thing I can say to Protestant evasions of logic.)

    Finally, to return to your general question: As far as I’m aware no one keeps a concise running list of Church teachings with their history and any definitive pronouncements, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church comes pretty close and is largely made up of quotations from and references to other Church documents that would almost certainly be a good starting point for tracing any given doctrine.

  56. shallowsea says:

    Ben Kenobi and SimonR, so sorry for your lack of a wife! Do not give up. She’s out there! I know many lovely single ladies who think they will never find a husband either. I met my husband on Catholic match.com when it was still St Raphael.net. I was 32 and a cancer survivor and had to go to a whole other country to meet the hubbie. Now I have ten lovely children and 3 in Heaven. As they say, there’s a pot for every lid. Don’t you give up! Think you’re not perfect enough, ask any married woman and she’ll tell you, her husband isn’t either and maybe laugh uproariously too! Try to befriend some parents of large Catholic families to get the support you need in the meantime. Maybe Fr Z can start a Traditional Catholic matching site in his spare time! I will pray for both of you! God bless you. Hang in there!!!!

  57. Dr Grabowski says:

    O Cobbler:

    Can you flesh out your case against the “unintellectual” Protestant “evasions of logic” a bit ?

    Not following you, hopefully that’s not because I’m unintellectual.

    Also, “Protestant” is a pretty broad brush. Is there a particular stream or tendency you have in mind ?
    Took me a couple days to get registered properly with Fr Z, I’ll check back in a couple more.

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