The outline of features for the next Synod of Bishops in October 2015, or Lineamenta, has been released. The Lineamenta is based on the last Synod’s final document, the Relatio Synodi. For the Relatio, the members of the Synod voted on each paragraph. According to the Synod’s own rules, established and approved by those appointed by Pope Francis to run the Synod, in order to be included in the Relatio each paragraph had to receive a 2/3’s majority of voting members. Some paragraphs, on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and on homosexuality, very controversial paragraphs, did not receive 2/3’s as a sign of “consensus”. They received 1/2, but not 2/3’s (therefore, not “consensus”). That means that they shouldn’t have been included in the Relatio Synodi. However, Pope Francis decided that they should be included anyway. He overrode the rules of the Synod. The only way you can tell that those particular paragraphs were not supposed to be included is a) to know the rules (which most people don’t) and b) look at the voting stats included in the Relatio (which most people don’t).
Many have the sense that those who are guiding the activities of the Synod are trying, like border collies, to drive the members of the next Synod to a predetermined position.
There is a precedent. For example, during the last Synod, there was the midpoint report on what was discussed in the first phase, the Relatio post disceptationem. Some paragraphs appeared in that midterm report, apparently written by Archbp. Bruno Forte. They concerned, for example, homosexuality. However, the paragraphs seem not to have resembled anything that was actually said by the members during the first part of the Synod. In am amazing and, for the Holy See, unusual feat of efficiency, somehow the organizers of the Synod managed – mirabile lectu – to get the midpoint Relatio translated into five languages, bound, and distributed to the members. By way of contrast, the final Relatio was released in Italian only, and then there was a provisional English version published not by the Synod office but by the Press Office. It is hard to find and riddled with translation errors.
It is hard to watch this and not wonder about manipulations that aim at a specific outcome.
In any event, the Left has not been idle since the close of the Synod last October. Watch the catholic media.
A great deal is going to take place on the rhetorical battlefield between now and the opening of the next phrase, next October.
For example, much is going to be made of the questions that are woven into the Lineamenta, questions that go to conferences of bishops for their subsequent exploration.
Among the questions…
Concerning communion for the divorced and remarried is no. 38:
“Sacramental pastoral practice with regard to the divorced and remarried requires further examination, also with the evaluation of the Orthodox practice and taking into consideration ‘the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances.’ What are the perspectives in which to act? What are the possible steps? What are the suggestions for avoiding undue or unnecessary forms of impediments?”
One concern homosexuality is number 40:
“How does the Christian community turn its pastoral attention to families that have within them persons with homosexual tendencies? Avoiding all unjust discrimination, in what way can it care for persons in such situations in the light of the Gospel? How can it present them with the requirements of God’s will in their situation?”
These are the most hotly debated questions partly because they have significant impact on other foundational dimensions of the Church’s doctrine and practice.
Here is an authoritative reaction.
Today at Sandro Magister’s place, one of the Cardinals who contributed to the Five Cardinals Book, His Eminence Velasio Card. DePaolis delivers some blunt words. The book was called, by the way, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.
Card. De Paolis wrote, and I am jumping in medias res and adding my emphases and comments:
The proposition, to the extent to which it provides for the possibility of admitting the divorced and remarried to Eucharistic communion, in fact constitutes a change of doctrine. [That’s it!] And this [get this…] contrary to the fact that it is said that there is no intention to modify doctrine. Moreover, doctrine by its very nature is not modifiable if it is the object of the authentic magisterium of the Church. Before talking about and dealing with any change in the discipline in force, it is necessary to reflect on the nature of this discipline. In addressing this matter one must, in the first place, reflect on this doctrine and on its level of firmness; there must be careful study of what can be modified and what cannot be modified. The doubt has been insinuated into the proposition itself when it calls for exploration, [get that?] which must be doctrinal and prior to any decision.
We can also ask ourselves if it is the competency of a synod of bishops to deal with a question like this: the value of the doctrine and discipline effective in the Church, which have been formed over the course of centuries and have been ratified with statements on the part of the supreme magisterium of the Church. Moreover, who is competent to modify the magisterium of other popes? [NB…] This would constitute a dangerous precedent. Furthermore, the innovations that would be introduced if the text of the proposition were approved would be of unprecedented gravity: [That’s code for “total disaster”. So, what are we talking about here? Perpend…]
a) the possibility of admitting to Eucharistic communion with the explicit approval of the Church a person in a state of mortal sin, with the danger of sacrilege and profanation of the Eucharist; [Which, if you believe in what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, is bad. Alas, many people approach the Eucharist as “they put the white thing in your hand, we sing the song, and we all feel good”.]
b) doing this would bring into question the general principle of the need for the state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Eucharistic communion, especially now that a generalized practice has been introduced or is being introduced[get that? did you?] into the Church of receiving the Eucharist without previous sacramental confession, even if one is aware of being in grave sin, with all of the deleterious consequences that this practice involves; [For consequences see St. Paul’s 1 Cor 11.]
c) the admission to Eucharistic communion of a believer who cohabits “more uxorio” would also mean bringing into question sexual morality, particularly founded on the sixth commandment; [Which is GOD’s positive law.]
d) this would also lend support to cohabitation or other bonds, [guess what kind] weakening the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.
Blunt language for important questions in troubled times.
Be sure to get the Five Cardinals Book™ and see what DePaolis says there!
UK link is HERE.
Card. Walter Brandmuller, one of the Five Cardinals, right now has a piece in the German language Vatican Magazin. He argues that we must not conform the sacred to the worldly.