Friday, October 24, 2014

What's with the synod? Has teaching changed?

Dear Rev. Know it all,
Is it true that the synod has accepted gay marriage and will allow people to be married more than once?
Yours sincerely,
Mary Talbliss 
Dear Mary,
No. It is not true, despite what the mindless hair-hats of the media are telling you. The extraordinary synod (meeting) just concluded was a preparation for a larger ordinary synod of bishops in October of 2015. There was a mid-meeting “relatio” (report) on the group discussions thus far that was slipped in by the very progressive Archbishop Bruno Forte the read thus.  
“Le nostre comunit√† sono in grado di esserlo accettando e valutando il loro orientamento sessuale, senza compromettere la dottrina cattolica su famiglia e matrimonio?”
The English translation prepared by the Vatican read thus:
 “Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
The word “valutando” was translated into English by the Vatican as “valuing.” Bad translation.                          
 “Valutando” in fact means “evaluating,” “weighing” or “considering.”  This “considering” is, furthermore, part of a question. The English speaking press jumped on this like squirrels on an acorn because they want it to be true. It ain’t true. Bishop Bruno wants it to be true. The press wants it to be true. It still ain’t true.
Cardinal Pell says that three-quarters of the bishops were opposed to the wording of the relatio and insisted that they hadn’t said that. In fact the topic only came up in one of the small group discussions! Let me quote a little of the incomparable Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s translation of Marco Tosatti’s report in la Stampa, an Italian magazine
Cardinal Baldisseri, the General Secretary of the Synod announced the decision NOT to publish the reports of the Circuli Minores (small groups’ discussions) the announcement provoked the protest of Card. Erdo (the president of the synod) and numerous other Synodal Fathers. The Pope, silent and very serious. At last, Fr. Lombardi announced that the reports of the commissions would be made public. Erdo took the floor, implicitly distancing himself from the report that bore his name, and saying that if that “disceptatio” had been made public, then the others of the Circulo Minores ought to be made public. His speech was followed by an avalanche from many others along the same line, underscored by thunderous applause. The Secretary of the Synod, Card. Balidisseri, was watching the Pope, as if in search of advice and lights, and the Pope remained silent and very serious.  
Needless to say, the small group reports are now published.
Some news outlets were using the word “earthquake” to describe the change in the Church’s position. The Church has not changed her position. The real earthquake was the brouhaha on the synod floor. Bishops don’t behave that way. Not since the Middle Ages. The earthquake is the bravery of so many bishops in the face of a few self-important people who want to push a failed liberal agenda. They fail to understand that if the Church has nothing better to offer the world; the Church only becomes useless to the modern, dying world.
The African Church in particular is distressed by the full court press of some German bishops led by Cardinal Kasper to allow Catholics married outside the Church to receive Communion. The bishops of Africa make the point that if Europeans must have more than one wife, how can they tell Africans to end the time honored custom of polygamy? (You see in the West we believe in polygamy, that is having more than one spouse. We have only one wife…at a time, but we still have as many wives, or husbands as we please.)
Cardinal Kasper told the press:
Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects…..I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much. 
To make matters worse, Kasper denies giving the interview. The interviewer produced the tape in which he says exactly the words quoted. What moral cowardice!  
So, the Africans and the Eastern Christians don’t have much to tell the Church in Europe and the “developed” world? As any regular reader knows, I am proud of my German heritage. There is no place in the world I feel as at home as the little hill in the Central German town from which my family comes. It is the little hill on where lie the graves of my ancestors. I can close my eyes and I am there looking down into the town, the cobbled main street, the castle tower and the church spire. I grieve for the land of my ancestors because the faith of my ancestors is, in all parts, dying and, in most parts, dead. 
Let me tell you about the church in the land of my ancestors. It is one of the richest churches in the world, even though the faith itself died in the aftermath of the holocaust. If the churches are empty how can the hierarchy be rich? Let me explain the Kirchensteuer, the church tax. 
To be a Catholic or a Protestant in Germany is a kind of ethnicity. I have often met people who will say things like, “I am Catholic, but I don’t go to church, or I am Catholic, but I don’t believe in God.”  To be Catholic or Protestant is not a matter of faith for many, but of custom. I come from a Catholic or Protestant town, family, region, etc. If I want to be baptized, married or even buried in a Catholic cemetery at the side of my ancestors, (and this is important to Germans) it is expected that I am a Catholic.  To leave the Church is to leave my heritage. To change religions is to change ethnicity. If however, you consider yourself a Catholic, or a Protestant or the member of any church, you must pay a percent of your income which the government deducts from your salary.  If you are not a member of your church, you must go to the rectory and tell the pastor of the church to take you off the rolls. In effect, it costs most people about $1,000 a year to be Catholic.  So to be a Christian is not necessarily to believe the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It can also and in our time more often mean to have a membership in a club, a kind of burial society. A dead church, I suppose, needs a burial society. 
More and more people are saying, “Why should I pay money to a society that means nothing to me? I am not a believer. My parents and grandparents were not believers. Why should I pay?” 
I suspect that the hierarchy of Germany see power and wealth slipping away and want to tell the faithless in Germany that they needn’t trouble themselves about the less convenient demands of Catholic morality. So, to accommodate the dying church of Germany, they want to tell the African and Assyrian/Chaldean/Arab Christians to just shut up.
SHAME! SHAME! I am embarrassed for the graves of my ancestors. A dying church tells the most vital churches in the world to mind their own business. The Arabs and the Africans have nothing to tell us? Five-year-old children are dying for the faith in Africa, in northern Iraq and in Syria. Their severed heads displayed on pikes by bloodthirsty jihadists, while we in the West insist that our pleasures and preferences should not keep us from partaking in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross!
If any high school principal in the United States had said or even implied that the opinions of non-Europeans were insignificant things, he would be forced to resign, yet as of this writing Cardinal Kasper remains one of the pope’s closest advisors.
Thus saith the Lord! “Behold, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt 23:38)
The future of the faith is Africa. Its past is Europe.

Rev. Know-it-all

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