Did anyone notice?
I never wrote about, nor was I at all concerned about, the Synods Of Bishops On The Family that convened at the Vatican in recent months amidst much hand-wringing and controversy. I was saddened by the number of Catholics who were up in arms and full of anxiety, who followed every news report, interview, and conspiracy theory, wondering what the final result would be.
Why was any faithful Catholic worried? Why do we not trust the Holy Spirit? Jesus Christ is not dead, He is fully alive and the Head of His Church.
Finally, the English translation of the The Final Report of the Synod Of Bishops is out, and it is a steel-strong, unassailable re-statement of the truths of marriage, family, and human sexuality. The report, as the National Catholic Register has noted, has "not only dashed the hopes of those who hoped the Church would jettison its historic and biblical teaching on sexual ethics, it blew them to hell."
For the millionth time, the hopes of the heterodox were raised, and for the millionth time, they have been dashed. When will people understand?
"Gender ideology" is utterly rejected (Section 8, emphases mine):
Today, a very important cultural challenge is posed by “gender” ideology which denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without gender differences, thereby removing the anthropological foundation of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative guidelines which promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, which can also change over time. According to our faith, the difference between the sexes bears in itself the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27). “This tells us that it is not man alone who is the image of God or woman alone who is the image of God, but man and woman as a couple who are the image of God. [...] We can say that without the mutual enrichment of this relationship — in thought and in action, in affection and in work, as well as in faith — the two cannot even understand the depth of what it means to be man and woman. Modern contemporary culture has opened new spaces, new forms of freedom and new depths in order to enrich the understanding of this difference. But it has also introduced many doubts and much skepticism. [...] The removal of the difference [...] is the problem, not the solution” (Francis, General Audience, 15 April 2015).Homosexual "marriage" is denounced as a lie (Section 76):
Regarding proposals to place unions of homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family” [CDF]. In every way, the Synod maintains as completely unacceptable that local Churches be subjected to pressure in this matter and that international bodies link financial aid to poor countries to the introduction of laws to establish “marriage” between people of the same sex.
There was also no mention of admitting the divorced and remarried (without annulment) to Holy Communion, as had been widely rumored. Nothing has changed. Why did anyone think it would?
Every Catholic needs to be at peace with Christ's promises. Our Lord would not have warned us against building our houses on shifting sand if He had not also provided the firm ground on which we are to build. His Church is that unshifting ground, and those who have built upon it have nothing to fear.
When will we learn to trust?
It's important to note that the Synod Report is not primarily concerned with gender ideology and homosexual "marriage" (aside from the rejection of their veracity). There is so much more, so much goodness and beauty and mercy in it, and so much help and hope for families today, rooted in eternal truths and promises, all of which are made for human flourishing. Read it all, here.
I am grateful to Pope Francis for convening the Synod, and I love what he is doing to bring in the lost sheep. He stands for unwavering Truth even as he reaches out in mercy and love to a world that, without Jesus, has no hope.
And did you all know that today is the pope's birthday? Let us each offer up a prayer for the Holy Father's intentions today!
Happy Birthday, Papa!
|CNS photo/Paul Haring|