Vatican “extraordinary synod” will open debate on family issues

posted at 2:41 pm on May 1, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times’ Henry Chu took a long look at a synod called by Pope Francis this week, scheduled for the fall, that will review Catholic practices on the family structure.  The meeting of the bishops will tackle some of the most controversial topics inside and outside the Catholic Church, mainly focusing on the family structure and how to adapt to rapidly-changing norms while keeping fidelity with the faith. The meeting follows a period of feedback in dioceses across the world on lay attitudes on these issues:

Hardly anyone expects the pope to propose sweeping changes to Catholic doctrine at the synod in October despite widespread criticism that the modern world has left the church behind. Indeed, Francis has unequivocally upheld heterosexual marriage and procreation as God’s established, sanctified ideal.

But liberal reformers have been excited by the Vatican’s shift in tone under Francis. His remark regarding gays, “Who am I to judge?” has gone viral, as has his warning to the church not to obsess over “small-minded rules” and contentious subjects such as abortion.

So, although Francis almost certainly will not call for ditching the church’s policy of denying communion to Catholics who have divorced and remarried, his emphasis on pastoral care and compassion could offer local priests a work-around, with greater flexibility to address individual circumstances. That would fit with the pope’s vision of the church as a “field hospital” that triages people’s spiritual wounds rather than aggravates them.

Likewise, Thavis said, Francis has hinted that same-sex unions, though not “marriage,” could serve a practical purpose, if not a sacred one, by legally protecting the children of such relationships. This month, in an event that made headlines, the infant daughter of a lesbian couple was baptized in a cathedral in Francis’ native Argentina, apparently with the Holy See’s tacit assent.

“When he was cardinal in Buenos Aires, he really had a go at priests who wouldn’t baptize the children of single mothers,” said Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet, a Catholic weekly in Britain. “He takes it back to a human place. It’s more about the person than about sticking to the letter. He’s willing to find a way through things.”

But analysts warn that Francis’ global popularity could fuel inflated expectations of the changes he is able, or wants, to deliver.

That’s the risk of polling the dioceses, too, but it’s a calculated risk that’s offset by the familiar consistency in church teachings and practice. The very act of asking implies change, and people who participate in such surveys may well think that they have a good idea of how those surveys will turn out and expect the Vatican to change to satisfy the thrust of lay practice. If nothing at all changes, then the risk will be that the disappointment will create a backlash that could be worse than the status quo ante.

It seems clear, though, that the Vatican anticipates making some changes. Pope Francis has expressed his ambition to see the church become a paramedic of mercy more than a public scold, but he has also insisted that the truths of the Catholic Church won’t be up for debate or modification either. That still leaves a relatively wide area of practices that could be modified to encourage more engagement from the laity in the parishes and especially at Mass. But the core teachings on issues raised by Chu won’t change as much as the church’s critics will want:

Nobody at the Vatican will be surprised to learn that vast numbers of Catholics disobey its ban on premarital sex and birth control, or that some are in gay partnerships. Setting down those realities irrefutably on paper, however, could strengthen a bid by Francis to soften the church’s official line and put pressure on bishops inclined to resist, including some in the United States and many in Asia and Africa, conservative areas where the church has been growing.

Softening may occur on how the church deals with those struggling in these areas, but don’t expect “the official line” to move much, if at all. Outside of sacramental marriage, the teaching that all should observe chastity directly relates to Old and New Testament Scripture, and the teaching on marriage and divorce come directly from Jesus Christ. No Pope is going to overrule Jesus, no matter what the laity may want.

In fact, this part made me laugh out loud:

Hardly anyone expects the pope to propose sweeping changes to Catholic doctrine at the synod in October despite widespread criticism that the modern world has left the church behind.

Well, no one who understands the role of the Pontiff and the bishops would expect any changes to “Catholic doctrine,” sweeping or otherwise. There may be some changes to practice, which evolves according to need, but never to doctrine. Those potential changes may be to backing civil protections for gay unions in order to defend their dignity — especially in Africa, where recent laws have begun persecuting gays — and crafting a more welcoming message for children of divorced-and-remarried parents.

Another practice that could get a review in the October synod may be the celibacy of priests in the Latin Rite. David Gibson writes at the Jesuit journal America that Francis has indicated a willingness to reconsider the thousand-year practice of priestly celibacy, based on his actions in Argentina and his support for national bishops conferences, where the issue has percolated as the numbers of priests have declined:

As then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Francis commented that while he was in favor of retaining celibacy “for now,” it was a matter of church law and tradition, not doctrine: “It is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.”

More recently, Francis’ secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, echoed those views in comments last fall when he said that celibacy “is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition.”

So is optional celibacy a real possibility under Francis? “I think the topic is open for discussion,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst for National Catholic Reporter.

There are at least three reasons why Francis may be amenable to the debate:

• One, while a married priesthood is often seen as part of the “liberal” agenda for reform that includes ordaining women priests and overturning teachings on homosexuality and birth control, it’s not. In fact, church officials across the spectrum periodically raise the option of married priests — while keeping celibacy as the norm — but they often do so in private.

• Two, because celibacy is a matter of law and tradition, not doctrine or dogma, it can be debated or even changed without signaling that the entire edifice of church teaching is about to crumble. Such a reform would be a pragmatic way of addressing a pastoral problem, and it has received a boost from none other than Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a favorite of conservatives, who allowed some married Anglican clergy to become Catholic priests.

• Three, Francis has framed the celibacy reform as one that should emerge from a local context, which reinforces his goal of decentralizing power and authority in the church. Celibacy could be a useful means of solving a problem while promoting collegiality and the idea of organic change in Catholicism.

“If, hypothetically, Western Catholicism were to review the issue of celibacy, I think it would do so for cultural reasons … not so much as a universal option,” as Francis said in 2010 remarks on the issue, three years before he was pope.

Many of the rites within the Catholic Church allow for married priests, and converts from other faith communities already serve in the Latin Rite. But that’s no slam-dunk either, as Fr. Dwight Longenecker — himself a married Anglican convert — explained earlier this week. It’s a matter of economics in one sense, but also a matter of the impact on family life and the focus on priests in parishes:

The real elephant in the room is one which Pascal Emmanuel doesn’t mention, and which I haven’t heard anyone else mention.

It’s (cue screams of shock and horror) Humanae Vitae. The question of whether a married man with a family can have the time to be a priest and whether the Catholic Church can afford it is altered tremendously when you remember that a Catholic priest who is a young fertile man with a young fertile wife will be obliged to be an example to his flock and live according to the teachings of the church. That means no artificial contraception. That will probably mean not just a professional wife with the standard suburban 2.5 children, but a happy brood of young Catholics.

Now that changes the picture no? Is the parish willing to support that kind of Catholic priest? Are they ready to build bigger rectories, pay for orthodontics, Catholic school and college? The big brood reduces father’s availability and the possibility that mother will go out to work to bring added income.

Are American Catholics are willing to accept such a challenge positively with faith and amazingly joyful generosity?

Technically, all young and fertile Catholics are obliged to live according to the teachings of the church, but his point is well taken. The family issue goes farther than that, though. Diocesan priests get paid a decent wage, a little more than the average household income for Americans, but they work constantly. The priests in our diocese often work 70-80 hours a week or more, and are frequently called to perform duties outside of their residences. It would be difficult for married priests to keep up with both parish and family responsibilities, if not impossible.

There could be a solution to that, though. Currently, married men can become “permanent” deacons after age 35, and are generally encouraged to wait until children are older, if not out of the house. (They are also expected to remain celibate if their wives predecease them.) If the church decided to open the priesthood for married men, they could set the minimum age higher and discern on current family obligations as a prerequisite.

At any rate, the synod and its follow-up next year should be fascinating — as will the debate before, between, and afterward will no doubt be.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

This obsession with Catholic doctrine amongst leftists is more than a little disconcerting. People choose their faith (Christians do, anyways). Why is it anyone’s business what the doctrinal position of Catholics is if they aren’t Catholics? This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM

If some dang equality doesn’t come out of this synod, then surely the Vatican is the source of all societal evil!

chris0christies0donut on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM

At any rate, the synod and its follow-up next year should be fascinating — as will the debate before, between, and afterward will no doubt be.

You say fascinating, I say potentially messy depending on how off the reality is from expectations. I have no doubt that there are those who think this synod will “finally” bring about embracing a bunch of stuff that isn’t even in the offing.

A key factor for success will undoubtedly be managing expectations.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2014 at 2:50 PM

On the agenda: Incorporating abortion as a blessed ritual in Catholicism.

BobMbx on May 1, 2014 at 2:51 PM

It’s (cue screams of shock and horror) Humanae Vitae. The question of whether a married man with a family can have the time to be a priest and whether the Catholic Church can afford

This is where the experiences of those married Anglican clergy would be beneficial for the debate.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2014 at 2:53 PM

I had been taught, by a very sharp Jesuit theology teacher in high school, that celibacy was the Church’s way of not competing with the dynastic lines of European monarchies.

DJ Rick on May 1, 2014 at 2:53 PM

It would be difficult for married priests to keep up with both parish and family responsibilities, if not impossible.

How do all the other religions and branches of Christianity handle it?

It does seem unlikely that anything will actually change for the Catholic Church. They have a huge public image problem with all the pedophile scandals around the world and they are currently running a PR campaign with this new Pope. Their image has become so poor that the sitting Pope had to resign in order to move the focus away from the past, and the selection of this new face for the church was an obvious attempt to stamp the New World on the face of the old.

After all these conferences and appearances by the Pontiff, after all the media blitzes, it won’t be a surprise if it all comes to nothing. It would be a real shock if they actually changed a single thing at this point. Why should they? They think they can wait everything out like they’ve always done.

Another Libertarian on May 1, 2014 at 2:54 PM

despite widespread criticism that the modern world has left the church behind. Indeed, Francis has unequivocally upheld heterosexual marriage and procreation as God’s established, sanctified ideal.

I’m not Catholic, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the Roman Catholic Church has declined to follow the modern world down the black holes of same-sex marriage and abortion.

BuckeyeSam on May 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

“Abortion, gay marriage, dope, married priests, etc., all good, because inequality is the root of all social evil” — The Vatican

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I forgot euthanasia and this, and their opposition to the death penalty (it escapes the euro-weenies that euthanasia is also a death penalty, abortions too…)

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 2:57 PM

This obsession with Catholic doctrine amongst leftists is more than a little disconcerting. People choose their faith (Christians do, anyways). Why is it anyone’s business what the doctrinal position of Catholics is if they aren’t Catholics? This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

You hit the nail on the head. The Church is one of the very few institutions that actively counters the progressives underlying worldview. As such its been under assault for hundreds of years.

DJ Rick on May 1, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Be tolerant – this is just another culture, rubes in America del Norte.

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Oh, and amnesty for all the world.

One and all, come to America del Norte. The Pope, obama and Boner, the trifecta of all which is good, invite you, with open arms, in the name of equality.

And, Happy May 01. Long live marxism!!! Non-workers of the world, unite!!!

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

The Roman Rite of the Catholic Church does not allow married priests, other Rite’s of the Catholic Church do Maronite Rite being an example. Even the Roman Rite does allow married priests but on a case by case basis.

Patricksp on May 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Those potential changes may be to backing civil protections for gay unions in order to defend their dignity — especially in Africa, where recent laws have begun persecuting gays — and crafting a more welcoming message for children of divorced-and-remarried parents.

You’re conflating some things here a bit Ed.

Marriage laws are a much different thing than laws that criminalize behavior. This argumentation is slipping into lefty “positive rights” territory. State laws regarding marriage do not grant or defend the dignity of relationships any more than not allowing anyone to access those laws denies them dignity. The issue in some parts of Africa isn’t that gays cannot get state recognition of their marriage but gays cannot have relationships without going to prison. In other words the issue isn’t marriage or family.

The Catholic Church has already seen itself pushed out of the public square – e.g., adoption – because of it’s doctrinal stance on family and marriage and giving in to the gaystapo will not win them back any territory.

gwelf on May 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

I’m not Catholic, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the Roman Catholic Church has declined to follow the modern world down the black holes of same-sex marriage and abortion.

BuckeyeSam on May 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

What’s always lost in these debates (see Another Libertarian) is that the rules are based on scripture, not the fads of the time. And those who push a social agenda they wish to impose on everyone else (see typical leftists) ignore this fact because their interest is not in Christianity, but in strong arming dissent into submission.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

obama, the pig, compared himself to Jesus, and the Pope, he who lives like a 1%r billionaire, while deriding the producers.

One can not make this up, not even Goebbels could, dead or alive.

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Can we get a comment from the Apostle Peter on marriage please?

LaughterJones on May 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM

You gotta admire liberalism’s skill at infiltrating and thoroughly corrupting all institutions…like dry rot of the soul.

squint on May 1, 2014 at 3:07 PM

The only good I can see coming from this is that it may distract this Pope from pursuing even worse ideas, like encouraging Islamic mass immigration to displace white Christians in Europe and ultimately end Christendom in its ancient homelands.

David Blue on May 1, 2014 at 3:08 PM

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

I hear you. I was raised Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Another flavor of Lutheran synod is caving to culture, and some of it members are fleeing to LCMS.

I will say this: When the Gay Mafia starts to go after conservative denominations, my guess is that they’ll go after a smaller group, like LCMS, before they go hunting for the big game like the Roman Catholic Church. That said, in SW Ohio, we have some clowns clamoring for the local archdiocese to restate a new Catholic school teachers’ contract that forbids teachers to publicly advocate for moral positions contrary to church doctrine–abortion, birth control, and same-sex marriage. Shocking that most parents sending their kids to Catholic school don’t want teachers publicly undermining the lessons to be taught at school.

Better pay at public schools, but good luck dealing with the disciplinary problems.

BuckeyeSam on May 1, 2014 at 3:10 PM

This obsession with Catholic doctrine amongst leftists is more than a little disconcerting. People choose their faith (Christians do, anyways). Why is it anyone’s business what the doctrinal position of Catholics is if they aren’t Catholics? This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM

There’s roughly two reasons for it:

1. There are many Catholic leftists who want things like gay marriage in Catholic churches or to be able to have abortions and not feel guilt about it. Some Catholic leftists may handle this through denial, but others would obviously like the church to say such things are “okay” and relieve them of this guilt.

2. Since socialism’s inception as a governing style, it has viewed Christianity as a major ideological competitor that must be swiftly destroyed at all costs. The socialist program has been a mixture of outright oppression, convincing the church to preach socialism as religion, as well as simply hollowing it out via the left’s usual tactics when they infiltrate an institution. This process in well underway in the Western Catholic church.

It’s worth taking a look at what’s happened to the Anglicans to see what fate has in store for the Catholic church.

Doomberg on May 1, 2014 at 3:11 PM

This obsession with Catholic doctrine amongst leftists is more than a little disconcerting. People choose their faith (Christians do, anyways). Why is it anyone’s business what the doctrinal position of Catholics is if they aren’t Catholics? This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM

The left is never content to “agree to disagree” or to let people of differing viewpoints simply go about their business. The left wants those of opposing viewpoints destroyed. If the leftists in this country could get away with it, they would drag conservatives into the streets and have them shot.

Shump on May 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM

The church just like any business much modify their business practice in order to remain vibrant and ‘solvent’.
They are losing members at a record rate. Most Catholics are now concentrated in 3rd world countries. The Pope is just speaking to his “customers’.

Another reason why I’m a Christian on my own terms.

weedisgood on May 1, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Can we get a comment from the Apostle Peter on marriage please?

LaughterJones on May 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Can you read from left to right, and upside down? Didn’t think so!!!

WryTrvllr on May 1, 2014 at 3:20 PM

If the leftists in this country could get away with it, they would drag conservatives into the streets and have them shot.

Shump on May 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Oh, don’t think for a minute that that’s not in the cards. It always comes to bloodshed and savagery with those people because, if the ends justify the means, then what are a few million useless lives when Utopia is at stake?

squint on May 1, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I will say this: When the Gay Mafia starts to go after conservative denominations, my guess is that they’ll go after a smaller group, like LCMS, before they go hunting for the big game like the Roman Catholic Church. That said, in SW Ohio, we have some clowns clamoring for the local archdiocese to restate a new Catholic school teachers’ contract that forbids teachers to publicly advocate for moral positions contrary to church doctrine–abortion, birth control, and same-sex marriage. Shocking that most parents sending their kids to Catholic school don’t want teachers publicly undermining the lessons to be taught at school.

Better pay at public schools, but good luck dealing with the disciplinary problems.

BuckeyeSam on May 1, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Guess again. You think the whole pedophile problem is pure coincidence? The Universities? The Hospitals?

uh uh. Undermine the big target first. the rest fall into place.

WryTrvllr on May 1, 2014 at 3:24 PM

obama, the pig, compared himself to Jesus, and the Pope, he who lives like a 1%r billionaire, while deriding the producers.

One can not make this up, not even Goebbels could, dead or alive.

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Comparing himself to the the Pope, not that outrageous, they are not that much different…the roman popes have never been exactly paragons of restraint, from Borgia on….ever visited the Vatican?

jimver on May 1, 2014 at 3:28 PM

The church just like any business much modify their business practice in order to remain vibrant and ‘solvent’.
They are losing members at a record rate. Most Catholics are now concentrated in 3rd world countries. The Pope is just speaking to his “customers’.

Another reason why I’m a Christian on my own terms.

weedisgood on May 1, 2014 at 3:14 PM

This is your brain on baked.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 3:31 PM

They are losing members at a record rate. Most Catholics are now concentrated in 3rd world countries. The Pope is just speaking to his “customers’.

weedisgood on May 1, 2014 at 3:14 PM

This is your brain on baked.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 3:31 PM

He’s right to an extent, he’s just completely misinterpreted the reasons people are walking away. There is a reason Islam is growing so fast while the Catholic Church shrinks (and also why Catholicism is growing so fast in places like China and certain parts of the third world).

Doomberg on May 1, 2014 at 3:34 PM

He’s right to an extent, he’s just completely misinterpreted the reasons people are walking away. There is a reason Islam is growing so fast while the Catholic Church shrinks (and also why Catholicism is growing so fast in places like China and certain parts of the third world).

Doomberg on May 1, 2014 at 3:34 PM

His handle is ‘weedisgood’. Take him seriously at your own risk.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 3:36 PM

“Abortion, gay marriage, dope, married priests, etc., all good, because inequality is the root of all social evil” — The Vatican

[Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM]

I see what you did there.

Dusty on May 1, 2014 at 3:38 PM

despite widespread criticism that the modern world has left the church behind.

I love this stupid criticism. It’s so funny, and it’s obvious the person who uses it doesn’t understand the religion he’s talking about.

It’s not supposed to be “of the world”. The church isn’t supposed to “get with the times”.

Spade on May 1, 2014 at 3:41 PM

His handle is ‘weedisgood’. Take him seriously at your own risk.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 3:36 PM

I don’t, not a bit. :-)

Doomberg on May 1, 2014 at 3:45 PM

This obsession with Catholic doctrine amongst leftists is more than a little disconcerting…This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Mirrors can indeed be disconcerting.

Ricard on May 1, 2014 at 3:56 PM

This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

[NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM]

The Catholic Church had always been the number one enemy of Socialism, considering it an anathema. This is why it is of such a concern of Leftists and why they have spent the last 150 to 200 years at war with the Church, specifically, and Christianity in general. Your characterization about removing a competing message is is a mild one and not quite accurate. They want more than the removal of the competing message undergirding Christianity, they want Christianity to subvert itself by repudiating that message.

Dusty on May 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

I’m not Catholic, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the Roman Catholic Church has declined to follow the modern world down the black holes of same-sex marriage and abortion.

BuckeyeSam on May 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I agree. I just wish the libs would give us Catholics a break and maybe go after Mo. Synod Lutherans or Pentecostals or some other conservative Protestant denomination for a change. I mean those guys believe the same things we do regarding most social issues, but it’s always the Catholics that need to change for some reason.

WarEagle01 on May 1, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Socialism is just a tool in a battle of much longer standing than just the last few centuries.

Dolce Far Niente on May 1, 2014 at 4:32 PM

<blockquote>That means no artificial contraception. That will probably mean not just a professional wife with the standard suburban 2.5 children, but a happy brood of young Catholics.

That might be a good way of getting rid of abortion in the future, except that those children may turn out to be a bit rebellious.

But Devout and Conservative Catholics having each 6-9 kids might end the plague of liberalism for a time.

MWC_RS on May 1, 2014 at 4:42 PM

What’s to debate? Sheesh.

One can only expect it to be as wonderful as Vatican II.

Akzed on May 1, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Another reason why I’m a Christian on my own terms.
weedisgood on May 1, 2014 at 3:14 PM

“Just me, my bong, and Jesus.”

Akzed on May 1, 2014 at 4:44 PM

There may be some changes to practice, which evolves according to need, but never to doctrine. Those potential changes may be to backing civil protections for gay unions in order to defend their dignity — especially in Africa, where recent laws have begun persecuting gays —

Changes in practice are de facto changes in doctrine. And therein lies the problem.

This is tantamount to the fallacy that abortion must be legalized in order to protect the wellbeing of the would be mother from the horrors of the back alley abortionists.

You don’t condone and increase immoral civil laws in order to prevent further immorality.

Instead, you seek to protect the rights of the individual as a human being per the self-evident dictates of Natural Law.

Augustinian on May 1, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Married priests already exist in the church and, especially with a shortage of priests and the desire of conservative Episcopalians to rejoin Rome, allowing priests to marry could solve lots of problems. Then, of course, will come the inevitable question of gay priests….

MTF on May 1, 2014 at 5:53 PM

From what I understand, with the Ukrainian Catholics, most of their clergy is married, but they are not allowed to ordain married men in the US. Therefore, if someone here wants to be married and be a priest, the man will get married, then travel to Ukraine for ordination, then return here.

Also, among my Ukrainian associates, they say that generally, people prefer the married priests (especially in parishes not in cities).

Being Orthodox, our priests are allowed to marry, and so most priests are. The rules regarding that though, is that priests must be married before being ordained a deacon (no dating parishioners, etc) and that the priest remain married to the same woman. Getting a divorce generally would cause the man to have to stop being a priest as well, and if the priest’s wife dies, he’s not allowed to remarry. Even with kids, most priests I know handle it well.

Katja on May 1, 2014 at 6:10 PM

…this Vatican is sure going to get the “going over”…isn’t it?

KOOLAID2 on May 1, 2014 at 6:59 PM

— and crafting a more welcoming message for children of divorced-and-remarried parents.

I’m not sure how the Church can craft a more welcoming message for the children of remarried divorcees while continuing to treat their parents like trash. I think that the Synod really needs to find a more pastoral solution to this problem than the legalistic annulment process it has now. I think that in general the Synod will come down in favor of providing the laity with the Sacraments except in rare circumstances. This includes baptizing the children of people in irregular situations and allowing remarried divorcees to take Communion. (Apparently the Argentine woman who Francis called was publicly refused Communion by her priest. I think that this goes against Francis’ vision of the Church.)

As a sidenote, one Sacrament that I think is too easy to receive now is the Sacrament of Matrimony. Apparently even if the priest suspects physical abuse, he cannot refuse to marry the couple which strikes me as odd. Considering how difficult it is to get an annulment, one would think that the Church would be pickier about who it marries.

Illinidiva on May 1, 2014 at 7:11 PM

This obsession with Catholic doctrine amongst leftists is more than a little disconcerting. People choose their faith (Christians do, anyways). Why is it anyone’s business what the doctrinal position of Catholics is if they aren’t Catholics? This is not about enlightening the Catholic Church, but about removing competing messages.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 2:48 PM

You seem to think there are no liberal catholics. Voting patterns would seem to disprove that. Further more since this synod is being called by the Pope it seems odd to cast this as outsiders messing with the catholic’s church.

Papal inerrancy is a *&^%, huh?

Tlaloc on May 1, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Hate to break this to my Catholic friends, but the Orthodox have been doing just fine at this a very long time. Like, as long as there has been a Church.

Yes, the wives often work, but from a pastoral point of view the priests function just fine. In point of fact, being the wife of a priest or deacon is as much a calling as that of their clergy husbands, and the Orthodox recognize it as such. Not as a sacerdotal function, but as a sacrificial one. Which is why the wife of a priest will be referred to with the feminine form of the priests title (in greek for example Presvyteros – priest, becomes Presvytera).

But we also have a much different view about the role of the priest in the parish as well, I think. A more familial one. We truly see the priest as the head of our parish family. He truly is the “pater familias” to use the (probably mangled) latin phrase.

jnials on May 1, 2014 at 8:39 PM

You seem to think there are no liberal catholics. Voting patterns would seem to disprove that. Further more since this synod is being called by the Pope it seems odd to cast this as outsiders messing with the catholic’s church.

Papal inerrancy is a *&^%, huh?

Tlaloc on May 1, 2014 at 8:38 PM

You seem to not understand a damn thing I said despite quoting me.

People choose their faith (Christians do, anyways). Why is it anyone’s business what the doctrinal position of Catholics is if they aren’t Catholics?

The slobbering over Francis, and criticisms of the previous two Popes, is mostly from those outside of the Catholic faith. But I have a question for you as a liberal Catholic: Why do you think the Catholic church should abandon centuries of established doctrine, based on scripture, to satisfy your desires? Because it ain’t gonna happen. The synod will not change any doctrine at all. You should read closely what Ed wrote.

NotCoach on May 1, 2014 at 11:44 PM

The slobbering over Francis, and criticisms of the previous two Popes, is mostly from those outside of the Catholic faith. But I have a question for you as a liberal Catholic: Why do you think the Catholic church should abandon centuries of established doctrine, based on scripture, to satisfy your desires? Because it ain’t gonna happen. The synod will not change any doctrine at all. You should read closely what Ed wrote.

There is lots of slobbering over Francis inside the Church as well. I think that what people like about Francis inside and outside the Church is that he is more comfortable with the grays than either JPII or Benedict and he isn’t singularly obsessed about peering into the bedrooms of adults. He is more obsessed with the social Gospel.

And I think that the conservative Catholics are using the current focus on sex only to satisfy their current desires and fancies. There was that weird statement above suggesting that the gays met in their Headquarter of Fabulousness and decided to destroy the Catholic Church. And the obsession over remarried divorcees is even odder. I think that everyone knows people who are remarried. Do people really want remarried people excluded from the Church? It almost seems like a scenario where people lives might suck (perhaps economically) so it is good to have a scapegoat.

And I don’t think that anyone thinks that doctrine will be changed. I do think that there are ways to make the Church more merciful and compassionate. There has always been creative tensions in the Church that have allowed individuals to compromise. I would hope that a priest, for instance, wouldn’t suggest that an abuse victim get an annulment if she is afraid of contact with her former spouse. Unfortunately, that creative tension has been lost during the last ten or so years, especially among the younger closeted neo-traditionalist priests who seem to enjoy playing sparkly dress up rather than doing the hard work as a pastor. The fact that there needs to be a major Synod to suggest that priests snap out of it and actually do their job as pastors and recognize the grays in people’s lives is what is sad.

Illinidiva on May 2, 2014 at 2:30 AM

Are married priests on the Vatican’s agenda?

No. And it’s not a doctrine or dogma of the Church, it’s a custom, a practice. The problem you run into with married priests is that with a wife and children, they can’t devote themselves fully to their parish and parishioners. And, actually they are married – to the Church.

Ward Cleaver on May 2, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Hardly anyone expects the pope to propose sweeping changes to Catholic doctrine at the synod in October despite widespread criticism that the modern world has left the church behind.

Those kinds of charges were being made 100 years ago, and G.K. Chesterton pointed out the fallacy of them.

Ward Cleaver on May 2, 2014 at 10:29 AM

The Roman Catholic Church is its own worst enemy. The only reason priests are celibate was to set them apart from the rest of society as more spiritual rather than physical like other men, and nothing is more physical (and base in the eyes of the RCC) than sex. Even marital sex.

Before the 11th century priest and popes were married. (And even after the Italian priests and nuns were having plenty of sex and had plenty of dead babies and live bastards to prove it.) One of the reason the RCC gets so little respect in Europe in because of its history of sexual abuse of nuns, women, boys and men, as well as sheep and other animals.

Requiring men to live celibate not only attracts homosexuals to the priesthood mens club, but forces straight priests into unnatural lives and all the stresses and illnesses that causes.

Celibacy was a stupid idea from the start and it is well past time to end it.

earlgrey on May 2, 2014 at 1:27 PM

It seems to me that if a (married) priest could “drain his lust” with the aid of his wife, there’d be much less chance of him being interested in or pursuing other possibilities such as altar boys, etc.

ReggieA on May 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM