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The Dispatch: More from CWR
Synod of Bishops 2015
There appear to be two main contingents at the Synod: one favoring the proclamation of the fullness of the truth to be taught with clarity and Christian charity; and the other favoring mercy at any and all costs
Pope Francis arrives for the morning session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

It seems as though Cardinal Péter Erdö's presentation on the first day of the Synod, in which he reiterated the clear doctrinal content of the "Instrumentum Laboris," struck a raw nerve among certain Synod Fathers, as well as among other participants, priests and laity alike, who favor a more progressive (and, dare I say, a more revolutionary!) approach to the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church regarding marriage and the family, especially as concerns divorce and remarriage and homosexuality.

Consequently, Pope Francis probably felt pressured to make his first direct intervention at the Synod in the course of the past two years.

In doing so, Pope Francis made clear two key points: the "continuity" between the work of the Extraordinary Synod and that of the Ordinary Synod; that thus far the only official Synod documents which enjoy full ecclesiastical approval are the two discourses he himself delivered at the opening and closing of the Extraordinary Synod last October, as well as the "Relatio Synodi" or final document of the Extraordinary Synod which he approved.

Given the "extraordinary" (no pun intended!) nature of Pope Francis' intervention‎ on Day Two of the Ordinary Synod, there is a perception on the part of many observers that Cardinal Erdö was deliberately undermined.

Why?  Because His Eminence is a formidable spokesman for orthodox, Catholic-Christianity and this does not sit well with some of the Synod's organizers and participants.  Cardinal Erdö is a true "mensch" who, like the majority of the Synod Fathers, is unafraid to demonstrate an informed and authentic fidelity to the Magisterium, while, at the same time, remaining genuinely charitable and pastoral.  Thankfully, the majority of the Synod Fathers are not like the handful of ideologues who attempted to hijack (some use stronger language like "rigged") the last Synod, and who are likewise giving it a go this time around.

Cardinal Erdö and the majority of his brother Bishops, by remaining faithful to the eminently clear magisterium of St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, refuse to engage in rhetorical and dialogical vagaries that ultimately create a veritable mess in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, at the same time giving rise to confusion in the secular society that deep down longs, whether it wants to admit it or not, to consider the Church as "the pillar and bulwark of truth" in a world of passing fades and trends.

The faithful Bishops at the Synod are indeed doing the Church an inestimable service of which the Fathers of the Church would be quite proud, for they express the type of "parrhesia" (Gk for "boldness") that the Holy Spirit truly intends, one that reaffirms the timeless truths of our Catholic Faith, and does not serve to undermine, or worse, deny their validity.  After all, according to the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit brought about "unity" on the Feast of Pentecost, "the birthday of the Church"; he did not conspire to perpetuate the confusion of the Tower of Babel.

Cardinal Erdö and Synod Fathers like him, who rejoice in the "sensus fidelium," and exercise their magisterium with a real "sentire cum ecclesia," are to be commended for fighting the good fight of the Faith, despite the obvious push on the part of certain Synod members to transform the Church into some sort of nebulous entity--built not so much on the solid rock of St. Peter and his divinely inspired confession of faith made at Caesarea Philippi (cf. Matthew 16) as on the ever-shifting sands of time.

In a word, there is a noteworthy faction at the Synod which, following the logic of moral relativism, ultimately would prefer to see the Church be conformed to the world rather than the world be evangelized by the Church; and this in direct contradiction to what the Lord Jesus commanded when he commissioned the Eleven to preach the Gospel to all the nations and to baptize them in the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 28). Let us not forget that St. Paul explicitly exhorted: "Do not be conformed to the present age" (Romans 12:2).

There appear to be two main contingents at the Synod: one that favors the proclamation of the fullness of the truth to be taught with clarity and in the fullness of Christian charity; and the other favoring mercy at any and all costs, even when that would mean sacrificing the truth and purity of the Gospel message on the idolatrous altar of an erroneous notion of compassion more akin to the superficial and secular virtue of "niceness," or to what the Italians have aptly termed "buonismo," an easy sort of goodness that makes no demands, requires no real sacrifices.

Evidence of the latter tendency has emerged, for example, in a proposal to have "General Absolution" offered to all Catholics in irregular situations during the upcoming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

Furthermore, this tension came to the fore when at the conclusion of the "Briefing" in the Sala Stampa‎ when a reporter from The Tablet (a left-leaning Catholic periodical published in England) asked if divorce and remarriage were still a firm doctrine for the Synod Fathers or just a matter of mutable discipline.  In response to this pointed question, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, President of the Canadian Episcopal Conference, ‎astonished many in the room by proffering a very snide and imprudent remark that those interested in doctrine should consult Denzinger-Schönmetzer (a well-known and highly respected compendium of Catholic doctrine/dogma) while the Synod Fathers would continue to treat divorce and remarriage as an issue open to discussion, and—therefore—possibly open to change.

What is a faithful and orthodox Catholic to make of all this? Keep praying to the Holy Spirit, and stay tuned!

 
About the Author
Fr Nicholas Gregoris 

Fr Nicholas Gregoris is a founding member of the Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, the managing editor of "The Catholic Response," and the author of four books. He holds a bachelor's degree in sacred theology from the Gregorian University and a licentiate and doctorate in Mariology from the Marianum, both in Rome.
 
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