Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, which has recently published several books on the family and marriage in connection with the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, has written an especially strong and pointed op-ed for CRUX, titled, “It’s time for the full Gospel of the Family”. Brumley begins by addressing the convenient and dominant media presentation of the Synod:
Perhaps you’ve noticed that some reporters describe the disagreement between Catholic leaders as between those who want to keep the status quo on marriage and family and those who want merciful and compassionate change.
What nonsense. What political spin.
Many of us dubbed “conservative,” who supposedly peddle a “closed system of theology,” and allegedly confuse the “gospel with a penal code” certainly don’t want the status quo. We believe in change.
Brumley explains that while he wants change, he doesn’t want “just any change. Not change that makes things worse. Not change that compromises the full truth of marriage and family. Not change that undercuts rather than strengthens discipleship.” Real change, he explains, will involve a real and committed implementation of the rich and profound teachings of Pope St. John Paul II:
The change many of us want is the change of a deep implementation of Pope St. John Paul II‘s teaching on marriage and family life. We want Evangelical Catholicism. We would like to see a profound imbibing of the vision of Pope St. John Paul II and a soul-searching acknowledgment by pastoral leadership that for much of the last three decades, Pope St. John Paul II’s teaching and insights as presented in Familiaris Consortio and the Theology of the Body have been minimized, ignored, and even opposed by many Church leaders.
Many of us remember how some leaders opposed or dragged their feet on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. A universal catechism, we were told, was impossible today. They fought to limit laity’s access to the Catechism. Some still do. They opposed John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor and they supported dissent in moral theology. Is it surprising they also fought John Paul II’s teaching on marriage and family?
Are we really supposed to believe this teaching has been thoroughly implemented and the present situation represents its failure? The truth is otherwise.
Acknowledging that some real and positive steps have been taken, Brumley notes that much more remains to be done, and many Catholics are engaged in that work now and want to do even more. But some of the biggest obstacles to that work are being created and placed by those who should know better:
Yet many people on the front lines of Catholic cultural engagement, evangelization, and faith formation will tell you they’ve often been thwarted by the very people in the Church they should expect to be allies. They will tell you the issues raised by Cardinal Kasper’s proposal extend well beyond the very limited question of how we handle divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. They will tell you that however “moderate” Cardinal Kasper’s proposals may appear, there is a cadre of people ready to push them well beyond “raising questions” and “voicing concerns.” The New Evangelists of the JP2 Generation will tell you that with all due respect to Cardinal Walter Kasper, he isn’t the only one who can speak about the situation “on the ground.” The JP2 Generation’s Evangelists are also part of God’s people. They operate every day in various pastoral capacities, situations, and apostolates. And their sensus fidei differs greatly from Cardinal Kasper’s.
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