Thursday 17 September 2015
Notes on the Shadow Synod (Part 7)
That means interpretation particularly of “assertions” in the New Testament. The hint is that this interpretation must take account of science and life to-day.
The Kingdom of God
The Good News is a message destined to liberate humanity. The liberty of each person is to be respected, their sociality is favoured and love in the heart of marriage is valued. I am not sure what is meant by favouring their sociality.
Obviously this takes us back to Professor Faber. The biography of each person has to be taken into account. It is claimed that although people whose marriage breaks down may feel that they were at fault in the first marriage they do not see any fault in the second marriage but see it as a way ahead for something better.
So the Church misunderstands the position in qualifying the second marriage as permanent sin. I would have thought the Church sees the second marriage as on-going sin but sin is never permanent – you can stop with the grace of God! It is then said that the discussions do not deal with the destiny and suffering of the children concerned. I suspect though that what is being hinted at is that the second marriage provides stability for the children of the first marriage and that one must have regard for any children of the second marriage. This seems to ignore completely the damage done to children where the marriage breaks up, the family home is destroyed and the children have to contend with step-parents. Trauma that marks the children for life; something that the parents have to live with too.
Humane Sciences – Sociology?
Here the sciences: medicine, psychology, psychology of development and sociology of to-days world all have to be taken into account in interpreting scripture. “It is important in particular not to restrict human sexuality to coitus as certain important chapters in the doctrine of marriage continue to do”. What does that mean? Are they suggesting that varieties of sexual activity other than normal heterosexual intercourse be accepted in some way? There needs to be a development of « maïeutique de l'Éros». Now what that means is anybody's guess. “Maïeutique” seems to have a variety of meanings from giving birth, or to the Socratic method, but more probably refers here to a kind of technique invented by Carl Rogers in the 1940s which some would regard as psychologising relativism quite the opposite of the Socratic technique. Anyone it is surely a bit old hat but who knows? The fashionable theory of the day is more important than the words of Christ.
This is not about reconciling the spouses of the first marriage but about confession. The use of the word reconciliation assumes that the result of any confession is absolution and thus reconciliation with the Church – anything else is not acceptable. Apparently the idea that those in a second adulterous marriage cannot be absolved has no parallel in ecclesiastical practice. Well I can think of several parallels where somebody is into a habitual sin and has no intention of amendment. But we have to overcome that if the credibility of the Church is to be maintained! How do we square the circle? A tool-box has to be developed. Quite what will be in this tool-box is not explained; perhaps some kind of wrench for bending doctrine into the desired shape?
It says that that sacra-mentality is important. The failure of a marriage is not only a failure for the couple but also for the Church. What is considered necessary is a new interpretation of the notion of sacrament! Sacrament is seen as a cure and a fortifier for the journey but cure must not get in the way of the latter. I suppose this means that the lack of a firm purpose of amendment should not get in the way of absolution.
This takes us back to Faber and the idea that consummation is not just the sexual act but something much more which covers the integration of the human person on a biblical basis and in the current of tradition with the latest teachings of social science. This presumably will take a lifetime if it ever happens and therefore most marriages are voidable in view of this new definition of non-consummation.
People are on a journey and therefore there must be an imprecision between doctrine and life. That sounds like a recipe for getting lost. Indeed they suggest finding God everywhere even in irregular situations particularly in homosexuality.
Again this is Faber. Life is so complicated and the Church's response is just too simplistic. We must not discriminate when it comes to other relationships different from marriages. Discrimination is a sin; just remember that when you next go to a restaurant and have to discriminate between meat and fish. It is as this point I really begin to wonder as to the supposed intelligence of these people.
Offering an orientation
Here again we are told that the Church has to adapt to reality. The Church must learn to accompany people in whatever they do.
Consequences for the Synod
Curiously this last section is more or less orthodox. Perhaps the Bishops who attended this shadow synod thought that this final paragraph which might be seen as a sort of communique must not frighten the horses.
What is the message for the Synod proper they ask. It cannot be a simplifying compromise … in what spirit does one talk … Schism is not a work of the spirit … insults etc are not a work of the spirit … hanging on here to the truth on one side and adapting to the spirit of the time on the other is not the answer … we cannot lower the Christian ethic and create let outs … the Synod is a great opportunity to rediscover and proclaim the message of Christ on marriage and the family as a theology of love.
The mention of schism is interesting – perhaps they have looked over the precipice and suddenly seen the need to draw back?
The day was introduced by a Jesuit father and Mgr George Pontier, President of the French Bishops' Conference and Archbishop of Marseilles. Also taking part were Mgr Jean-Marie Lovey, Bishop of Sion, Switzerland and Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
Posted by Nicolas Bellord