Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Even the Pope finds roadblocks. . .
In the end, the Pope complained about those within the Roman Catholic Church leaders who “bury their heads in the sand” and hiding from the suffering of the people and the issues facing the family. re was little real change but the bishops did agree to some kind of qualified review on a case by case basis of those divorced and also remarried. There was no welcoming language toward homosexuals.
The Pope has made no secret of his desire to find some sort of opening or accommodation for the divorced and gay Roman Catholics but he also is guilty of sending mixed signals, treating doctrine as if it could be sustained while practices changed. This was, perhaps, too much for those who insisted that changing practice was, in fact, changing doctrine and this neither he nor the Synod could do.
In his final address, the pope spoke passionately and appeared to somewhat criticize traditionalists when he insisted that the Church should be bold enough to confront difficult these difficult issues “fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.” Who knows what that really means! He seemed downright angry when he said that the synod had “laid bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families”.
The more radical path in our age of accommodation is to stay the course, hold the doctrine, and keep the practice consistent. Nevertheless, it is clear that is not what Francis wanted. So the second Synod has come and gone and it has left everyone in Rome upset and with an axe to grind. The traditionalists complain that the Pope ignores established and unchangeable doctrine and the liberals insist that the Pope could have prevailed to make the changes if he really wanted to make them. In the end it makes the Roman Catholic Church appear somewhat pathetic -- as if they believed that tinkering with a few things might mollify the critics and yet keep the appearance of solidarity with Roman teaching and practice in the past.
“A faith that does not know how to root itself in the life of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts,” the Pope said as the synod came to a close. I know what he means but I also know that the faith is not at all rooted in the life of the people but we are rooted and planted in the Kingdom by the means of the efficacious Word and Sacraments. Of course, the faith cannot remain aloof from or apart from the life of the people but the faith is rooted and planted precisely by the faithful proclamation of the unchanging Word of God and by the faithful administration of the Sacraments according to Christ's own design -- nothing less and nothing more. The Pope comes perilously close to sounding the call for the church to make herself relevant and significant in the life of the people. The relevancy of the church comes not from what we do but from the fact that sin still stains the conscience, that relationships continue to be broken, the illness continues to shadow the goodness of life as God created it, and death still claims us.
I wonder how long Rome will be able to harness the divergent groups to the same wagon and if the time is coming when Rome will split apart -- not in the least hurried by a Pope who vacillates on the things about which he should be firm and who appears weak according to all sides of the matter. Oh, well. . . more blog posts to come. . . I am still awaiting the Roman Catholic watchers to parse the outcome of the Synod more fully. . . if that can be done!