Like antifreeze that drips from a car and poisons cats, the statements exuded by the Vatican Synod on the Family are sweet. It is tempting to lap them up, to welcome the Church’s new proposed stance of apologizing to sinners and obscuring the nature of sin.
There is no other way to describe the moral revolution proposed in the Synod’s preliminary report, which was produced by the bishops whom Pope Francis handpicked to manage the meeting. Rather than speaking prophetically in defense of the uniqueness and holiness of marriage, the task of Christians today includes “recognizing positive elements” in “imperfect” unions such as cohabitating couples, divorced couples living in what Jesus called “adultery,” and even homosexual relationships.
As for those, the Church must find a way of “accepting and valuing their sexual orientation,” a condition which the Catholic Catechism still (for the moment) calls “an objective disorder” for very important reasons: It “orders” people to activities which the Church has always reasoned are unnatural and sinful. By the laws of logic, the Church cannot welcome and value such an “orientation” without accepting what it orients people to crave: erotic relationships that are incompatible with marriage.
How we wish that the universe worked Synod-style, that its Creator answered our whims like an obsequious restaurant waiter angling for tips. Wouldn’t it be pleasant if God looked on our sins and saw only the gifts which He gave us, instead of the miserable ways that we use them? Like a child who stuffs his brand new Lego blocks down the throat of the family dog, we’re surprised by praise for our endeavor’s “positive elements.” Were God like the leading Synod fathers — that is, a senile grandfather in heaven — he would nod and tell us: “That’s quite an obedient dog. And those Lego blocks are shiny. Look how very many of them you have managed to fit inside of Fido. What an energetic boy!”
I am sick at heart, like millions of Catholics, to hear shepherds of our Church fall over themselves to sound like liberal Episcopalians. We know from recent history precisely where this leads: To gapingly empty churches, ecumenical services with Islamists — and gatherings like the Anglican synod some years ago, where an openly gay bishop squirmed in his shoes, as an old-fashioned Christian prelate from Africa accosted him and prayed over him to drive out the “demon of sodomy.” Well, the Synod has many sessions left to run. Plenty of time for the faithful remnant to dust off their exorcism kits. (To their credit, it appears that faithful bishops forced the pope’s appointed Synod managers to remove the most offensively relativistic statements in the next draft of the Synod’s report.)
There is so much wrong with the statements that came from the highly educated, privileged leaders of the universal Church that it would take a book to explain it — in fact, a series of books, which will surely appear in the next 12 months from outraged, desperate Catholics. They will rightly be trying to shoot down this reckless progressive trial balloon. But it’s too late. The damage is done.
The media are completely justified in posing the kind of question that would have made people burst out laughing 40 years ago: “What will the Catholic Church teach next year about extramarital sex?”
The institution of marriage is frail enough already, like an old woman getting shoved around in a crowded subway station. Marriage is being corroded by social forces that make its promises seem absurd, persecuted by laws that make divorce easier than refinancing a speedboat, and redefined by a secular state at the whim of radical elites.
You would think that the clerics might defend the old girl, and insist that marriage is the basic building block of society and the safest refuge of helpless children. Instead they are treating marriage as some utopian ideal, which it’s foolish to think that everyone can attain — so we must learn to love, value, and learn from the grotesque failures which we sinners, in our weakness, accept instead: shacking up, second unions unblessed by God, and even homosexual partnerships, whose central activity used to be called a “sin that cries out to heaven.”
Oh well, times change — why shouldn’t eternity? As progressive humankind charges forward like a pack of rogue elephants, we will leave it to God and His Church to follow with brooms and shovels.
The men who are leading the Synod do not need theology lessons from me. If only because enough good men remain among them and tell the truth, these saboteurs know exactly what they are doing.
And like the Pharisees, they already have their reward — their attaboys from the New York Times and their Methodist and Unitarian golfing pals. The Synod leaders have neutralized the nastiest attacks from homosexual activists, and bought peace with the secular state for the next ten years or so. Like Henry VIII’s compliant bishops, they will be “safe.” For a decade at least, they will keep the hundreds of millions of dollars gathered in Germany from the “church tax,” and in the U.S. from federal contracts to agencies that are Catholic in name only, such as Catholic Charities and diocesan immigrant offices. Bishops will get to pretend that they preside over powerful, consequential institutions, and the world will pretend to believe them. For now. Until the hatred of Christianity ratchets up another notch, and demands an even more craven surrender.
Bishops who are so inclined — including the Bishop of Rome — can continue to garner headlines for their attacks on a mythical “unregulated capitalism,” their demands for radical redistribution of the wealth and the dismantling of borders. They can praise the mass influx of Muslims into Europe, and cash a check every time an illegal immigrant arrives in America. As men without children, they don’t need to worry about their descendants. They are confident of eternity, since they don’t believe in hell.