It is hard to comment on the mid-term report of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, since it seems to be more like a stream of consciousness or brainstorming session than a vision statement about the nature and sacredness of the marriage vocation. See here. There are quite a few allusions to the teachings of the Church in it, but like the statue with feet of mixed clay and iron in Dan 2:33, those allusions are mixed in with the illusions of those who want to redefine intimacy in terms of eroticism. And like that statue, any "reform" based on attempts to mix conjecture with conviction will eventually collapse in total ruin.
Among the truths overlooked or downplayed in the document are:
1) authentic marriage is a sacred vocation, to which a couple uniquely responds in obedience to Christ's command, "Love one another, as I have loved you";
2) authentic marriage is a permanent covenantal relationship, not merely a transient symbiotic or parasitic relationship;
3) human nature is intrinsically covenantal, thus a human being can best realize his true dignity only through the awkward but beautiful dynamics of authentic intimacy;
4) authentic marriage is oriented to cooperating in God's procreative action, whereby a new human being is conceived, nurtured and raised in a manner that respects and reflects the basic truth that God intends love to be our origin, our life and our destiny;
5) defective premises (e.g., personal development is based on the fulfillment of erotic desires) cannot lead to sound conclusions;
6) the pursuit of expediency can detour the soul from the path of integrity and fidelity;
7) immodesty, unchastity and pornography seriously pervert the perspectives, attitudes and actions of anyone who gets drawn into their addictive allurements;
8) truth is discovered, or perhaps even determined by dialogue, rather than by the humble and docile discernment of the realities, with which we are actually dealing;
9) the desire to show compassion can easily be detoured onto a path of co-dependence and capitulation; and
10) appeals to "gradualism" and to "levels of communion" doctrine, rather than to the need for decisively humble, reverent and contrite appeals to God's gracious mercy, can only lead to "not now, maybe later" conversions - thus redefining the New Evangelization in terms of a new capitulation to the demands of the Culture of Desecration and Death.
Although this report has courageously brought to light many problems that have incrementally degraded the appreciation of the sacredness of marriage, the family, human life, the human person and the Holy Name of God, it does not provide a clear vision, which can inspire the world to aspire to that love, which transcends and transforms all erotic desires by ordering all to that love, with which Christ laid down His life for His Bride, the Church. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will consign this report to the same fate suffered by the original schemas drawn up in preparation for the Second Vatican Council.
Personally, I am also praying that the Holy Spirit, in His gracious fidelity to the Church, will inspire Pope Francis to re-affirm the covenantal nature of humanity by examining anew the doctrinal premises for the promulgation of the dogma of Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces.
Rev. Thomas Collins is a Catholic priest in the service of the people of Virginia.
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