I have already commented on Vatican II’s influence on the Synod in a couple of posts, but I am more convinced of this reality as time goes by. I have not seen many people pick up on this angle yet, but I think it bears repeating again.
Vatican II has really never been accepted by faithful Catholics as the best moment in the Church’s history. Most of us are willing to accept its teachings, but the manipulation of it, its ambiguous texts, and what it left out have been problematic for the Church these past 50 years. However, during this past Synod, a number of its documents and the themes it touched upon have had a huge bearing on how the whole Synod on the Family has played out thus far.
1. Collegiality – Suffice it to say, despite the attempts of the subverters to bully the Synod into accepting a pro-homosexual, anti-marriage, and sociological line, the conservative faction of the bishops stood up and made themselves heard. This is especially extraordinary since their opposition came largely against the Pope’s appointees and colloborators. Now many have been arguing that it was not the Pope himself that the orthodox side was fighting but only the progressive side. I am not convinced nor do I accept these claims. I consider them wishful thinking and hopelessly naïve. It defies the past 18 months of papal comments and actions and it defies even common sense on how the skids were greased and proxies appointed, above the democratically elected bishops who were originally put in places of particular influence at the Synod. What does this mean? It means the “age of collegiality” has arrived in the Church in such a way that the Pope and his minority faction were stopped, and the Pope accepted the will of the majority. Collegiality is not all about everyone holding hands and singing Fawhoodoray, but it does mean veto power to the bishops when the Pope is in the minority on fundamental issues. This is not Church teaching, of course. The Pope had the power to overrule the bishops, and issue his own pronouncements, but he would have never had the support of the Church in doing so, and his message would have been rejected and summarily denounced as well, if he followed through with imposing the “serene theology” of Walter Kasper. It is a work of the holy Spirit that Pope Francis did not officially declare against the majority when he could have, although he did leave the defeated paragraphs in the final document. The fact that the majority of bishops raised their voices in opposition to the Pope’s golden boy theologian shows a certain Papal deference to the whole collegial spirit of the Church. Few conservatives would have ever imagined or dreamed that collegiality would save the day against papal proxies, but that’s exactly what happened during the Synod. Wild ain’t the word for it, but it comes pretty damn close.
Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held. This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith. (Lumen Gentium 25)
2. Social Media – More than any other story during this Synod was the role social media played in it. In fact, it might be THE story of the Synod insofar as what transpired concerning the mid-term relatio and the instant reporting of what was going in the Synod, even though the censors tried mightily to keep a lid on the volcano. Readers of this blog, for instance, understand what social media can do in opposing radical elements in the Canadian Church with respect to social justice. With access to the Synod Fathers through Twitter and Blogs, as well as Facebook, and the constant stream of reporting by Catholic media at the Synod, it was almost impossible for the progressives to move the agenda along. They were stopped by the massive blowback from Catholics from around the world. And the conservative bishops and cardinals within the Synod felt emboldened to press their case inside after they saw the reaction in the social media and websites. And what is more astounding is the fact that the conservative bishops were much more pro-active in getting their message out through the media and their own social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter than the liberal faction was. In fact, they showed a lot of us bloggers how it should be done!
The video of Cardinal Pell’s blunt assessment of what the radicals in the synod had tried to do is breathtaking. In it he indicates that a small group of “radicals”, yes, he uses that word, has failed in their attempt to push the Synod to accept homosexuality, cohabitation, and other changes of Catholic moral teaching. Pell said, totally contrary to the lying Kasper, the issue of giving Communion to divorced and remarried couples is supported by “very few, certainly not the majority of the synod fathers.” And then he added something that until now, almost all Church leaders would not dare to say for fear of being called uncharitable or conspiracy minded. He said, “it’s only at the tip of the iceberg. It’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes: recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions.” “The Church cannot go in that direction,” because “it would be a capitulation from the beauties and strengths of the Catholic tradition.” (Source)
Normally, it’s the liberals who use the media to their advantage to twist things around. Recall, for instance, Benedict XVI’s famous comment about the “Council of the Media” in which he referred to the hijacking of the Second Vatican Council by the secular media and its allies in the Council. Well, this time payback was a bitch for the progressives because it was the conservative bishops who got the word out about what was going on inside, started the tidal wave on the outside, and fed back the “bad news” inside the Synod Hall that the laity just wouldn’t accept what it is being fed to them. They felt emboldened by the Faithful who had their backs and were encouraging them to push back. And boy oh boy, did Pell and the rest of the Justice League move forward in a successful counter-attack.
The liberals and even the secular press didn’t know what hit them. It also showed how very pathetic traditional Catholic news sources like Zenit were in capitulating to progressive pressure to remove their story about Cardinal Kasper lying. The whole Church establishment which Pope Francis has been railing about these past 18 months got its arse handed to it on a silver platter. As the text below says, the Faithful sure did “make effective use of social communication” at the Synod:
All the children of the Church should join, without delay and with the greatest effort in a common work to make effective use of the media of social communication in various apostolic endeavors, as circumstances and conditions demand. They should anticipate harmful developments, especially in regions where more urgent efforts to advance morality and religion are needed. Pastors should hasten, therefore, to fulfill their duty in this respect, one which is intimately linked with their ordinary preaching responsibility. The laity, too, who have something to do with the use of these media, should endeavor to bear witness to Christ, first of all by carrying out their individual duties or office expertly and with an apostolic spirit, and, further, by being of direct help in the pastoral activity of the Church-to the best of their ability-through their technical, economic, cultural and artistic talents. (Inter Mirifica, 13)
3. Role of the Laity – This Synod was about the family so obviously the laity were going to be involved in some fashion. Of course, since the progressives had the run of the joint, they called upon couples who gave a favourable impression to their views. We all read about one couple’s gay son being welcomed with his partner into their family: “They fully believed in the church’s teachings and they knew their grandchildren would see them welcome the son and his partner into the family,” the couple told those assembled in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall. “Their response could be summed up in three words: ‘He’s our son.’” (Source). But apart from the dog and pony show orchestrated on the inside, a different movie was playing in social media among the grass-roots. Check out this account by Archbishop Gadecki who headed the Polish resistance. He doesn’t seem to mince words, either:
Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, archbishop of Poznan, Poland, and president of his nation’s episcopate, is glad with himself and with the others who thought as he did for the determined criticism of the relatio post disceptationem of the Synod on the Family. The Polish prelate denounced a clear separation with the teaching of John Paul II on the issue, as well as the unclear vision about the purpose of the Synod itself. Speaking yesterday to Polish radio, Gądecki reiterated that many of the Synod Fathers shared his feelings, considering that text “strongly ideologized, because it considered more the sociological than the theological side,” but above all because “some of its theses seemed to devastate the magisterium of the Church.” “I am under the impression that, had I had not spoken up, things might have ended up even worse. I consider that there was a need to say something, because of the calls rising up from the families, they were terrified. Something had to be said, so as not to confirm to people the certainty that we were about to abandon the doctrine of the Church. Because everything had to have a more serious format, more detailed and analyzed.” “Thankfully – the Polish prelate added – the circuli minores carried out a very serious work, considering word by word, and that which ended up in the third text is much more serious, thank God.” The President of the Polish bishops considers that at the recent Synod “nothing revolutionary happened.” The 1981 exhortation ‘Familiaris Consortio’, of John Paul II, “had already expounded everything long before that.” What happens is that “everyone has forgotten it, and now there is the impression that the Church has suddenly become merciful, while she wasn’t before. That she has become enlightened, and wasn’t before.” “These are all delusions, that are the product of nearsightedness, of the fact that we look at the past two weeks to exclaim: this did not exist before! Instead, all this already existed. The impression cannot be given that for two millennia there had been no mercy in the Church, that mercy now shows up unexpectedly. Mercy makes sense if it is related to truth,” Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki declared to Polish state radio. [Source, in Italian] (Source)
One of the most annoying impressions given by the Progressive side, and, yes, if we are honest, Pope Francis himself, is that the Catholic Church has been this mean, judgemental, and unforgiving Church before Francis’s ascendancy. I find this sentiment particularly troubling and upsetting, not to mention insulting. All the Popes from John XXIII to Benedict XVI were beautiful and loving men who communicated a beautiful and loving message to the world of forgiveness. And the Church Francis inherited was really not too much different from the Popes who led it. Their “fault”, of course, is that they did not let a false and perfidious mercy suffocate justice. They had the correct balance. And, yet, now, if you listen to Kasper talk, it’s like NuChurch is saving us from this hostile and mean fantasy church that they’ve cooked up in their own heads so they can bring in a false hermeneutic and a fluffy Gospel to save us. It’s absurd and ridiculous. I’m with Archbishop Gadecki on this 100%. I could not have said it better.
But as you can see above and from heartfelt pleas from Africa, the laity are having none of it. They are popping those trial balloons as soon as they are released into the air. We were good Catholics before Pope Francis and we’ll be good Catholics after him, thank you very much.
In all these things, Vatican II has arrived with a vengeance but not as the progressives had hoped. Like Pope Francis has liked to say in the past: God is a God of surprises indeed.