The Spirit(s) of the Synod

That Pope Francis would have executed the synod in the manner in which he did was predictable from many things he has said over the course of his papacy, including Evangelii Gaudium, esp. 32-39. From what he says there, especially about the “conversion of the papacy,” it seems he is not adverse to critique, as long as there is ultimate unity with Peter and under Peter (cum Petro et sub Petro).

One ought to make a distinction between legitimate but respectful criticism from those who are genuinely concerned about the preservation of the deposit of faith, and the radicalizing tendencies of certain factions who will use anything to promote their own interests. One group uses Francis’ openness to sinners as an excuse to justify the unjustifiable, and the other is bent on using the synod to prove that everything since Vatican II was a mistake.

We must pray for the Holy Father, trusting in Christ, not in man. I presume Pope Francis is inspired and that it will all work out in the end. As we all know and profess, the pope is not infallible in every instance, but neither may we adopt a kind of ecclesial communion that is based only infallible pronouncements.

Ecclesial communion is sometimes difficult because the Church is not only divine, it is also human and in its humanity it is influenced spiritual powers. Pope Benedict has called that power “something in the air,” poisoning the “spiritual climate.” St. Paul called it “the prince of the power of this air” (Eph 2:2). Under its influence, the desire to know, to confirm and be certain overcomes the desire for truth.   The name of truth thus becomes a tag for curiosities and self-justifications.

Archbishop Chaput said:

To get your information from the press is a mistake because they don’t know well enough how to understand it so they can tell people what happened.

But even more dangerous are the purveyors of gossip who travel to Rome on a mission to prove their point. Thus, even Archbishop Chaput’s reference to the diabolical confusion of the media coverage has been used to suggest that problem was at the synod itself.

We need to invoke what Pope Benedict has called “the exorcistic power of Christianity” over the efforts to manipulate men and quicken schisms already resolved upon. Pope Benedict wrote:

God’s dominion, God’s Kingdom, means precisely the disempowerment of these forces by the one God, who is good, who is the Good itself.

We should pray for all the bishops, that the apostolic college, cum Petro et sub Petro, will be open to the Holy Spirit, and receive fruitfully all the necessary graces to guide the Church.

O, Immaculate, deliver us from the spirits of the air . . . and the airwaves.


12 thoughts on “The Spirit(s) of the Synod

  1. Thanks Fr Angelo for this very sensible piece. With the various pronouncements coming from the media during the synod, it was tempting to despair. However, discussion is healthy and the outcome showed both the stability and compassion of our beautiful faith, led by the Holy Father, amidst the turbulence of our ever changing culture.

  2. On the eve of the Synod, in St. Square, Pope Francis said, “Let us invoke openness to a sincere, open and fraternal exchange of views, that it might lead us to take pastoral responsibility for the questions that this changing time brings with it, Let them fill our heart, without ever losing peace, but with serene trust that in his time the Lord will not fail to lead us back to unity”

    It seems to me that in Pope Francis’ view, the purpose the Extraordinary Synod was to allow people to come together and, without fear of repercussion of any kind, express their thoughts and ideas on the state of the family in the modern world and how best to deal with these problems.

    Pope Francis further said:

    “We must lend an ear to the rhythm of our time and perceive the odor of people today, that we might be imbued with their joys and hopes, their sadness and anxiety: at that point we will be able credibly to propose the good news on the family.”

    Pope Francis wanted to get ideas from others on how to best reach those who are in most need of the good news of the Gospel and of the Mercy of God. And that is exactly what he got. Because the Synod was not scripted, everything was put into the pot. I see that as a doctor letting a patient talk and describe all of his symptoms before the doctor makes a diagnosis.

    Those who are now running around in a panic and declaring that the sky is falling need to step back and realize that the Holy Spirit is still in charge. Yes, the winds are blowing and the rain is pouring down just as it did, but as Pope Francis said in his closing speech at the Synod:

    “Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

    And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquility, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.”

  3. Let us hope and pray that the ancient traditions of the Roman Catholic Church in regards to the family are upheld and preserved by this Synod.

  4. The odor of the people of today is the same as the odor of the people yesterday. I pray that Pope Francis listens to the Holy Spirit. In the meantime, the Church gives us shelter from those who would tear it down, within and without.

  5. From Buzzfeed:
    Cardinal Burke: “The pope has never said openly what his position is on the matter and people conjecture that because of the fact that he asked Cardinal Kasper — who was well known to have these views for many, many years — to speak to the cardinals and has permitted Cardinal Kasper to publish his presentation in five different languages and to travel around advancing his position on the matter, and then even recently to publicly claim that he’s speaking for the pope and there’s no correction of this.
    I can’t speak for the pope and I can’t say what his position is on this, but the lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm. ”

    Given what Cardinal Burke is willing to say publicly and given his reputation as a prelate who is careful with his words, I think your post above is unrealistic in regards to Pope Francis actions during the last couple of weeks. I think what he allowed to happen was a mistake that is causing great harm to the Church and his continued silence on the doctrinal issues that were raised is a scandal to many faithful Catholics including myself.

  6. “Mercy is very closely connected with active love of neighbor, but is not identical with it. According to Father Jack Woroniecki, O.P., who comments on the thought of St. Thomas, love differs from mercy in its object; love aims at increasing the neighbor’s good, and mercy at remedying evil that plagues him. …..” (p10)

    Mercy, being lifestyle, that is, a moral attitude of the Christian, consists of three fundamental elements:
    1. An ability to take a profound, heartfelt interest in the suffering of another person. Mercy goes and meets the helpless; it intuitively senses another person’s problems, embitterment and disappointments.
    2. A readiness to share the lot of the suffering, to accept the entire misery of human suffering,to carry all the infirmities of a fellow human being: his failure, his sickness, his exhaustion,, his uncertantity, his feeling of anbandonment and of being lost, A merciful person takes a vital interest in the plight of another human being to the point of making it an existential situation of his life.
    3. The will to persevere with and stand by the side of the suffering. (p12)…

    “The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and “draws good from all the forms of evil” existing in the world and in man ( from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Rich In Mercy”) (pg 12-13)

    Thus understood, the concept of mercy places iense requrements before us. It requires above allan unconditional affirmation of the huma being and a sensitivity to everthing that seems to endanger the dignity and growth of the individual. Such an attitude is the source of the individual acts of mercy which are then far removed from any trace of formalism….(p13)

    [All quotes taken from “In Saint Faustina’s School of Mercy”…]

    It may be that our present Holy Father is showing the world what mercy looks like by calling for this Synod!

    Think positive!!!!! 🙂 🙂

  7. I think I had a bit of an epiphany this morning… God’s prophets from the earliest times have been maligned, rejected, ridiculed, imprisoned and killed because the message God was trying to convey was not something His people wanted to hear, or because the message didn’t align with their understanding of things. God promised not to leave us orphans, and He hasn’t. He has left us a Church whose beautiful truths are codified into law and protected by the Holy Spirit. In His mercy He has also given us our modern day prophets ~ the popes. The Popes who are really elected through the will of the Holy Spirit ALL ( even the bad ones ) have something to teach us. Pope Francis who is a validly elected Pope and, hence, Christ’s Vicar, is therefore Christ’s prophet. The message Pope Francis is delivering is not something that many of His people want or expected to hear, nor something that matches up with their understanding of things…. yet, it is what God is telling us, His people. Love is not separate from the law, but must come first before the law. The world is rejecting God’s law not because they don’t know God’s law ( especially in the West) , but because the world does not know love. Obedience to the law will blossom in heart of love. To teach love we have to show love. Love is the heart of repentance, and that is the heart of the Pope’s message.

  8. „Et sibi quisque persuadeat, quòd qui sub Obedientia vivunt, se ferri ac regi a divina Providentia per Superiores suos sinere debent perinde, ac si cadaver essent, quod quoquoversus ferri, et quacunque ratione tractari se sinit; vel similiter, atque senis baculus, qui, ubicunque, et quacunque in re velit eo uti, qui eum manu tenet, ei inservit.“

    “Let every one persuade himself that they who live under obedience should permit themselves to be moved and directed by Divine Providence through their superiors, just as if they were a dead body, which allows itself to be moved and handled in any way; or as an old man’s staff, which serves him who holds it in his hand wherever and in whatever thing he wishes to use it.”

    That comes to my mind when reading some of the comments above. The only question I have is, whether the Divine Providence is working through Pope Francis. I have my doubts.

  9. Amen. I grew up with the Baltimore catechism, and with any/all others that have followed. Nowhere did I read Catholics must be pope-watchers. We are supposed to be pope-listeners. There is no harm that comes to a soul for listening to the Pope. Surely there is the opposite of that, however, for those who publicly raise a brow at Peter and by that, do the devil’s own confusion-sowing. At the very least, they (not the Pope!) lead little ones astray.

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