Letter gives us a sneak peak at what to expect during October synod
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A preliminary Vatican document blames ineffective Church teaching for the struggles that faithful Catholics have in following Church instruction around the world. Church teachings on issues such as marriage and the family have often not been taught or been so poorly explained so millions of Catholics don't follow them, unaware they are not only straying from the teachings of the Church but missing the wonderful graces which come from living faithfully the fullness of the plan of God for marriage family life.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The upcoming Synod of the Bishops to be held in October will be the first of two yearly meetings of the bishops to focus on the theme of the "pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization."
The upcoming synod has left the media and bloggers speculating on what Pope Francis has in store for the Church. Some even speculate that if he plans to make any sweeping changes, this would be his moment.
Some have applied their own agenda and others overlay biased narratives. They misinterpret the pastoral encouragement of Pope Francis for Bishops and priests to lead more with their heart as some kind of indication that he will change what cannot be changed, the teaching of the Scriptures and the unbroken tradition of the Church concerning the Lords plan for marriage and the family.
Speculation has gone so far in some circles as to suggest that the Synod may somehow "modernize" the Church. The very use of the word "modern" reveals the presupposition that the teaching of the Church is some outdated imposition on "freedom". This is the exact opposite of the truth. In fact, some of what is being called "modern" is simply a return to old fashioned paganism.
The folks who write, print or pass on this nonsense find ample room in an increasingly propagandized press to share their notion that the Synod might somehow alter the teachings of the Church on moral issues such as the absolute prohibition of homosexual practice or the use of contraceptives.
These wild speculations are often just propaganda from people with an agenda to change the church rather than be changed by the church. They simply do not agree with the liberating message of human freedom which Christianity offers. They try to claim the pope as their own and to co-opt him into their camp. This isn't going to happen -none of it. Not at all.
For some, Pope Francis appears to be "radical" because he emphasizes a message that may have been somewhat neglected in certain parts of the Church. That is the emphasis on pastoral care for the poor, the sick and disenfranchised. This isn't radical, Jesus himself lived and proclaimed this love of preference for the poor. (See, Matt. 25). The word radical means - to the root. So, in that sense, it may be radical. It calls the Church back to her roots.
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The release of a letter in anticipation of the synod reveals just how wrong the media gossip has been. Pope Francis is prepared to issue fresh instruction that is entirely consistent with the tradition of the Church and the core teachings of Jesus Christ.
The document is intended to help bishops to prepare for the synod. It briefs them on what will be discussed. The letter talks about the myriad of challenges the contemporary age presents such as cultural relativism and hedonism. Modern culture is often confusing Catholics. They buy the agenda of the day rather than listening to Church teachings and following them. Also, the Church must do a better job educating the lay faithful and sharing her message of freedom to a world spiraling into a moral abyss..
The letter deals with some important issues. First on the list is abortion which is labeled as a "critical situation." Abortion is nothing more than legalized murder of our first neighbors in the womb, but the opponents of life have steeped modern civilization in the language of culture of death. The anti-life movement has successfully distorted the thinking of Catholics throughout the world and has made things like abortion, abortifacients, and contraceptives appear okay to Catholics.
The document also criticizes what it refers to as a "counter-witness" from within the Church. This counter-witness has seriously weakened the Church's moral credibility and must be swiftly addressed.
The document also laments how single parents and the divorced may feel unwelcome in Church. No human being should ever be unwelcome in the Church.
However, it also speaks out against cohabitation -the living together or a couple without being married. This trend is on the rise in the United States and parts of Europe.
On issues regarding same-sex 'marriage' and contraception, the document could not be more clear. The use of artificial contraception is sinful. Period.
Marriage can only exist between a man and a woman and it goes so far as to recommend that phrases such as "gay," "homosexual," and "lesbian" no longer be used because people should not identify themselves by their sexuality, it diminishes the value of the person.
Instead of turning the Church upside down in some kind of revolution, the October synod is far more likely to bring about a doubling-down on core Church teachings. Changes will come in the renewed emphasis on pastoral care. The Church will be called to find ways to be even more compassionate, and more effective in teachings these important understandings to the people.
A final thing must be understood. The teachings of the Church do not come from the Pope, nor the bishops, nor any committee. They come from the Holy Spirit. It is not up to anyone, not even Church officials, to alter the loving plan of a loving God.
Instead, the role of the Church is to offer through clear teaching, and demonstrated love, the truth that the message of the Gospel brings authentic freedom, happiness and human flourishing to all men and women of every age. She is to be an example of the ultimate Christian society.
This October, let us listen and pay attention. The message of the Church isn't oppressive or controlling. It's amazingly liberating. It's salvation in the absolute truest sense. It's the ultimate message of love, let us rejoice in it and be glad.
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