Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A brief translation

[This was quick & dirty, will go back and spruce up as needed.] Pope Francis, in response to a French journalist's question regarding freedom of expression:

"Thanks for the question, it’s an intelligent one. I believe that all and both are [this is an expression that more closely means "both are totally"] fundamental human rights, religious liberty and liberty of expression. One cannot -- but let’s think -- you are French, let’s go to Paris, let’s speak clearly. One cannot hide a truth: everyone has the right to practice one’s religion, one’s own religion without offending [i.e. "without it being considered offensive"], freely. How we do it, we wish for all. Second: One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, i.e., in the name of God. To us, that which happens now, it stuns us. But let’s think about our own history: how many wars of religion have we had? You may think of the night of St. Bartholomew; how can this be understood? Even we were sinners in this. But one cannot kill in the name of God. This is an aberration. To kill in the name of God is an aberration. I believe that this is the principal point in terms of religious liberty. One has liberty in this, but without imposing or killing in the name of religion.

As for freedom of expression: one not only has the liberty, the right, but also the obligation to say what one thinks to help the common good. The obligation! Let’s think, if a legislator [literally, "a deputy"] or a senator doesn’t say what he thinks is the right path then he does not collaborate for the common good. Not only these, but many others too. We have the obligation to say openly, to have this liberty, but without seeking to offend, because it is true, one cannot react violently. But if Dr. Gasbarri, a great friend, speaks badly against [i.e. "insults"] my mother, then a punch can be expected. But that’s normal, that’s normal. [i.e., being provocative might lead, unsurprisingly, to a provocation] It ought not be done to provoke, it ought not be done to insult other people’s faith, it ought not be done to mock faith. [Translating the conjugation used "non si puo" is nearly impossible, because in Romance languages, the passive voice is preferred, but the inference is a "one shouldn't" not "it should be prohibited." This is a KEY point.]

Pope Benedict in a speech, I don’t recall precisely where, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of post-positivist metaphysics, that led to the belief that in the end religions, [all] religious expressions, are a kind of subculture, which may be tolerated but are of little value, are not part of the Enlightenment culture. And this is part of the heritage of the Enlightenment. And so many people who speak badly about other religions, or religion [i.e., religion in general], they make fun of, let’s say toy with other people’s religions, these people provoke and it might occur what would happen to Dr. Gasbarri if he said something against my mother. That is, there is a limit. Every religion has dignity; every religion that respects life, human life, the human person [emphasis mine]. And I cannot make fun of it. This is a limit and I have taken this sense of limit to say that in freedom of expression there are limits, like that in regard to my mother. I don’t know if I have managed to answer the question."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cuban sandwiches, the right (i.e. only) way.

Here is the RIGHT way to do this.

Start by slicing pickles. NOT the sweet kind, and (ideally) not the ones that sit shelf-stably at room temperature. You need the crunch. I'spose you could get away with the pre-sliced ones, but I like my surface:mass ratio just so, and the Pickle Industrial Complex will not comply. (I'll post my homemade ones in the very near future.)

Take Cuban bread, or Cuban rolls or, if you live in the provinces, something in the egg bread family (which turns this from a Cubano to a Medianoche, because it's better to have a pretty authentic Sandwich B than a wildly inauthentic Sandwich A, but whatever) split them. and mustardize them. The classic choice is plain ol' yellow mustardbut I like the "deli" style mustard better. You do whatever you want. Some people, bless them, like mayonnaise in this sandwich. That's just bad-WRONG, but you do whatever. (I'm judging you with my thoughts.)
Then you lay down your pickle coverage. I love pickles, so I practically TILE the bloody thing.
Over the pickles you'll need to place a layer of ham. Since I am an insufferable foodie, I use prosciutto (but not the hyper-fancy stuff). Either way, you want to make sure it's sliced so thin, as to be translucent. This allows you to plop it down in a wavy sort of way, which is key to get the right sort of chew and mouthfeel.
Next,the swiss cheese. Yes, it must be swiss cheese. Or, if you're insufferable as I am, capital-S-Swiss cheese (Emmentaler is a teeny bit preferable to Gruyere, but either is wonderful.)
To get the right melting action, you will need to grate it. Yes, slices will work okay, but by the time the cheese is melted, the bread will be too dry and brittle.
Shredding it in the food processor is fine, but yields bad photos. So I hand grated. Just for YOU, Internet. Scoop it up and get ready to apply to the sandwich.
Like so.
If you like to give the cheese a head start on the melting -- or you are a raving pyro -- you can use a kitchen torch.
Now, take your leftover roast pork (ideally a very citrus/garlic intensive roast pork, although that can be doctored up) which you have warmed up to about 125F (this is important) if you have roasted it properly, it should shred into luxuriant, pillowy nuggets of porcine goodness. Assemble atop the cheese (cold side cold, warm side warm). You want about a 3:2 pork:ham ratio. So that your whole assemblage looks like this.
Fold the bread around the filling. Place in a panini/sanwich press or, if you have a whole battalion to feed, use a griddle set to medium-high, buttered lightly -- DO NOT USE SATAN's LIPID, MARGARINE -- and toast the cheese side first until it JUST melts, and then flip over to warm the other side.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Holy Father's Christmas address to the Roman Curia.

This is hardly a blistering speech, as characterized by the MSM. Still, here ya go.


P.S. This was a quick-and-dirty translation. I'll probably futz with it some more.


At the end of Advent we meet for the traditional greetings. In a few days we will celebrate the Nativity of the Lord; the event of God who became man in order to save men; the manifestation of the love of God which is not limited to [a] giving [of] us something, or to send us some message, or [send us] certain messengers but He gives Himself to us; the mystery of God who takes our human condition upon Himself and takes on [i.e. "bears"] our sins to reveal His divine life, His immense grace and His freely given forgiveness. [Christmas] is the appointment with God who is born, in the poverty of the grotto of Bethlehem, to teach us the power of humility. In fact, Christmas is also the feast of light that does not come to be accepted by the "elect" people but by poor, simple people who expected the salvation of the Lord.

First of all, I would like to wish all of you - co-workers, brothers and sisters, papal representatives around the world - and all of your loved ones a holy Christmas and a happy New Year. I would like to thank you sincerely, for your daily commitment to the service of the Holy See of the Catholic Church, of the particular Churches and of the Successor of Peter.

Since we are people and not numbers or only names, I must remember in a special manner those who, during this year, finished their service due to having reached age limits or who have taken other roles or because they have been called to the House of the Father. Also to all of them and their families must be my thoughts and gratitude.

I wish all of you raise up to the Lord a vivid and heartfelt thanks for the year that is ending, for the events [we have] lived and for all the good that He wished to, generously, make through the service of the Holy See, humbly asking forgiveness for the faults [we have] committed "by [our] thoughts, words, deeds and omissions".

And, starting from this request for pardon, I would like to make our encounter, and the thoughts that I will share with you, become for all of us a foundation and a stimulus to a true examination of conscience to prepare our hearts for a Holy Christmas.

Thinking about our encounter, the image of the Church as the mystical Body of Jesus Christ came to my mind. It is an expression that, as explained by Pope Pius XII, "springs and almost bursts from what is frequently exposed in the Sacred Scripture and Holy Fathers." In this regard, St. Paul wrote: "As the body, although it is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ" (I Cor 12:12 ).

In this sense, the 2nd Vatican Council reminds us that "in the structure of the mystical Body of Christ there is a diversity of members and offices. One is the Spirit, for which the Church distributes the variety of her gifts with magnificence proportionate to its riches and [to] the needs of the ministries (see I Cor 12:1-11)".  Hence, "Christ and the Church form the "total Christ" - Christus totus.  The Church is one with Christ."

It is beautiful to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, i.e. as a "body" that searches, seriously and daily, to be livelier, healthier, more harmonious and more united within itself and with Christ.

In reality, the Roman Curia is a complex body, composed of many Dicasteries, Councils, Offices, Courts, Commissions, and of numerous elements that do not all have the same task, but are coordinated for effective, edifying, disciplined and exemplary functioning, in spite of the cultural, linguistic and national diversity of its members.

Anyway, the Curia being a dynamic [i.e. “living”] body, it cannot live without eating and without [due] care. In fact, the Curia - as the Church - cannot live without having a vital, personal, genuine and balanced relationship with Christ.  A member of the Curia who is not fed with that [Divine] Food daily will devolve into a bureaucrat (a formalist, a functionary, a mere employee): a vine which dries and slowly dies and is thrown away. Daily prayer, assiduous participation in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist and Reconciliation, daily contact with the word of God and [a] spirituality [which is] translated into lived charity are the vital nourishment for each of us. It is clear to all of us that without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:8).

As a result, the living relationship with God also nourishes and reinforces [our] communion with others, that is, the more we are intimately joined to God ,the more we are united among ourselves because “the Spirit of God unites and the spirit of the Evil One divides.”

The Curia is called to improve itself, to improve itself always, to grow in “communion, holiness and wisdom” to fully realize its mission. And yet it, as with each body, as each human body, it is also exposed to maladies, malfunction, disease. And here I would like to mention just a few of these probable maladies, curial maladies. Maladies are more habitual in our life in the Roman Curia. These are maladies and temptations that undermine our service to the Lord. I think it will be helpful [to have] the "catalog" of maladies – [following] the way of the desert Fathers, who made the catalog - about which we are talking today: to help us prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which will be a beautiful step for all of us in preparing for Christmas.

1. The malady of feeling "immortal," "exempt" or even "indispensable" by neglecting the necessary and usual [self] examination. A Curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is a sick Body. A normal visit to the cemeteries could help us to see the names of so many people, who perhaps thought they were immortal, exempt, and indispensable! It is the disease of the rich fool of the Gospel who thought to live eternally (cf. Lk 12:13-21) and also of those who become masters and feel superior to all, not at the service of all. It is often due to the pathology of power, from the "complex of the elect," [this could be understood as a “Messianic” or “superiority” complex, it’s not clear] from narcissism that passionately guards its own image and does not see the image of God impressed on the face of others, especially the weakest and neediest.  The antidote to this epidemic is the grace to realize [literally, “have the sense”] we are sinners, and to say with all one's heart: "We are useless servants. We have done what we were expected to do" (Lk 17:10).

2. Another: The disease of the "Marthism" (which comes from Martha), of excessive industriousness: that is, those who are immersed in work, neglecting, inevitably, the "best part": to sit at the feet of Jesus (Lk 10:38-42).  Because of this, Jesus called his disciples to "rest awhile'" because to neglect the necessary rest leads to stress and anxiety. The time for rest, for those who brought to a conclusion their mission, is necessary, proper and should be lived seriously: to spend a bit of time with the family and in observance of [literally “respecting”] the Holidays as moments of spiritual and physical restoration; we must learn what is taught by "there is a time for everything." (3:1-15)

3. There is also the disease of mental and spiritual "petrification": that is, of those who possess a heart of stone and a "stiff neck" (Acts 7:51-60); of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, their vivacity and audacity, hiding [behind] paperwork and [who] become "procedural machines" instead of “men of God" (Heb 3:12). It is dangerous to lose the human sensitivity necessary for us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice! It the disease of people who lose "the feeling of Jesus" (Phil 2:5-11) because their heart, with the passing of time, hardens and becomes incapable of loving unconditionally the Father and one’s neighbor (cf. Mt 22:34-40).  Being a Christian, in fact, means "to have the same sentiments [as] Christ Jesus," (Phil 2-5) feelings of humility, and [of] self-giving, detachment and generosity.

4. The disease of the excessive planning and functionalism. When an apostle schedules everything meticulously and believes that [by] making a perfect plan, things must progress effectively, thus becoming [like] an accountant or a merchant. Preparing everything is good and necessary, but never give in to the temptation to want to confine and direct the liberty of the Holy Spirit, which remains larger, more generous than any human planning (cf. Jn 3:8).  One falls into this disease because 'it is always easier and more convenient to rest in static and unchanging positions.' In reality, the Church is faithful to the Holy Spirit in the [same] measure it lacks the presumption to adjust and domesticate it…taming the Holy Spirit!… [The Holy Spirit] is freshness, imagination, newness.

5. The disease of the poor coordination [this is meant in the sense of “cooperation”]. When the members [of a body] lose the communion between them and the body, [the body] loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra that produces noise, because its members do not cooperate and do not live the spirit of communion and teamwork. When the foot tells the arm: "I don't need you," or the hand to the head: "I’m in control," this causes [all manner of] disquiet and scandal.

6. There is also the disease of "spiritual Alzheimer's”: that is, a forgetfulness of the "history of salvation," of our personal history with the Lord, of the "first love" (Rev 2:4).  It is a progressive decline of the spiritual faculties, over a more or less long period of time, [which] causes severe disability to the person making it become unable to perform any autonomous activity, living in a state of absolute dependence on his [personal] viewpoints, often imaginary. You can see it in those who have lost any memory of their encounter with the Lord; in those who do not have a deuteronomic sense of life; in those who depend completely on their present, on their passions, whims and manias; in those who build walls out of their habits and increasingly become slaves of the idols that have been sculpted with their own hands.

7. The disease of rivalry and vainglory.  When one’s appearance, the colors of the robes and hallmarks of honor becomes the primary goal of life, forgetting the words of Saint Paul: "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but each one of you in humility consider others better than himself. Each does not seek his own interest, but also that of others" (Phil 2:1-4).  It is the disease that leads us to be false men and women and living a false "mysticism" and a false "quietism." The same St. Paul defines them as "enemies of the Cross of Christ" because "they boast of what they should be ashamed and think of the things the world." (Phil 3:19)

8. The disease of existential schizophrenia. It is the disease of those who live a double life, which is the result of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre [person] and of a progressive[ly worsening] spiritual vacuum which degrees or academic titles cannot fill. A disease that often hits those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit their activities to bureaucracy, losing touch with reality and [with] real people. They thus create their own parallel world, where they set aside all that they teach with severity to others and begin to live a hidden and often dissolute life. Conversion is quite urgent and indispensable for this very serious disease (cf. Lk 15:11-32).

9. Disease of gossip, murmurings and slander. This malady I have already mentioned several times but never enough. It is a grave malady, which begins simply, perhaps just with a chat and gets a hold of the that person [who then] becomes "a sower of discord" [literally a “sower of weeds”] (like Satan), and in many cases a "murderer in cold blood" of the good name and reputation of their colleagues and brothers. It is the disease of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak out directly, speak behind the back. St Paul warns us: "Do all things without murmur and without hesitation, to be blameless and pure." (Phil 2:14-18).  Brethren, let us beware of the terrorism of slander!

10. The disease to deify [one's] leaders: it is the disease of those who court superiors, hoping to obtain their benevolence. They become the victims of careerism and opportunism, [they] honor people and not God (Mt 23:8-12).  These are people who live their vocation thinking only of what they are to gain and not of what they are to give. People who are petty, unhappy and inspired only by their own fatal selfishness (Gal 5:16-25).  This disease might also strike superiors when they court some of their subordinates in order to gain their submission, loyalty and psychological dependence, but the end result is a true complicity.

11. The disease of indifference toward others. When everyone thinks only of himself and loses the truthfulness and warmth of human relationships. When more experienced persons do not offer their knowledge to the service of less experienced colleagues. When, out of of jealousy or subterfuge, we rejoice in seeing others fall, rather than [wishing to] lift them up and encourage them.

12. The malady of the funereal face. That is, of people who are scowling and unfriendly, who consider that to be serious they should put on a face of melancholy, severity and to treat others - especially those they consider to be beneath them - with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity, and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity about themselves. The apostle must strive to be a polite, serene, enthusiastic and joyful person who transmits joy wherever he is. A heart full of God is a happy heart that radiates joy and captivates all those who are around it: You can see it now! Let us not lose, therefore, that joyful spirit, full of humor, and even self-deprecation, that makes us lovely people, even in difficult situations.  How good for us is a healthy dose of good humor! We would do very well to recite often the prayer of Saint Thomas More: I do so every day, it does me good.

13. Malady of accumulation: when an apostle seeks to fill an existential void in his heart by accumulating material possessions, not out of necessity, but only to feel secure. In reality, there is nothing material we can bring with us because "the [funeral] shroud does not have pockets" and all our earthly treasures - even if they are gifts - can never fill that void, but rather [that void] will be ever more demanding and more profound. To these people the Lord repeats: "Thou sayest, am rich, and enriched, have need of nothing. But you do not know what it is to be unhappy, miserable, poor, blind, and naked ... Be zealous therefore, and converted" (Rev 3:17-19).  Accumulation only clutters and inexorably slows down one’s path! And I think of an anecdote: There was a time when the Spanish Jesuits described the Society of Jesus as the "light cavalry of the Church".  I remember the transfer of a young Jesuit, who was loading onto a truck his many items: luggage, books, objects and gifts, I remember, an old Jesuit with a wise smile who stood to observe: “This is the LIGHT cavalry of the Church?" Our moving [as in when we move from one dwelling to another] are a sign of this maldy.

14. The malady of closed circles, where the membership in the subgroup becomes more important than that of the body and, in some situations, than to Christ himself. This disease always begins with good intentions but with the passing of time it enslaves the members becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes so much evil - scandals - especially in our younger brothers and sisters. The self-destruction or "friendly fire" of one’s colleagues, is a most insidious danger.  It is the evil that strikes from within; and, as Christ says, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to ruin." (Lk 11:17)

15. And the last: the malady of mundane [i.e. "vulgar"] profit, exhibitionism, when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into a commodity to obtain worldly profits or more power, and this the disease of people who are insatiably looking to multiply their power and, for this purpose, are capable of slander, defamation, and the disparagement [of] others, even in newspapers and magazines. Naturally, that is in order to show off and exhibit their superiority to others. This disease is very bad for the body because it leads people to justify the use of any means to achieve their purpose, often in the name of justice and transparency! And here I have in mind the memory of a priest who called journalists to tell them - and invent - private and confidential things of his brother priests and parishioners. For he had only wanted to see himself on the front pages, because it felt "powerful and addictive," causing so much harm to others and to the Church. How poor!

Brothers and Sisters, these maladies and these temptations are, of course, a danger for every Christian and every curia, community, congregation, parish, church movement, and they can hit both at the individual and community level.

It should be clarified that only the Holy Spirit - the soul of the Mystical Body of Christ, as it says in the Nicene creed: "I believe ... in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver" - can heal every infirmity. It is the Holy Spirit that sustains every sincere effort to purify and every good desire for conversion. It is he making us understand that every member participates in the sanctification of the body and to its weakening. He is the promoter of harmony: "Ipse harmonia est," says St. Basil. St. Augustine tells us: "When a part adheres to the body, its healing is not to be despaired, but what was severed, you can neither afford nor heal yourself."

Healing is also the result of the awareness of the disease and of a personal and communal decision of enduring patiently and with perseverance the [process of] cure.

Therefore, we are called - in this time of Christmas, and all the time of our service and of our [very] existence - to live "according to the truth in love, we are to grow in every way into Him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by the collaboration of every joint, according to the energy of each state, receives strength to grow in such a way as to build itself up in love." (Eph 4:15-16)

Dear brethren!

I once read that the priests are like airplanes: they make the news only when they fall, but there are so many who fly. [So] many people criticize [them] and [so] few pray for them. It is a very cute phrase but it is also very true, because it outlines the importance and delicacy of our priestly service and how much evil is caused - by [even] only one priest who "falls" - to the entire body of the Church.

Therefore, in order not to fall in these days in which we prepare for Confession, let us pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, to heal the wounds of sin that each of us carries in his heart and to sustain the Church and the Roman Curia, the healthy and in need of health; saints and in need of sanctification, to the glory of his Son, and for our salvation and the whole world. We ask You to make us love the Church as He loved Christ, His son and our Lord, and to have the courage to recognize ourselves as sinners and in need of His mercy and not be afraid to abandon ourselves His tender [literally “maternal”] hands.

So many wishes for a holy Christmas to all of you, to your families, and to your subordinates. And please, don't forget to pray for me! Thank you so much!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'm offering this up, you know.

An interview with Vaticanist Sandro Magister was published earlier this week and translated into English on Another Blog I Don't Like Linking To. Said blog, to underline its views on the Holy Father, accompanied said piece with a picture of a cover from The Advocate (featuring the Holy Father with a NoH8 on his face).

I'll leave to your conclusions the intent.

That blog's version featured interstitial comments (presumably by the translator) and some curious word choices in the translation. Keep in mind the answers are the opinions of Sandro Magister, and also be aware of the biases of the interviewer. Many of these opinion are based on demonstrably incorrect assumptions. (I'll add the links relevant thereto as I have time.)

As a public service, here is my version. Feel free to compare it to the original.

“Pope disorients many bishops” This is the conclusion of Sandro Magister, who for 40 years has closely followed the events of the Vatican “because he [moves] on several levels and also often contradicts himself.”

Sandro Magister this year celebrated 40 years of chronicling the Vatican. His first articles in L’Espresso, in fact, date back to 1974. And even today, [not just] from those columns but also from the website of that weekly, continues to report on the Oltretevere [i.e. “Vatican”] and the whole Church in highly documented manner but without reverence of any sort.

[He is] a native of Busto Arsizio, “class” [i.e. born in] 1943 and graduated in philosophy and theology from La Cattolica, and has followed many Roman pontiffs. On this last [pontiff] Pope Francis, his chronicles are distinguished from the mainstream of Vaticanisti, and do not hesitate in underlining [any] contradictions.

Question: Magister, pope Bergoglio, in these [last] months, has enjoyed a global success but there were also some decisions that have given [us] to think about. For example, he has presented himself as Bishop of Rome, [yet] at the Synod on the family reclaimed the codes of Canon Law which affirm Petrine power [in the sense of “authority”].

A: It is true, in his closing discourse [or “speech”].

Q: He has outlined a shared and open vision in the government of the Church, has commissariated [there is no exact translation, but roughly means “governed through intermediaries”] the Franciscans of the Immaculate with somewhat hard methods and has de facto put the bridle to episcopal conferences...

A. Some, including the Italian [one], have been, in fact, annihilated.

Q. Speaking of popular movements, he seemed to re-echo certain analyzes of Toni Negri on labor, as you wrote in the blog Settimo Cielo, when then accepts the "dismissal" of 500 among calligraphers and painters and printers of whom the Vatican Charities has decided to no longer avail itself.

A. In effect that story is a bit strident...

Q. …as strident as the hard ultra-protective [there is no exact translation for “garantiste”] position, on justice and prisons, with his choice to incarcerate beforehand the ex-nuncio of Santo Domingo, in expectation of a judgment [conviction?] of pædophilia.

A. That also.

Q. So, you are a long term Vaticanist, what ideas do you have [bout this]?

A. That the contradictions are there and represent an informed judgment, based on the observation of several months, inherent in the personality of Jorge Bergoglio.

Q. And what conclusions does that bring?

A. He is a person who, throughout the arc of his life and now also as Pontiff, acts on different registers [in the sense of “levels”] simultaneously, leaving gates open, and on a first reading, many contradictions. But the ones that you mentioned are not, however, the only ones.

Q. Point to others...

A. That of a loquacious Pope, who phones, who approaches very diverse and very distant people, but remains silent on the case of Asia Bibi.

Q. The Pakistani sentenced to death for apostasy, jailed for some time...

A. Exactly, on whose story pope Francis did not say a word. As it was for Nigerian girls kidnapped, and on the incredible deed, a few days ago in Pakistan, on that married Christian couple, burned [to death] in a furnace.

Q. There are stories that relate to Islam, to which we shall return. But some are beginning to define these contradictions as “Jesuitism” in the sense of a nuanced [literally “changing” in the sense of “gradient”] way of thinking.

A. In these terms this is a disparaging qualifier and not acceptable, even if it is true that the spirituality of the Jesuits has been shown historically to be able to adapt to the most varied situations and, at times, in contrast with each other.

Q. This appeared to contrast with the management of the recent Synod.

A. A management accurately calculated by the Pope and not left to chance as one may have believed it, and which registers other contrasting elements.

Q. For example?

A. Bergoglio, who said, repeatedly, that they do not want to compromise on doctrine, to stay with the tradition of the Church. But then he opened discussions, such as those on communion of the remarried, which effectively touch the cornerstones of the magisterium.

Q. Why?

A. Because it is inexorable that the communion of the remarried [leads to the] arrival of the acceptance of second marriages and then to the dissolution of the sacramental bond of marriage.

Q. I’m no Vaticanist, but the feeling, from the outside and that disconcert is spreading a bit and not only within the hierarchy. Moreover, even in areas not clearly definable as traditionalist...

A. Of this there is no doubt. There are exponents of notable importance and certainly not Lefebvrians, who understand, even if they do not express it in drastic and adversarial terms. Not even Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the ex-prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, recently removed, has done this, because there is not a current prejudicially hostile to the pontiff. Certainly, there are manifestations of evident unease.

Q. Are there some examples?

A. Let's take a look at the Episcopate in the United States, the bishops of one of the most numerous Catholic populations of the globe. The bishops' conference, in recent years, has expressed a coherent [or “consistent”] and combative line in the public square, [sometimes] also in respect to certain decisions of Barack Obama on ethical issues. A line that is shared by many prelates of prominence. A collective, more than a sum of individuals, a core which directs [the bishops], say.

Q. And therefore the Americans?

A. Are a bit uneasy. These are cardinals and archbishops such as Timothy Dolan in New York, Patrick O'Malley of Boston, José Gómez in Los Angeles or Charles Chaput in Philadelphia. An episcopate from which comes the same Burke, who is certainly not confined to marginal circuits of [the] traditionalists, but continues to be part of one of the more solid national Churches.

Q. And also the CEI [Italian Episcopal Conference], as was said before, appears to be in a little bit of difficulty.

A. It is difficult to keep pace to this pope. With a president, Angelo Bagnasco, who seems to be in the most difficulties of all.

Q. Also because it was openly stated his successor as archbishop of Perugia would be Gualtiero Bassetti, created Cardinal by Bergoglio.

A. And yet, I also know that Bassetti is among the Italian bishops to be uneasy.

Q. Among Italians, the most explicit were perhaps the milanese Angelo Scola and the bolognese Carlo Caffarra.

A. They were intervening [i.e., speaking openly, “lobbying”?] before and during the Synod. But it was inevitable considering the decision of the pope to entrust to Cardinal Walter Kasper the opening of the discussions, and which practically was the opening of hostilities.

Q. Why?

A. Because Kasper re-proposes today, unachanged [no exact translation for “tali e quali”], the thesis defeated in 1993 by the duo Pope John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger, the latter vested with the prefecture of the Holy Office.

Q. Yes, the Pope launched Kasper, has made Archbishop Bruno Forte special secretary of the synod that, during the work [of the Synod] has weighed in, to such an extent as to give rise to reactions of some Synod fathers, but then in the end, Francis intervened caning [!] one and the other. Almost an as old Christian Democrat against extremists on both sides.

A. It's another [example] of recurring forms of expression of this pontiff: reprimanding one part and the other. However, wanting to do an inventory, his canings of traditionalists, the legalists, the rigid defenders of the arid doctrine, appear to be much more numerous and targeted. On the other hand, when he takes on the [progressive] do-gooders, you never understand who he is talking about.

Q. The Synod has launched more and further the director of Civiltà Cattolica, Father Antonio Spadaro.

A. He styles himself a spokesman for the Pope and the Jesuit magazine, which was progressively declining (with him as director busying [himself] with the web and social networks) today is expressive of the highest pinnacle in the Vatican. Especially after the first big interview with the Jesuit pope. While Francis’ ghostwriter is Manuel Fernandez, the Rector of the Catholic University in Buenos Aires whom the Pope made an Archbishop. It was with Fernandez that Francis wrote Evangeli Gaudium, as he [they] had written the document of Aparecida in Brazil with him in 2007 when [Francis] as the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires successfully “brought home” the Latin American Bishops’ Conference; document that for many is an anticipation of this papacy.

Q. In the face of a large consensus, there are also people who, as the writer Antonio Socci, contests even the validity of the election of the pope. Have you read his book It’s Not Francis (Mondadori Press)?

A. I read it in one evening, in one breath, even if there are more than 300 pages. And not for [his] thesis of the invalidity of the election, due to the cancellation of one ballot into the conclave, on the grounds of a white card. A thesis, in my opinion, inconsistent [i.e. baseless]

Q. So then, because of what was the reading so interesting?

A. For what is determining the success of the book, to both to push to the top of the charts, overtaking the books by and about Bergoglio. And this is because it reconstructs, with indisputable facts and words, the contradictions which we have cited.

Q. A book of which none speaks, almost risking to imperil the popularity of Francis, which is enormous. In spite of this consensus, however, religious practice does not increase and, indeed, there is a growing aversion, in public, to Catholicism. Bergoglio yes, the rest not.

A. Even the popularity of his predecessors, let us not forget, was very strong. John Paul II has experienced a worldwide success and not only in the years facing [his] illness. And Pope Benedict XVI, between 2007 and 2008, reached the pinnacles in the opinion polls, even if this is forgotten. His trip to the USA was the climax, with a large and positive reception even on the part of the lay public.

Q. And so what is the difference?

A. That the predecessors were popular especially within the Church, even if challenged harshly by strong sectors of non-Christian public opinion. While the popularity of Francis appears to be on the outside, even if it does not cause waves of conversion. Indeed, with him there is a certain contentment in culture foreign or hostile to Christianity.

Q. In what sense?

A. In seeing the head of the Church moving to their positions, which he seems to understand and even accept. The story of the repeated talks with Eugenio Scalfari is exemplary: the pope accepts the founder La Reppublica, once the hardest protester of the pontiff, publishing from their talks whatever he wants.

Q. Though, Scalfari himself declared he had published things which Bergoglio had not said.

A. Exactly. But, in all of this, there is no nearing to Christianity. Christianity from the mouth of Bergoglio is not provocative, makes no problems as before, it can be treated with courtesy, superiority, distance. Christianity counts less. Suffice it to say that to the President of the Council, Matteo Renzi, a Catholic, what the IEC does is not important at all. In short, from a situation of confrontation or conflict, we have passed to [one of] disinterest.

Q. On the Muslim world, pope Francis is silent. And even the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, intervening [i.e., speaking] recently at the United Nations, has been very prudent. Some speak of a great deal of caution, and, when they do, they cite the address of Benedict XVI in Regensburg, which provoked [hostile] reactions and even deaths.

A. It is a caution pushed to the extreme that, however, in practice, I cannot see the advantages it produces, it does not seem to me it results in aid, however minimal or partial, to the Christians of those regions. The caution you can understand, if you measure it in proportionality to the effect, that is if it produces less damage. The situation reminds me of the silence of Pius XII on the Jews.

Q. A historic polemic, even the recent ...

A. Pope Pacelli did everything he could to save the Israelites, even personally in the Vatican, now we know. But he hesitated to openly denounce, fearing that [things would] happen as in Holland, where the complaints of some bishops were followed by even worse persecutions.

Q. But this silence is remains.

A. Except the Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, prefect of interreligious dialog, which does not spare [his] judgments, however severe.

Q. What is the point?

A. It is that with powers such as ISIS, with which there is haste to say that Islam has nothing to do with it, but that [they] are instead nourished by a radical Islam, which does not resolve the question of rationality and therefore the relationship between faith and violence. That is precisely what Pope Ratzinger had denounced in Regensburg. And in fact the only true dialogue between Christianity and Islam and was born from that lecture, with the next letter of the 138 Muslim scholars.

Q. But the visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the year after, that was considered a reparation of Benedict XVI.

A. Ratzinger could make that gesture, having said those things at Regensburg. His judgment was not enigmatic, we understood it very well, had expressed it with crystalline clarity.

Q. And is Francis clear?

A. Sometimes no. When in Bethlehem stops in front of the wall that divides the territories from Israel and remains in absolute silence: it isn’t known what he is intending to say. And when in Lampedusa cries out "shame," it is not clear who should be ashamed or why. Italy? That has saved thousands and thousands of lives? Why not say so? There are often words and gestures that are intentionally left in uncertainty.

Q. There is no time to talk about the Vatican events, such as that of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was removed from the IOR under the secretariat of the Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, but of whom has emerged, on several occasions, that he had been correct. Even with the closing [of the case] by the Italian courts.

A. It denies a rehabilitation. Has asked for an interview with the Pope but that was refused.

Q. The Church as "field hospital" sometimes has locked doors.

A. It is like that.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

University admissions stuff you might want to know.

...and they don't tell you because they don't (often) KNOW to tell you.

Anyway, this is stuff I've learned at the last minute, and I hope this helps someone. May it be imputed unto us as a righteousness.

This is primarily deals with getting those whom you've offsprung into very competitive universities. Relatively few schools fall into this category, so don't sweat it in EVERY case.


Start by selecting all the conceivable, possible places your kid would like to attend. Whittle that down by scratching out the ones you dislike. Then divide the list into "Dream," "Likely," and "Safety" schools. At Joey's school, they have a computer "scattergraph" that shows you, at a glance, the likelihood of your child being admitted to this or that university based on grades and standardized tests. These are the things we'll look at right off the top.

Now, if you're reading this blog, then it is likely that Catholicism (and particular strain thereof) features highly in your thinking. Here we run into a bit of an issue.

How important is a solidly Catholic identity in the decision-making process of selecting universities to which your child will apply?

There are many nominally Catholic universities in the top tier university ranks. The ones which are more solidly Catholic (by my definition, at any rate...and since this is MY blog, that's what counts) are -- and I shan't belabor the reasons why -- not yet in the same level.

I wish that weren't the case, but it is. By this I am not discussing the quality of education your child would receive there but, rather the perception by the general population. This has a great impact on employment and starting salaries and other economic factors with which your child will have to live. It'd be delusional to state that a degree from The University of Solid Catholicness has a comparable economic splash as one from Ye Olde Ivy League.

This is not to say that financial considerations trump all. But you should know what you and your child are facing.

In our own situation this has been a point of much deliberation and discussion.

Should a solidly Catholic education be paramount to you, fortunately at this moment these are not the most extremely selective institutions. However, if you want a combination of Catholicity and high academic standing you will have to:
a) put up with bouts of "They did what? Fund the XYZ University Livestock Molesters Club??"
b) figure out how to navigate the rocky shoals of cafeteria Catholicism to keep your child's faith intact, and you'll need to find spiritual directors there equal to that task.

In our case, at the few more mainstreamed Catholic universities we have considered, we have only done so because we know people there who we trust would be able to shepherd our son spiritually in a manner congenial to our understanding of Catholic identity.

Lastly, there are secular universities.

The advantage, perversely, is that nobody expects these to be anything but actively hostile to faith (any faith, except possibly those which feature explosives and decapitation) and political conservatism. Thus prepared it's easier to hold on to one's values when it's obvious others seek to strip you of them. It's when you THINK a school will uphold them and doesn't that things fall apart. (Incidentally, we ran into one secular university that impressed us with the fact the campus culture including the faculty skews center-right AND is academically very highly ranked. Unsurprisingly, the student body tends to be religious, although not obviously exclusively -- or primarily -- Catholic.)

Speaking ONLY of MY university experience (exclusively at secular universities) I'll say that uncompromising hostility to my worldview was a plus in strengthening my convictions. Your mileage may vary.


First, let's talk grades.

If you're lucky/smart you're reading this when your kid still has 3 or so years to start thinking of this.


I cannot overemphasize how much easier everything gets with a good grade point average. If you have to go all "Simon Legree's tiger mother" do it. Do whatever you have to, short of a felony, to get your kid to study and do well.

I've discovered, in the case of boys, that video games are the Anti-Christ, the sworn blood enemy of optimal academic performance. A little video game activity AFTER schoolwork and on weekends is fine, but if your son has a 75" HD TV with PS4, XBOX and Wii and surround sound, you have a very uphill fight. (Joey has none of these, Deo gratias.)

You'll have to check to see what assignments and tests are coming up, and make sure they are completed. In Joey's case, the magic bullet was making sure he studied for tests "the day before the day before." This puts the subject matter into long term, rather than short term, memory. This is key, because your average teenage boy has the short term memory of a goldfish entering rehab.

Second, the SAT. Don't waste your time on prep courses. The SAT is, at its core, an IQ test and its answers have a "pattern." The easier it is for your kid to "spot the pattern" the more accurate his (or her, I don't discriminate) guesses are, and the higher the score. My suggestion? Find a whole mess of Official SAT Practice Tests. Have your kid take the first one WITHOUT TIMING and OPEN BOOK. You want him to see where he "guesses/answers wrong" and what the testmakers thinking is IN REAL TIME.

I cannot stress this enough.

Once your kid sees how a given test is "wired" when he comes to a question he can't answer correctly in a few seconds, he will know HOW to eliminate the other answers. I guesstimate this is worth +/-250 points.

Oh, and many top-tier schools will also ask your kid to take "SAT subject tests." I very strongly suggest your child takes a given subject test the summer immediately following having completed that course in high school. If your daughter took biology in 10th grade, that's the time to take the corresponding test. Why? Because the material is fresh in her mind and if she takes it mid-12th grade, she'll have to study a LOT for that test and her odds of doing well are nowhere near as good.

Next we come to the dreaded essay. If your child is applying to a top-tier institution, this could be worth as much as the SAT and/or grades. One Very Big Deal University admissions person told me that 95% of applicants "flat-out cannot write, of the remaining 5%, 3% can write, but just in a 'grammatically correct way' and only 2% can write both correctly and well. That 2% gets admitted pretty much regardless of grades or SAT scores."

Some douchebag unscrupulous parents will write their kid's essay for him, or worse, hire a ghostwriter. Don't. The people at the admissions office who read essays -- and most of them do nothing but read essays -- are keen spotters of the "voice" of a 12th grader...or "mutton writing as lamb" as it were. My suggestion? Have your kid write the essay WELL ahead of its due date. A week later, have him rewrite it and then you edit it. Make suggestions, check for solecisms, etc. Don't CHANGE anything, but, rather, send it back with your notes and markups. Let him change it. Repeat 2-3 or times.

The essay (and this is why the few kids who can nail it get in no matter what) has certain things it must accomplish:

1- It must address the question. ("What do you consider the most important quality in a 21st Century global citizen?" or whatever.)
2- It must be grammatically correct. (Skip the artistic license for now.)
3- It must be a very engaging read. If the reader forgets he's reading "an application essay" that's a win.
4- It must, very subliminally, underscore all of the points which the admissions office considers favorable. (More on this anon.)
5- OPTIONAL - If you wish to lay claim to one of the various demographic groups that are treated with a measure of advantage, look for an essay question (usually they have three) that has wording such as "your culture" or "heritage" or similar. The essay should subliminally touch upon one's favorable demography without beating people over the head with it. Similarly, if seriously difficulties have beset your family that can be plausibly assumed to have affected your child and his/her performance it should also be brought up subtly at this point.

After this, look over the application materials. If a given university is "on the Common app" AND they waive the application fee, apply to it...what the Hell. But be warned, about half of the top-tier schools are NOT on the Common app for a number of reasons of varying levels of reasonableness and validity. It is what it is.

When you are poring over these materials, especially from the top-tier universities, be on the lookout for the term "holistic admissions." This means "we'll let your kid in based on whether we like him/her and not on any objective criteria." Which is a positive if your child is in a desirable demographic category, not so much if not.

This is where we hit some serious turbulence. I am not here to argue in favor or against these factors in the admissions process...just to tell you what they are, how they may affect you and how you can navigate them to your child's benefit. So don't get your ideological undies in a twist.

In schools that specifically tout their "holistic admissions" sex and ethnicity matter a great deal. They will emphatically deny it, but -- and I can't tell you how I know this to be 100% true, you'll just have to trust me -- that is the case.

Female applicants in the "STEM" areas have a colossal advantage, for instance.

Most Hispanics* have an advantage over their Anglo counterparts, African-Americans have an advantage over most** Asian-Americans. It is what it is.***

In these cases, what "holistic admissions" means to applicants is (and this is a direct quote from an Ivy-league admissions type) "We want to let you in, please give us an excuse."

This doesn't mean that if your child is a WASP from a nice suburban school he has no chance; not at all. But he or she should "compensate" with the other things mentioned herein.

Another crucial factor is "interest quotient" which is not merely "how badly does this applicant want to attend this august institution?" but "How is this applicant's seriousness of interest evidenced?"

Your child should start communicating with the admissions office and any persons affiliated therewith. Some have "student ambassadors" who sit in the admissions meetings and offer whatever insight into a given applicant and, although they have no vote, their input is taken very seriously and can often sway the decision. Your child should be in email conversations with these folks, asking about student activities, internship and practical-experience opportunities, asking questions about campus life, etc., etc.

A campus visit, if at all possible, should be scheduled and followed up with email conversations.

This will be helpful also should the university in question require an interview. (The further up the top-tier you go, the likelier this will be.) In the matter of the interview, you should conduct a few mock-interview rounds with your little darling. No so much that the responses sound "canned" and rehearsed, but so that the answers are fluid and devoid of the "" and "you know" and "like." The metric for success is that the closer this comes to a conversation the better, and the more it becomes an interrogation with monosyllabic answers, the worse.

Like in the essay, this conversation should touch upon "the good stuff" as noted above and as will follow.

The last thing to shore up are the extracurriculars. Ideally (and in the case of top-tier schools, it's practically an unwritten "must") your child will have:

1- An athletic activity (croquet, baseball, whatever)
2- A community service.
3- A leadership component (this, incidentally, is NOT the same as joining the Leadership Club)
4- A personal interest (the Kite club, the Astronomy club)

Regarding items 1, 2, and 4, the more years doing this your child has, the better...especially as it shows commitment. This is key.

There can be some overlap, of course (being elected president of the croquet club, for example) and where there is no ideal activity for your kid, have him/her start one, showing both the interest and the leadership.

Lastly, if you at all have ANY "ins" at a given university, it's okay to deploy these, but NOT HEAVYHANDEDLY.

Hope this helps someone!


* Cubans are, for the purposes of university admissions, the "wrong" kind of Hispanic. In those applications listing these as multiple choice and given that 90% of Cubans have family in Spain or Latin America, I suggest ticking the box that says "Hispanic/Latino Other."
** Filipinos, for the purposes of university admissions, are the "right" kind of Asian
*** Because some surnames are not obviously of a given ethnicity or someone may have one Anglo and one "ethnic" parent, it will be an OPTIONAL question on the application to state one's "ethnic self-identification."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The game changer nobody has noticed.

Over at his blog, the estimable and exceedingly sane Fr. Z. posted the provisional Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father's closing remarks to the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops.

Fr. Z also included some comments, and I'd to take this opportunity to offer up my translation (I went straight to the Italian audio rather than the prepared text) of the remarks and to put forth my opinions -- and they're only that -- on the aspects about which Fr. Z noted he was unclear.

I'm also going to point out what I firmly believe is a MASSIVE, COLOSSAL, MONUMENTAL game-changing, paradigm shift that nobody (and I mean NO. BODY. at all) is talking about.

(I'm not going to be doing the striking/bolding/correcting thing...this will be a pretty straight translation with some emphases and comments in italic red.)


With a heart full of acknowledgment and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.

With all my heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.

I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I take you with me in prayer, asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!

I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality [I think this is partly for emphasis and to outline that synodality is a particular subtype of collegiality. -J.] – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “[being on the] road together.”

And it being “a road” – and like all journeys on roads there were moments of racing quickly, as if wanting to defeat time and reach the goal quickly; other moments of fatigue, almost as if wanting to say “enough!”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardor. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful. Moments of grace and consolation and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. [Applause] A road where the more strong feels the obligation to help the less strong, where the more expert decides to serve others, even through [or "throughout"] confrontations [possibly "debates"]. And since it is a journey of men, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:

- One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, the letter -- and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises...the spirit; within the law, within the certitude, of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, this is the temptation [Emphasis mine. -J.] of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the too-precious and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.  [Kindly note the quotes around "traditionalist." By this reading, I don't take it to mean those who are traditionalists, but rather those whose primary self-identification is "traditionalist." Subtle, but important, in my estimation. -J.

- The temptation to destructive "do-gooderism" [Italian "buonismo"] that in the name of a deceptive mercy bandages wounds without first curing them and putting medicine on them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the timorous, and also of those considered “progressives and liberals.” [Keep in mind that "do-gooders" is a NOT a compliment. -J. ]

- The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinner, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), in a way, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

- The temptation to descend from the Cross [cf. St. John Paul II "One does not come down from the cross." -J.], to satisfy people, and not stay there -- in order to fulfill the will of the Father -- [but] to adhere to the spirit of the world [or "worldliness"] instead of purifying [the world] and making it adhere to the Spirit of God.

- The temptation to disregard the “depositum fidei” [deposit of faith], by not thinking of being its guardians but its owners or masters; [i.e. "the deposit of faith says what I say it says." -J.] or, on the other hand, the temptation to disregard reality, [by] making use of meticulous language...a language [of legalese] to say so many things and [yet] to say nothing! They call them “byzantine-isms,” I think, these things. [This means, in my view, to dismiss real situations in a storm of legalese. -J.]

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, not even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or taciturn in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and acknowledgment– speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness...that is, openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the [diligently] caring [or "nurturing"] Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t regard humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the way again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses [in the sense of "juicing"] herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a motive of confusion and division.

Many pundits -- [just] people talking -- have imagined that seeing a debative Church where one part is against the other, doubt 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 steered the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was against her and [was] choppy, and her ministers unfaithful and sinful.

And, as I have dared to tell you from the beginning, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquility, with interior peace, so the Synod could take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.  [In sense of the existence, not the physical presence of the Pope -J.]

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, then, [laughter] in relation to the Bishops. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church [Not just internally, but to Christ. -J.]; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I slipped [i.e. erred, or "slipped up"] here...I said "welcome." [pause] Go out and get them.

[This phrase I've boldfaced was extemporized, it was not present in the prepared text of his remarks. This, to me, changes EVERYTHING. First, if you hear the audio (here, and go to the 13:40 mark) you will note the first part of that phrase had a contrite tone, but the part after the pause was both clear and clearly imperative. The situation, in just this one phrase, has pole-vaulted from arguing internally about who/what do we welcome and under what circumstances and should "welcoming" even look like, to one of "Just go and get them, and how you accomplish that goal is up to you."

This huge, in a way that's impossible to overstate. This immediately sets aside all the arguments surrounding the question of how to build a better mousetrap, and turns it on his head to a command "Go catch them."

The immediate thought I had was the woman caught "in the very act of adultery" and was -- check this out -- brought to Jesus. The Pharisees, et al., didn't tell Jesus they had a woman caught in adultery somewhere....they brought her to Him.]

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I quote verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority, which is service, and exercises it, not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is He who guides, protects and corrects them, because He loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter to participate in His mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6) and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St. Augustine, in his Discourse on the Gospel of St. John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Doctor [i.e., teacher of doctrine] of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary authority in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find definitive solutions to the many difficulties and [the] innumerable challenges that confront families; to respond to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the summary, faithful and clear, of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal
Conferences as “an outline."

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

Thank you, and may you rest well.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Yes, again.

Naturally, there were many things in need of correction in the English translation of the "Relatio post disceptationem." Here is my version, keeping in mind it's a work in progress and I may go back and fix anything I didn't catch the first time. Later I'll post my own thoughts on the Synod.


Synod 14 - Eleventh General Assembly: "Relatio post disceptationem" of the General Rapporteur, Card. Péter Erdö, 13.10.2014

[Unofficial translation]


Part I
[The] Listening: the context and challenges to the family
The socio-cultural context
The relevance of emotional affective life
Pastoral challenges

Part II
The gaze on Christ: the Gospel of the Family
The gaze on Jesus and gradualness in the history of salvation
The family in God’s salvific plan
The discernment of values present in wounded families and irregular situations
Truth and beauty of the family and mercy

Part III
Discussion: pastoral perspectives
Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today, in [the] various contexts
Guiding couples on the path in preparation for marriage matrimony.
Accompanying the first years of married life
Positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation
Caring for Healing wounded families (separated couples, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced and remarried)
Welcoming [There is no exact translation, but it means something between “welcoming” and "embracing" -J.] homosexual persons
The transmission of life and the challenge of declining birthrate
The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization


 * * *

1.  During the prayer vigil held in St Peter’s Square on 4 October 2014 in preparation for the Synod on the family, Pope Francis evoked, in a simple and concrete manner, the centrality of the family experience of family in the lives of all: “Evening falls on over our assembly. It is the hour at which one willingly joyfully returns home to meet gather [or “join”] at the same table, in the depth of thick with affection, of the good that has been done accomplished and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, [of] good wine which hastens anticipates [in the sense of “prefigures”] in the days of man the unending feast without setting [in the sense of “closure,” as in “the setting of the sun"]. It is also the weightiest hour for one who finds himself face to face [literally, “you-to-you”] with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and broken plans; how many people trudge through the day in drag their journeys [of life] through the blind alley of resignation, of abandonment, even resentment rancor: in how many homes the wine of joy has been less plentiful run out, and therefore, also the zest — the very wisdom — for life […]. Let us make our prayer heard for one another For some and for others [i.e., “for all these different kinds of people”] this evening, we are their voices with a prayer, a prayer for all”.

2. The source womb of joys and trials, of deep profound affections and of relations at times wounded, the family is truly a “school of humanity” (“Familia schola quaedam uberioris humanitatis est”, Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 52), of which we are strongly advised [In Romance languages the passive voice is often preferable, something generally frowned upon in English, leading to translation headaches. –J.] we are in great need. Despite Notwithstanding the many signals of crisis in the institution of the family in various contexts of the “global village”, the desire for family remains alive, especially among the young, and is at the root of this is the motive for the Church’s need to proclaim tirelessly without rest and with profound conviction the “Gospel of the family” entrusted to her with the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

3. The Bishop of Rome called upon invited the Synod of Bishops to reflect upon the situation reality of the family, decisive and valuable, in its Extraordinary General Assembly of October 2014, a to later deepen the reflection which will then be pursued in greater depth in the Ordinary General Assembly scheduled to take place in October 2015, as well as during the full intervening year between the two synodal events. “The convenire in unum around the Bishop of Rome is already an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifested in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment”: thus Pope Francis described the synodal experience, indicating its tasks in the dual process of listening to both the signs of God and the history of mankind and in the resulting dual consequential and unique fidelity which follows.

4. In the light of the same discourse remarks we have gathered together the results of our reflections and our dialogues in the following three parts: listening, to look at the situation of the family today, in the complexity of its lights and shade shadows; looking, our gaze fixed on Christ, to re-evaluate think anew with renewed freshness and enthusiasm what the revelation transmitted in the faith of the Church tells us about the beauty and about the dignity of the family; and discussion in [an] encounter with the light of the Lord Jesus to discern the ways in paths with which the Church and society can renew their commitment to the family.

First part

Listening: the context and challenges to the family

The socio-cultural context

5. Current anthropological and cultural changes today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach [in the sense of "focus"], capable to discern of taking the positive forms of individual freedom liberty. It is necessary to be aware of highlight the growing danger represented by an exasperated individualism that distorts denatures family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit island, leading in some certain cases to the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed constructed according to his [or her] own wishes desires, which are assumed as an absolute right].

6. The most difficult greatest test for families in our time is often solitude [There is no exact translation; it means something like “isolated desolation.” –J.], which destroys and gives rise to a general sensation of impotence in relation to the when facing a socio-economic situation that often ends up crushing them. This is due to growing precariousness in the workplace that is often experienced as a true nightmare, or due to too heavy taxation [Did you catch that? –J.] that certainly does not encourage young people toward marriage.

7. Some There exist [other] cultural and religious contexts which pose particular challenges. In [some] African societies the practice of polygamy remains still rules, along with, in some traditional contexts, the custom of “marriage in stages”. In other contexts the practice of “arranged marriages” persists. In countries in which Catholicism is a minority religion, there numerous are many the mixed marriages with all the attendant difficulties that these may lead to in terms of legal form, the education of children and mutual reciprocal respect from the point of view of religious freedom, but also with the great potential that derives from the encounter between the differences in faith that these histories of family life present. In many contexts, and not only in the West occidental [ones], the practice of cohabitation before marriage, or indeed cohabitation not orientated towards assuming the form of an institutional bond, is [becoming] increasingly widespread [literally, “diffused” or “disseminated.”].

8. Many are the children who are born outside marriage, especially in certain countries, and there are many of these who subsequently grow up with just one of their parents or in an enlarged or reconstituted family context. The number of divorces divorced [persons] is growing and it is not a rare to encounter cases case in which decisions are it is an option taken solely on the basis of economic factors of an economic nature. The condition of women still needs to be defended and promoted, as not a few situations of internal violence within in the family are not rare recorded. Children are frequently the object of contention disputes between parents, and the children are the true victims of family breakdown wounds [literally, “lacerations”]. Also societies riven affected by violence due to war, terrorism or the presence of organized crime experience deteriorating family situations. Furthermore, Migration is also represents another sign of the times, to be faced and understood in terms of the burden of consequences for family life.

The relevance of emotional affective life

9. Faced with the social framework outlined delineated above, a greater need is encountered among individuals to take care of themselves their own person, to know their inner being to have interior knowledge, and to live in greater harmony with their emotions and sentiments, seeking a relational quality in emotional affective life. In the same way, it is possible to encounter a widespread generalized desire for family accompanied by the search for oneself. But how can this attention tension be cultivated and maintained [in the sense of “balancing opposite forces”] to the care for oneself be cultivated and maintained, alongside between self-care and this desire for family? This Here also is a great challenge for the Church too. The individualistic danger of individualism and the risk of living selfishly in an egotistical key [as in “musical key’] are significant relevant.

10. Today’s The current world appears to promote value limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects components, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional affective fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do which does not always help the subject to reach a greater maturity to be reached. In this context, couples are often sometimes uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many are those who tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life. The crisis in the couple destabilizes the family and may lead, through separations and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening the individual, and the social bonds. The demographic decline in population not only creates determines a situation in which the alternation succession of generations is no longer assured, but over time also risks leading to economic impoverishment and a loss of hope in the future.

Pastoral challenges

11. In this context the Church is aware warns of the need to offer a meaningful word of hope and meaning. It is necessary to set out have as a point of departure from the conviction that man comes from God and that, therefore, a reflection able to reframe propose the great questions on the meaning of being human existence, may find fertile ground in humanity's most profound expectations. The great values of marriage and the Christian family correspond to the search that distinguishes traverses human existence even in a time marked by individualism and hedonism. It is necessary to accept people in their concrete being, to know how to support sustain their search, to encourage the wish desire for God [This could also be read as “desire for God.” –J.] and the will to feel fully part of the Church, also on the part of those who have experienced failure or find themselves in the most diverse desperate situations. This requires demands that the doctrine of the faith, the basic fundamental content of which should must always be made increasingly better known, be proposed alongside with mercy.


The gaze upon Christ: the Gospel of the Family

The gaze upon Jesus and gradualness in the history of salvation

12. In order to “walk ensure our steps among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed fixing one’s gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause halt[,] in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. ... Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed unimaginable [literally “unthought-of”] of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he [has] [This is a key difference. In the original translation, the sense is of “Bible stories” but the original carries the sense of Jesus meeting people up to the present. –J.] met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.

13. From the moment that the order of creation is determined by [the] orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish[,] without separating[,] the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through By reason of the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of proper to divine pedagogy, this means interpreting reading the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty newness, in the order of creation and in that of redemption.

14. Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce [Other Biblical translations use the verb “repudiate” instead. –J.] your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension self-emptying always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, [but] not without [first] passing through the Cross.
The family in God’s salvific plan

15. Since, by their commitment to mutual acceptance and with the grace of Christ betrothed couples promise fidelity to one another and openness to life, they acknowledge [also, possibly, “recognize”] as constitutive elements of marriage the gifts God offers them, taking their mutual responsability [sic] task seriously, in His name and before the Church. Now, in faith it is possible to assume [as in “assume control”] the goods [the original is closer to “assets”] of marriage as commitments best maintained with the help of the grace of the sacrament. God consecrates love between spouses and confirms its indissolubility, offering them help in living in to live the fidelity and openness to be open to life. Therefore, the gaze of the Church turns not only to the couple, but to the family.

16. We are able to distinguish three fundamental phases in the divine plan for the family: the family of origins, when God the creator instituted the primordial marriage between Adam and Eve, as a solid foundation for the family: he created them male and female (cg. Gn 1,24-31; 2,4b); the historic family, wounded by sin (cf. Gn 3) and the family redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5,21-32), in the image of the [Most] Holy Trinity, the mystery from which every true love springs. The sponsal nuptial covenant, inaugurated in with creation and revealed in the history of between God and Israel, reaches its fullest expression fullness with Christ in the Church. 

The discernment of values present in wounded families and in irregular situations

17. In considering consideration of the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks we ask ourselves: what possibilities are given to have those married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather How it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church? In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “the only Church of Christ exists in the Catholic Church” also recognizes that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure ... these elements, as gifts [properly] belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

18. In this light, the value and consistency of natural marriage must first above all be emphasized. Some ask themselves whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing [some] positive elements even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation such a reality, which are in any case ordered in relation to it. The doctrine of levels of communion, formulated by Vatican Council II, confirms the vision of a structured way of participating in the Mysterium Ecclesiae by the baptized persons.

19. In the same, perspective, that we may consider could call inclusive, the Council opens up the horizon for appreciating the positive elements present in other religions (cf. Nostra Aetate, 2) and cultures, despite their limits and their insufficiencies (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 55). Indeed, From looking at the in the direction of human wisdom present in these it [The original refers to the family, the translation makes other religions/cultures the subject. This strikes me as very important. –J.], the Church learns understands how the family is has been universally considered as the necessary and fruitful form of human cohabitation. In this sense, the order of creation, in which the Christian vision of the family is rooted, unfolds historically, in different cultural and geographical expressions.

20. Realizing the need, It therefore, for becomes necessary [to have a] spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully with respect to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating [in the sense of “appraisal”] more the positive values they [may]contain rather than their any limitations and shortcomings faults.

Truth and beauty of the family and mercy

21. The Gospel of the family, while so long as it shines thanks in to the witness of so many families who live coherently with coherence their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily everyday sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for heal those trees that have dried up and wish beg not to be neglected.

22. In this respect sense, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting grasping [in the sense of "being cognizant of"] the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account making [clear] their due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ [In the sense of “seed.” –J.] to be accompanied in accompany the development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

23. Imitating In accordance with Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany with attention and care her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring giving them trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in lighthouse of a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are have lost their direction or find themselves in the midst of the storm.

Part III

The discussion encounter: pastoral perspectives

Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today, in various contexts

24. The Synod dialog has allowed an agreement on some of the more urgent pastoral needs to be entrusted to being made concrete realization in the individual local Churches, in communion cum Petro et sub Petro.

25. The announcement proclamation of the Gospel of the family is an urgent issue for the new evangelization. The Church has to must carry this out make it a reality with the tenderness of a mother and the clarity of a teacher (cf. Eph 4,15), in fidelity to the merciful kenosis of Christ. The truth is incarnated in human fragility not to condemn it, but to cure it.

26. Evangelizing is the shared responsibility of all God’s people, each according to his or her own ministry and charism. Without the joyous testimony of spouses and families, the announcement, even if correct, risks being misunderstood or submerged by the ocean of words that is a characteristic of our society (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 50). On various occasions the Synodal Fathers underlined that Catholic families are called upon to be, themselves, the active subjects of all the pastoral of the family.

27. It will be decisive to highlight the primacy of grace, and therefore of the possibilities that the Spirit gives in the sacrament. This is about letting it be known that making [people] experience the Gospel of the family that is a joy that «fills the hearts and lives» one’s whole life, because in Christ we are «set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness» isolation.”(Evangelii Gaudium, 1). In the light of the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13,3), our task is to cooperate in the sowing: the rest is God’s work. We must not forget that the Church that preaches about the family is a sign of contradiction.

28. For this reason, what is required is a missionary conversion: it is necessary not to stop at an announcement that is merely theoretical and has nothing to do with people’s real problems. It must not be forgotten that the crisis of faith has led to brought about a crisis in matrimony and the family and, as a result, the transmission of faith from parents to children has often been frequently interrupted. Confronted by In the face of a strong faith, the imposition of certain cultural perspectives that weaken the family and matrimony is of no importance avail.

29. Conversion has, above all, to be that of language so that this might prove to be effectively meaningful significant. The announcement proclamation is about letting it be experienced that the Gospel of the family is the response to the deepest expectations of a the human person: to his or her dignity and it’s the full realization in reciprocity and communion. This is not merely about presenting a set of regulations that which is normative but about putting forward values, responding to the need of those for these, who find themselves which is noted today even in the most secularized countries.

30. The indispensable biblical-theological study is to be accompanied by dialog, at all levels. Many insisted on a more positive approach to the riches contained in diverse religious experiences, while not being blind to silent about the difficulties. In the diverse cultural realities the possibilities should first be grasped welcomed and in the light of them the limits and radicalizations should be rejected.

31. Christian marriage cannot only be considered as a cultural tradition or social obligation, but has to be a vocational decision taken up with the proper preparation in an itinerary of faith, with mature discernment. This is not about creating difficulties and complicating the cycles of formation, but of going deeply into the issue and not being content with theoretical meetings or general orientations [In the sense of “suggestions.” –J.].

32. The need was has been jointly referred to declared for a conversion of all pastoral practices from the perspective of the family, overcoming the individualistic points of view that still characterize it. This is why there was a repeated insistence on renewing in this light the training of presbyters and other pastoral operators agents, through a greater involvement of the families themselves.
33. In the same way, the necessity was underlined for an evangelization that denounces clearly with sincerity the cultural, social, and economic factors; for example, the excessive room space given to market logic, that prevents an authentic family life, leading to creating discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence. For this reason a dialog and cooperation has to be developed with the social structures, and lay people who are involved in cultural and socio-political fields should be encouraged exhorted and supported.

Guiding [betrothed] couples on the path in of preparation for marriage

34. The complex social reality and the challenges that the family is called upon to face today to deal with require a greater undertaking commitment from the whole Christian community for the preparation of those who are about engaged couples to be married. As regards With respect to this necessity the Synodal Fathers agreed to underline the need for a greater involvement of the entire community privileging the testimony of the families themselves, as well as a rooting of the preparation for marriage in the path of Christian initiation, underlining the connection between marriage and the other sacraments. In the same way, The necessity was also highlighted for specific programs for preparation for marriage that are a true experience of participation in the ecclesial life and that study closely the diverse aspects of family life.
Accompanying the early years of married life
35. The early years of marriage are a vital and delicate period during which couples grow in the awareness their conscientiousness of the challenges and meaning of matrimony. Thus the need From this point [comes] the requirement for a pastoral accompaniment that goes beyond the celebration of the sacrament. Of great importance in this pastoral is the presence of experienced couples with experience. The parish is considered the ideal place for expert couples to place themselves at the disposal of younger ones. Couples need to be encouraged towards a fundamental welcome It is necessary to animate in [these] couples with an attitude fundamentally of reception of the great gift of children. The importance of family spirituality and of prayer needs is to be underlined, encouraging couples to meet gather regularly to promote the growth of their spiritual life and of [their] solidarity in the concrete demands of life. Meaningful Significative liturgies, devotional and Eucharistic practices and the Eucharist celebrated for families, were mentioned as vital in favoring evangelization throughout the family.
Positive aspects of That which is positive with civil unions and cohabitation
36. A new sensitivity in today’s pastoral [practice] consists in positively grasping [in the sense of "recognizing"] the positive reality of civil weddings and, while having pointed out our recognized the differences among the various types of cohabitation. It is necessary that in the ecclesial proposal, even while clearly when presenting the ideal with clarity, we [can] also indicate the [any] constructive elements in those situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to that such an ideal.
37. It was also noted emphasized that in many countries an “an increasing number of couples live together ad experimentum, in unions which have not been religiously without marriage that has been neither canonically or civilly recognized” (Instrumentum Laboris, 81). In Africa this occurs especially in traditional marriages, agreed between families and often celebrated in different stages. Faced by these situations, the Church is called on to be “the house of the Father, with doors always wide open […] where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems the life [burdens] they shoulder.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47) and to move towards go encounter those who feel the need to take up again renew their path of faith, even if it is not possible to celebrate a religious canonical marriage.
38. In the West as well Also in the West there is an increasingly large continuous growth in the number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married celebrate their marriage in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a the general [societal] attitude, which is opposed contrarian [when it comes] to institutions and definitive undertakings commitments, but also while waiting for a secure existence existential security (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages pushes people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore even in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always necessarily must start from these positive aspects.
39. All these situations have to be dealt with approached in a constructive manner, seeking to transform them into opportunities to walk towards the fullness of marriage and the family in the light of the Gospel. They need to be welcomed and accompanied It is a matter of welcoming and accompanying with patience and delicacy. With a view to this as the endgame, the attractive [In the sense of “attracting people.”] testimony of authentic Christian families is important, as subjects for the evangelization of the family.
Caring for Healing wounded families (the separated, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced who have remarried)

40. What rang out clearly Resonating in the Synod was the clear necessity for courageous pastoral choices. Reconfirming forcefully the fidelity to the Gospel of the family, the Synodal Fathers, have warned about the urgent need for new pastoral paths, that begin with take off from the effective reality of familial fragilities, recognizing that they these are, more often than not, are more “endured suffered” than freely chosen with full liberty. These are diverse situations that are diverse because of due to personal as well as or cultural and socio-economic factors. It is not wise to think of unique exclusive solutions or those solutions inspired by a logic of “all or nothing”. The dialog and meeting debate that took place in the Synod will have to continue in the local Churches, involving their various diverse components, in such a way that the perspectives that have been drawn up outlined might find their full maturation in the work of the next Ordinary General Assembly. The guidance of the Spirit, constantly invoked, will allow all God’s people to live the fidelity to the Gospel of the family as a merciful caring for all situations of fragility.

41. Each damaged wounded family first of all should first be listened to with respect and love, becoming companions on the journey as Christ did with the disciples of the road to Emmaus. In a particular way the words of Pope Francis apply in these situations: «The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this ‘art of accompaniment,’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Es 3,5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring We must give our [accompanying] walk the healing rhythm of [neighborly] proximity, reflecting our closeness and our with a respectful and compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth maturing in the Christian life» (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).
42. Such discernment is indispensable for the separated and divorced. What needs is to be respected above all is the suffering of those who have endured suffered separation and divorce unjustly. The forgiveness for the injustice endured is not easy, but it is a journey that grace makes possible. In the same way it needs to be is always to be underlined that it is indispensable to assume take responsibility [literally “take charge”] in a faithful and constructive way the consequences of separation or divorce on the children: they must not become an “object” to be fought over of contention and the most suitable means need to must be sought so that they can get over the trauma of the family break-up division and grow up in the most serene way possible.
43. Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear [literally, “notorious”] nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then ought to be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married being a relevant [factor] in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs is to be emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle bond.
44. As regards making more agile the procedures [governing] matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, [as] requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators [pastoral] workers, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an it would ask an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially duly trained priest who would be able to freely offer the parties advice counsel on the validity of [their] marriage.
45. Divorced people who have not remarried should be invited to find, in the Eucharist, the nourishment they need to sustain them in their state. The local community and pastors have ought [or “are”] to accompany these people with solicitude, particularly when there are children involved or they find themselves in a serious theirs is a grave situation of poverty.
46. In the same way the The situations of the divorced who have and remarried demands a careful requires attentive discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior attitude that might make them feel discriminated against [In Italian/Spanish this is meant in the sense of “singled out.”]. For the Christian community looking after to take care [literally, “charge”] of them is not does not presuppose a weakening of its the faith and of its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.
47. As regards the possibility of partaking of accessing the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some [Pay close attention. This is a summary of what Bishop X said and what Bishop Y replied. –J.] argued in favor of the present regulations current discipline because of their its theological foundations, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with it is a matter of situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some [of the participants], partaking of eventual access to the sacraments might occur were it must be preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking commitment in favor of the children. This [said some participants] would not be a generalized possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration is to have present the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.
48. Suggesting limiting themselves to only “spiritual communion,was questioned by more than to not a few Synodal Fathers gave rise to some questions: if spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in is it not possible to access the sacrament? As a result a greater theological deepening was requested starting with from the links between the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist in relation to the Church-sacrament. In the same way, [the understanding of] the moral dimension of the problem requires further consideration must also be deepened, listening to and illuminating the consciences of spouses.
49. The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised have been present in the interventions of the Synodal Fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations disciplines of the Orthodox Churches creates serious poses grave problems in certain contexts to which have to be found suitable responses adequate answers must be given [but always] in communion with the Pope. The same applies to is valid for inter-religious marriages.
Welcoming homosexual persons
50. [Individual] Homosexuals persons have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of up to welcoming these people such persons [i.e., those who wish to contribute to a Christian community. –J.] , guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that up to doing so, accepting and valuing evaluating [Kind of a big difference, I think. –J.] their sexual orientation [Note, not their sexual activities. –J.], without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?
 51. The homosexual question of homosexuality leads to calls for a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating [i.e. not setting aside -J.] the sexual dimension [as taught by the Church]: it appears therefore presents itself as an important educative educational challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing equivalent as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it It is also unacceptable to [even] desire that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent conditional on the introduction of regulations norms inspired by gender ideology.
52. Without denying the problematic moral problems [dimensions] connected related to homosexual unions it has to be noted taken into consideration that there are cases in which mutual aid support to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious valuable support in the life of the partners [such] unions. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing reiterating that the needs [this is not an exact translations, it means something between “needs” and “demands.” –J.] and rights of the little ones must always be given first priority.
The transmission of life and the challenge of the declining birthrate
53. It is not difficult to notice to be aware of the spread of a mentality that reduces the generation of life to a variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans projects. Economic factors Factors of an economic nature [Literally, “order”] sometimes have enough exert a weight sometimes sufficient to contribute to the sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, compromising the relationship between generations and rendering the view of the future less certain. Being open to life is an intrinsic requirement necessity of married love.
54. Probably here as well what is required is also in this sphere a realistic language is required that is able to start from begins by listening to people and acknowledging  and that also can give reasons for the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that something which human life love [!!! –J.] requires to be lived to its fullest. It is on this base that we can rest [In the sense of “structural support.”] an appropriate a proper [literally “adequate”] teaching regarding natural methods, which allow the living in a harmonious way and aware way conscious of the communication between spouses, in all its dimensions, along with generative responsibility. In this light, we should go back to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, which underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of regulating birth control rates.
55. So Therefore, help is required to live affectivity, in the marriage bond as well, as a path of maturation towards maturity, in the evermore profound welcoming of the other [person] and in an ever-fuller giving. It has to be emphasized in this sense the need to offer formative paths that nourish married life and the importance of a laity that provides an accompaniment consisting made up of living testimony. It is undoubtedly of great help the example of a faithful and profound love made up of tenderness, of respect, capable of growing in with time and which in its concrete definitive opening to the generation of life allows us to creates the experience of a “transcendent mystery” [literally “mystery that transcends us].
The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization
56. The fundamental challenge facing which families find today is undoubtedly that of the educational one, rendered which becomes more difficult and complex by due to today’s cultural reality. What have to be considered must be taken into account are the needs and expectations of families capable of testifying in daily everyday life, places of growth, of concrete and essential transmission of the virtues that provide give form for to [human] existence.
 57. In this The Church can carry out a precious develop an important role in supporting families, starting from beginning with Christian initiation, through welcoming communities. What is asked of these, today even more than yesterday, in complex as well as mundane common situations, is to support parents in their educative undertaking educational commitment, accompanying their children, adolescents and young people [adults] in their growth through personalized paths capable of introducing them to the full meaning significance [literally “sense”] of life and encouraging bring forth [right] choices and responsibilities responsibility, [to be] lived in the light of the Gospel.
58. The proposed reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended seek to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer more precise by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply easy points of view. All the same Nonetheless, the collegial path of the bishops and the [requisite] involvement of all God’s people under the active guidance [literally, “action”] of the Holy Spirit will be able to lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish hope that, from the beginning of our work, Pope Francis has extended to directed us, inviting us to the courage of in the faith and the humble and honest welcome from acceptance of the truth in charity.