Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

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 -- and primarily from -- 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 the transcribed version places 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 wounds; who doesn’t regard humanity as a house of glass to judge [i.e. "condemn"] 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.]

[Let's] talk 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 ("I slipped up.") 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 what should that "welcome" even look one of "Just go and get them, and how you accomplish that goal is up to you."

To me 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 its 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.