All these years we thought we knew. Now comes the revolution and with it a great awakening.
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops issued the Working Document (WD) for the Continental Stage of the Synod for a Synodal Church last week. It unapologetically calls into question various Catholic doctrines under the guise of listening to the Holy Spirit who, remarkably, is somehow speaking through the complaints and criticisms of those who reject what the Church teaches and has always taught.
And of course, with every new thing comes the rationale.
Contributions from around the world that contradict Catholic doctrine are cited or summarized with approval because “they express in a particularly powerful, beautiful or precise way sentiments expressed more generally in many reports.” (¶6) Those sentiments enjoy the presumption of Spirit-inspired truth while doctrines cause alienation and sorrow.
Lord, deliver us from doctrine. What we want is an end to sorrow right now. Heaven on earth.
Remarks from an American parish group are emblematic: “The vision of a Church capable of radical inclusion, shared belonging, and deep hospitality according to the teachings of Jesus is at the heart of the synodal process: ‘Instead of behaving like gatekeepers trying to exclude others from the table, we need to do more to make sure that people know that everyone can find a place and a home here.’” (¶31) The WD further explains that “[t]he synodal experience can be read as a path of recognition for those who do not feel sufficiently recognized in the Church.” (¶32)
The devil’s in those details?
So who feels excluded? “Among those who ask for a more meaningful dialogue and a more welcoming space we also find those who, for various reasons, feel a tension between belonging to the Church and their own loving relationships, such as: remarried divorcees, single parents, people living in a polygamous marriage, LGBTQ people, etc.” (¶39) This even gets a second mention: “Many summaries also give voice to the pain of not being able to access the Sacraments experienced by remarried divorcees and those who have entered into polygamous marriages. There is no unanimity on how to deal with these situations” (¶94)
It’s been on its way for decades, love, love, hooray for love in sermonic pablum, week in, week out, Catholicism Lite. The old ’60s cry, heard from the picketers: What do we want? Freedom. When do we want it? Now.
Who else is complaining? “After careful listening, many reports ask that the Church continue its discernment in relation to a range of specific questions: the active role of women in the governing structures of Church bodies, the possibility for women with adequate training to preach in parish settings, and a female diaconate. Much greater diversity of opinion was expressed on the subject of priestly ordination for women, which some reports call for, while others consider a closed issue.” (¶64)
Gimme that old-time discernment, our all-purpose justifying thing.
The solution? “[The] conversion of the Church’s culture, for the salvation of the world, is linked in concrete terms to the possibility of establishing a new culture, with new practices and structures.” (¶60)