I have been tempted many times to post on the developments at the Synod, but I held back to allow prudence and charity sift me. What days! In my life I have not seen anything like this. I was not around for the fiasco of 1968 when those who rejected the Church's teaching on sexual morality turned on the Pope and crucified him. We have been celebrating the memory of that Pope in our online novena here and on Sunday I will be in St Peter's Square to see him beatified.
But what is happening now? All I can think of is Ven Paul's words that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church, and now it seems those who seek to be faithful to Christ's teaching are being suffocated. What an awful turn of events.
People are coming to me and asking me what is happening. Good, devout souls who pray are wondering why this is happening, why are Cardinals and bishops fighting, what was that relatio, what is the Pope up to? And now: why did Cardinal Kasper say such racist things about the Church in Africa? Is the Church in crisis, I was asked? I can answer that: the Church is always in crisis, she is always living with tension, not only with the values of the world, but also within with the effects of sin and other dimensions of fallen humanity, and then there is Church politics. She is always the focus for those who reject the Gospel because, despite her many failures and the sins of her members, she hangs on to Christ's teaching and it remains the ideal, and she strives to live it, successfully for the most part, and encourages her children to do the same, and many of them do, and they are the Saints/saints.
But now, listening to the cacophony coming out of the Synod, those in charge - the minority, seem to be abandoning those teachings for the sake of what they call "mercy", seeking to repress/oppress those who hold to those teachings. The Pope's own actions are strange and ambiguous, particularly his appointment of six liberals to oversee the work of the three orthodox moderators elected by the Synod. With all due respect to the Holy Father, but this Synod has all the hallmarks of a very South American coup, only this time it is not a dictator or a democratically elected leader that is being shafted, but, it seems, the very teaching of Jesus Christ and the magisterium of his Church.
Now let us remember this is only a Synod, it is not binding and it is not proposing new doctrine, and it is only a preparation for what is going to happen next year. But, God help us, what lies ahead? For one, I believe the Holy Spirit will prevent the Church from falling into heresy - her members may, but there will always be a number, sometimes a small minority, who stay true - a faithful remnant, and the Popes are always among them, so we must have confidence and we must pray. The Church is being sifted, there is no doubt about that, the values of a godless, permissive world are rampaging within the Body of Christ, dressed up as compassionate pastoral ideas which will ultimately end up spreading despair among those they claim they want to help.
The Lord is allowing this, perhaps to remind us, correctly, that we must reach out to those in irregular situations, not break God's law to make them feel accepted, but to remind them of God's love and the reality of his grace to help them strive to embrace the way of holiness. I hope in their attempts to resist the attack on the Church's moral teachings, its defenders do not cast aside those who do not live up to them, but rather will try to bring them on board to help them rise to the way of life Jesus has laid out for us, as we strive to live it ourselves. That said, no one is served by ignoring the truth and canonizing the lie. The truth with love and patience.
Let us continue to pray. This is a difficult time. But the Church has been through worse - the Arian crisis was hell! But we got through it, we were stronger for it, and we will get through this. Who knows what God will do to sort this out, there may be a few surprises before next year's Ordinary Synod, who knows. We must trust in the Lord, defend our faith with charity, love our enemies, pray for them. We must not forget that we are Christians! And we must, genuinely, seek real solutions to real problems, solutions firmly grounded in the teaching and discipline of the Church which are themselves grounded in Christ's own teaching, and that teaching cannot be abandoned.
Is the smoke of Satan whirling around the Church? Probably, it is usually lurking somewhere within it. So, get the gas masks on, keep calm, and carry on.