Pope Francis

Many people who travel notice different attitudes to the law – a Polish attitude to law, an English approach, a South American approach, a German approach, an Italian approach…

Watch, in different countries, what people do if they are in a car and there’s a red light but no other car anywhere in sight…

Similarly, see how different cultures approach the Vatican’s rules. Are ‘rules’ prescriptive or descriptive?… Are they general, sensible principles, or are they the laws of the Medes and Persians…

Pope Francis decided that Latin would not, as in the past, be the official language of Synod on the Family meeting in Rome. The language used at the synod is Italian.

I think there are at least a couple of parables in this.

I think the Italian attitude to law is not as law-for-law’s sake as some (many) other cultures.

I can also imagine that if a person had worked hard to be fluent in Latin, but his Italian was not that agile, that, with this decision not announced beforehand, and with Latin having been the norm, he might have some feelings of exclusion to reflect upon. A lot of this synod is reflecting on people who feel excluded…

Half way through the synod, a relatio post disceptationem (summary of the discussions held so far) has been published. Some are over-stressing its importance, some are decrying its approach and content. But let’s not understate it. If the relatio is not a sign of a significant shift, then point to Vatican documents with a similar tone.

Some ask whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation, which are in any case ordered in relation to it. …Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, 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, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?… Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners….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 birth control.

In this relatio there is no example of such language as homosexuality being an ‘intrinsic disorder’, no mention of the teaching that “A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.” (1997) There is no allusion to the 2005 ruling that distinguishes “homosexual tendencies that are merely the expression of a transitory problem, for example as in the case of an unfinished adolescence” from “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” – a person must not have had a homosexual thought for at least three years before ordination as a deacon.

Instead, there is a “principle of gradualness”, the understanding that we grow on a journey o God, and that the church shouldn’t wait until we are perfect until it opens its doors to us, but that the doors be open to all (or at least far more) on this journey.

This, to me, seems a more Italian approach to law. I do not think we will see a radical alteration of doctrine, but the emphasis is being shifted, the application is being explicitly more pastoral. Jesus, it seems to me, had this Italian approach to law.

Italian is the way that ordinary people today live and use the (dead!) language of Latin.

This is NOT an earthquake

“The Synod on the Family in Rome today caused an ‘earthquake’ – the word is being used on Catholic blogs everywhere”.

I think this widespread metaphor is atrocious. It reinforcing those who see the approach of Pope Francis as destructive and negative. This is no earthquake – it is the opposite. The earthquake and destruction has been what has been before (the damage done to homosexuals, the guilt of married couples who decide not to follow RC contraception teaching, the pain of being excluded from communion, etc). I have never seen “earthquake”, the “big one” after months of smaller tremors used as a positive metaphor. Please stop using this metaphor.

This may be the beginning of the rebuild.

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