Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Why the Synod Puppeteers Owe an Apology

October 24th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

I hope that anyone who has read my posts on Cleansing Fire is pretty clear that I do not support any gay activist position or lifestyle.  I pray to be completely and without exception aligned with all doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church.  I believe in the basic human dignity of all people to be respected  (not necessarily to be agreed with in their errors or opinions), and I acknowledge the difficult obligation of souls to call each other to repentance.

Consistent with these positions, here are just a few examples I’ve offered in Cleansing Fire over recent years.  I…

1)      have opposed the historic coziness between the Diocese of Rochester under the prior bishop and Fortunate Families, which lobbies the Catholic Church to legitimize a lifestyle which violates Church Teaching;

2)      have affirmed Pope Benedict’s clarity that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies cannot be priests;

3)      have opposed the impropriety of Cardinal Dolan’s approving a gay contingent in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and his complimenting a gay football player for “coming out”; and

4)     have deplored all efforts through legislation, lawsuits, secular pressure or otherwise to force souls to sin by supporting any lifestyle or participating in any action opposed to their faith.

I could go on, but I consider the point well-enough made.

The Current Situation

Some same-sex attracted individuals have grown up in and then left the Church and feel separated from their spiritual roots; others have no interest in ever being Catholic, but want the painful voice of moral witness to be silenced, the daily reminder that the Church clearly identifies and treats same-sex attraction as disordered.  Why is it not enough for such individuals to join virtually any denominational church where there is either silence or an accommodating welcome, regardless of repentance? Because, at some level, there is the faintest, most insistent small voice that the Catholic Church, the only one founded by Christ, is the One that matters.   All other victories are hollow.  And it is also the reason whenever any movement to destroy Christ’s Teaching is underway, the evil one will be hidden within.  Those are the battles which do matter.

The Obligation

For all these reasons, being true to what I believe and striving to be obedient to Catholic Church Teaching, I am conscience-bound to decry the base and merciless treatment of homosexual persons in the Synod 2014 session just completed, by its organizers, by many participants, and by the media, many of whom fomented false hopes in those souls who desire some amelioration of their alienation from the Church, from Christ’s Teaching.  The October 13th Relatio which was, five days later, effectively rescinded on these particular matters, in hindsight can be seen as an almost unmitigated disaster.  I am very much for transparency and openness in the Body of Christ, and applaud that the principles of such transparency were implemented in this Synod to a greater degree than I have ever seen.  But transparency on the issues related to persons of homosexual tendencies was destructive; these were the very issues which, if discussion really were needed, should have been done privately.  Why?  Certainly not because Church Teaching is confidential (nor is the unchangeability of doctrine) but, rather, out of concern for the souls and the true dignity of the most vulnerable.  Even elementary knowledge of organizational dynamics illustrates such transparency was erroneous.

Good/bad Management

Please let me digress for a moment to one of the guidelines of good management practice in order to illustrate the point.  “Do not pique hopes unnecessarily.”  Or, as is sometimes said:  “Be sure you want the toothpaste out of the tube before you squeeze it.”  Imagine that the president of a large company were to say, in a column in the organization’s monthly newsletter, that he or she is considering changing company policy to double vacation available to each employee (or, say, to cut the workweek by 5 hours without reducing pay).  Imagine the delight which would surge through the employee ranks!  The local newspapers would run daily stories on these breakthrough management practices.  Applications for employment would soar, and some might even leave their current employer to join such a forward-looking company; spouses would begin planning what to do with the extra vacation, and employees might even delay retirement or make some other significant life decision.  Everyone knows, of course, that the president has to ‘run it past the Board of Directors’ first, but most certainly there is delight and expectation that very soon these policies will be in place.  Then the company issues a terse news release that the Board of Directors declined to implement the ill-advised published policy.  Do you think that company will have better or worse employee relations as a result of this series of events?  Exactly my point.

Compassion for the Mis-led

Now, with compassion, remember the wide-spread media response to the October 13th Relatio.  No wonder it was released to the media before most of the Synod attendees could read it, let alone give input or vote.  One has to believe that a number of faithful prelates would have voiced strong objections, and could have been prepared to express their opinions and the whole Truth if interviewed.  When I was confirmed in 5th grade I could have told you on a true or false test that paragraphs 49 through 52, taken in the aggregate, were “false.” So could a lot of prelate attendees, and those who couldn’t should be removed for incompetence or worse.  The only thing of value to come out of this debacle was to identify some of the prelates who don’t believe and obey.

A Divisive Synod

While we were understandably focused on the division those words caused in the Church (yes, it was a very divisive Synod, as is anything that pits part of the flock against Christ’s Teaching), I for one did not sufficiently focus on what it was doing to those suffering from same-sex attraction, inflating their expectations and causing them to speak glowingly of such “changes”.  The outpouring of joy, delight, gratitude, and all versions of “it’s about time” illustrates how truly transforming were the words in those paragraphs but, unfortunately, transforming from Truth to lies.  The media, with all its lack of understanding, exploded the coverage, even interpreting from their own naiveté way beyond what had been said, and the communications experts in the Vatican did little or nothing to dissuade such reactions.  While a few hierarchical figures may have basked in a momentary triumph, recounting even the percentage of brother prelates said to be in agreement with such radical proposals, the latter state is worse than the first, for man can’t serve both God and the mammon of Klieg lights.

10 Wrongs

But my purpose in writing isn’t so much to take prelates to task, or to assuage the pain of Catholics in the pew, as to call attention to what seems almost a crime against homosexual persons.  I do not think it is going too far under the Laws of the Church to see such a serious offense in what was done.  Specifically, it seems a great wrong:

1)     to issue “a document” with words masquerading as an emerging Church teaching (but which could never be true), which misleads many individuals who are alienated due to same-sex attraction,

2)      to raise false hopes among those most vulnerable, and to leave them and the world at large uncorrected in their misunderstanding,

3)     to allow the media to use the Relatio to agitate for change in the Church, without instructing the ignorant promptly, with adequate clarification,

4)     to expose those who responded to the false content as if it were true, to remain uncorrected on a public stage, causing them shame and eventual embarrassment for having been “taken in”,

5)      to treat those real human beings, who were misled, deeply pained and afflicted by the attendant debates, like a mere challenge to a rules committee, as a strategy to grow the Church, a pawn on a chessboard,

6)      to exhibit to the world a prod and other ill treatment of those who reject itchy ears’ new teaching, and to embarrass prelates who stood for truth, pressuring others to stay quiet,

7)      to not publicly apologize (yet) to all who were misled, including weak Catholics who were traumatized and pastors unable to quickly and effectively respond to the faithful or to sincere inquiries,

8)      to sow division in the Church, which remains to be healed, and which affects those who are same-sex attracted but remaining chaste,

9)     to leave the remnant presence of the excised paragraphs, still boding confusion and reiteration of pain next year, shadowed by the impression that nothing was resolved, so it has to be done again, and

10)   to have erected further barriers to true reconciliation.

The Challenge to the Holy Spirit

The entire issue would have been farcical, were it not so serious.  It was a proposal to change what is impossible to change, i.e. Church Teaching and Doctrine, being dragged out onto a world stage, creating a sideshow of the Faith.   Confusion (which is of the evil one) and agony continue. True Catholic prelates know that it can never be a matter of group discussion or voting, but that all is under the protection of the Holy Spirit, who guards the Deposit of Faith, and cares not for hanging chads. To have acted otherwise is to testify against the promise of the Spirit, to have almost dared the Spirit to be involved and protective. Those who put the Synod agenda together, who laid out false issues for input, who released an untimely and ill-conceived Relatio to the media, who used outrageously impossible language to inflame the hearts and hopes of those yearning for a “change”, have grossly maltreated a population most in need of true caring and charity, mercy and ministry.  To write words in such a way that hopes were raised and then dashed, is incredibly uncharitable and unmerciful.  It doesn’t matter whether the perpetrators believed what they wrote (for they have a responsibility to know better), or were forced into something illicit and sinful to save the Church’s own image of secular comfort.  What they did was careless of souls, manipulating emotions and ultimately causing scandal and public shame.  When even Al Jazeera makes a press release against such actions, things have gone way too far.

The Father of Lies

In short, for the victims of Vatican-gamesmanship, the raw emotions and pining for legitimacy (isn’t that a key purpose of every ‘gay march’?) was much worse than just being ignored.  I don’t personally believe that it was all intended to embarrass and demean the same-sex attracted population, but rather that those individuals, their emotions, pain, and frustration were sacrificed to get an issue onto the table, personally pushed by a Cardinal who attributed it to the Pope.  But why should we believe him when, later in the Synod, that Cardinal was caught in a serious personal lie.  (Sometimes that is exactly how false teachers are exposed.)  It is always the same modus operandi for an onslaught by the Father of Lies; i.e. to damage the Church.  Look for the lie.  Had this attention on the issue really been of God, it would have been handled more charitably to be sensitive, not to raise hopes falsely in a vulnerable population.

In Summary

We either have to admit that such well-educated prelates and the staff members to the Synod really are as stupid as they acted, or are grossly insensitive to the impact of spinning a seductive vision to those in most need of spiritual care and nurture, and then publicly dashing their hopes, shaming them before the world.  In plain English, if the impossible language had never been inserted, the status quo would have prevailed without much further damage.  But the agenda and the initial Relatio raked a raw nerve, essentially using the same-sex attracted community as a hunk of bait for internal machinations and personal agendae.  It was wrong; it was shameful; it was inexcusable.

Missing Apology

A huge apology is owned to the victims, not for the Church’s long held and consistently defended position which most all of the participants know full well cannot change, but to those who were toyed with in the process, disrespected as nothing more than a political gambit and fodder for the media, driving a further wedge between those who are same-sex attracted but trying to life a chaste life, and Catholics who are called to welcome all sinners, who are repenting of their sins, in accordance with Christ’s words: “Go and sin no more.”  Shame on the perpetrators of so much pain and damage, and on those who continue to refuse to apologize.

Was the Synod a success?

Not when we taste this fruit.  Not if Christians become more persecuted as a result.  Not if souls were needlessly injured, or turned away from the Church.



18 Responses to “Why the Synod Puppeteers Owe an Apology”

  1. avatar Thinkling says:

    Nice piece Diane, and a take I have not seen elsewhere. An amazing irony and tragedy really, that the main prep for a huge pastoral event became itself a significant pastoral failure, in at least the ways described.

    I am glad in the sense that the Principalities and Powers attending to this overplayed their hand and revealed more of themselves than would be warranted, given the actual outcome. It is good to know the Holy Spirit still writes with crooked sticks, even if the confusion will raise some obstacles to evangelization because it has always been through such challenges that saints are made. To paraphrase Phil Lawler, one doesn’t convert by arguing nor agreeing, but rather witnessing.

  2. avatar JLo says:

    Yes, a good piece of work and a view no one I’ve read has yet brought up; and in all charity, it should be: to give those engaged in the SSA lifestyle the false hope that perhaps God says it’s not only an okay state in life, but one with certain beneficial offerings, was a terrible thing to do, a terrible abuse of such children of God who are struggling with their particular burden… and obviously I do believe it is a burden, a cross. To tell them otherwise is a terrible lack of love, let alone a lie, a betrayal of God and His Church and his children.

    This whole thing was a nuclear bomb tossed right in the heart of the Vatican. My prayer is that Church leaders devote themselves to prayer, which will bring them to the Truth, so they can speak it forthwith. Enough damage has already been done. Please, God, that the double talk by so many will cease, that they’ll speak the truth or at least just be silent. I am so sick of the media darling prelates posturing for the press, laughing it up, and leaving destruction all around them as they merrily march to and from those cameras and microphones they so love. Quiet!! It is a time for prayer and reflection and thereby a welcome to Truth. +JMJ

  3. avatar Gretchen says:

    Diane, a very well done article. It bristles with clear, Catholic reasoning. It is a spiritual crime to call sin ‘not sin’, to confirm a sinner in his sin rather than help him awaken to a true self-hood in Christ. I’m reading an excellent pamphlet right now that pertains to the spiritual battle and shows us how to discern the spirits. It’s called “Rules for Discerning the Spirits: In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, by Rev. Fr. Ludovic-Marie Barrielle. Just a short quote: “Those who reassure the sinner in his sins also play the game of the devil…It is the devil that reassures the sinner in his sins. BEWARE!…The devil reassures one in tepidity, and it is very dangerous for their salvation.”

    St. Padre Pio used to say, “Bring me my weapon!” Meaning of course, his Rosary. As JLo says, it is time for prayer and reflection.

  4. avatar annonymouse says:

    Well said, Diane. Not only did the parties responsible for the interim document overplay their hand, but their deceit was actually cruel.

  5. avatar JLo says:

    Not everyone sees things the same way. This morning we were treated at the end of the homily to a reference to the recent synod which the homilist actually called a council and during which he praised Pope Frances and said three times in the final sentence that the Church needs to change as Pope Francis envisions it, needs to change, needs to change.

    The homily itself was on taking care of the poor, and that, too, was a disaster as the priest depicted all the well-to-do, the successful, as the greedy and all the poor as victims. Just an amazing lack of critical thinking on parade. Not nice to leave Sunday Mass angry as I did. Took me a bit to slough it off, I admit, as he also treated us to the tidbit that America once had slaves… no mention that the WORLD had slaves from the beginning of recorded time and some countries still do; but no, let’s bash America while we’re at the job of misinforming the masses.

    Looks like I’m still a bit angry. Can’t offer the anger to Our Lord…. I’ll work on offering the suffering undergone sitting there and listening to drivel.

    God bless our Sunday, everyone. +JMJ

  6. avatar Jim says:

    As we continue to dialogue about what is taking place at the Synod, and the questionable teachings of our present Holy Father, let us keep in prayer those people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves struggling with a homosexual orientation; and at the same time, are also faithfully practicing to be good, holy, celibate and orthodox Catholics. This must be a difficult time for them, as all of this dialogue brings a lot of their own personal hurt and struggle into the social limelight.

  7. avatar annonymouse says:

    JLo – for the benefit of the rest of us, it would be helpful to know where that was.

    I know how a homily, shaped to convey the political bent of the preacher, can be infuriating. Sometimes we need to be challenged, but too often the message seems to be that the most charitable thing we can do is vote Democratic, even if it’s never couched explicitly in those terms. So what a surprise that some preachers would seize upon this synod (oh, Council! – that’s just ignorance and/or laziness on the part of the priest) to advance their ecclesial political ideology as well.

  8. avatar BigE says:

    @Richard Thomas
    You must’ve missed the reference to the 2nd Commandment in yesterday’s Gospel. 🙂

  9. avatar JLo says:

    I disagree and thus must disappoint, annonymouse: I don’t think it will help anyone to know the site of that homily I wrote about yesterday. I just don’t see the upside of that revelation. +JMJ

  10. avatar Richard Thomas says:


    Are you saying it’s OK to conduct oneself like that before mass….and I might also say some of the culprits do this during mass, even immediately after receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist.

    If so, then does the second commandment state you must love your neighbor at the expense of mocking and disrespecting God?

  11. avatar christian says:

    I agree with you Diane, and think you’ve done a very good job with entailing the error miin with the Synod Proceedings.

    In regard to the same-sex marriage issue and the continual attempt to pass the Women’s Freedom of Choice Act as part of The Women’s Equality Act:
    You may want to prayerfully and conscienciously choose your candidate. I should not be telling you who to vote for and for who not to vote for.
    Look at the candidates and bio (a significant other is missing from one of the candidate’s bio and family picture)to get more information.

  12. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Today’s Church Militant TV is excellent, and reports the lack of catechesis among bishops and cardinals who don’t know their Catechism, especially at the Synod. It is a logical follow-up to what I posted above (for which I give the Holy Spirit all the credit! Any mistakes? they are mine).

    As he always strives to do, Michael Voris makes excellent points regarding the Synod, on the weakening of true perception of Sacred Scripture, and the news—if you grab it before it is replaced tomorrow — ends with Cardinal Burke celebrating Mass in the EF, and reflections on Summorum Pontificum. Here’s the link

  13. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Cardinal Burke and the 1998 conversion of one of “Wisconsin’s most outspoken gay activists”

  14. avatar BigE says:

    @Richard Thomas
    Conduct themselves like what? Trying to be friendly, social, and communal? OMG!
    Do people go too far with that sometimes? Certainly.
    But getting your feathers ruffled over a deacon who was trying to be friendly seems to be going a bit too far the other way IMHO.

  15. avatar Jim says:

    Great article, Ben! That really says it all…and it highlights the saintliness of Cardinal Burke, who is on the frontline of true Catholic teaching.

  16. avatar christian says:

    What an excellent article to share Ben, relaying Cardinal Burke’s personal, loving care as a spiritual father and shepherd, and also depicting the type of response and pastoral care that all bishops should emulate.

    As Diane as stated, and all posters agree, to be truly loving and compassionate as a spiritual shepherd is to uphold scriptural teaching on life issues so as to help those under your guidance obtain eternal salvation. It is a well-meant, but false compassion and love, to give into people’s afflictions and troublesome states in life and allow them to live in sin. There are a lot of heterosexuals, not only homosexuals, who find themselves in in a difficult situation and state of life, who have to choose the better part and refrain from sexual relations. Because a single heterosexual man or woman has not found a person of the opposite sex who is a good choice and who is willing to commit the rest of their life with to them, and is not married by a particular age – Do the Bishops think they should be able to live together with a person of the opposite sex and be free to engage in sexual relations? Because a heterosexual person finds themselves the unwilling or willing participate of a separation or divorce, does that give them the right to pursue other relationships and engage in sexual relations outside of marriage according to the Bishops? Even within married life, a husband and wife can be going through difficult times, or a marriage can have issues from the start or turn out as a marriage without love or sexual relations, but a mutual partnership, and/or staying together for the sake of the kids.

    Everyone assumes the grass is greener on the other side. Not everyone’s personal life may be what it seems. Years ago, a hospital chaplain relayed that same notion. He said he had single men and women coming to him for spiritual counseling, complaining that they weren’t married, and he had married men and women coming to him for spiritual counseling, complaining that they were married. There are all types of situations that heterosexual men and women may find themselves in, in addition to same-sex attracted’/homosexual men and women. As Christian men and women, they are called to live out lives of holiness, devoid of sexual relations, and even devoid of romantic involvement in many of these cases.

    Would a good father or mother let a child carry out a certain action that would be detrimental and harmful to them because they did not want to upset the child, hurt their feelings, or jeopardize their peaceful, “buddy” type relationship they had with them. Certainly, adults should not be treated as children, but pastors and bishops have a responsibility to safeguard their parishioners and protect them from spiritual harm by holding the bar high out of love.

    Diane, your other point is well-taken also, regarding the harm which is caused by “jumping the gun” in announcing what is thought that these Bishops will adopt and approve. That’s why so many businesses and corporations are tight-lipped about what is disclosed in meetings behind doors and are very confidential regarding documents which are involved. This is because there is more damage control involved with partial information, rumors, and unapproved plans which leak out, especially if it leads to other speculation or if it gets peoples hopes up, and then the record has to be set straight with accurate information, or hopes are dashed due to unofficial information.

    *When information is given out and all the kinks are not out of it, and there is continual delay, back-peddling, and uncertainty, people are FRUSTRATED and their TRUST IS LOST. Without disclosing too much information: I was involved in such a situation where higher-ups officially disclosed that we were merging with this other group like our own, and we would be moving to another location. The mutual partnership was to benefit all parties. We had to attend meetings in regard to this merger and move. We were suppose to merge and move within the year. A year was up and we heard no more. I heard there was a matter of conflict as to who would take charge of certain areas which could not be resolved. Approx. 6-7 years later, another mutual beneficial relationship merger was officially announced, where were there was a move to another location. We were given letters and also asked to attend meetings. The timetable kept changing, from a year, 6 months, back to a year, another 6 months, back to a year, and so forth and so on. We continued to receive updated letters and asked to attend continual meetings where certain components of the move fell through, or were delayed, or changed, and then delayed. *Meanwhile, employees in all positions were told they had to be at their very best in job performance and also be very prudent about calling in sick, because only the best employees would go to this new location.
    This situation of timetables shifting and ongoing delays continued over a seventeen year period. All of the employees became very FRUSTRATED and very DISTRUSTFUL throughout this time, and it was NOT GOOD FOR MORALE. Many of the employees became very RESENTFUL because they saw the ultimatum of excellence and best job performance with prudence in calling in sick, as just a means to keep employees in line, as they did not believe we would ever move to the newer, beneficial location. Their was a general LACK OF HOPE over the situation.

    It was sad, because when the move did happen seventeen years later, (and approx. 24 years after the first talk of a move), almost all of the original employees and employees who stuck it out for the long haul of many years, who had excellent, faithful job performance, were no longer there to be among those to move to this new location.

    These types of negative results can happen even when unofficial news leaks out. With regard to unofficial news of the Bishop’s positions in the Synod being leaked out and reported, it has the ability to lead people into sin as if they already think it is a done deal and their particular situation, which was previously forbidden, is now allowed.

  17. avatar Diane Harris says:

    The comments which were related to silence (or not) before Mass have been moved to their own “Light a Candle” post, where everyone is free to comment further. When we see a need for a separate post, we’ll try to create a place for further dialogue. Meanwhile, just keeping the Synod subject in its own thread. Hope this works well for everyone interested in these separate subjects.

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