Cleansing Fire

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The Holy Spirit and the Synod

November 7th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

As the months go on, I believe we will see even more evidence of the Holy Spirit’s Presence relative to the Synod.  After the mid-term Relatio was presented, with all its evidence of preparation beforehand, and the momentum with which it built on Cardinal Kasper’s “Gospel of the Family,” it seemed impossible that just a few days later the voices of opposition would speak clearly, reject much that had been written, coalesce in unity around the eternal truths in the breakout groups, and force a rewritten, coherent document, rejecting certain heretical concepts!  How did all that happen in just a few days, when the puppeteers had months to prepare, and with Cardinal Kasper paving the way as early as last February as the key if not sole presenter in the pre-meeting on his personal opinions?  The question is not “How?” but “WHO!”

We should take great heart that He is with His Church.  Sometimes it seems that God allows things to go afield so that His Mighty Presence can be shown in bringing them back.  Dramatic as the Synod turnaround was, it is incredible too that in just a little over six months after the February pre-Synod meeting, a scholarly refutation would be written by committee and published before the Synod even took place.  Although only the Kindle version was on the market at the time, doubtless there were pre-copies that reached key prelates.  Again, one could ask “How did they do that?” but again the answer would be “Not “how”, but “WHO!”

There were even rumors of attempts to suppress the book “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” from being distributed at the Synod, but that would likely stimulate even a greater desire to read what the loyal committee had written.  While dealing only with the error of trying to allow divorced/remarried Catholics admission to the Sacraments (and not the same-sex issues which also emerged ScreenShot238from the Synod), it appears that the work could not have better addressed the issues even if it had been written after the Synod with the benefit of full knowledge of all that had taken place.  The points are right on what most needed to be refuted.

My order arrived only a few days ago, and I’ve read through the excellent summary Chapter One, and am going to share with you the high points and clarity expressed. No ecclesial doublespeak here!  One by one every argument of Cardinal Kasper is dismantled by those who fully know the Faith and fulfill their responsibility to the Faithful. Here are some highlights from Chapter One:  The Argument in Brief by Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., who synthesizes in a few pages the writings of all the authors.  Here are some direct quotes:

“Given the gravity of the doctrinal question [raised by Cardinal Kasper], these historical claims require a scholarly response.”

“…the few examples [Kasper] cites will not support his conclusion and the vast recorded experience of the early Church flatly contradicts it.”

“He relies for the specific cases he mentions exclusively on one author and ignores the counterarguments of others.”

“…the historical evidence for his conclusion, which was  advanced by Giovanni Cereti, is deeply flawed.  It is not clear whether Kasper is aware of the level of detail in the scholarly objections….Nevertheless, the Cardinal employs them as evidence for his proposal.”

“Rist [one of the authors] accuses Kasper of the ‘unfortunate practice all too common elsewhere in academia, whereby a ‘very few cases’ are selected in order to claim the existence of a practice, even when the contrary historical evidence is ‘overwhelmingly superior’.”

Regarding the practice of oikonomia in the Orthodox Churches, author Abp. Vasil “notes the lack of a coherent basis — or even of a common terminology — for comparing the theological, canonical and pastoral rationales behind [those] practices….”

“…highly dubious exceptions to the otherwise manifest standard teaching and practice of the Church concerning the indissolubility of marriage is more suggestive of anomalies than of parallel or alternative traditions that might be subject to retrieval today.”

[Author Cardinal Muller] “replies that in order to avoid an incomplete view of Jesus’ mercy we need to look at the entirety of His life and teaching.  The Church cannot appeal to ‘divine mercy’ as a way of jettisoning those teachings of Jesus that she finds difficult…. An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.”

[Author Cardinal De Paolis} replies “The difficulty one encounters in respecting the moral law dos not then permit that person to turn around and violate the same moral law…. [A] distinction is often made between doctrine and discipline in order to say that in the Church doctrine does not change, whereas the discipline does… However, a change in Church practice aimed at permitting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist necessarily involves a change in doctrine.  No one should be under any illusion about this.”

[Author Cardinal Caffarra] outlines reasons that Cardinal Kasper’s proposal necessarily involves a change in doctrine and not just in sacramental discipline.  He notes ….the status of the divorced and civilly remarried is in objective contradiction with that bond of love that unites Christ and the Church, which is signified and actualized by the Eucharist…. Admission of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to the sacraments … would persuade, not only the faithful, but also any attentive person of the idea that … there exists no marriage that is absolutely indissoluble….”

Cardinal Caffarra further “objects that an appeal to prudence cannot be made…because that which is in itself … intrinsically illicit can never be the object of the prudential judgment…a prudent adultery cannot exist….The Church cannot excuse the faithful from their obligation to obey God’s law.”

[Author Cardinal] Burke “points out that the faithful are badly served by tribunals that fall into a kind of pseudo-pastoral pragmatism…the faithful could become ‘disedified and even scandalized.'” [Note: placing annulments in the hands of the Diocesan Bishop without the Vatican oversight to preserve the rights of both parties is a frightening concept, when more than half the prelates at the Synod voted to accept the three heretical statements, which were dropped for receiving less than 2/3 vote!]

Toward the end of his book, Cardinal Kasper apparently argues for “Sensus fidelium,” but erroneously.  The “Faithful” does not mean only laity but includes the ordained as well.  And the “sense” is not a poll, or a majority opinion.  And faithful means FAITHFUL, not Catholic in name or for convenience.  Dodaro quotes Newman in the beautiful words that the Sensus Fidelium is “an instinct for the authentic faith possessed by the faithful, understood as both the hierarchy and the laity together, as the one Body of Christ.  Newman referred to this dynamic as conspiratio, a breathing together between pastors and laity.”

This was not a quickly slapped-together book, in spite of the rapid timing.  The Holy Spirit’s involvement is clear.  In spite of the speed of response, a moving quickly to the front lines of battle, it is a careful and scholarly work.  The authors even correct a Kasper footnote error. Whatever happens going forward, none of the Synod members will ever be able to say they didn’t know what was wrong with Cardinal Kasper’s proposal, or hadn’t been put on notice.  There is a pivotal moment here, that may someday have the same story-telling flavor as when the St. (Bishop) Nicholas punched Arius in the face.

Come, Holy Spirit, and stay with us!

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