15 October 2014

That Synod: light from the Ordinariate

A.D. 382: S Gregory [Nazianzenus] writes: "If I must speak the truth, I feel disposed to shun every conference of Bishops; for never saw I synod brought to a happy issue, and remedying, and not rather aggravating, existing evils. For rivalry and ambition are stronger than reason - do not think me extravagant for saying so - and a mediator is more likely to incur some imputation himself than to clear up the imputations which others lie under"(Epistola 129). It must ever be kept in mind that a passage like this only relates, and is here quoted only as relating, to that miserable time of which it is spoken. Nothing more can be argued from it than that the Ecclesia docens is not at every time the active instrument of the Church's infallibility.

On Consulting the Faithful in matters of Doctrine by Blessed John Henry Newman.

I would add a word of my own, to another anxious correspondent: A Catholic is obliged to be in communion with the See of S Peter (both when, as now, it is occupied, and also when, as during interregna, it is unoccupied). One is under no strict obligation to like the currently reigning Pontiff, nor to agree with him, nor to think that he is a man of prudence (although I think it is a mark of the mens Catholica to give him the benefit of any doubt). Many bishops, and even cardinals, did not like Benedict XVI, did not agree with him, did not admire his prudence. Indeed, not a few of those hierarchs, as soon as Benedict abdicated, came crawling out of their corners and said so. Presumably, as soon as Francis is either buried or abdicated, the same thing will happen.

You have to be in communion with him and to accept anything he defines ex cathedra to be the teaching of Christ. When, in his Ordinary Magisterium, he affirms the Church's teaching (and Francis has done a lot of that) you are thankful for it. When you have a problem with some word or action, you lean over backwards to see it in the best possible light. But your duties of faithfulness to Christ do not mean that you have to be pathologically sycophantic towards whoever happens to be the current bishop of Rome.

And you avoid the temptation to panic every time some daft bishops, or even some daft cardinal, says something ... daft.

One thing that I very much like about this Pontiff is the encouragement he has given to people to speak with parrhesia. If we fail to accept this gracious invitation, we have no-one to blame but ourselves. 

1 comment:

David Nelson said...

"One thing that I very much like about this Pontiff is the encouragement he has given to people to speak with parrhesia. If we fail to accept this gracious invitation, we have no-one to blame but ourselves."

But the very odd controlling way in which this Synod's structure is allowing the voice of the Bishops/Cardinals to be heard does not allow us to hear them speak with parrhesia. But a very filtered message is appearing and it just doesn't seem right. It all has such a fabricated feel to it and extremely unsettling. It is as if there is a predetermined outcome (just like on Monday--all those translations all ready to go.)

David Nelson