The Sin-nod and a Sin-nodized Church

The confusion and kerfuffle in the world’s media during the first week of the current Synod were remarkable and un-precedented as far as I can see. Then came week two, and things have become truly extraordinary, and frighteningly so. Anyone who denies that a major ecclesiastical battle is being fought in and around the Synod is in cloud-cuckoo land.

Matters seem to have come to a head with the Archbishop Cupich of Chicago proposing that no-one should be denied Holy Communion as the Church should respect individual conscience. The utter logical and theological nonsense of his position is breathtaking. However, things became exponentially worse yesterday after the papal speech to the Synod. The Pope is certainly faithful to the infamous call he made to young people to go out and “make a mess”.

Not long ago the Pope reminded us all that the Synod was about more than Communion for civilly-divorced Catholics who had remarried. Now he has shown the true nature of the “more” he had in mind. His speech yesterday had little to do with marriage and the family. It announced his intention to restructure the Church, to make it a “Synodal Church”, decentralizing it, gutting the Curia and moving power to synods of bishops, which, in their proper form, have historical precedent and standing. But he also made clearer his deeper purpose, which is devolve as much as he can, “in a special way” to national and/or regional bishops’ conferences, which are a post-conciliar creation with no historical precedent or standing.

Synodal and national churches are dire. They become immersed in petty bickering and less-petty nationalism. They are apt to fall prey to regional and national forces, both social and political. They have a habit of mutual recrimination and even excommunication. Fr Blake fleshes this out better than I can. Bishops’ conferences are even worse. They neuter individual bishops in their own dioceses, exerting peer pressure to make non-conforming  individual toe the party line. That party line is all too easily manipulated by factions within the Church and forces without it. There is nothing collegial about them at all in truth. They are a means of manipulation and control under the guise of decentralization and democratization. Do a little research and see when the term and concept of “collegiality” first appears in Catholic theological thought. You will not have to look far back; it is a very recent novelty with little, if any, biblical warrant.

The Pope is right in tying his project to Vatican II. For that was the first clear occasion that the universal Church was being marshalled to adapt to the secular world, and to make the Church (somehow) relevant to the modern world. That is what forces within and without the Synod are attempting to do yet again. In the wake of the Council we witnessed the most dramatic falling away from the Church in the western world ever seen. Having tried so hard to be relevant to the world by conforming to it, it no longer had a message that people whose hearts and minds were being stirred by the Holy Spirit wanted and needed to hear. There were oases of gospel truth of course, and great figures who spoke out against the prevailing decline. But the forces of worldliness had been unleashed in the Church and they have been near impossible to root out. Now, with this plan to synodize the Church, we find the same mistakes being repeated in a different form.

Yesterday morning my thought had been to join in the chorus exposing the evil of the plan proposed by Cupich. He proposed that the Church should, in effect, give the nod to grave sin. He proposed that individual conscience should prevail in a way unheard of in Catholic doctrine; unheard of because impossible. He seems to think that an individual’s conscience can absolve all its grave sin simply be refusing to call it grave sin. It is the most profoundly defective understanding of conscience one could expect to see in a bishop. Self-absolution seems to be a plank in the platform of this brave new synodized Church. Though of course, not brave at all. Cravenly cowardly more like it.

One of the most subtly disturbing things in the papal speech yesterday was its exclusive focus on this life and this world. There was no mention of the next life, heaven and our eternal destiny, of this brief life being a preparation for the eternal life of divine bliss that awaits the faithful, Cross-carrying Christian. The first words of the gospel are “Repent”. Where was any call to repentance? Mind you, since sin is effectively being abolished, then logically any call to repentance is obsolete I guess.

While Christians are being martyred daily, literally in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, and metaphorically in the Western World, Rome fiddles.

Sorry to be so gloomy but this Sin-nod is an outright disaster so far, especially in a pastoral sense. It has sown confusion and dissension, and all this willingly presided over by the “Bishop of Rome” as he resumed styling himself. True to his word, sorry and sad to say, he has made a mess.

Pray for him, and for Mother Church. Go to confession soon, give alms and fast a little. Something is up; there is a whiff of something in the air. Best to be ready. The Cross might be about to get very real in our lives.

22 thoughts on “The Sin-nod and a Sin-nodized Church

  1. Thank you for writing this Father. I have found this whole Synod to be a profoundly troubling affair.

    It caught me by surprise that it was Cardinal Dolan of New York, who recognised faithful Catholics as a minority in need to protection.

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    1. Yes, Cardinal Dolan took me by surprise too. But it made me wonder – too little, too late, and of course it involved no real commitment on his part. Observations are not as perilous as commitments.

      Pax.

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  2. At a time when as you say Father, Catholics and truly the greater Christian family at large, has come under attack for simply being Christian — when we of this one apostolic and catholic family need a voice, the said voice is in the process of “de-vesting” itself—it is as if The Church is slowly being dismantled and filtered out into the vacuum of a darkening World.
    No longer is there distinction between right and wrong–as everything is right. And God forbid (I still believe) the Christian / Catholic Church doesn’t get with the program….
    This all reeks of something far more sinister than we mere mortals can even grasp —
    It was always that I knew, always knew, that as most of the mainline protestant churches (especially here in the US and Western Europe) slowly allowed themselves to be absorbed by the world—the Catholic Church was the one lone voice crying in the wilderness—the beacon of right and wrong and the keeper of the true definition of sinfulness, confession, absolution—now I am to be my own confessor and absolver, so no need for priest or church–it’s as if the sacredness of the liturgy, the mystery of blessed communion, all itself is being quelled, debunked as it were by those claiming to be ecclesiastical myth busters—bringing a very big and large God, down to that of a little god—to be mixed into society with all the other little gods we’ve created—
    it is a frightening time Father and I for one am very scared of the way this is all going—scared and sad—as a people we’ve gotten to where we prefer sitting around accepting all in the big circle as we hold hands singing “kumbaya” as we don’t like to be told that what we may think or do is “wrong” in the eyes of a God–as this is a time of anything and everything goes—let depravity reign supreme–
    I know that as we approach these days of growing of spiritual warfare that there is Victory in the end—but I always thought we’d have the Church in our arsenal—now I’m not so sure we’ll even have a church—
    Blessings and many prayers Father—-
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Julie, I was reading in our Catholic Herald this morning that a German think-tank has determined that 80% of the religious persecution in the world at present is against Christians.

      I do not want any faith to be persecuted, but perhaps we need to start worrying more about our own brethren before worrying about those not of the faith. After all, even on a plane they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else.

      Blessings!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Father—I’ve had to climb back into my comments, finding an early successful one to you as I’ve noticed my last several comments of recent days seem to be in the spam bin—I commented today on your post regarding The Coptic Church’s response to the Palm Sunday attack of one of true and pure forgiveness…yet it does not show that I ever visited your sight…sigh
        Oh how I get so frustrated with WP when I fall into everyone’s waste baskets

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      2. Dear Julie! I have no idea why all of a sudden Word Press has been judging you as Spam. Bizarre. You are a regular commenter here. Very annoying. My apologies, especially as my checks of the spam folder are too infrequent. All is remedied now so allow me a little time to read them.
        Pax.

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  3. I guess we should hardly be surprised that such a synod is the work of bishops who were either ordained in the post-conciliar Church or embraced its ethos as young priests, and have lived most or all of their lives in its ever deepening shadow. This phenomenon should only become more pronounced in coming years as the disintegration continues. ‘The stomach eating itself’ is how one friend of mine described this a quarter of a century ago, and it seems an apt enough analogy as the auto-digestive process goes on, with no sign at all of stopping.

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  4. Dear Father,

    We came across your blog recently.

    Your faithful articles – especially this one today – are very encouraging to us.

    You are so right about regional conferences of bishops. During the events of the last decade or so, we have often thought of the Ratzinger Report’s reminder of their lack of theological basis.

    How distressing all of this is. We think you are spot on with your caution to be ready for the Cross.

    May Our Lord and Our Lady help us all to keep the Faith!

    Thank you and God bless.
    Alan and Angeline.

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    1. Dear Alan and Angeline,

      Welcome!

      Thank you for your kind words. Encouragement is about all I have to offer, and even that is suddenly in short supply.

      There is prayer too, of course, which we must content ourselves with for now.

      Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12)
    I am first a Christian, bought and sealed by Christ Himself and His Spirit.
    Church affiliate is secondary. I sometimes find like faith in surprising places, yet I am not so surprised. The Lord knows those that are His.
    I currently can find no haven among Protestant churches that give Christ preeminence to my satisfaction. A sad affaire indeed.
    Your article is strangely comforting.
    Thank you and God bless you
    And you as well Cookie, for it was your crumbs that lead me here!

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  6. The Catholic Herald online has an article which seems to sing the praises of Cupich’s remarks.
    I think you are spot on with your article and I am sure things are going to become much more difficult for faithful Catholics.
    Thank you and God bless you.

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  7. “As a Church that “walks together” with men and women, sharing the hardships of history, let us cultivate the dream that the rediscovery of the inviolable dignity of peoples and the exercize of authority, even now will be able to help civil society to be founded on justice and fraternity, generating a more beautiful and worthy world for mankind and for the generations that will come after us.”

    Thus concludes the Holy Father. The superfluous word in this sentence is, of course, ‘Church’. If this is all the Church has to offer people, we have no need of her. Politicians, humanists and philosophers, can do the same, and are no doubt better qualified to do so. Whatever the synod decides regarding holy communion for those in irregular sitations, it seems clear that the whole point of holy communion has already vanished. There seems to be no room for God and eternal life in this chummy, hail-fellow-well-met ‘church’.

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    1. Indeed. The purely humanist programme that seems to be unfolding before us lags behind other humanist ideas, and so is hardly worth the effort. As a supernatural plan, it could do with even a little supernatural somewhere!

      It’s times like these I begin to see the attraction of conspiracy theories!

      Pax semper!

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  8. Dear Fr Hugh

    Pax Christi!

    Thank you for your article which describes the same disquiet I feel about the ongoing farcical Synod. With you and many others, I dread the outcome, especially when the Holy Father seems to have shown his hand as to which side / approach he favours. I really dislike being critical of the Pope in public but feel that more and more each day that a Jesuit ascending the throne of Peter was not such a good idea – this coming from a fellow old Aloysian.

    I continue to pray daily for Holy Father, the Synod and faithful bishops like Cardinals Pell, Mueller, Sarah, etc. but alas vacillate between (mostly) despair and (sometimes) hope about the immediate future of the Church.

    As you said, time to get ready to carry this Cross …

    Sancte Aloysi, ora pro nobis!

    In Him,
    Alvin

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    1. Dear Alvin,

      Welcome, fellow Aloysian! Like you, I feel very strange in criticising a living pope, or even one who lived in my lifetime (though I can fault St JP II for one thing, it does not take away from his greatness). But historically we must remember that criticising popes has been very common, and John XII actually taught heresy (though he never magisterially proclaimed it) but still he recanted before his death, and it was on a speculative point of doctrine rather than a pastoral one. Nevertheless, he was opposed by most of the Church. And finally he corrected himself, while no one ever denied he was pope. That, of course, was when a pope was a major prince with real power over earthly life and death!

      The Romans (I think it was them) had an old adage – a Jesuit pope will be the last pope! St Ignatius certainly never wanted his men to be popes, or even bishops. The Jesuits were there to serve the pope and the Church in any way he wanted. They were to be servants not master. And now… well, no matter how many feet of Muslim women he washes, he is still very clearly ruling with an iron rod.

      Anyway, Alvin, keep the faith and keep up your prayers for synod and Church, invoking St Aloysius, especially to help bring his confrère to his senses.

      Peace and all good things be with you.

      H

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