Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Extraordinary Synod on the Family
No Pastor is going to deny that the teaching of the Church on the family and sexuality is in a mess.
We have beautiful teaching but it is just not taught, we have a wonderful understanding of the complementarity between man and woman but it is not understood. We can eloquently argue that man and women within the bond of marriage, together, are more perfectly the image of God. We can present arguments that divorce and remarriage harms children. We can speak about the need for sex to take place only within the bond of marriage and to be open to life but it is disregarded.
All the evils that afflict modern society from pornography, premarital sex, contraception, adultery, divorce and marital break-up, single parent families, the exclusion of fathers, the uncertainty of sexual identity could and should be addressed by the Extraordinary Synod. It could go even further and address the assault on Life, the fragmentation of society, its economic breakdown, youth unemployment, the alienation of the elderly.
The Church's teaching is glorious and multi-dimensional, and when presented coherently it is life changing but even among bishops and clergy, and 'professional', it is actually not only misunderstood but treated as an embarrassment to be best ignored or excused away.
To a world that has few big ideas what the Catholic Church actually has to say should to truly revolutionary.
I was talking to our diocesan vocations director recently he was saying how young men see celibacy as something dynamic, that is about spiritual fatherhood and potency and yet so often it is presented in terms of loneliness and negation. Marriage and family can easily portrayed in terms of negativity. I think, I hope, that when Pope Francis speaks about Catholics being obsessed by homosexuality, contraception, abortion, what he really means is that we often present our message in negative terms, whereas we should be presenting the beauty of continent brotherly love, the wonder of being a life-giving parenthood and the dignity and value of life from its beginning to its natural end.
We desperately need a new moral theology. The moral theology, especially around sex and the family, that followed the Second Vatican Council rather than rejoicing in goodness, tended to be a way of finding people excuses to be immoral. Rather than embracing a new way of life and the radical dynamic conversion Benedict and Francis have been calling people to, so much of Catholic moral theology is still expressed in terms of the niggardly 'How far can I go?' It is the meanness and minimalism that seems to dominate the tickbox thinking of dissidents rather than the glorious adventure of discipleship.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake