I've had a few emails, many expressing fear as to what the Synod will comer up with this afternoon. I know who is drafting the final document, which doesn't fill me with much hope, I am a bit concerned that people like Cardinal Garcia is saying that a lot of the decisions will be left up to the Pope, and what says will be determined by which corner he has been painted into, and how much flexibility he actually has, in fact to put it crudely, what he can get away with.
I am still perplexed by Francis, he is typical of his generation, and especially of that most idiosyncratic of religious orders. the Jesuits, he seems a divided soul, mistrusting that which gave him birth. I think that he will be anxious about unity, and anxious to be ambiguous or inclusive. For someone who has a limited pastoral experience, who seems hide-bound by his experience of the Church in Argentina and briefly in Germany, who is seriously handicapped linguistically to Spanish and Italian I can understand him being cautious, even frightened to come out with clarity, besides that is not his way. I can understand his concern up until now has been to keep the Teutons and the more liberal exponents of South American theology in the Church. I think he might have been surprised at how Catholic many of the bishops actually are, and what they want.
I have been struck by how inarticulate liberals are, but then the thing is that there is no liberal consensus. Liberalism is essentially a critique of orthodoxy and as such it has no substance whilst the orthodox arguments are well rooted and honed, are tested and are not an untried experiment. The nagging S Martha sermons, so often criticising orthodoxy and the orthodox, are certainly in that critical sense liberal. So often liberals are surprisingly not liberal, that often manifests itself in tyranny and the promotion personal and eccentric notions. However that is not always so, one example: in England and Wales the move to re-introduce Friday abstinence was pushed by the most liberal of our bishops. From what I know of him, he was my bishop, it wasn't to promote orthodoxy or for a spiritual reason, but rather it made 'sociological' sense, but what matters is not what he intended but what God does through fasting and penance. Basing theology on sociology rather than Revelation, is certainly a characteristic of liberalism. The strange think is Catholicism makes sense, Liberalism ultimately doesn't, it is empty fruitless and destructive, it has nothing to say to the world, the young actually find it off putting, patronising and destructive.
For those who are feeling despondent -WAIT the Church has a long history and probably a longer future! Councils, Synods, Popes might say a lot but not much is heard, and even less is accepted, and even less implemented. Wait because what was clear Africa is the ascendant. At the Counter-reformation it was Spain and Italy, before VII it was Germany and France, after it South America, now it is Africa. Dare I suggest it, it was that Archbishop, that Apostolic Delegate for French speaking Africa, who was so keen on promoting native clergy, so keen on promoting sound seminaries and sound catechesis, that he managed to set fire to Africa, and the flame still burns brightly. I suspect this was not yet the triumph of orthodoxy but it was a defeat for Liberalism - but wait, be patient.