It is perhaps significant that as the Synod meets in Rome Archbishop Longley of Birmingham, joint chairman of ARCIC, has rejected the idea of non-Catholic spouses being able to receive Holy Communion, three years ago he was open to considering the possibility. In a similar move Archbishop John Myers of Newark has underlined the Church's teaching on the reception of Holy Communion.
As confusion is loosed in the Church I suspect we will see many priests and bishops stiffening what the Church has always believed, [quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est] whilst others move with spirit of the age and the agenda put forward by the purveyors of novelty. If the centre cannot hold then the peripheries will. The Church is like a cartwheel held in tension by the hub, the Bishop of Rome with the rim being that which is believed everywhere, always and by everyone.
It seems that the debate in the Synod Hall has moved from debate over the unity and dissolubility of marriage to the unity to the dissolubility of the Church. It is natural that it should. We believe in a heirarchy of doctrine, not that one doctrine is more important than another but that each is interconnected, remove or weaken one and the whole edifice will begin to collapse. We are watching the collapse!
As Deacon Nick Donnelly says:
The Breakup of the Catholic ChurchAs Pope Benedict frequently prophesied the Church of the future will be smaller and more fervent, Few of us thought that would come about through the action of his immediate successor.
Father Rosica also indicated that some synod fathers proposed devolving the question of allowing the divorced and civilly remarried to receive communion from Rome to the national level:
“What is needed is not necessarily a universal solution to complex problems, but discussions in small groups and discussions in regional, national and continental groupings to talk about the solutions to the different areas, the different problems, which are not necessarily the same throughout the world.”
But if they succeed in doing this, they change the nature of the Church so that she is no longer one, holy, catholic and apostolic. For example, proposals to devolve decisionmaking powers over allowing the divorced and remarried to receive holy Communion to national bishops’ conferences will break the communion of the Catholic Church. If enacted, we may well see the Church in most parts of Europe abandoning the doctrine of indissolubility by allowing couples in a permanent state of adultery to receive Communion and the Church in Africa upholding the doctrine of indissolubility by maintaining the prohibition of people committing adultery from receiving holy Communion. If this situation were to happen, the Catholic Church would no longer exist in Europe, having finally fallen to liberal Protestantism.
Observing the synod on the family, I know that God upholds the indissolubility of marriage, and so he remains faithful to us and will work his action to purify his Church, the Bride of Christ. We are not left hopeless, but strengthened to defend his truth.