If we are to believe reports appearing in the world press – both secular and religious (there is no uncensored Catholic press in India) — the three week Rome synod to find solutions to challenges facing families, was possibly the most stormy session in the recent history of Catholic church with any number of vested interested factions bent on pushing their partisan agendas.
Some of them already preplanned their agenda and came to the synod well prepared. Proof is the letter of 13 bishops given to Francis already on Oct.5th the second day of the Synod. It also highlights the fact that Pope Francis who endeared himself to those on he pews alienated those on the thrones.
To the ordinary folks his enticing humility and simplicity was something unseen among the clerical class. For bishops well cushioned on their thrones, they were and are not ready to give up their perks of poser. As a result those who were singing his praises were not his episcopal fraternity but ordinary people, especially the poor, the abandoned, the marginalized and those on the periphery.
New York Times
Now listen to what some of the independent writers have written in world press. The New York Times’ Laurie Goodstein and Elisabette Povoledo describe the drama and intrigue in the synod this way:
“The meeting (synod) has exposed deep fault lines between traditionalists focused on shoring up doctrine, and those who want the church to be more open to Catholics who are divorced, gay, single parents or cohabiting….it is increasingly clear that Francis is struggling to build consensus for his vision of a more inclusive and decentralized church. The question is whether the pope, who has won the hearts of those in the pews, can persuade the bishops to help create a church that fully welcomes people with the kinds of family situations it now condemns…”
The Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola writes that the synod “has erupted into a theological slugfest over Pope Francis’s vision of a more-inclusive church, and it has displayed the most bitter and public infighting since the head days of Catholic reform in the 1960s.”
“Archbishop Tomash Peta of Kazakhstan captured the magnitude of the divide, raising eyebrows — and a few incredulous laughs — as he decried some of the policy changes floated at the meeting as having the scent of “infernal smoke.”
“It was just another day at a gathering that, more than any event since Francis began his papacy in 2013, has highlighted how the pontiff’s outreach to once-scorned Catholics has triggered a tug of war for the soul of the Catholic Church. More important, it underscored just how hard it may be for the pope to recast the church in his image.
“The chances of fast changes on contentious family issues — whether to offer Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics or to craft more welcoming language for gays and lesbians have substantially dimmed, if not died….The divide is not just a liberal-conservative split; it is also geographic, with prelates in Africa, for instance, denouncing the “Eurocentric” and “Western” fixation with issues such as gay rights. Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah linked the push for gay rights to abortion and Islamic extremism, comparing them all to what “Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century.”
Thomas Reese, former editor of the Jesuit “America”magazine, drew an analogy between Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama: “Francis has the same problem that Obama had,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter. “He promised the world, but Congress wouldn’t let him deliver. If nothing much comes of this synod, I think people will give the pope a pass and blame the bishops for stopping change.”
So it looks Francis wants his Church to change fast but his parliament of bishops is posing itself as the biggest road block, of course not all bishops. He had started the 2014 synod on a very happy note with Walter Gaspers’ speech telling everyone “the name of our god is MERCY. He is never tired of forgiving, it is we who are tired of asking forgiveness.” Similar is the stand of Francis who repeats times and again, that Jesus came for sinners, not the just, that communion is also a remedy for the sick and dying, that his church is mostly made up people who should be described as “Holy, Catholic, Apostolic but ‘Holy sinners’(Sancti peccatores’)
If nothing works Francis may have to sack many of his cabinet members and ministers in various countries and pick up men approved from among ordinary folks. After all is it not precisely what he said in his famous speech on Synod=Church, people are to be above bishops and cardinals and to be a Ministerm, one has to be one step below the laity in an Inverted Pyramid Church?
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