The King is Naked, so are the Cardinals?
dr. james kottor
Synod laid bare "the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the church's teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families," Pope Francis.
When I read the above sentence, what struck me like thunder bolt flashes were the images of too many swollen heads of shallow minded cardinals and bishops pretending to possess heavenly knowledge and celestial wisdom but are shamefully ignorant of everyday happenings and harsh ground realities in their own backyard and family kitchens of ever so many poor around.
What we saw in the Synod was the story of Lazarus and Dives reversed — Bishops living in the lap of luxury and families living in misery. It needed the Dives to be thrown into hell fire and see from there the lazar happy in the lap of Abraham to wake him up to the miseries of the poor families.
So the BIG question is who will make the synod fathers step into the shoes of the Lazaruses of this world? Until that happens things are not going to change one bit. Synod fathers with “closed hearts” who have no idea of what it is to be a real “father” in the hell of a broken family due to divorce or deadly disease will continue to sit on the thrones of “Moses and judge” superficially.
The King is Naked
Ordinary people see and understand this heart rending situation instantly while bishops act like lifeless statues with eyes that don’t see, ears that don’t hear, mouth that don’t speak and so burst out in shame and disgust and shout like the clear sighted child in the popular story wondering and shouting out: “The king is naked.” Why? And How?
Here is a story as an answer… A great judge who was the younger brother of a great Pope (I forget the names of both, please excuse) came to Vatican for a private audience. The Pope came in his snow white spotless attire. While reclining on his throne he asked his younger brother in royal suit: Please take your seat. When he did that — and think of synod fathers in the person of this Judge — the Pope bust into a hilarious, satirical, scriptural parody in Lain:(Judex cum sedebit quid quid latet apparebit.)
“When the judge sits on his throne whatever is hidden appears, opens and pops up” and looked sharply, not at the face of the Judge but at his unzipped pants fully revealing its precious content. For the Pope what he saw was what prompted a child to shout out in similar circumstance: “The king is naked.”
Most of the cardinals in the synod were possibly in the same plight of this great judge totally blind and unaware of the miserable plight of so many so-called Catholic families going to pieces for reasons beyond their control. Caught in such a situation what could a pope from the slums of crime and drugs of Argentina be saying except: “Get out of your church of the sacristy and go to the squalor of families in the peripheries in your part of the world.
Touching Wounded Families
But for what? To touch and see, to smell and feel the real family life lived in the dust and din of the 21st century where you bump into cohabiting families, quarreling families, families broken up in four pieces – father, mother, daughter, boy, going in four directions; families sick, incurable, paralyzed; families starving, jobless and roofless; one parent families with too many kids, lesbian families; families just for their youthful years for their sexual relief only and so on, before you start discussing how to meet the challenges facing modern families.
The Rome Synod of families has not done that. It was a synod of celibates. A real synod of families in rainbow colours, representing all varieties of families on earth was the one needed. It still is the need of the hour. Can the Church organize it? If so who will take the initiative? The Catholic church? That variety called the “Pyramidal Church” which Francis buried with his speech Church=Synod? If so NO, just forget it. But YES, If it means one led by Church Citizens who mingle with the Lassareses of this world.
Laity = Forefront & Church
“Church Citizens” is the glorified name for laity today. It was not in vogue during Pope Pius XII’s time. But already then he had defined the Laity as the Church saying, they “are not only in the forefront of the Church, but they are the Church”. Here Pius XII was truly far ahead of his times and endorsing fully the “Synodality” of Pope Francis. Will Church Citizens now living family life in domestic churches all over the world wake up to take over their rightful roles in the “forefront”? Will they take up most of the leadership work done now by celibates in glittering clothes known for their peacock colors and living in reservations called presbyteries?
That alone would be a radical return for the Church, not only to apostolic times but to the times of Jesus trudging a Peter’s mother in law, or relax with Sisters of Lazarus, or to sup with Zacheus the tax collector or Simon the Pharisee. Synod fathers who live through such experiences – Francis does it even now visiting old people’s homes, prisons, orphanages – alone can come up solutions to problems challenging families.
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