The “short” document is online is here, in English. We’re taking a few paragraphs a day from it. The fourth sets the stage for a series of challenges that follow:
We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. In your homes there are light and shadow. Challenges often present themselves and at times even great trials. The darkness can grow deep to the point of becoming a dense shadow when evil and sin work into the heart of the family.
We recognize the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. Enfeebled faith and indifference to true values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and stress that excludes reflection leave their mark on family life. There are often crises in marriage, often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious.
And so the situation is acknowledged: people are imperfect. I like the diagnosis that the marital crisis in which we find ourselves so often is blundered by taking things too quickly and not embracing courage. In marriage, there are two. Teamwork, companionship, mutual support: all these better than being mindless breeding stock chained to expectations of fertility.
The Christian choice is not at all obvious in many situations. The role models we are offered are not celibate saints, but celebrities with flashy lives, plus the secular advertisements urging us to youth and frivolity. And make no mistake: even self-styled “faithful” Catholics are steered wrong as often as not.
My hope is that institutionally, we can look at more positive role models of married couples who have sex, and live ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. Religious wannabes, not so much.
The irony in paragraph 5 is that so much of this–probably all of it–applies to clergy and even bishops: enfeebled faith, indifference to values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and a lack of reflection and contemplation. Clergy and bishops confront crises in the Church, often with haste and cowardice, lacking patience and discernment, void of sacrifices and especially forgiveness.
But this synod didn’t say anything about the priesthood, did it? Or did it?