Free Speech Is The Earthquake

David Gibson on the synod:

Amid all the lobbying and armchair analysis, it’s important to step back and realize that in the three decades before Francis was elected pope, bishops, priests and theologians could have been investigated, censured, silenced or fired for many of the ideas that were being openly discussed at the synod.

That is perhaps the real earthquake, and it’s one that Francis himself wanted.

I think this is right.

In one sense, the hard-liners have already lost. They cannot control the speech. They cannot silence those who interrupt their aristocratic serenity. And best of all, people outside the Church know we are not a monolith of rigor. They might have to look a bit past the surface, but many Christians are here to welcome them.

I think Pope Francis has allowed this to play out crazy clever. The onus is on the bishops now to provide something for those of the household–all the clattering for more support for those who struggle in faithfulness to Christ.

One big step might be to put on hiatus the causes for bishops, priests, and religious founders. Married couples, and not just a few, need to be set out there as role models. As it is, the rigorists, knowingly or not, have ceded most of the exemplars in the Church to those of society, namely celebrities.

And on the local level, I think a lot of Catholics feel unburdened. Hopefully, we are prepared to offer the hand of welcome that a minority of bishops felt they could not extend. As for the bishops, fine. It’s not like they prepare couples for marriage, or write up documents for the declaration of nullity, or really get into the trenches much. In some cases, I’d prefer they take time for reflection and devote energy to their own formation and catechesis.

No, I think the synod turned out just fine. I know a number of people who will feel more free to talk. And truthfully: you can’t stop the talk.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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6 Responses to Free Speech Is The Earthquake

  1. crystal says:

    But at Vatican 2 there was a lot of free speech (like the arguments made for contraception), and theologians like Karl Rahner made public their views that contradicted church teaching (that women priests would be ok, that contraception was ok). Francis, on the other hand, has excommunicated Fr Greg Reynolds, who spoke up for women’s ordination.

    • Todd says:

      Perhaps so. Or perhaps it is not as clear as it seems in retrospect. Fr Reynolds had a lot more issues than just the ordination of women. I’m not a skeptic on Francis. I see a lot of solid Ignatian spirituality in all of this. Besides, given the state of the Church two years ago, it could have turned out a lot worse.

      Still, more lay people in the 2015 synod: that would be a good development.

      • crystal says:

        I do agree that Francis is a vast improvement over the last few popes. And I like the Ignatian spirituality that seems to be behind some of his choices and talks. I guess I should let my hope for the best be the enemy of the actual good :)

  2. crystal says:

    Ack – that was supposed to be “shouldn’t”

  3. Jason Ellis says:

    speeches they want to change but they themselves had to change. Whose vatican?

  4. FrMichael says:

    “One big step might be to put on hiatus the causes for bishops, priests, and religious founders.” OK, a somewhat bizarre statement IMNSHO. The Catholic Church is large; we can have postulators for the groups above as well as married couples simultaneously.

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