Agitation

I’ve noticed a lot of turmoil among some commentators at the NCReg over the Amazon synod. Fr Raymond de Souza, in this piece, outlines three concerns. The first I found incredible. Old meaning, there.

The Amazon synod did not emphasize an intensified sharing of priests, but, rather, new measures — married priests; studying a “diaconate” for women — that have not been previously employed elsewhere.

Married clergy have been part of the Roman Rite since Anglican and Protestant clergy were permitted to be ordained upon switching to Catholicism. That’s been going on for thirty-five years. Even longer is the Eastern practice of married clergy. If an opinion journalist wants to say, “I’ve never known any married priests. Never served with any.” I think that’s fine. But let’s not cloud a discussion with oversight or ignorance.

As for how women serve the mission of Jesus, with or without scare quotes, diakonia is, as understood in its theological roots, a ministry of service. Women have furthered the Church’s ministries in service for centuries. Probably all twenty of them. What has been lacking is the vision or will to make this a formal recognition.

Number two involves a bit of misinterpretation of the synod.

(T)he synod participants did not appear to give much weight to the impact that their deliberations would have on other parts of the Church. Considering “new paths” for the Amazon without thinking them through as part of a universal Church is a failure …

Instead of a local Church looking to serve the needs of the universal Church, there is instead a desire to exert pressure on the universal Church to change in order to accommodate the local.

Given the make-up of the synod with clergy from outside the Amazon region, it seems a stretch to suggest that this was an exercise in South American navel-gazing and selfishness. Feeling pressure is not at all a bad thing as described here. In my own area in the US, we have one of the highest proportions of Latino Catholics to Spanish-speaking clergy. My boss cannot get a priest to hear confessions in Spanish, let alone native languages from elsewhere in the Americas. I think my bishop, his chancery, and his clergy senate should feel some pressure. This, given the willingness of our community to host a confessor on a weeknight. Try replacing Saturday confessions with another day of the week, and I guarantee white parishioners would raise holy hell over it.

A third point:

(T)he whole Church was watching the Pan-Amazon synod, and there was no shortage of bishops who were concerned by what they saw and heard. They remained, with few exceptions, silent.

This is further described as a bad thing. It would be interesting if large numbers of bishops weighed in favorably to some of the “scarier” recommendations.

The synod process, as currently constituted and enacted by Pope Francis (and his predecessors) will involve a final statement, which will be part of Church teaching. I await that.

Some of the exceptions have not offered substantive, thoughtful, or helpful commentary. Some have spent energy on perpetrating fake news about statues.

I remember what I perceived were very dark days for the Church. The events of the USCCB Charter and the preliminaries involving Cardinal Law. Awkward statements from Pope Benedict. Clamping down of theologians and bishops clearly out of their element in dealing with the fine points of theology. LCWR. MR3 in English. A focus on the internals, but without attention to the stains being left on the mission.

I struggled to find a positive response to it all. My attempt here was to stick with the written word of Church teaching, affirming the wise, criticizing the peripherals, and attempting to keep it about ideas, not people.

The problem for Fr de Souza seems to be that Pope Francis and other bishops are now listening to people with new ideas. Under the previous two popes, such breathing was frowned upon. Now it is not. My reaction is to suggest people adopt my modus operandi. Take a deep breath; look for the graced moments, and wait to see what happens. Discuss before discerning, certainly. But there is no hiding behind “how we’ve always done it.” Especially when opinion journalists don’t quite have a bead on how it’s always been done.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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