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The Long Magisterial Parliament Ends; Will Division Follow?

November 2, 2018 Frontpage No Comments


If there is anything more boring in this world, it is a bunch of 40 year old men telling 60 year old men what 20 year old men want to hear — then cranking out a document that no one will read much less be inspired by.
Such is the magisterial parliament known as the Youth Synod, my friends. Which is really an Old Synod designed to bore young people.
The final report of the synod has yet to be published much less debated, but by the time this reaches your hands, the final document will be produced in substance. At the moment, several riders and amendments known as modi are being submitted, and the long-derided Instrumentum Laboris (working document) — which had been tossed in the wastebasket by faithful Catholics in Africa and elsewhere — is now coming back like so many zombies by men such as Reinhard Cardinal Marx.
One might think that our bishops — many of whom were raised to their position by Pope St. John Paul II — would actually care to mention the one name that inspired a generation of young Catholics to stand up for their faith in the public square.
One might also think that words such as chastity and redemption, penance and humility might permeate the final working document.
Probably not.
One might also assume for just a moment that what worked for the Catholic Faith for 2,000 years would be the backbone of what consists of the final document. Alas, this seems to be notably absent in the final working document.
And so the amendments come fast and furious, both from traditionalist Catholics who wonder aloud why John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est were notably omitted, as if someone were trying to create an alternative theology other than what the Magisterium has pronounced.
Yet this is the real danger of this so-called Youth Synod. Whatever amendments are made, and whatever alterations are created, the final document will carry the weight and the burden of a magisterial document — all arrived at in parliamentary fashion.
Our question is this. If the document teaches something in direct contradiction to the Magisterium of the Church, are we bound to consent to it?
I suspect the instinctive answer of many a reader will be to refuse incredulously. How can the Magisterium of the Church contradict itself?
In the past, we have reconciled such seeming “contradictions” with the development of doctrine. How can one God be three persons? We have the Trinity. How can Mary be the Mother of God? Because of the Nestorian heresy. What the students of St. Thomas Aquinas once called the “Scotus Heresy” is now the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (and it took Mary herself to come to a small village in Lourdes to settle the dispute).
Ecumenism required someone of John Cardinal Neuman’s stature to resolve, as there was a “good ecumenism” that was distinct from the syncretism and “bad ecumenism” all Catholics are taught to disdain. Religious freedom took two world wars and the success of Catholicism in America for Rome to discover that “religious freedom” meant total freedom, which is why unlike most European governments, the Vatican does not require a papal concordat to protect the religious freedoms of Catholics here. Thank you, Thomas Jefferson.
Of course, none of this was without serious controversy, much of which still exists today. The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) maintains to this day that not only does the Second Vatican Council not hold any magisterial authority by virtue of it being an ecclesiastical council, its declarations on religious freedom and ecumenism (Dignitatis humanae and Lumen gentium) simply do not hold magisterial authority. In effect, the authority of the Second Vatican Council is too vague to hold command over the hearts and minds of the faithful.
With this in mind, Pope Francis’ Episcopalis Communio — the apostolic constitution that affords the synods the latitude of giving their reports the weight of papal magisterium — provides the very avenues for dissent it was hypothetically designed to prevent. Though still subject to papal consent or veto, Pope Francis will be presented documents that present a Church more divided than united, despite pretensions from the Vatican press office that things are calm and placid.
The truth is that these magisterial parliaments not only foster the very divisions the College of Cardinals is supposed to avoid, but manifest them in harmful new ways. Like most debate and all rhetoric, opinions are sharpened and not softened in the context of debate and exchange, even in a purely ecumenical setting.
Thus what we are offered — and what Francis will be asked to accept — is a heavily-amended document that does not speak for Catholic youth.
Rather, what Francis will be asked to endorse is a document produced by theologians and interlocutors (such as Martin Scorsese — director of The Last Temptation of Christ whom last we checked, was not a theologian in the slightest), endorsed by bishops who are seeking political rather than pastoral outcomes, and all in an effort to create a “reform of the reform” of the last 50 years.
Young Catholics aren’t looking for New Coke. Novelties are something we can buy in the marketplace (and nowadays almost entirely online). What the Church offers is the opportunity to disconnect from a technologically-driven world and sit for one hour a week among like-minded souls who want to connect with something deeper. Not just something, but someone. Not just someone, but The One — and to do so in a setting that is reverent, holy, and sincere.
If the synod had listened to the youth? They would have found something far different than the saccharine presented to them in Rome by outsiders.
Instead, we listened to Martin Scorsese.
What will happen next is a document that will be approved by a synod and a tiny fraction of Catholic youth that will read it will ask: “What does this mean in 140 characters or less?” Which, of course, is the problem. Catholicism is about the means to holiness. The ends are in God’s hands… and far too many apparatchiks are attempting to engineer the ends of holiness as if they themselves were the technocrats of the Holy Spirit.
It doesn’t work that way. None of this does. But don’t expect them to stop trying. Meanwhile, those of us who are carrying the lamp of the “JP II Generation” will have to do more than merely endure these apparatchiks. Provided we do not surrender to a death of a thousand heresies first.

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It was mentioned that one of the working groups made an offhand comment about home schooling in one of the Youth Synod working groups, namely that in the United States the process was still an experiment and that the jury was still out.
Of course, many people reacted with anger within the home schooling community. For one, I did not — such questions are customary and routine from those who have genuine curiosity about how a parent can handle the stress and strain of getting to know their kids as a teacher and a parent.
The simple answer is that students in a home school setting receive more personal one-on-one attention than any public, private, or parochial school can typically offer. Home school co-ops typically fill in the blanks where parents feel a bit short, and there are plenty of courses (Angelicum has been the gold standard for us; Mother Seton for those truly curious) to help in places where one might feel blank.
This is a long way of saying that we shouldn’t be afraid to cheerfully explain why home schooling works, and why for ourselves, it is the best decision we could have made for our families and for our children. It is a tremendous gift to allow a parent to stay at home with their children… and if it can be done? Folks ought to consider giving the lifestyle change a try before sending someone you love into the maw of public education.

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Questions? Comments? Brilliant or exculpatory thoughts? Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, Virginia 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to:

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