Tuesday 28th May 2024

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

The Synod On The Family . . . The Instrumentum Laboris Lets The Synod Down

October 18, 2015 Frontpage No Comments


It has been a dramatic week for those following the Family Synod. First we were told that the relator general, Peter Cardinal Erdo, was being silenced after his resounding defense of Church teaching. Then 13 senior cardinals (the figure was later changed to possibly nine) under the leadership of George Cardinal Pell had written to the Pope objecting to the way the synod was being run. They were particularly concerned about the composition of the drafting committee for the Final Report.
Further rumors suggested that the final report was already being written even before the working groups had done their work. At the end of last week, possibly in the face of this criticism, it was stated that the final report had been abandoned, and there would be no document drawing together the synod’s proceedings.
On Saturday, October 10, this changed again. Veteran Vatican reporter Xavier Rynne stated that some of the hype was wide of the mark. He suggested that it was always planned that, while Cardinal Erdo would open the synod with a general reflection on the whole Instrumentum Laboris, other synod presidents would take over in the next two weeks.
Even more significantly, Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, secretary general of the synod, had apparently announced in the Assembly that the final report was still in place and would be voted upon section by section.
The synod is not an easy event to follow. Journalists can only work on what individual synod fathers tell them or what is presented at the daily press conferences. Here proceedings are funneled through the presenters in each language group.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican spokesman, has admitted that there is no system of control over the spokesmen, or any recommendation that they count how often particular subjects are raised before speaking on them.
Fr. Thomas Rosica caused a continuing furor among traditionalists when, as an English language presenter at an early press briefing, he said that there was already such division on the pastoral treatment of homosexuals that it might be left to the local churches to decide.
Synod fathers objected, saying that homosexuality had hardly been mentioned and was being blown up by Fr. Rosica himself.
This has not stopped Abbot Jeremias Schroder, briefing in the German language a week later, saying something similar, rightly or wrongly.
It is no wonder that traditionalists are worried. If a moral issue such as the treatment of practicing homosexuals or the giving of Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried is left at a local level it does more than question specific moral doctrine. It tears at Church unity, undermines the Catechism, weakens teaching on the sacraments, and in general leads to confusion.
It also puts bishops and their priests on the spot. How are they to react if they disagree with the local consensus? Are they to be culpable for practicing what they preach?
Bringing together synod fathers from all over the world on the subject of family was always going to be contentious. It is well known that certain of the Church’s key teachings have been widely smudged, ignored or disobeyed at every level, including among the hierarchy, and forcing this out into the open was never going to be easy. It says much for the strength of the Church and her genuine Catholicity that it is even possible.
Much of what is happening in Rome will be nothing to do with this. Family is very broad, and there are many topics, such as the problems of war and child labor, which the synod fathers are discussing in unity.
However, grievances and lobby groups are an inevitable part of the process and catch most of the attention. Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., remarked that he has never attended a church meeting without them. In his words they are harmless enough so long as people are genuinely working for truth.
An added difficulty is having to work across different languages. The translations are not always prompt or good, for reasons of logistics. One priest I know explained: “You may think it is all a conspiracy when translations are inaccurate or delayed. Have a thought for the one who is doing the translating. It might be a young priest like me, roped in at the last moment because I happened to have a bit of German.”
There is a lot of concern across the board about agreeing to a text in one language without seeing it accurately rendered in one’s own. One observer remarked that it is time the Church bit the bullet and became really up-to-date, using English as the base for its consultative documents.
Language doesn’t rest there. There is also the question of how to present teaching in a palatable manner so as to attract those on the peripheries and dispel the notion of the Church as a rigid body. This appears to be a popular topic.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols is one enthusiast. He has suggested, for instance, that the term “indissolubility of marriage” might be more attractively rendered as the “faithfulness of husband and wife.” This might make some people prickle. We all use different terms according to the occasion and it may well be that more care could be given to what is used when. However, who can say that that faithfulness is interchangeable with indissolubility.

Unfamiliar With
John Paul’s Teaching

Where the synod has really been let down is in the quality of its core working document, the Instrumentum Laboris. Many of the synod fathers have complained of it. They say that the document should have started with a clear exposition of the Church’s teaching, and go out from there to its pastoral implementation. Instead, it follows a See-Judge-Act methodology, beginning from the state of the family in contemporary society, with a heavy bias towards its weaknesses.
We have sociology in the place of theology, as Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki put it, and a dreary, pessimistic picture of family life at that, as Archbishop Chaput added. There is general complaint that the picture drawn is heavily tilted toward life in the developed West and gives too little attention to the differing problems encountered elsewhere, especially in Africa.
The method has meant that a lot of time appears to have been wasted in the first week suggesting how a bad document, rather than the Church’s mission, could be improved.
Voice of the Family quotes Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser lamenting that many of the synod fathers appear unfamiliar with the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II on marriage and the family.
There are few references in the Instrumentum Laboris to fundamental documents such as Familiaris Consortio and the Letter to Families. “You cannot fruitfully and effectively direct the Synod on the Family without knowledge of even these two texts,” said Archbishop Hoser. He further notices lack of reference to Humanae Vitae, with the consequent strange avoidance of contraception, abortion, and disrespect for life.
He complains that as a result nothing of moment is being said of their consequences, spiritual, psychological and also biological, which affect the person and consequently the whole of humanity.
The liberals have been clever. They have chosen to focus on the divorced and remarried, where good people can be tied into a situation and so pull at the heartstrings. However, anybody can be asked to stop contracepting. To do so on any scale is going to require a huge shift in culture and it is difficult to see how this can be brought about without the united commitment of the Church.
This is what many family campaigners having been hoping for. The language of love and mercy is not the only language which people are seeking. Where the two are intertwined without due regard for truth — and I think here of St. Faustina’s text on the Divine Mercy which makes it clear that our Lord’s love is a demanding love, requiring obedience and, yes, chastity — they become soupy, like the worst of today’s rewritten hymns.
They do not challenge the young, or support those who are trying, often in difficult circumstances, to promote the Church’s teaching against popular culture. These doughty fighters need the strong words of the Church to uphold them.
This is the true Gospel of the Family, which rings with the resonance of clarity and unity, binding the past with the present, and the peoples of the world with each other.
May we continue to pray with great hope that the Holy Spirit guide the Church to its joyful proclamation.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Pedophile advocacy group praises Germany’s new law softening punishment for child pornography

(LifeSiteNews) — In 2010, Jan Flesichhauer and Wiebke Hollersen penned a chilling essay for Der Spiegel titled “How the Left Took Things Too Far.” “One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children,” they wrote. “For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.”   That climate involved discussions about whether sex with children might be healthy for the children and musings that this could…Continue Reading

Here’s Harrison Butker’s Full Speech Celebrating Pro-Life Christian Values

Some sports stars make headlines for drug abuse or acts of violence, but one football player is taking heat for publicly promoting Christian values. On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered the commencement at the Catholic Benedictine College, encouraging young graduates to stand firm in their faith and live out authentic Christian virtues. Now, the National Football League (NFL) is playing defense and condemning Butker’s speech as offensive. The NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity,…Continue Reading

DeSantis declares Florida ‘will not comply’ with Biden rule forcing ‘gender identity’ on schools

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Florida “will not comply” with the Biden administration’s recently finalized rule forcing widespread recognition and accommodation of LGBT “identities” on the American education system, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis declared. In February, President Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of Education submitted to the U.S. Office of Management & Budget its finalized Title IX rule. Late last month, the administration published the rule, which expands the federal

U.S. birth and fertility rates drop to record lows, according to CDC report

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 26, 2024 / 16:45 pm Provisional data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week showed that the fertility rate in the United States hit a record low and the total number of births in the country was the lowest it’s been in decades.  According to the report, slightly fewer than 3.6 million babies were born in 2023, or 54.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15 through…Continue Reading

Kamala Harris Heads to Arizona to Promote Abortions Up to Birth

Kamala Harris is visiting Arizona today to showcase the Biden-Harris Administration’s radical support of unlimited abortion. “Kamala Harris has become the abortion czar of the Biden Administration,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee. “Instead of joining with the pro-life movement to build programs and safety nets to help promote real solutions for women and their preborn children, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have engaged in fearmongering and propaganda,” Tobias continue

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading