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“What Will There Be For Us?” Amazon Synod Doesn’t Like The Answer

February 19, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Many of you know I happily served as a Navy chaplain for years. Some of my assignments were with Marine units. I found Marine officers were always very happy to have a priest along because, being celibate, he could more easily pick up and move with the unit at any time they were called upon to deploy or train.
Non-Catholic chaplains were typically married with children and had family matters to attend to before they could get away for a deployment or field exercise. More significantly, sometimes they might be called away during a deployment for a family emergency, having as they did military dependents for whom they served as primary caretakers.
The Catholic priest could be counted on to stay for the duration and give himself completely to the mission and to the Marines and sailors in the unit while deployed, barring personal injury or death, as is the case for any uniformed personnel.
This is true also of the Church, whose global mission is more demanding than that of a military unit of a given country or region. The Church’s purpose is, of course, also vastly more important for the good of the world, concerned as it is with the salvation of souls, founded and sent by Christ for that purpose.
Celibacy gives a special energy and availability to the Catholic priesthood, whether in the military or outside of it, lacking in other approaches to the ministry. Celibacy has for that reason often been called the “jewel” of the Roman Rite. The Church lives the Scriptures in this and in many other ways that other Christian Protestant ecclesial bodies lack, giving power and effectiveness to evangelical efforts to spread the faith and to build up the Body of Christ.
Catholics read in their Bibles that the priest is the sign of the Kingdom because he is celibate and they see it lived out by their local parish priest on a daily basis. The power of the priesthood in the Church is as a living witness of the Gospel.
Peter and the other first followers of Jesus Christ were shocked by His demand that they leave everything in order to follow Him. When confronted by the terms of employment, as it were, Peter spoke for the others in reaction to the news that, in order to be sent where Christ willed to spread His message and His Kingdom, they would be required to leave “houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake” (Matt. 19:27-29). He said, “Look, we have given up everything and have followed you. What are we going to possess?”
This was the birth of clerical celibacy which today is now mandatory for men called to the priesthood in the Latin Rite.
The participants in the Amazon Synod, as evidenced by the final document they produced are, in effect, once again asking the very same question 2,000 years later. “What will there be for us?” The crisis is that now, unlike for Peter and the apostles, the first priests of the Church, what Christ promises seems no longer worth the price.
In their rejection of clerical celibacy in the call to ordain married men and in their rejection of a male diaconate, it is evident that worldly sacrifice, for the sake of, and a sign of, the Kingdom, is no longer considered worth the heavenly reward.
In answer to Peter’s incomprehension the Lord responds, “I assure you, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated upon a throne befitting His glory, you who have followed me will also take your places on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Moreover, everyone who has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for my sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”
For 2,000 years the will and plan of Christ in this regard has been enough for the Church, spurring countless missionaries to follow in the footsteps of the apostles and the priests they ordained and sent, spreading the Gospel and the Church all over the Earth. The deliberations set down in writing by the Amazon Synod participants make clear, however, that many in positions of influence in the Church believe the words and the teaching of the Lord are somehow no longer enough.
In place of missionary zeal we now have a lack of will and evangelical torpor on the part of those in leadership, for whom the Word of God seems no longer binding. Those for whom Heaven is no longer reward enough for self-denial on Earth can no longer claim to be Catholic, for they have lost their faith indeed.
For the time being their recommendations seem to have been shelved, for the reason that Pope Francis does not take them up explicitly in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation issued this week and entitled Querida Amazonia, “Beloved Amazon.” The document sounds all the usual notes on care for the environment and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. The Pope does, however, make clear that he does not intend to set aside the synod final document and urges everyone to read it.
This might seem to amount to keeping the question of ordaining married men and entertaining the idea of a female diaconate open. Some people just can’t seem to get the image of women dressed in albs and stoles out of their heads. They’ve no doubt been exposed to too many lovely photos in the clerical clothing catalogs pandering to the non-Catholic customers!
National Catholic (sic) Reporter records the outrage and disappointment on the part of those who equate “reform” with distortion in reaction to Pope Francis’ welcome restatement of the Church’s Ordination practice and priestly discipline.
This is because, in Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis reiterates longstanding calls ”not only to promote prayer for priestly vocations, but also to be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region.”
In other words, Pope Francis looks to the words and deeds of the Lord to reinforce once again the Church’s commonsense plan of action. The Church has always sent missionaries from areas where they are abundant to areas where they are lacking. Celibacy has always been the special force multiplier that made this possible. In the Lord’s will and plan the two complement and reinforce each other.
It seems that, for now, the systematic dismantling of the Church we have seen underway for some time may have suffered a much-needed setback.

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On this painful Palm Sunday I pray that we can all cling to the joy that the Lord Jesus is keeping His Promise, He is still with us. It is excruciating not to receive Him in Communion but He awaits us “in the room next to us” May Spiritual Communion place us in His Real Presence

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