Saturday, October 18, 2014

Synod report

All week long I have watched the left and the right go crazy over the interim report from the synod on the family. So I sat down yesterday and read through the Italian, the only official version, twice. (The unofficial English translation contains some funny false cognates)

What I was struck by is that it contains nothing new. There are some proposed changes in procedures for Tribunal, but there are no theological changes. It is a reminder document. It is a document of balance that embraces the human condition, and calls us to be more with God's grace.

It uses a set of metaphors that have always been a part of the Christian vocabulary. It speaks of wounded individuals and families. And for the mission of the Church it uses words like: care, accompany, and one word that has no single English equivalent- accogliere.

The word accogliere can be translated: receive, host, house, embrace, accept, contain, hold. The word occurs as a noun, verb, and adjective. The Church is described as a "casa accogliente." But there is nothing new in that.

It reminds us that the Church must act "with the tenderness of a mother and the clarity of a teacher," courageously proclaiming those truths which are unchangeable. When we use words like "marriage" and "family", we have clear definitions of what those words mean that differ from those of even some other religious groups. This document in no way changes those definitions.

At the same time, we are all wounded. When we look at an individual or relationship we must start by acknowledging whoever is good, whatever it true. Just as we look at other religious groups and acknowledge those things which are true, and good while simultaneously challenging those things which are erroneous. But again this is not new, Catholic anthropology starts with the dignity, not the sin, or woundedness.

The final sessions of the synod are October 2015, and the final document will be published some time after that. I suspect both the extreme right and left will be disappointed. And the Church will do what she is always called to do, proclaim truth with mercy.