Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The mountain went into labor, a little mouse was born: the Synod draft

By Juan Masiá Clavel, SJ (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Vivir y pensar en la frontera Blog
June 24, 2015

To those who studied the classical Humanities as undergraduates, this succinct Latin verse might sound familiar: Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus -- Mountains will be in labor, and a ridiculous mouse will be born. (De arte poetica,139).

Let's take the Horatian phrase as a title for the draft (Instrumentum laboris) for the next Synod of Bishops (October 2015), the working paper published on June 23rd. It (supposedly) gathers the proposals of the universal church on the Final Document of Synod 2014, converted per Pope Francis' wishes into discussion material (Lineamenta) for the next Synod of 2015.

But the recently published Instrumentum laboris fits the Horatian quote about the labor of mountains (a vast range, a text of 146 cumbersome paragraphs, "more of the same").

A difficult labor for Cardinal Baldisseri, open-minded and of good will, who must condescend to "neo-con ecclesiastical" language to pay the price for the expected minimum return.

An example: When dealing with the integration into the community of divorced and civilly remarried people (paragraphs 120ff), it timidly suggests that "the forms of exclusion currently followed in liturgical and pastoral practice be re-examined as well as those in education and charitable activity"(121), but it adds, in ambiguous Curia style, "without prejudice to the recommendations made in Familiaris Consortio 84." That is, nothing changes.

In paragraph 123, there's an attempt to make Pope John Paul's exhortation a bit more flexible, proposing "a way of penance, meaning a process of clarifying matters after experiencing a failure and a reorientation which is to be accompanied by a priest who is appointed for this purpose. This process ought to lead the party concerned to an honest judgment of his/her situation. At the same time, the priest himself might come to a sufficient evaluation as to be able to suitably apply the power of binding and loosing to the situation."

(This is what has already been done for years to accompany people to solve the problem, whether in the forum of conscience or in the context of the conversation in the office or in the sacrament of reconciliation, without the need to feel bound by any canon law, episcopal procedure, or papal document. To quote the classic theological adage: Sacramenta propter homines!}

But, as if the writer were frightened by the minimum opening just granted, he adds in the following paragraph a reference to two documents (The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1994, and The Declaration concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of the Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, 2000), which "examine thoroughly the objective situation of sin and the moral culpability of the parties."

So it's the same old story...In the coming months, looking towards the Synod, we will devote the blog topic to discussing and annotating the Instrumentum laboris, while we pray for the health of our brother Francis with the traditional prayer: "Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in manus inimicorum eius."

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