Once more with feeling.
The secular media’s interpretation of the Synod of Bishops on the Family as some sort of “revolution” in the Church being led by Pope Francis is a false narrative.
To start with, take a look at the Holy Father’s remarks to the Schoenstatt movement on October 25:
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2014 / 12:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an audience with members of an international Marian movement, Pope Francis warned that the sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a mere association, and urged participants to be witnesses in a secular world.
“The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told those in attendance at the Oct. 25 audience.
He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?”
“What is being proposed is not marriage, it’s an association. But it’s not marriage! It’s necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed.
He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.”
Noting that there are many who cohabitate, or are separated or divorced, he explained that the “key” to helping is a pastoral care of “close combat” that assists and patiently accompanies the couple.
Pope Francis offered his words in a question-and-answer format during his audience with members of the Schoenstatt movement, held in celebration of the 100th anniversary of its founding in Germany.
Roughly 7,500 members of the international Marian and apostolic organization, both lay and clerics from dozens of nations around the world, were present in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for the audience.
In his answers to questions regarding marriage, Pope Francis explained that contemporary society has “devalued” the sacrament by turning it into a social rite, removing the most essential element, which is union with God.
“So many families are divided, so many marriages broken, (there is) such relativism in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage,” he said, noting that from a sociological and Christian point of view “there is a crisis in the family because it’s beat up from all sides and left very wounded!”
The secular press, as usual, did not even bother to report these remarks. (And if you still don’t belief the media is either ignorant or malicious or both in reporting on the Pope, check this out – HT to the folks at GetRelgiion.org).
Admittedly, one reason for the lack of reporting might be that Pope Francis’ remarks were made in a question and answer session, for which the Vatican has not yet supplied an official text or even a transcription. I’ll try to find a complete transcription if I can.
Then there are the reports of the various Circuli Minores or small groups of bishops that met after the infamous Relatio. They made their feelings known in no uncertain terms. Important passages from all these reports, translated into English, are available here. They were originally on the Vatican website in their original languages (English, French, Italian and Spanish). Now even the originals don’t seem to be on the Vatican web site any longer. Here are some samples:
From the second Italian group moderated by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
The final text must necessarily show that it is a continuation of the Teaching Magisterium in this regard. The pastoral character of this Synod, on the other hand, must show even more that there is no break between the doctrine and pastoral, but this (pastoral) is based on the first (doctrine) and it expresses the truth in the daily life of the christian community.
It seems that there is some fear in expressing a judgement on different topics which have become by this time dominant cultural expressions. This does not appear to be coherent with the prophetic mission which the Church possesses. It is important that the text expresses at best the prophetic role which the Pastors and the Christian community possess knowing well that we are not in search of an easy populism … but that we have the responsibility to express also a judgement which comes from the Word of God.
The words addressed to the prophet Ezechiel: “When you hear from my mouth a word, you have to inform them in my name…” (Ez 3, 17-19). This becomes evident above all in front of situations which are surmised as a form of de-instituting marriage and the family in force of asserted alleged rights.
From the 3rd Italian group moderated by Archbishop Angelo Massafra
All of the Fathers of the Circolo press for clarity on the final document, expressing this directly at the beginning of the text.
The majority of the Fathers said they were surprised at the public dissemination of the Relatio post disceptationem; others, conscious that this was the practice in former synod assemblies, suggest avoiding this in the future.
It would be appropriate to return to the practice of publishing the interventions of the individuals.
Consider it essential that the Relatio restate in an explicit way the doctrine on marriage, family and sexuality, without hesitation in recourse to “sin” and “adultery” and “conversion” with respect to the situations which objectively conflict with the Gospel of the family. The same fathers insist on the fact that to use euphemisms may cause misunderstandings among the faithful, above all due to distorted interpretations made by unskilled press.
The majority of the fathers, in analyzing the text of the Introduction to the document, signaled the need to use words that leave no doubt from the beginning that the only model of the family which corresponds to the Doctrine of the Church is that founded on a marriage between a man and a woman. This direction was readily welcomed
Don’t miss the beautiful concluding Message of the Synod Fathers to families And of course, the final Relatio.
Update: Nov 1: Here is a more extended, but not complete, transcription of the Pope’s remarks, from Zenit:
“That the family is hit, that the family is knocked and that the family is debased as [how can this be] a way of association … Can everything be called a family? How many families are divided, how many marriages are broken, how much relativism there is in the concept of the Sacrament of Marriage. At present, from a sociological point of view and from the point of view of human values, as well as, in fact, of the Catholic Sacrament, of the Christian Sacrament, there is a crisis of the family, a crisis because it is hit from all sides and left very wounded!”
Therefore, the Pontiff invited to reflect on the contemporary reality, in which, he underlines, the Sacrament of Marriage is “devalued”. We are witnessing, he notes, the “reduction of the Sacrament to a rite,” “the Sacrament is made a social event,” “the social [dimension] covers the fundamental thing, which is union with God.”
“What they are proposing is not marriage, it is an association, but it is not marriage! It is necessary to say things very clearly and we must say this! The pastoral helps, but in this alone it is necessary that it be ‘body to body.’ Therefore support, and this also means to waste time. The great teacher of wasting time is Jesus! He wasted time to support, to have consciences mature, to heal wounds, to teach. To support is to journey together.”
Connected with this, the Holy Father expressed concern that engaged couples engage in a profound preparation for marriage, have support, and understand the meaning of “forever” which today is disputed by the “culture of the provisional.” He urged them not to be scandalized by what happens, “family tragedies, the destruction of families, the children” who suffer because of their parents’ disagreements, but also [because of] the new [forms] of living together.
“They are new forms, totally destructive and limiting of the grandeur of the love of matrimony. There are so many [persons] living together, and separations and divorces: therefore, the key to know how to help is ‘body to body,’ supporting and not engaging in proselytism, because this does not lead to any result: to support with patience.”