You may be aware that a mid-synod report — referred to as a “Relatio post disceptationem” — was released today. Voice of the Family (VoF), self-described as “an international coalition of pro-family groups”, is having none of it.
John Smeaton, co-founder of Voice of the Family, threw an uppercut right out of the gate:
Those who are controlling the Synod have betrayed Catholic parents worldwide. We believe that the Synod’s mid-way report is one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history.
Thankfully the report is a preliminary report for discussion, rather than a definitive proposal. It is essential that the voices of those lay faithful who sincerely live out Catholic teaching are also taken into account. Catholic families are clinging to Christ’s teaching on marriage and chastity by their finger-tips.
If his language couldn’t be much stronger, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Ask any Catholic struggling through a troubled marriage what the stakes are for them. The years of prayer, difficulty, and sacrifice, all in the belief that marriage is what Our Lord said it is. A lifelong covenant between a man and a woman and God; indissoluble until death.
How many faithful Catholics at this very moment are, led by the discussions in Rome, beginning in spite of themselves to wonder if the marriage that has caused them so much pain and suffering is not really a marriage at all? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if there were an out? A “pastoral” solution? A generous application of “mercy”?
Elliot Bougis made this point eloquently in his recent evaluation of the synod agenda:
Can we imagine that good-hearted Catholic husbands and wives are not being tossed about by the resurgent idea that, perhaps — God only knows — perhaps an annulment would be more merciful — for the children, each other, the in-laws — than persevering through the highs and lows of that indissoluble old thing called Holy Matrimony? Perhaps now is a new era, an age of reappraisal and relief, the demons whisper (while the media hold the mic). Perhaps now the Church has finally learned to reward us for our weakness instead of calling us to such an outdated cross? The storm is raging at a thousand dinner tables and in a million hearts, and yet does not Our Lord speak from the very midst of the storm, calming our hearts and quelling the waves that would inundate the Barque through its proudly opened windows on the world?
It is surely hearing the voice of Our Lord that is essential in times such as these. It is therefore a tragedy when His voice seems to be drowned out by His apostles. More from VoF:
Patrick Buckley, Voice of the Family’s Irish representative, said:
“The Synod’s mid-way report represents an attack on marriage and the family. For example, the report in effect gives a tacit approval of adulterous relationships, thereby contradicting the Sixth Commandment and the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the indissolubility of marriage.
“The report undermines the Church’s definitive teaching against contraception, by using the coded language of ‘underlin[ing] the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control”. This language is the code of those who wish to reduce the Church’s doctrines to a mere guide, thus leaving couples free to choose contraception in so-called ‘conscience’.
“The report accepts wrongly that there is a value in the homosexual orientation. This contradicts the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1986 Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:
“Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”
Smeaton is correct when he notes that this is only a preliminary report and not a final proposal. But that such a report could be released with such problematic insinuations does not bode well for the final relatio. Voice of the Family’s strong stance on the work coming out of the synod is bracing, but it echoes the concerns felt by many Catholics around the world.
What comes next remains to be seen.
UPDATE: The president of the Polish Bishops’ conference weighs in, calling the document “unacceptable.”
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.