The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied,”Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”– Mk. 10:2-12 – Gospel for October 4, 2015 (27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Missal of Paul VI)
Round two of the Synod on the Family begins today. We know there will be struggle and strife because it makes no sense to dialogue about a matter that was settled by the Church long ago. Nonetheless, the debate will go on.
It would seem that there are three possible outcomes:
(1) The Synod will simply reaffirm Catholic doctrine on the family; or
(2) The Synod will explicitly change Catholic doctrine on the family; or
(3) The Synod will reaffirm Catholic doctrine but change pastoral practice in such a way as to weaken and undermine doctrine.
The first outcome is highly unlikely. If Pope Francis were not in favor of a significant change with respect to the Church’s stance toward the divorced and remarried (and possibly homosexual unions), then he would have long ago made it perfectly clear that there are definite boundaries that cannot be crossed when it comes to further dialogue about these matters.
The second outcome is also highly unlikely. The plans of the modernists would then be fully exposed for all to see, and formal schism would soon follow once faithful cardinals, bishops and priests refused communion to those living publicly in the mortal sin of adultery and sodomy.
The third outcome, about which Cardinal Burke has warned the faithful, is the most likely. Francis will probably follow the example of John Paul II who did not and could not change Church doctrine on the death penalty, yet gutted the teaching by proclaiming that modern times had rendered it virtually unnecessary in practice. Francis will likewise reaffirm the dogma of the indissolubility of marriage while hollowing out its core through some labyrinthine means by which divorced and remarried Catholics can receive communion. The change will be peddled to the faithful as an expression of our Lord’s “mercy” toward sinners. More chaos and confusion will then follow as orthodox Catholics are further divided against each other as they debate the proper response to the new “pastoral” practices, and attempt to reconcile what cannot be reconciled.
Pray that the orthodox bishops at the Synod have the courage to defend our Lord and His Church against the modernists.
Dr. Jeffrey Bond has a B.A. from Kenyon College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has been teaching since 1979 on both high school and college levels. He converted to Catholicism in 1986. He is married with nine children.