My friend Mr Zoot Horn Rollo is outraged by the recent Synod on the Family, convened by Pope Francis, attended by some 250 Bishops from around the world and focused on issues concerning the family in the modern world….Questions addressed by the Fathers at the Synod include such burning issues like “Can divorced Catholics receive communion. Can gay people find a place in the church? Is birth control ok in all circumstances” and so forth. The church Fathers issued a document at synods end which did not go as far as Pope Francis or Cardinal Walter Kaspar wanted but they did emphasize the intent to be merciful to divorced, gay, and others in sin. The Pope for his part appeared to be disappointed with the Father’s statement lecturing them to be even more merciful than the document the Bishops issued seemed to allow. The Pope in a few months will issue an “apostolic exhortation” on all these issues concerning the family in the modern age. It is widely accepted that his exhortation will use the bland statement issued by the Synod’s Bishops as justification for changing church doctrine with respect to these issues of the family in the modern world.
if the Pope does change the church’s stance on these issues…if he says it is now ok to divorce and not seek annulment of the marriage; if he says that is is now ok to use birth control in all circumstances, if he says that homosexual unions and sex is ok and so on he will break with past church doctrine on all these issues. If he does so he will take a step down the path of the modernizing protestant denominations…all of whom are hardly recognizable as Christian anymore as they dissolve into a million tiny sects….or so says my friend Mr Zoot Horn Rollo.
The advocates like the Pope and Cardinal Kaspar of liberalizing trends within the church argue that we should be a church of inclusion rather than exclusion. They say “Look around you. The people in the pews next to you at mass all come from broken families. Two thirds of them have been divorced. Ninety percent masturbate regularly. One third are gay or have a close relative who is gay and practicing. Virtually all use birth control all the time. Upwards 50% of the priests are gay. Most Catholics have sex out of marriage on a regular basis. In short the sexual revolution has penetrated deeply into the lives of catholics and has established norms of Catholic family life for decades now.
Historians tell us that it has always been this way. Rome was a cesspool of sexual sin as was and is every other culture on earth down through the ages. The recent sexual revolution in the west that has reigned supreme since the 1960s is actually nothing new. The ubiquity of sexual sin, however, does not make it any less sinful. the question is how should the church deal with it?
The church has always avoided two extremes when dealing with sexual sins. First it avoids a puritanical stance that hates the body, sex, pleasure and so forth. The gnostic condemnation of the body and all its attendant pleasures and pains is an ancient heresy that the church will do battle with forever. The other extreme the church avoids when dealing with sexual sin is to breezily endorse the sin or look away and not call it a sin. It is not merciful to say to someone “You are not committing a sin” when they in fact are committing a sin.
but that raises the more fundamental issue of whether all these sexual acts, masturbation, gay sex, contraception and so forth are in fact sins. Thats the issue the church has not yet confronted despite its 2000 year history.