Since the Synod ended on October 19th with the beatification of Pope Paul VI, there has been ample commentary, mostly critical. The Kasper-ites have been disappointed that their hopes and plans met so much opposition. The Burke-ites, if I may use that term, are disappointed that the interim statement was published even though it did not get the required votes for real adoption and even though some paragraphs were very seriously criticized. In the Catholic press and blogosphere there is no shortage of criticism of Pope Francis because of his apparent favor for ambiguous statements that are open to the interpretation that traditional Catholic teaching about love, marriage and sexuality is being watered down.
If there are some truly constructive efforts to point out what needs to be done to bring Catholics and other Christians to accept, once again, the biblical Catholic teaching on love, marriage and sexuality, I have not seen them, but I have truly not had the time to search for them. So here’s how it seems to me.
Our leaders need to start with the basics. Who is going to believe any of the biblical Catholic teaching on sexual morality unless he or she first believes in God and that God has a plan for love, marriage and sexuality? And in this day when there are so many different voices claiming to speak for God, how do we know which voice speaks the truth? And how can we claim to know this except through faith in the Lord Jesus risen from the dead? And how many Catholics and other Christians realize in their inner being the utter importance of St. Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 that if Christ is not risen from the dead, our faith is in vain? Now, if the Lord is truly risen, as he is, then the events that led up to his resurrection are extremely important, namely, his Last Supper words and actions as well as his passion and death.
Somehow or other, our Pope and bishops and priests have to kindle in all Christians a renewed love for the Lord Jesus, a renewed appreciation for his passion for the truth including the truth about love, and a renewed appreciation for the privilege of carrying the particular cross called the demands of love. At the Last Supper, Jesus not only gave us the Great Commandment of love but also talked about truth and promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles and their successors into the fullness of the truth. On trial before Pilate, he testified that he had come to bear witness to the truth and that everyone who is of the truth will hear his voice.
In short, our leaders need to lead us to redevelop the basic Christian attitude of gratitude for Jesus—both for what he has done for us and for what he calls us to do.
There is certainly more they need to do, so I will continue next week. (The idea is that if I keep the blogs short, people might read them.)
Next week: the importance of attitude and how it can change a person’s world.
John F. Kippley, October 25, 2014