Vatican asks for pre-synod consultations that avoid strictly 'doctrinal' approach

Vatican asks for pre-synod consultations that avoid strictly 'doctrinal' approach

It looks like Synod 2015 may be as interesting as Synod 2014.

A Vatican preparatory document for next year’s second session of the Synod of Bishops on the family is seeking wide input from the faithful, posing 46 questions and asking that bishops conferences do not answer them with strictly “doctrinal” formulations.

The document, released Dec. 9 at the Vatican, said the pre-synod consultation should involve every level of the church, including academic institutions, lay movements and other associations.

UPDATE: English version now available here.

It said that in preparing for the second synodal session, bishops should remember that Pope Francis has called for a pastoral approach that reflects the “culture of encounter” and goes outside the church’s usual environment, in order to act as a “field hospital” of mercy.

The questions touch on a number of controversial issues discussed during the synod’s first meeting last October, including sacraments for divorced and remarried Catholics, church teaching on homosexuality and birth control.

The document explicitly asked bishops to show “proper realism” in seeking answers to the questions, avoiding an approach that “is merely one of applying doctrine, and that does not respect the conclusions of the extraordinary synodal assembly, and would lead their reflection away from the path that has already been traced.”

7 comments (Add your own)

1. je wrote:
Thank you for this article. Yes, life is more real and painful/ joyful than what the doctrinal approach shows.

Tue, December 9, 2014 @ 12:10 PM

2. Peter wrote:
As the Synod on the Family takes a breather until the concluding session in 2015, we might consider whether the hanging issues can be largely cleared up in another way. The first question in the wings is not a postured contradiction between doctrine and practice, but a potentially ambiguous new image of the Church.

As a “field hospital” the Church surely must simply continue to open its arms compassionately (as already in St. John Paul II's Familiaris consortio). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminded us long ago that a council is something that the Church does, but it is not what the Church is. The same applies to synods that might try to imply an equivalency--and tradeoffs--between doctrine and synodal doublespeak.

Can the center post of the Church-as-field-hospital stand in the winds that blow if at the periphery we pull up the tent stakes with hollow tradeoffs? How to avoid endorsing sacrilegious access to communion and the indissolubility of marriage--more than simply "doctrines": one the very Real Presence at the center of a Eucharistic Church, and the second the very nature of marriage? How to be respectful of persons without playing into the gay culture and agenda, or flat earth secularism? Chesterton reminds us that the Church liberates us from "the degrading slavery of being a child of our age."

During the first days of the Second Vatican Council the scripted working drafts were abruptly rejected; the drafting commissions were reconstituted; and the “real Council” began. Now in the recent synod we have seen an abrupt departure from Cardinal Kasper’s “introduction” of last February. Surely this surprise, too, is equally the work of the Holy Spirit! In American history, Kasper's novelty of "gradualism" denoted the step-by-step and very poorly compensated confiscation of territory from sea to shining sea. Does the preemptive second questionnaire begin again to presume/impose an analogous Manifest Destiny for the morphing of revealed truth?

Where is the light on a lamp stand, and when is a field hospital no longer a field hospital? In 2015 will the editorial elite presume to “complete” any final synod report by re-inserting lines of doctrinal/practical ambiguity where—as a protection against novelty—the full assembly withholds its two-thirds vote and might remain(too unguardedly) silent? Will the new survey serve (either unwittingly or deliberately) as grist for such insertions?

Upon his election, the Holy Father asked for prayers that he “not make mistakes.” Likewise for the synod fathers.

Tue, December 9, 2014 @ 12:21 PM

3. Linus wrote:
And what exactly does " culture of encounter " mean as opposed to " applying doctrine? "

Tue, December 9, 2014 @ 2:45 PM

4. John wrote:
The historic term, from my research, is "jury rigging". It allows the decision makers to have a predetermined judgment outside of the law, equity and ethics. It's fun to watch these waves of attack against the pillar of truth, as The Church will prevail despite these feeble relativistic infections.

Tue, December 9, 2014 @ 7:19 PM

5. Geocalleja wrote:
Possible openings in thinking outside the box:
More respect and importance be given to 'individual conscience'
Solid believe in the guidance of The Holy Spirit to the individual.
As the Church is always 'reformanda' so the soul is always 'sanctificanda' at whatever stage the soul is...' come as you are...'
How could Christ refuse someone who so much desire to receive Him whatever the circumstances one finds him(r)self in.
"much is forgiven her because she loves so much'
'Mater et Magister' yes, but let your children eventually and courageously work out their salvation with their God individually.
"I'll rather appear excommunicated on judgment day than having gone against my conscience"!
We would like to be certain of our salvation but in the final analysis our salvation is in God's certain Love for us and the love He gives us to love Him with!
There is much wisdom in "Who am I to judge". With caution judge if necessary the action never the person.

Tue, December 9, 2014 @ 7:33 PM

6. Hegesippus wrote:
Doctrinal approach, aka following the teachings of the Church.

If these teachings are based upon the words of Christ and the understanding of reality that is held by the mystical Bride of Christ, the Church, which also happens to be His Body, I suggest that, as a Catholic, these are very reputable standards to adhere to.

Or I could ignore Christ and the Church, demand matters are done my way, according to my individual preferences cos I, not God, know best.

I prefer the former. I trust God more than I trust my own judgment.

By distancing yourself from the idea of "doctrine" and seeking personally more suitable standards and ideas, you place a barrier between yourself and God.

Let's lose the buzzwords and seek God, even if it hurts a bit!

Wed, December 10, 2014 @ 6:23 AM

7. Mike wrote:
I read "merely doctrinal" not to mean how to deal with these so-called hot-button issues by disregarding doctrine but how to help people dealing with the real problems with broken marriages, homosexuality, or habitual recourse to contraception to grow closer to God and His loving plan for them that is packaged by the Church as doctrine. How does the Church, its pastors and lay people make it easier for people living in difficult situations feel welcome by the Church and feel that they can bring their lives into closer alignment with the happy life God provides through His loving discipline?

Wed, December 10, 2014 @ 8:04 AM

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