Sunday, 12 October 2014

Synod14: God does not discriminate

Pope Francis embraces a young man at World Youth Day Rio in 2013

Even though there haven't been any press conferences or synodal meetings today, more interviews with Synod Fathers have been published over the course of the last day.

Probably the most dramatic have been the words of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who pointed to significant changes: “[T]his synod cannot simply repeat what was said twenty years ago. It has to find new language, to show that there can be development of doctrine, and that there has been a willingness to listen to what emerged in the questionnaires that went out and what emerged in the synod itself.” He then went on to emphasize the inherent reality of marriage as opposed to its being though of as an imposed teaching:
“There's a move away from simply an understanding of the church's teaching on marriage as something that is taught to people - and a greater understanding of the fact that sacramental marriage is an ecclesial reality.

It's not just a blessing on two spouses. The couple who are married sacramentally develop an ecclesial status for their own lives, but also, as in every other sacrament, for the building of the church.

So in many ways we have to find a way in which the lived experience of this ecclesial reality of marriage ... is almost in its own way something that the church learns from rather than simply tries to carry out an external survey of it. That's certainly one of the changes.”
Finally, Archbishop Martin underlined the need for recognizing the good in people's lives:
“I meet people in my diocese every, including the poorest people, who live in very difficult situations, and who truly live the values ​​of loyalty, dedication to their children, but they would never be able to express this using the formulations of our theology: but this does not mean they do not live their reality. We need to have a new kind of dialogue with families and a new language.”
The very positive spirit of the Synod can also be felt from comments made by Bishop Oscar Gerardo Fernández Guillén, head of the Bishops' Conference of Costa Rica who said:
“Even though we face dramatic situations and it could seem like all is lost, that is now how it is. Let us go to the Lord with a humble attitude: He will know how to sustain us and know how to carry us forward.”
The Venezuelan Archbishop Diego R. Padrón Sánchez was equally positive:
“We must announce the joy of living in a family. We are all Church and that is how we must also feel. The Church does not discriminate against anyone, least of all against those who are facing difficulties.”
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, argued for the need present Christian anthropology in a way shares its beauty:
“I think that the anthropology that we have, and therefore the concept of marriage, is really fantastic, brilliant. If we could explain this to the world of today, it would be a great success. Many do not understand the concept of natural law, but this is fundamentally about understanding what is right and good, according to the light of human reason, for people, for humanity and the long term. It is not, in fact, about ensuring temporary, short-lived pleasure, but about what is good for humanity, for certain progress, for the growth of humanity. We can now see a big gap between scientific and technical progress and, on the other hand, the disgrace regarding the growth of people: there is so much hunger in the world, so many wars, so much hatred, such a lack of respect for people, and we see so much persecution. We have to think of the welfare of humanity. We must not think only of well-being technically, but of that of the human being. I think that this Synod will go in the following direction: how to help people today to live better, to contribute to real progress.”
Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, also spoke very clearly about a need for change with regard to homosexual persons: “There is no doubt that we have been slow in assuming a fully respectful view of the dignity and equality of homosexuals.” With regard to communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, Cardinal Scola expressed clear doubts though:
“Personally, on a substantial level, I can not find an answer yet to the possibility that [the divorced and civilly remarried] could have access to sacramental communion without this clashing with the indissolubility of marriage. In short, indissolubility either has an impact on the reality of daily life, or remains a Platonic idea.”
The highlight of today, and the strongest indicator that substantial changes are on the horizon, has been Pope Francis' magisterial Angelus address, where he insists on God not discriminating against anyone and explaining today's Gospel reading about the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14) thus:
“Jesus speaks about the answer given to God's invitation - represented by a king - to attend a wedding banquet. The invitation has three characteristics: gratuity, scale, and universality. Those invited are many, but something surprising happens: none of the selected ones agree to take part in the celebration, saying that they have something else to do; indeed showing some indifference, alienation, even annoyance. God is good to us, freely offering us his friendship, his joy, salvation, but often it is us who do not accept his gifts, we place our material concerns, our interests in the first place and also when the Lord calls us, it often seems to bother us.

Some guests even mistreat and kill the servants who deliver the invitation. But, despite a lack of reception on the part of those who are called, God's plan is not interrupted. Faced with the refusal of the first guests, he does not lose heart, does not cancel the party, but extends his invitation beyond all reasonable limits and sends his servants into the streets and to the crossroads to gather all those they find. It is ordinary people, the poor, abandoned and destitute, both the good and and bad - yes, even those who are bad are invited - without distinction. And the hall is filled with the “excluded”. The Gospel, rejected by someone, find an unexpected warm welcome in so many other hearts.

The goodness of God has no boundaries and does not discriminate against anyone: this is why the feast of the Lord's gifts is universal, for all. Everyone is given the opportunity to respond to his invitation, to his call; no one has the right to feel privileged or to an exclusive claim. All this leads us to overcome the habit of positioning ourselves comfortably in the middle, as did the chief priests and the Pharisees. This mustn't be done; we must open ourselves to the peripheries, recognizing that even those who are on the margins, even one who is despised and rejected by society, is an object of God's generosity. We are all called to not reducing the Kingdom of God to the confines of a “little church” - our “tiny little church” - but to widen the Church to the scale of the Kingdom of God. There is only one condition: to wear a wedding dress, which is showing love towards God and neighbor.”
Wow!