This past week the Vatican released a preparatory document for the October synod on the family. Here it is, from the Vatican website. It is my understanding that these Instrumentum Laboris documents are not intended to set forth teaching per se; rather, they state the topics for discussion for the upcoming meeting and they more or less frame the conversations that will occur.
While this promulgates no teaching, it still offers helpful insights. LifeSiteNews highlights some issues, that can be found in paragraph 12 of the document. It doesn't take any great genius to surmise that there is generally less familiarity with Church teaching on marriage and family life than there was two generations ago. In particular, it states that the clergy is so unfamiliar with the teachings that they believe themselves incapable of proclaiming it - so they remain silent. While I'm sure that may be true in some cases, I know such is not the case in the Archdiocese of Washington. In my own parish, there was the case of Father Guarnizo; when he upheld Church teaching by denying a practicing lesbian Holy Communion, he was ousted from the Archdiocese. I am aware of another priest who, several years ago, taught classes on Humanae Vitae. When the Church's clear teaching on contraception was expounded, that priest was silenced and sent away.
Then in paragraph 15 we see a faulty hypothesis offered as to why Catholics don't accept Church teaching. It is supposed that the difficulty lies in the faithful lacking "an authentic Christian experience..an encounter with Christ". Do not "encounters with Christ" happen during the Sacraments, particularly with Confession and the worthy reception of Holy Communion? Perhaps what we have here is another manifestation of the lack of proper Catholic education. We also see that problematic word "experience" crop up. To what objective experience does that document refer? I don't think there can be any one objective "experience", for experience often has to do with individual temperament, etc. "Experiences" do differ from person to person. Could that be why Jesus always said "if you love me, keep my commandments"? Obedience, not experience, seems to be the proper norm of Christian life. But then again, one must know God's commands and teachings in order to properly obey them.
I'll be frank. I don't know what can be gleaned from this upcoming synod that we don't already know. Why don't we just obey what has already been revealed to us?
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