Assessing the Synod and Cultural Breakdown
Each time I read a report from the synod like “Synod on Synodality’s New Methodology Could Skew Reports on Controversial Issues” (Oct. 11, NCRegister.com), I am dumbfounded at its approach toward divine Revelation. Pick up any old, illustrated catechism, and you will see a familiar image repeated again and again: a triangle. Revelation and grace are alike, in that they come from the same lofty origin, God, and flow downward, through the Church’s hierarchy to the people. Like little birds in a nest, we raise our heads heavenward to be fed by our Father, both in word and sacrament. Like the spire of a great Gothic cathedral, all is orientated upward.
Now contrast this with the main image coming out of the synod, that of circular discussion tables, where all is flat and directed inward. Each is a closed system. The participants ask themselves questions and [seemingly] look to themselves, not God, for answers. Many of these questions pertain to objective theological truths, but are veiled under a subjective guise. For example, “is it possible to envisage” women’s inclusion in the diaconate, “and in what way?” After the table makes its “report,” there is a period of “free interventions” for comments.
One must ask: Are the answers to such questions to be found in surveys? Or among the opinions of whoever happens to be assigned to a particular table in the Paul VI Audience Hall? Of course not, because such questions pertain to theology, which looks not to man for its answers, but to God. We see this at the outset of the Summa Theologiae, when St. Thomas Aquinas identifies the “object” of the science of theology as nothing other than God and his revelation (I-I, Q. 1, Art. 7).
A supporter of the synod’s methodology will point out that this discussion is not a vacuum, but a “conversation in the Spirit.” I am reminded of the “unprogrammed worship” of a Quaker meeting, but after reading through the synod “modules,” I would rather call this “programmed worship.” Intentionally ignored is the fact that, with these “controversial” subjects, the Holy Spirit has already done his work in revealing to the Church the unchanging truth, and it is not to be found across the table. If we little birds refuse to turn skyward and instead look only among the nest for our sustenance, we will starve.
Little River, South Carolina
‘A Long Way From Eden’
Relevant to ongoing Register coverage of pro-life issues:
In one of his novels, the Russian writer Turgenev has a character who, somewhat exasperated by the company of some well-heeled and well-oiled babbling companions, stood up and said, “This is bedlam” and left. That is how I feel these days when I watch the news most evenings.
If I had any doubts that we are living in Bedlam, they were laid to rest this week, after reading a story on the pro-life news website about a film award ceremony in Holland where the video of a Dutch pop group’s song Kill the Baby had been nominated for one of their “Golden Calf” awards (you couldn’t make this stuff up).
The video, which I watched, is truly disturbing; beginning with an animated scene, set in the womb, where the two band members home in on the unborn baby in spaceships and annihilate the “intruder” with “ray-guns.” Fairly tame, compared to what comes next, which uses baby dolls to demonstrate a variety of execution techniques, including setting fire to one, a mock-up of an electric chair, being mauled by a dog, thrown from a building and being shot.
It seems that one of the band members had an abortion and this is her way of trivializing abortion and processing her feelings about that.
Whilst the gates of Eden were shut behind us long ago, humanity has journeyed a long way in the opposite direction. I wonder how much worse it could get; how much longer before the cry of the hearts of his children are heard — “Come, Lord Jesus” — and he illuminates the consciences of the world.
Return to the Light
Regarding “Synod on Synodality: Most Important Catholic Event Since Vatican II?” by George Weigel (Vatican, Oct. 8 issue): George Weigel’s commentary has struck on an important point, that although the current synod is of extreme significance, there have been other events since Vatican ll that are equally noteworthy in the ongoing work of the church. One example is the event that took place on April 18, 2005. Cardinal Ratzinger forewarned about a “dangerous dictatorship of relativism” that would threaten humanity by dumbing down the notion of truth on everyone. Today, we are witnessing the phenomenon in the ideology of radical liberalism and wokeism. The idea that truths are relative to individual viewpoints have proven to be harmful, twisted and dangerous. Statistics have shown the lessening of religious traditions and practices in recent years. We are created by God in his image and guided by his infinite and loving will. To deny or reject that truth only encourages self-indulgence of individual beliefs that supersede any laws by our wise and loving Creator. Modernity is seeing the breakdown of every facet of our American Christian culture. We need to return to living in the light and truth that is our Lord Jesus Christ.
San Antonio, Texas
- letters to the editor