In London recently “Philippine Francis” Cardinal Tagle taught us all about the new kind of FrancisMercy and how it must be applied throughout the entire Church and the world. This FrancisMercy is much, much different than the bad, bad old Catholic mercy which harmed so many people psychologically now we’ve learned and therefore apologize.
FrancisMercy says, “I’m ok, you’re ok.” FrancisMercy says, “Welcome, welcome.” It says Communion is a healing food for sinners, not some union with God and his Holy Church. Go out to the peripheries, get the sinners and of course the poor, give everyone Holy Communion.
Then what will we have, a Church full of mortal sinners and sacrilege? How does that help anyone? How is it merciful?
Current head of the USCCB, Louisville’s Archbishop Kurtz, after heaping a few thanks, praises, and platitudes on Pope Francis and his upcoming synodal round of trouble, answered some questions for the National Catholic Register.
As one of four delegates to the upcoming ordinary synod, what message will you carry to Rome?
The dimension that I would bring is the unity and integrity of how we worship, how we believe and how we provide pastoral care. It will be very important that there is not a gap between the way we worship, believe and provide pastoral care.
Some lay Catholics are anxious as they watch this synodal process. They fear that something grave could happen, and they don’t seem to be satisfied with the answers that are being given. How have you tried to address such concerns in your own archdiocese?
I can’t say that I am hearing a great deal of anxiety. I sense that, in general, people are eager to reach out to those in need.
Of course, they also want assurance that we will not depart from the time-honored teachings of the Church. There is a rightful concern that we remain true to the teaching of the Church, and that is an attitude I will take to the synod.
People have raised two other issues. First, they want to hear encouragement for faithful witness to fidelity in marriage and family, both in daily life and in specific programs, such as marriage preparation.
Everyone needs to be inspired to the good.
Second, as we look at challenges of married life, we cannot forget the sacrifices spouses make. People mentioned families in which a child might have a disability or there is an unexpected illness. We need to make sure we are reaching out with pastoral care to people who live out their vows under great stress. This is a form of accompaniment.
Message: If you have anxiety about the Synod I don’t hear you. If you are worried the Church will formally break with it’s teaching don’t worry, I will bring a ‘good attitude’ about that. We must always encourage and inspire to do right, but then again……
Next, after touching upon the Pope’s new streamlined annulment push, Abp. Kurtz answers some more direct questions pertaining to last year’s debacle.
What concerns have Catholic raised in public forums about the synods?
Many have talked about the pastoral need for patience from the Church and that it can be difficult for people, day to day, to live a good and faithful life. The Church, in addition to upholding our teaching, needs to offer patience.
A number of people also said they appreciated the opportunity to be listened to.
One common point is the fact that many people had directly experienced the suffering of a failed marriage or knew someone who had. They were sympathetic to the need to reach out to people.
Message: We must demonstrate that we can apply ‘gradualism’ and create a Church environment where people with scandalous lives can be welcome, honored, and respected while we wait for them to do right. Meanwhile we can all learn from their wayward example and benefit from their leadership.
Media reports on the synods have suggested that the Church may change its teaching on same-sex “marriage” and related issues. What concerns have people expressed to you about this subject?
There is a great sense of compassion for people [with same-sex attraction]. They also want to be true to the teachings of the Church that are in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And they want to make sure these teachings are put into practice; first, that every individual, regardless of orientation, be treated with dignity.
Second, many are also aware [of political] advocacy [on this issue] and want to make sure the Church’s definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman is cherished and maintained.
Message: We have tremendous compassion for people attracted to the same sex. It’s so much, much worse for them. They just don’t get treated with dignity. Nevertheless, though their advocates continuously force ever-wider acceptance of their perversions upon children, employers, and families; we must pretend to uphold marriage somehow while we bend to their demands.
Some members of episcopal conferences abroad have signaled that they want to provide Communion for Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried but have not received annulments. What principles must be applied to evaluate such proposals so that there isn’t a break in the unity of doctrine, worship and pastoral practice?
The overall question is: How do we accompany people who are in irregular situations — separation and divorce, failed marriages and have sought to marry outside the Church? In those cases, it will be the task of the synod to look at many opportunities to provide pastoral care.
The delegates to the synod will have to evaluate each one of the proposals based on theological guidance [regarding its] effect on the theology of the Eucharist and on our need to be in grace as we approach the sacrament.
Message: Even though there are only two ways to accompany people in ‘irregular situations’; i.e., either they move your way or you move theirs; we’re going to have to take a case-by-case look at this. We will put each sinful situation in a case file, and while that case is being evaluated, we’ll move their way and they can receive Holy Communion!
This case-by-case mantra is emerging all over the place.
Finally, we can feel safe knowing that, as a last resort in ‘cases’ of Communion for adulterers, Archbishop Kurtz and the other Synod Fathers will be sure to punt this one to the assembled ‘theologians.’