There is much anxiety in the Catholic world at present as we await the response of the Holy Father to the Synod on the family. The key question is admission of the divorced and re-married (who have no annulment) to communion. Will the Pope break with Catholic tradition and scriptural teaching and allow for this innovation as the modernist demands? Or will he back the orthodox and stand by the historic teaching of the church?
Nobody can answer with clarity though many attempt to. So until he responds we must wait and pray; that he may be guided by the Holy Spirit. But we do need to understand amidst our prayers that this is a most significant decision with far reaching consequence. Because what is really under consideration is not the presenting issue, how the church deals with divorce, but rather the method by which decisions are made.
To understand how significant changes in methodology can be, we do well to consider Anglicanism. For in the early years of the 20th Century its moral theology was broadly in line with Catholic teaching. Anglicanism was opposed to artificial contraception, re-marriage after divorce, active same sex partnerships and more besides. The change only arrived in the 1950’s when General Synod voted to altar its methodology in regard to just one small issue…
Citing a need to conform to the modern world (sound familiar?) official teaching was changed to allow artificial contraception. On the surface a small decision; a pastoral concession respecting modern couples. But in reality an epic moment- for it was here that the ship of faith, in that particular communion, defintively pulled away from its scriptural and doctrinal moorings. With sex now divorced from its procreative purpose all teaching on marriage and the family was thrown into question. The moral theology of the Anglican communion was set afloat on the sea of modernity and the heart and soul of traditional Anglicanism collapsed.
Thus today the very things Anglicanism once stood against, it now stands for; in practice if not official doctrine. Gay partnered clergy serve it’s synod, second and third marriages are common and so on and so forth. Once the toothpaste was out of the tube changes came hard and fast- there could only be one conclusion! A victory of the modernist sexual revolution over the traditional teaching of the faith in matters of morality.
And don’t underestimate the pain involved. It led to division, disunity and even schism. What else could happen as the entire moral framework of an ecclesial community collapsed in less than half a century? When the card of artificial contraception was pulled from the foundations the entire house fell to the ground. Those who had warned it would prove the beginning of a slippery slope as early as 1908 were mocked and derided. But the warning they issued proved prophetic. What appeared to be just a small change in pastoral practice, the acceptance of artificial contraception, became the key to unlocking Pandora’s box.
Today the Catholic church arrives at the crossroad. The card which the modernists are encouraging the Holy Father to pull may be different, instead of artificial contraception it’s communion for those in adulterous relationships, but the point of departure from scriptural and doctrinal moorings will be the same. The consequences guaranteed.
For once you elect to follow the decision of Synods, or even the personal desires of Pope’s, in preference to the clear voice of scripture and tradition, the very fabric of the church changes. No longer is it a divine institution guarding a fixed deposit of faith; it becomes a political institution in which that faith is ever up for grabs. One must simply lobby those with influence.
See then that it matters not one jot which particular card is pulled- choose your favourite- what matters, for the modernists, is only that one of them is pulled. For once you abandon the teaching of Christ on one moral issue then logic dictates all others can follow….
Pray hard my friends because it is not fundamentalism or rigidity or conservatism that strike me as the gravest threats to the church at present. Those these can indeed suck the life from the church as the Holy Father warns. No, the gravest threat is an abandonment of the faith which the Saints held dear. The storm of modernity is hammering at the walls of the church, please Jesus hold it together.