It is said rugby is split between two playing types. Piano lifters and piano players. The ‘players’ sprint off in a moment opening up defences with an array of dazzling skills. The “lifters” ensure, through brawn and grunt, that they have a ball to dazzle with in the first place. Balance is essential- too many players and you get mashed up front. Too many lifters and people dance rings round you. Jonny Wilkinson may have taken the headlines when England won the world cup but, trust me, he would not have done so without the gigantic presence of Martin Johnson up front.
It will surprise nobody that I was/am a lifter. My job to secure ball in the scrum and throw myself around in the loose. Being an amateur the results were mixed and are now declining with age/weight but no matter how good or bad I might be one thing is vital. If trouble breaks out I need to be there. The backs play best when they know the forwards have their backs! And every man on the pitch must know his team mates are 100% behind him. For rugby can be a bruising encounter and the “team” is everything.
One of my concerns following a disastrous synod in Rome is that the team was damaged. There seems to have been an accentuation of division not unity. How sad to see Cardinals bickering over politics not united in proclamation of the faith. Pope Francis’ final speech might be encouraging, following a dire mid term report that had been highjacked by a clear agenda, but sanity only prevailed after blood was spilt. And far from putting families first the whole thing descended into a Machiavellian farce as they were about the only thing we didn’t actually hear about. Why is the modern world so obsessed with homosexuality that nothing else gets a look in?
I guess we should not be surprised modernists attempted to derail this synod. They firmly believe the Pope is for them (he may be? I don’t know) but confidence led to arrogance and an overplaying of hand. Did we also detect desperation? Are they having to push hard because they have largely lost the next generation meaning supporters of such change are increasingly aged?
It adds up. For as I have stated before: the long term future is bright for orthodox Catholics-it is the next 10 years that are dangerous due to the age of those in authority who all come from “that woodstock/revolutionary generation”. The one that has spent its life deconstructing one institution after another in the name of “progress”. Creating a brave new world in their image.
That then is the explanation that makes sense to me. The liberals pushing hard for reform before its too late. The orthodox responding with vigour. Fault lines exposed in the process. And thus a war of adult politics took centre stage at a Synod that should have been there to support and encourage the family and especially children. A scandal in real terms as many parishioners are already asking for reassurance. Their morale low, their faith shaken in the confusion and conflict.
The circus ends for now and both sides leave with casualties. The orthodox witness the shameful demotion of Cardinal Burke. The modernists witness the shredding of the reputation of lead spokesman, Cardinal Kaspar, exposed as lying over comments he made in racist tones. It seems de rigour these days for enlightened liberals to hold vile sentiments about Africans who dare defy trendy Western thinking. They are to be dismissed as “primitive thinkers” against their enlightened views. It is as horrid as it is ignorant but you detect this new racism very often. No matter that most of the African Cardinals have an education and intellect second to none!
And what of people in the pews? As a family man I do NOT feel affirmed by this Synod. I am left wondering why those living out married life seem less interesting than those divorced. I feel as though my children’s voice and needs matter less than the voice of homosexuals at this time. As a priest I ask who has my back?
Does the Pope have my back? Is he there to stand up for the Catholic faith I surrendered so much for? Does he understand we have a revealed faith to defend and not a man made creed to progress? Does he know how undermined those of us who preach the faith are when it is suggested that personal views equate to dogma?
I hope so. The truth is nobody knows because he did not take a clear lead even as blood was being spilled. He did not interject in order to underline the teaching of the ages. Why not I keep asking? Is it a sign of weak leadership? A ploy to expose those peddling the modernist agenda? Or a refusal to put fingerprints on an agenda of his making? Who knows? But ultimately his personal views and politics should not matter for his job is not to promote them but to defend the faith.
What is certain is that these are uncertain difficult times. The modernist agenda threatens the faith and pressure is being applied from without and within. Can the gates prevail as Jesus promised? They must! But it won’t be easy as we have seen in the midst of all other heresies that have rocked the church throughout the ages.
We need to pray then. And those who hold the faith of the Apostles must stand together and have each other’s backs. The road ahead looks bumpy in the short term but positive in the long term. Let us pray and be patient and take comfort in the fact that the modernisers coup spectacularly failed. For this is not a synodical church and our process exists to defend us. Nothing has changed as regards the teaching of the church. We do well to not only remember that but take great confidence in it.