I have been more out-of-the-loop with the Synod than I normally would like. It’s a far cry from last year, when I had just started my job and didn’t have any projects in full swing. I had plenty of time to read as much as I could, watch press conferences, and speculate. This year, work has kept me busy and I’ve barely had time to read a blog post here and there. I skim Twitter in the morning (following the Holy See Press Office is rather helpful for getting quotes from the press conferences) and sometimes that’s all I can do.
Perhaps, though, it’s not such a bad thing. I’m aware of the discussions and debates, but in the end, I’ll be waiting until the dust settles to see what comes of all of this. Which is all I could have done anyway. So we pray for the bishops, we pray for the Pope, and we wait.
One thought: Pretending that the only issue the synod needs to discuss is Communion for the divorced and remarried is an insult to families throughout the world. This isn’t a synod on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried. This is a synod on the family. And with all respect to those who are in that situation and hurting, there are millions of people throughout this world hurting for other reasons, and their wounds need to be addressed as well. I was reading comments on an article during the first week of the Synod (heaven help me, why do I read comments on articles…) and the person said if that problem wasn’t going to be solved, why is there even a synod? Well, that’s insulting to every family that is hurting throughout the world: hurt by war, fatherless families, prostitution and sex trafficking, polygamy, abuse, poverty, infertility, lack of educational opportunities…
What about the families who are struggling to be faithful, to be life-giving, to be virtuous in this culture when everyone around them is telling them to give up? To act like the synod is only about Communion for the divorced and remarried is a slap in the face, at best. (Thank you, Cardinal Dolan.)
More than one bishop has commented that if the focus of the synod is Communion for the divorced and remarried, it is a narrow focus that pretty much completely ignores the situation of families outside the western world. We tend to forget that much of the Catholic world lies outside our everyday experience. The Catholics in North America make up a mere 8% of the Catholic Church. Add Europe and you get a total of about 32%. Not exactly a majority.
One of the most striking things about the World Meeting of Families was not just the international community present, but where much of the international community came from. Not from affluent Europe (an easy trip to Philadelphia). No, they were from Asia and Africa. I’ve never seen so many bishops gathered for Mass in one place outside of Rome, as I did at that opening Mass for the WMOF. Where were they from? Africa and Asia. (Including this guy.) The Church is growing and the Church is faithful in these “2nd millennial” churches. They deserve to be in the conversation.
That being said, I stand by the things I said last year (here and here) about last year’s extraordinary synod, and I urge everyone to pray for the bishops. We can spill a lot of ink, we can gossip and complain and speculate and worry. Or we can pray.