You’ve got to hand it to the Eye of the Tiber…

“The medium is the message.”

Marshall McLuhan

Vatican issues global questionnaire on modern families

The Vatican on Tuesday launched an unprecedented worldwide consultation on modern families including same-sex couples as part of Pope Francis’s drive to reform the Catholic Church. …

“Concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation… to same-sex unions,” it said.

Religious watchers said the 39 questions were unusual because of their non-judgemental, practical nature in what could be a signal of greater openness and increased pastoral care regardless of a believer’s background.

Referring to gay couples, one questions asks: “What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?”

“In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?”

On remarried divorcees, who under the current rules are not allowed to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic church, the questionnaire asks: “Do they feel marginalised or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?” …

Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, referred in particular to the increase in cohabiting Catholic couples who do not intend to marry, saying “the phenomenon requires a deepened reflection.”

Archbishop Bruno Forte, special secretary of the synod, said “the Church has to better its understanding, it is not a static body. We do not have the answers ready, but we cannot behave like an ostrich, with its head in the sand.”

Vatican expert Marco Politi, who writes for the Italian weekly L’Espresso, told AFP that “it is hugely significant that the Church, instead of presenting its ‘truth’ on families, civil unions and homosexuality from on high, wants to hear about the experience of the local faithful.” …

Comedy gold! Keep it up, you wild and crazy guys at Eye of the Tiber!

Not that they’re the only ones riffing on this “progressive bureaucraticism” gag. That mecca of Catholic satire, The Colbert Report, has given us this litany of kneeslappers:

Among the laity already excited by the Vatican’s questionnaire are a number of prominent homosexualist activists and other public dissenters from Catholic moral teaching, some of whom have already responded. The American homosexualist group New Ways Ministry, issued a statement calling the questionnaire “a great chance to hear the voice of the Spirit working in the church”.

New Ways Ministry, censured by the Vatican and declared officially non-Catholic by Chicago’s archbishop Cardinal Francis George, said, “The Vatican under Pope Francis seems to be offering an outstretched hand to the people of the church, but even more so, the Vatican is encouraging the bishops to be listeners to the voice of the people.”

Despite the official censure of then-Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, New Ways Ministry has enjoyed strong support from a number of bishops both in the US and abroad. Among the American bishops who have spoken at their meetings have been Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and Bishop Matthew Clark of the Diocese of Rochester. In March last year, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, a retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Australia, was a plenary speaker and retreat presenter for a Symposium on Catholicism & Homosexuality organised by New Ways.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director New Ways Ministry said, “Catholics who support justice and equality for LGBT people and who have encouraged the Church to hold a dialogue on all matters sexual and relational have prayed for this opportunity for a long time. It’s time to seize this opportunity to let leaders know how faith has informed us to work for LGBT inclusion.”

High five, dudes at The Colbert Report!

+ + +

Yep-per. Since the Church seems to be all out of ideas–gimme another hit o’ that Vatican II goodness, daddy-o, or meth-lab me some Vatican III right quick!–and would never “arrogantly” claim to “have the answers,” it’s time to canvass the masses ( <– that’s the actual document and survey, if you want to taste the rainbow) for that “flair for the new.” This sort of thing is exactly why I pray for the Pope. Yet again, this Evangelical-megachurch papacy is a cash cow for satirists everywhere, except for in the Catholic Church, where, with the exception of Eye of the Tiber, they seem to have been expelled as lebensunwertes Leben. (MACH SCHNELL, SCHEISSKOPF! SMILE AND CLAP ALONG!)

Buckets ready–set–carry!

mickeysbroomdance(And sure enough…)

Within two minutes of posting this link and the above paragraph on Facebook, I was assured that it’s simply what Newman meant about “consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine”. Yet I have to wonder if these Vatican mandarins give a trifle about the Newman who said, “Everyone in the Church, ignorant or learned, must absolutely submit his mind with an inward assent to the Church as the teacher of the whole Faith,” or again, “It is no trouble to believe, when the Church has spoken; the real trouble is when a number of little popes start up, laymen often, and preach against Bishops and priests, and make their own opinions the faith, and frighten simple-minded devout people and drive back inquirers.”

I think the majority of the laity’s opinions on matters like divorce and remarriage, same-sex unions, abortion, and contraception has been clear for some time now. Do we really need a Humanae Vitae saga all over again? The grim fact is, giving hope to impudence is its own kind of impudence. And that’s what this survey is all about––¡Hagan lío! For this troupe of lead-by-numbers clerics, as long as it shows how responsive the Church is to “the needs” of “the people,” let’s give it a go!

schrute false church with the timesBrace thyself, O soul, for another wave of corporatist flag-waving that at last the Church is trying to “reach out” and be “more merciful.” Apparently, openly calling the world to repent and obey the Gospel is proselytism unless it’s about economic matters. Meanwhile, pass me my rosary and then my whisky. Keeping an eye on such Tendenzen is probably half the reason I still use Facebook. In a generation we’ve gone from the Church Militant to the Church Amoeba to the Church Sponge. The results been as predictable as they have been devastating

In closing, with less rancor than you’d probably believe, I leave you with what I think describes the plan of action here, from the inexhaustibly illuminating “unfinished symphony” that is the Spadaro interview:

Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St Ignatius speaks. When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. So this thinking with the church does not concern theologians only.

“This is how it is with Mary: If you want to know who she is, you ask theologians; if you want to know how to love her, you have to ask the people. In turn, Mary loved Jesus with the heart of the people, as we read in the Magnificat. We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the church.”

After a brief pause, Pope Francis emphasises the following point, in order to avoid misunderstandings: “And, of course, we must be very careful not to think that this infallibilitas of all the faithful I am talking about in the light of Vatican II is a form of populism. No; it is the experience of ‘holy mother the hierarchical church,’ as St Ignatius called it, the church as the people of God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God’s people. …

The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”

I’m off to pray the Rosary. How apt that today we meditate on the Dolorous Mysteries.

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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15 Responses to You’ve got to hand it to the Eye of the Tiber…

  1. Juan Herena says:

    Shouldn’t it be Sub patrocinio Sancti Ignatii Loyolae et Francisci Salesii? Genitive case, anyone?

  2. I’ve been trying to figure that out. Are you sure? My Latin is weak, so if yours is better than mine, I’m going with it. 🙂

  3. But what about the plural Sanctorum, since it’s under two saints?

  4. Branch says:

    I’ve been surprised that more people have not commented on the Pope’s interpretation of St. Ignatius’s rule for thinking with the Church:

    “This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St Ignatius speaks.”

    Here is what Ignatius said:

    Pay attention especially to Rule 13: “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.”

    Though I commend Francis for making the clarification regarding the avoidance of populism, I think there is a fundamental confusion: Francis asserts that dialogue is first – “When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit” – prior to the Spirit’s guidance. This is not necessarily false, because “dialogue” (as it occurred with Humane Vitae) can lead to genuine pronouncements on faith and morals that the faithful must adhere to, and so the guidance of the Spirit was there, we can assume.

    But, that is not what Ignatius meant, that was not his emphasis. He was calling for obedience first of all. Those who want to push “dialogue” today are often dissidents and so light years away from being disciples of Ignatius, though they fashion themselves as such. Ignatius had in mind an a priori deference to the Church, because of the Spirit. Today, many reduce the Church’s stance to the “hierarchy” just playing “politics” – go and read an article at the Reporter and you will see this.

    I think Francis introduces a confusion here too in not defining what going down “this road” and it being “genuine” actually means. How is that discerned? To claim in the same context that “And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief,” and that there must be a priory to see that “no one is left behind” is the sort of thinking that gives rise to populism. Perhaps Francis meant that, by leaving no one behind, we must ensure that everyone understands what the Church teaches such that they can submit to Her and so not be left behind.

    But, by giving primacy to dialogue, he, I fear, implicitly gives credence to the kind of populism he is trying to guard against.

  5. Correct on both points. In this post – – I noted how divergent Francis’s “Ignatian” ideas are from St. Ignatius on numerous fronts, but I really appreciate you fleshing out the issues. It is certainly one of the largest elephants in the room.

    I also think you’re right that his emphasis on the word “populism” is typical of the Humpty Dumpty nature ( ) of this papacy: words mean whatever they need to mean in order to convey the “right” message and to meet the “needs” of “the people.” Well, actions speak louder than words in the long run, and I think we’re in for a hefty dose of populism under Pope Francis.



  6. c matt says:

    Having read the questionnaire, I don’t see it as all that bad in and of itself. Seems if anyone was paying even half attention to the popular culture, you would already know most of the answers. But at least this way it can be documented/organized in some fashion. The real issue is what will they do with the survey responses. Will they use ot to justify changes they want already, will they use it to focus on those areas where more instruction is needed, or what? I have little idea where F1 and the Gang of 8 are going with this.

  7. Exactly. It’s busy work. A noise maker. Bread and circuses. “Hey, look, guys and girls, watch my hands–seeee? We’re really, really trying to listen to your needs. Did I make myself clear? The Church really, really cares. Okay? Enjoy the survey!”

    If it had any theological potential to buck orthodoxy, it would fail, and is therefore a waste of time. But since it’s just going to show how deep the rot is in most of the laity, it’s a waste of time that will entrench dissent. “Here comes everybody.”

  8. Branch says:

    Yes. I doubt Ignatius would recognize the Pope’s definition of “discernment.”
    In fact, I think Francis is making a fundamental error in pitting the “mystical” against the “ascetic” – an error that is true neither to Ignatius nor to Tradition on the whole.

    It is just not true that the goal is to be always open-ended in thinking. It’s that false assumption that is the Society of Jesus in its modern form, a seedbed for dissent. The goal is rather the proper balance and reliance on both the “mystical” and the “ascetic”. The rigid and closed thought is necessary (similar to obedience) so as to adhere to what is already revealed and decided – a body of doctrine and dogma that has grown since the beginning and will continue to do so. The value of the “mystical” is to be the open door to what the Spirit wishes to reveal next. It is necessary to be open always, in a sense, though not with a view to dissent and with an understanding that if such a position is reached, then one’s openness is necessary off the mark – so as to be able to ‘close’ the mind next on that which is decided and then to instruct on that. That is how the Church has always progressed in the true sense. Ignatius brought a particular charism to the table at a time when there was both an increase in undermining the Church and her authority and also an increase in the importance of subjective consciousness. He was a precursor to modern times, an anticipatory gift of the Spirit that has been abused by his own ‘disciples’ for decades now.

  9. I just updated the header of this post to make clearer that my problem is not with the content of the survey–again, Pope Francis will not do anything openly to challenge doctrine–but rather with the its timing and received effect.

  10. c matt says:

    Busy work is not so bad if it keeps them from actually doing something harmful. Idle hands, and all that. Given the makeup of the G8, I would almost rather they committee/dialogue/synod this stuff to death than actually carry something out.

  11. Always look on the bright side. 😉

  12. Juan Herena says:

    I think you are right, it should be Sanctorum. Romanes eunt domus!

  13. Pingback: A note on method… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam," etiam sub patrocinio S. Ignatii Loyolae et Francisci Salesii

  14. Pingback: Stat orbis dum volvitur crux… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam," etiam sub patrocinio S. Ignatii Loyolae et Francisci Salesii

  15. Pingback: The Second Vatican Conchshell… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam," etiam sub patrocinio S. Ignatii Loyolae et Francisci Salesii

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