You may recall that in anticipation of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and Evangelization, the Vatican released a preparatory document, including a questionnaire, so that bishops from around the world could report on the state of the faith of their flocks on key issues related to marriage and the family. We blogged about it here.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a press release today indicating that they had already sent their responses to the questionnaire to the Vatican. Why the rush? It’s not the CCCB’s fault. The Vatican asked for responses by the end of January. Yup, the questionnaire was made public in early November 2013 and responses were to be sent to the Vatican by the end of January 2014. Once you factor in the Christmas holidays, there remained essentially 6 weeks for the bishops from around the world to seek input from parishes, condense the responses into reports for each diocese, then have the national episcopal conference gather and synthesize all the diocesan reports into a national report to be approved by the Executive Committee.
That means it’s too late for you and me to provide any input. We missed the bus.
A few key quotes from the CCCB press release:
At the same time, the process has shown many Catholics are not deeply aware of the Church’s rich and positive teaching on marriage and family. This can result in a troubling gap between the Church’s doctrine and the thinking of a number of Catholics.
No kidding. Some bishops don’t accept the teachings. Some priests don’t accept the teachings. More importantly, nobody is teaching the teachings. Why are we surprised that the laity aren’t assenting to teachings that are kept “a secret”, so to speak?
There are also hopes the Church could be more effective in presenting its teaching, and might also review aspects of its discipline in certain areas.
Yes, but we have to be careful about what’s implied here. If they’re hinting at the German approach of wanting to minimize divorce, then we have a problem, Houston.
In accordance with the preparations and practice for every meeting of the Synod of Bishops, the results of the CCCB synthesis of diocesan responses are sent directly to the Holy See and not made public.
This “consultation” process is too weird. Not only were we not consulted, but we’ll never know what we allegedly said and what is being reported of us to the Vatican.
I don’t know why this was rushed. The preparatory document said that the questionnaire was supposed to allow “the particular Churches to participate actively in the preparation of the Extraordinary Synod.” How can active participation take place under such a timelines? The Vatican knew it, too. In his letter to the bishops, the General Secretary of the Synod, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, asked that the consultations be conducted under “the most brief and practical institutional process.”
The consultation process was critical, not because I have any spectacular insights to share, but because it would constitute a very concrete step towards opening the communication lines between the clergy and laity on the need for more teaching and leadership on life and family issues. Imagine: we could have had open discussions in our parish basements about issues such as divorce, contraception and same-sex unions. There would have obviously been disagreements. This would have required an explanation of the teaching, i.e. evangelization. It would have been revolutionary! As it stands, without consultations, I fear that the results of the Synod will be very similar to any other Vatican document on morals, i.e. it likely won’t have much reach or repercussions at the parish level.
You know, I’ve been reading Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation and I must admit that he’s really challenging us to be more charitable and Christ-like in many ways. However, rushing the consultation is not Christ-like. To claim that the faithful will be consulted but then not consult them is very uncharitable and un-Christian. It makes me feel unimportant, which doesn’t help to further the new evangelization at all.
I’m feeling very frustrated by the gap between the apostolic exhortation and the process of the Synod. It hurts.
I’d like to ask our readers: were you informed that any consultation was being held in your diocese? I was personally expecting to hear some announcement in my parish about an opportunity for providing input. Never happened. What about in your parish/diocese? I’d like to get your perspectives, regardless of what country you live in. Please take a moment to write a few words in the comment box below. Please specify your diocese.
I’m not trying to start a mutiny here, I just want to know if other places outside Ottawa were consulted.