The Bishops Have ALWAYS Said That: Don’t believe everything you read about the synod

by | Oct 14, 2014 | Catholic Living, Pope Francis | 19 comments

A quick tour of recent headlines regarding the Synod . . . in which we see that folks are, as usual, flipping the flip out over nothing new.

The Globe and Mail: Bishops say homosexuals should be accepted by the Catholic church

Pope Benedict, from then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s Letter to the Bishops on Homosexuality in 1986: “The Bishops have the particularly grave responsibility to see to it that their assistants in the ministry, above all the priests, are rightly informed and personally disposed to bring the teaching of the Church in its integrity to everyone.”

USA Today: Roman Catholic bishops in Vatican City demonstrated unprecedented tolerance toward gays, acknowledging in a newly released document that same-sex partnerships have merit.

Actual Synod document: “The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. . . . Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.”
…………………. Bishops say gays have gifts to offer church

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
ThinkProgress: A Pastoral Earthquake, Catholic church proposes extraordinary shift on gays and lesbians

The “Pastoral Earthquake” quote comes from . . . wait for it . . . a GUY with a BLOG who said it. Think Progress is quoting a guy with a blog who read the document.

Hey! I’ve got a blog! I read the document! Quote me! 

Here’s one: Worry not. I have it on good authority that the gates of hell won’t prevail against us.

Simma down now everybody. Simma down.

You can read the text of the document for yourself here:
And this is a REALLY good explanation of what is NOT happening here by George Weigel (maybe you’ve heard of him


  1. Anna

    Sure the gates of Hell will not prevail, but the bishops are certainly capable of muddying the waters for us. I guess I'm just disappointed about the apparent lack of attention they all gave to the troubles in our own country. Maybe that's selfish of me. I realize we're just one fraction of the Church and I know pretty much nothing of what's going down in other countries. But still. We're big and we should matter a bit ya' know? Trying to remain positive.

    • Kendra

      I really think everyone is losing sight of the fact that this is just notes from a meeting. that's it. but we are The Catholic Church. We're kind of a big deal. And the secular media has an agenda of course. I just think we have a responsibility to KNOW better than to believe the hype. I read it, and there isn't anything in it I disagree with. It's the same old Truth, phrased compassionately. And it's just notes. It's not an official anything and the meeting isn't even over yet, and this isn't even the real meeting. It's just the meeting to talk about the real meeting, which is next year!

    • Anna

      That's well and true Kendra. You're right there. I will say that the "gates of hell…" line is starting to grate a bit. There is past precedent for bad/unclear teaching from the bishops leading to mass confusion and ultimate loss of eternal souls (Martin Luther, Protestant Reformation). And it's silly to think it couldn't happen again. And even if losing a few or even many souls does not mean that the Gates of Hell will prevail, it's a fine thing to be sad about. While you are very right that this whole worrying thing is likely premature, I think you're wrong to suggest that there couldn't possibly be anything to worry about. Optimism and faith are good things though. But I do hope people continue praying.

    • Kendra

      Maybe the Church needs all of us? It needs Pollyannas AND Chicken Littles and together we'll figure it out.

      But with every single bit of me, I am not worried. All I can do is pray and hope and trust. I can't worry about the Catholic Church, the concept doesn't even make sense to me, really. We already know how all this ends. There are things I don't LIKE, there are things to work and hope for, we're not perfect. But none of that adds up to worrying for me.

    • Micaela Darr

      I think the main problem here is the need for information and clarification NOW. The Church is old school, it does things slowly. Releasing some notes on the agenda for *next year's* synod is what the current culture wants and yet it isn't doctrine. Period. So those of us who know better need to say things like "simma down." It's our job in this process, aside from lots of prayer, of course. I guess I think of it like a poli sci course, except on the Church. Most people don't understand the electoral process, either, so those who do need to enlighten the rest. We're the experts in this case.

      All in all, I'm pretty confused why the mainstream media is excited AND faithful Catholics who've actually read the document are upset. It's pretty darn clear to me that there's nothing new in that one section, at least. But maybe I'm missing something?

  2. Theresa Breslin

    I guess I'm upset that everyone's getting upset… Sure, the media is choosing to emphasize certain parts of the report, but is it really misleading in any way? When else has the Church called for not only acceptance and mercy toward gay/divorced/cohabitating couples, but actually explicitly pointed to the benefits and positives of these situations as a springboard for gradual conversion? How does this muddy any waters? I'm with you, Kendra, people need to simma.

  3. Molly Walter

    Once again people getting really excited because they're finally understanding what we've been saying all the time – gay people, cohabitation people, and all sorts of people are still people who deserve love and respect; we need to find ways to minister to them and welcome them back into the Church without altering the Churches stances on issue we deem vitally important.

    The whole "gay people have gifts" things getting blown out of proportion is crazy – of course they have gifts to share, but it's because they're human beings first.

  4. Joy

    I completely agree with the post but perhaps if we said "gifted" more often and "disordered" less often perhaps the MSM (who I also completely agree have an agenda) would be less able to tout this as BIG NEWS.

  5. Amanda

    Amen Kendra! And Molly, I completely agree, it's just a lot of hoopla over what we've actually been saying all along.

    I'm glad the conference happened and all, it's good to ensure everyone is on the same page, but of course secular media has to come in and make it super confusing. The things I was hearing on the news was just hateful and ignorant and it was very frustrating as a Catholic to know that my neighbors and non-Catholic friends are all only hearing that secular news and they never check to see whether the news agency was accurately representing the truth.

    Oh well, I guess we'll all just keep on keepin' on, speaking the truth in love as much as we can and trust that eventually it'll all work out.

  6. Happy Young Wife

    I've been seeing these headlines all over my news feed all day and all I could do was arch my eyebrows and say "I honestly doubt it." Thank you Kendra for clearing it up. I knew without reading anything that it was sensationalism at its best (worst?) and this sums it up for me without having to actually read any of those articles. Which is great because just getting through the headline was exhausting.

  7. V.R.A

    Well, many bishops do not feel the Church has always taught that- see the damning remarks from the Polish bishops link here

    Add the fact that these "notes," (written by a minority) were clearly released, to the surprise of many bishops, with an eye towards the media, knowing what craziness would erupt. link here

    • Kendra

      I wouldn't call the Polish bishop's remarks "damning" so much as "worried." You didn't bring up Cardinal Burke, but he seems worried too, and, if he'll forgive me, defensive as well. He clearly feels very strongly about this issue, and rightly so. But no one has announced anything. These are the minutes of an advisory, preparatory meeting.

      I agree with you that it's problematic that they have been released to widespread and predictable misinterpretation, but that doesn't change the fact that truth will prevail.

      You also link to Fr. Z, whose response to all this is also predictable. Dude's a rabble rouser, he's rousing the rabble. It's what he does.

      That doesn't feel helpful to ME. But it seems like it does feel helpful to you and Anna (of the first comment), so I guess it's a good thing the internet is big enough for all of us.

    • Anna

      Ok. So just to be clear I'm not a fan of rabble rousing and almost never read Fr Z, except when looking for answers to specific questions. (It's Friday. Can I fry my eggs in bacon fat?)

      Responses to these headlines seem to fall mostly in one of 2 camps:
      1. Let me tell all of you, publicly, why this is terrible. Or
      2. Let me tell you guys in the first camp why your concerns are invalid.

      I don't like either of these approaches. I think that at least some of the concerns of the first camp are valid. But they should keep those concerns to themselves for the time being. I value the optimism of camp number 2 but I think they are wrong to dismiss these concerns as being totally without merit. Does that make sense?

    • Kendra

      Thanks Anna, and I'm sorry for putting words in your mouth. That's lame.

      What I'm trying to be is, 3. Let's just hold on a sec and see if there's actually a reason for concern. And in the meantime hope and pray.

  8. V.R.A

    Also, Fr. Longnecker nails it here
    The faithful on the ground are the ones who have to deal with the fallout from this document, regardless of what clarifications are issued (and summarily ignored by the media or painted as some anti-gay rhetoric). This was the rationale used for starting a gay-straight alliance (noting like "Courage") at my Catholic alma mater- people literally quoted the Pope to justify it and told any objectors that they were not holier than the Pope.

    • Kendra

      I guess I just don't understand why Fr. Longnecker can't just go ahead and disabuse people of their misunderstandings when they come to him for counsel. It seems like he's in a great position to do that with the people he encounters.

      And I'll try to do it on my blog and you'll try to do it with people you encounter and we'll all just try to spread as much truth as we can to our own little circles.

      But I can't really understand blaming Pope Francis, because he didn't ever actually teach the things those couples believed.

  9. Kara @ Mea Cuppa

    I just don't understand why people would fight so vehemently to belong to a church that they don't believe is led by the holy spirit. Let the bishops and Papa Francis do their jobs! I'm not bothered by the media… they're doing what they do. I AM bothered by the reactionary Catholics who are damning us all. And even worse… committing apostasy in the name of being right!

    • Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

      Right? I'm not sure who's irritating me more in all of this — the secular folks who are like "Pope Francis is going to start gay marriage in the Catholic Church!" or the 'Catholics' who are all "He's RUINING everything."

      Guys, chill.

  10. Tia

    If I may, as someone who is outside the church, I gotta say that these statements may not change doctrine but they certainly could lead more people who are lapsed/not Catholic in the first place to choose the church. Sure, maybe there is no contradiction, technically, between saying someone who is gay has intrinsic gifts to offer the church and saying that gay sex is intrinsically disordered, but there is a VAST difference to the person who is hearing the first versus the second, in terms of feeling welcomed. And again while there may technically be no doctrinal difference between a gradualist approach and past public statements from the church, what you'll experience as a congregant could be worlds apart. For the orthodox, this is unlikely to change their practice. But MOST Catholics aren't.

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