Somewhere in the world a Synod is taking place which has captured an uncomfortable amount of attention from the secular media. Since I promised not to comment on this Synod, I won’t. I will, however, express my extreme disappointment that this “event” is overshadowing the horror which is still unfolding for Christians in the Middle East. The Islamic State hasn’t called a ceasefire simply because a bunch old prelates in Rome are squabbling over how to circumvent settled dogma with specious reasoning. Some are still fretting that the Synod will lead to a rupture in the Catholic Church, maybe even a full-on schism. Would that be so bad? Yes, schism is always a tragedy, but it’s not without certain upsides. The departure of the Old Catholics in the 19th C., for instance, wounded the Church, but not deeply. Look at where the Old Catholics are today. But the Old Catholics were always an extreme minority; it’s not clear at this point who will go where and what their numbers shall be. That’s because it’s not clear yet who the Synod will shake out. Maybe, as some have predicted, it will just weaken the Church more, make her look even more unnecessary and foolish in the eyes of others, and limp onward toward further occasions for self-destruction in the name of “renewal.” Thankfully Catholic Answers and other neo-Catholic apologists will be on hand to explain it all away.
That’s not a sarcastic “thankfully,” mind you. I imagine there is a not-insignficiant number of Catholics who remain in the Church because of neo-Catholic whitewashing making it all seem bearable. Some would have probably gone Orthodox by now, or maybe left Christianity behind altogether. At the same time, however, I sympathize with traditional Catholics — such as the good folks at The Remnant — who throw their hands in the air with exasperation every time the neo-Catholics step to the plate to try to belt a contradiction out of the park. The ball goes foul more times than not.
I don’t want to pick on the neo-Catholics and their ways and means, at least not right now. It’s terribly cruel to kick people when their down, even if they still think they are standing tall on the field of battle. I would suggest that Catholics consider some duck-and-cover right now should the Orthodox opt to cast a glance in our direction. After all, we’re on the verge of vindicating some of their more superficial, but likely correct, criticisms of Roman posturing on divorce-and-remarriage. We tell them that their praxis in relation to doctrine is contradictory and flawed. They retort by telling us that we’re just blowing smoke and being disingenuous. On that charge I would have to say they are mostly on target, though I would encourage the Orthodox to go a step further here and point out that the Catholic Church’s present posture on marriage and annulments is predicated on the disturbing view that perhaps up to 50% of all marriages are sacramentally invalid. Thats right. Priests who hold any number of heretical views on Christ, Transubstantiation, and the meaning of the Mass can validly confect the Eucharist, but a man and a woman are likely entering into an invalid marriage unless they possess treatise-level knowledge of the theological meaning of matrimony. By that “logic,” my wife and I — who were married in Eastern Orthodoxy — have an invalid union since, at the time of our marriage, both of us — along with the priest who ministered the union — believed that, under certain circumstances, the marriage could be dissolved through the appropriate channels provided by the Orthodox Church. (Please don’t think for a moment that I buy into such nonsense, though if it were true I might look like a less poor parent if I were ever tempted to call my four boys “little b*****ds.”)