Post-Synod: The Left never loses by overstepping

Laura Wood summarizes the outcome of the Synod:

THE required two-thirds majority of bishops at the “Extraordinary Synod on the Family” has rejected three of the most controversial paragraphs in a draft midterm report, including one paragraph that spoke of the special “gifts” of homosexuals. However, the original wording will still be published and disseminated to dioceses around the world for discussion. And the parts of the report which offered nuanced, touchy-feely support for cohabitation, civil unions and contraception reportedly remain. (So far the final report is only available in Italian.) Francis in his final address spoke glowingly of the “animated discussions” that characterized the meetings, all of it so much pseudo-Catholic theater staged to achieve his revolutionary goals.

So, even after the revolt of the orthodox, the outcome of Synod is still a shift to the Left.  The Overton window has shifted. This is the achievement of the mid-synod summary, regardless of its being moderately rebuked in the small groups reports.  Nobody respectable is now so far to the Right as to find it unfitting for a Church document to emphasize the elements of sanctification in adulterous relationships.  Meanwhile, the idea of a man’s urge to bugger other men being a special gift to him and the Church is not formally approved but is considered so worthy of consideration that the Church will see to it that everyone is exposed to it.  The second week of the Synod was a victory for the orthodox, but even so it failed to completely overturn the Kasperite advance.  The Left never loses by overstepping.  If Leftists go too far too fast they may have to make a temporary retreat, but they never go back to where they were before their offensive, much less do they ever actually lose ground.  There is no real danger to the Left in attacking.  At worst, they encounter stiffer-than-expected resistance and only gain a little.

Also, it seems that the “law of gradualism” is now a centerpiece of Catholic moral theology, and the only thing to do is to figure out what it really means.  (I recommend Tony M.’s analysis.)  I’m not embarrassed to say that I’d never heard until last week of this core Catholic doctrine that negates the older idea of “mortal sin” that I learned from my Baltimore Catechism as a kid.  Thank God I was born when I was, because the new doctrine wouldn’t have kept me out of nearly as much trouble as the old one did.

Lastly, let us hold ourselves to a higher standard on the Right and avoid cheap shots like calling Cardinal Kasper a “racist”.  There’s no such sin as “racism”.  Let’s not pretend he doesn’t feel exactly the same way toward white conservative Catholics.  And I can totally believe that to someone arriving in the airport London looks like a third-world country.  Kasper is promoting the ultimate heresy.  That’s bad enough.

26 Responses

  1. Meanwhile, Card. Burke, one of the orthodox heroes, confirmed that Francis is taking the unprecedented move of stripping him of his curial positions and exiling him to an obscure chaplaincy, and rumors are likewise beginning to circulate that Card. Muller and a few of the brave Polish bishops are destined soon for similar treatment.

    Naturally, this means he’ll have none of his enemies around to foil the work of the 2015 Synod.

  2. Too many letters “o” in loose in the title, perhaps.

    The law of gradualism is not a Francis innovation, is it? It’s just the next logical advance of the imperfect communion crap and the elements of sanctification in false religions crap.

    There is something surreal about seeing arguments that the left angrily characterized as strawmen in my childhood become conventional wisdom in my middle age. Crazy right wing conspiracy theorists thought the ERA would lead to women in combat and gay marriage, on basically the arguments we have now embraced for these things. Polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality are next up, just as crazy right wing conspiracy theorists said they would be.

  3. Thanks for catching the typo, Bill.

  4. I find the complaints of guys like Burke pretty hard to understand. Why did Papolotry suddenly become a false religion? Letting male to female transsexuals become nuns is ok, but saying that gay marriage has elements of sanctification or whatever is bad. Giving communion to Protestants is ok, but Black Masses are not.

    Why? Gay marriages do have elements of sanctification, don’t they? Black Masses have elements of sanctification. No evil is pure. It’s the whole “elements of sanctification” way of talking that’s the problem. And that way of talking is a major theme of VII. To attack it is to attack the Council directly.

    These guys are mad because they have no real arguments to offer and because the cause they have been fighting for is turning to ashes before their eyes. As it was destined to do the moment we got a real Vatican II pope.

    It’s the second step of the empirical two-step bonald identified elsewhere. Conservatives busily build bad arguments for true conclusions, and now they are forced to confront that they have no good arguments.

    Now, let’s be nice conservatives and lionize a freak like Mueller. He’s one of the good guys, don’t you know. That could not possibly backfire. Not one bit.

  5. What Bill said. Indeed if there is there is to be any hope the “Wojtyła conservatives” will have to start by abandoning Wojtyla. This Synod is not the abandonment of Wojtyla papacy but the culmination.

  6. More than anything else in the last decade, this synod has made me miss John Paul II. Have some perspective, guys.

  7. The left overstepped in 1920s Berlin, 1790s France and even 1920s Moscow to their own detriment.

  8. even 1780s America.

  9. Thanks for the last paragraph. Even if “racism” were a sin, I don’t see how Kasper (who I think should be burned as a heretic) said anything racist. You can’t say you disagree with the (fairly monolithically conservative/orthodox) African Bishops? But Burke thinks Kasper is a racist.

  10. The scathing criticism of the relation by Circulus Gallicus B (of which the moderator was Cardinal Schönborn identifies why it will have little traction when it goes out for discussion before the Ordinary Synod in 2015.

    « un style touffu, filandreux, excessivement verbeux et donc, assez généralement, ennuyeux » [An impenetrable, rambling, verbose and generally boring style.]

    Now, bishops are, for the most part, by taste and training, neither philosophers nor theologians, but administrators. All they ask for is a distinct though moderate conclusion that they can repeat when asked. They know, from their experience of affairs that often there is much to be said for several courses, where nevertheless one course must be determinedly chosen and fixedly adhered to. This is precisely what the Relatio fails to offer them.

  11. Bill,

    Amen to the “elements of sanctification” bit. Hell has elements of sanctification (being, after all, God’s response to the natural good of man’s free will), and even Lucifer’s nature is angelic. Once you’ve committed to this way of thinking, drawing the line at sodomy sure seems like an unprincipled exception.

    I think you’re too hard on Burke, though you may know something about him that I don’t. I’d always heard that in his private utterances he’s quite sour about VII’s way of speaking an longs for the suppression of the Novus Ordo; his was for a time the only diocese in North America where seminary training in celebrating the traditional Latin Mass was not merely offered as an elective but required for ordination. (Nor he is alone — Cards. Bagnasco and Piacenza, both also humiliated publicly by Francis, were disciples of Giuseppi Siri). At any rate, if the conservatives are starting to wise up to the hollowness of their positions… well, hooray gradualism!

    As for Muller, in a room with Muller and Ranjith, Ranjith is my brother; but in a room with Muller and Forte (his likely successor to whatever will be left of the CDF once Francis completes his butchery of it), Muller is my brother.

  12. Just to be clear, I think the jury is out on St JPII. I still think it is possible that he was a good guy who was genuinely doing his best in an impossible situation. You could even read the current situation as a vindication of the guy. B XVI went too far, leading to the current backlash.

  13. It’s true that Jacobins –> Napoleon was a rightward shift, but taking a slightly longer view the French Revolution was actually one of the examples I had in mind. After the Enlightenment had brought every misfortune to France and seemingly done everything an ideology could do to discredit itself, Louis XVIII was still more liberal than Louis XVI (who was actually a pretty liberal king himself). If the pendulum really swung back and forth like people say it does, the Revolution would have been followed by a new Inquisition.

  14. I’ve argued elsewhere that the interim relatio was either drafted in large part by Pope Francis or by someone who is uncannily adept at aping his very distinctive style. Take the following sentence from Section 5, for example:

    It is necessary to be aware of the growing danger represented by an exasperated individualism that distorts family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute.

    That whole impenetrable sentence is vintage Bergoglian jargon, though perhaps “exasperated individualism” is the biggest giveaway. But if he did write it, or chunks of it, it would lend credence to the rumors that the text was prepared in advance. On the other hand, the incredibly turgid and sloppy style in which it’s written might be evidence of rushed preparation.

    The synod has certainly caused a large shift in opinion among orthodox Catholics. Many who had been extending every benefit of the doubt to the Holy Father are now speaking up. It’s interesting to watch!

  15. You’re right. It sounds just like him.

  16. Dreher has a very good post here.

    It does show something of Francis’ priorities that he chose this as the first major battle to fight. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he doesn’t give a damn about poverty, but it is clear he cares more about liberalizing on culture war stuff. If you’re going to focus more on poverty issues, you need to just . . . focus more on poverty issues.

  17. More than anything else in the last decade, this synod has made me miss John Paul II. Have some perspective, guys.

    Who was it that promoted Bergoglio and Kasper again?

  18. The Man Who Was brings up a good point I often wonder about. If Francis actually cared so much about “social justice issues” than why hasn’t he dropped the hammer on the Fr. Siricos of the world in the same manner he does with Traditionalist Franciscans?

  19. He also rented out the Sistine Chapel for a corporate event to Porsche so it’s getting increasingly hard to take the “church of the poor” shtick billowing from him seriously. Even in Argentina it was a cover story for degenerate slum priests to shack up with transsexuals while the actual flock went into schism in horrifying numbers.

  20. The money from the Sistine Chapel party went to Francis’ charity? Does the Pope own the Sistine Chapel?

  21. Other than its stylistic poverty, what is wrong with the paragraph Murray quotes? It seems very orthodox to me and not really impenetrable. It takes some work to go through that tangled mess, but the meaning is there. It’s not pomo bafflegab. In fact, the Bishop of Rome always is at his best critiquing liberalism.

    And, invariably, when Francis says something clearly orthodox, the conservatives have a nutty about it. When he say strange things whose surface interpretation is unorthodox, they rush to his defense.

    “Exasperated individualism” is, indeed, characteristic. But it is also a nice turn of phrase, no? I’m a little envious.

  22. My point was not that the sentence was problematic doctrinally (I mostly agree with what I take to be its meaning) but that it, along with other passages in the relatio, bears the distinctive mark of Pope Francis’s writing and speaking style.

    Now, we’ve been told that the Holy Father reviewed the relatio, but that it was written by others as a summary of the first week’s interventions in the Synod. But some passages are so very Bergoglian that it seems like the Holy Father might have had a more direct hand in writing it.

    If so, that would lend credence to the rumors that the relatio was a put-up job, prepared (to at least some extent) ahead of time and independent of the first week’s interventions, in order to channel the second week’s discussions in the direction favored by the relatio’s authors.

  23. Yeah, I agree with you that it looks very Bergoglian.

  24. I guess this conversation is over, but I note that Rorate Caeli agrees with me (and, evidently, other commentators) that the relatio was, in its actual substance, no big deal—I mean no big deal relative to the status quo ante: it’s obviously a big deal absolutely. For Rorate and for Roberto de Mattei, the message of the Synod was a rebuke of the Pope by the Bishops, in general.

  25. didn’t realise homosexuality was a spiritual gift, lol.

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