Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thanking God for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family

The Synod has just wrapped up its work, with a positive message, and although there is obviously a lot more ink to be spilled, I personally believe its greatest work has been accomplished.

At the time of the midterm report, an attempt was made to draft a document that purportedly spoke for the majority, but in fact did not. This type of tactic, a blatant coup, is by no means a lone case. In fact one wonders whether its uses in the past 50 years could possibly be counted. How many times have parish building committees been told that the vast majority of parishioners want a church-in-the-round, by an architect pushing the church-in-the-round agenda? How many congregations of women religious have seen their core values of prayer, community, and service just vanish during the wand-waving finesse of a chapter meeting? And how did a small drafting committee manage to recast the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy as a revolutionary document?

In my view, the hero of the fortnight's work is Pope Francis, who urged the Synod Fathers to speak from the heart. The open exchange of courageous leaders, as well as the shady shenanigans that have worked their destructive magic so many times before, have been publicly manifest before the whole world.

The dark corners are no more. Let the era of light begin.

UPDATE

Since I wrote the above the combox has exploded in a way that suggests that I was unclear in the first go-round, and perhaps should clarify my meaning.

When people want to manipulate organizational change, the first task is the most important: consensus. A large majority really has to buy in to the new idea. Now as anyone who does church music knows, consensus is really hard to get. Groups and individuals are stubborn and cranky, and all institutions resist change. So one of the ways that people accomplish change is they pretend that a consensus has already been reached. For example, they take a survey.

Then they falsify the results of the survey.

By the time the spinning stops, everyone in the room is so confused that they believe they are already defeated. They were consulted! They answered the survey! But the majority ruled against them. And at this point, they have reluctantly bought in to the consensus.

If you are not convinced that this sort of nonsense goes on, look at the organizational meetings of some of the separated brethren. This is absolutely standard procedure: pretend as though the consensus has been reached, that we are "listening" instead of manipulating, and then everyone is stuck with your programme.

This particular mechanism of organizational change was completely exposed for the deception it is by the workings of the Synod. I am assuming that the Holy Spirit protects the Catholic Church from errors in teaching on faith and morals. The Holy Spirit does not protect us from being deceived about parliamentary procedure, and I just don't think it's going to be that easy any more.

After the Council, if I'm not mistaken, one of the reasons that we were so easily manipulated was a sense of blind docility, rather than of candor. Cardinals Pell and Burke and many others were not silenced by an inordinate docility. The Holy Father himself encouraged candor and an open exchange, and when this exchange happened, the Holy Spirit was at work.