What You Heard Wasn’t What We Said. Or Was It?

The Extraordinary Synod on the family is now over.
I’m still trying to figure out when they’re going to start talking about families. You know, the Catholic kind that go to Mass on Sundays and struggle to raise their children in the faith. Maybe the kind that send their children to Catholic schools.
It seems we weren’t all that important until some started to complain that the discussion on gays in the Church and divorced people taking communion wasn’t connecting with all of the faithful. Then, there was what seemed to be an attempt to appease us with more traditional talk. Traditional talk that still really wasn’t about Catholic families.
I haven’t read everything that’s come out of the Synod. I read some. I’m also very aware that the Church faces real challenges with societal attitudes and it’s own relevancy. But I’m wondering why there was no major public discussion on supporting those of us out here working to keep Catholicism alive through our families. Nothing about how we should deal with the pressures of society in raising our children. No ideas on how we head off at the pass the dangers of drug abuse, bullying, teen sex, suicidal tendencies, and so on.
I understand the gay question is a real head scratcher for the Church. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but the idea of welcoming gays into the fold is NOT new or a change. Read your catechism. It specifically says gays are welcome in the Church, and encouraged to seek comfort there. We Catholics are also therein instructed to welcome gays into our hearts.
What we are not to do is encourage gays to engage in gay sex. We are to encourage them to remain chaste. This is really no different than what we are to encourage in heterosexual singles. No marriage, no sex.
And yet time that should have been spent looking harder at families was spent restating and re-emphasizing something Catholics already know. Or should know.
The Synod bishops also spent a lot of time talking about divorce – the breakup of families, not intact families. I think there’s a simple answer to this one. Streamline the overly long annulment process, sync it with the legal divorce process, and make it affordable. If the annulment application passes the laugh test ( ie, divorce was due to abuse, abandonment, serial adultery, etc) and is completed, allow the receipt of communion. If the annulment is requested in bad faith (ie., just don’t want to be married, want to marry someone else, etc) then deny it and communion. Simple. Catholics want reasonable. Not radical.
When bishops convene again to discuss families, I wish they’d talk less about changing the doctrine so many families fight to support in their communities, and start talking about how to better support Catholic families in their attempts to evangelize others. How can those of us pushing to raise our children in Catholic tradition be taken seriously in today’s society when our very leaders are contradicting what they have taught us by looking as if they too will capitulate to our Godless world?
My most holy bishops and Holy Father Francis : how am I to know what to say to my Catholic school children when they come home and ask me why its ok to be gay in the Church today, but it wasn’t yesterday? Or was it? Or is it? I refer to my catechism. But now, I just don’t know what it is your telling us. Do you?
Next time you talk about Catholic families, perhaps you should invite one or two to speak who follow the Church by trying to understand even it’s most controversial teachings. We’re not perfect either, much like our gay and divorced brothers and sisters, our paths are difficult as well. Perhaps you might consider giving us more of your time, and offer real support to those of us raising Catholics of the future. Lest you risk losing those still in the fold.

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