While the traditional family is beset by storms, civil society is encouraging and celebrating new forms of unionsThe bishops call the crisis of the family a “challenge” — but it’s a life-or-death emergency
I’ve read, in the original, the final relatio of the synod of bishops, on the Church’s mission to the family. Let me say at the outset all the good that can be said about it. It teaches no new doctrine. It does not turn the words of our Lord Christ inside out. It affirms the indissolubility of marriage. It spreads no vanilla icing for sodomy. It affirms the rights of children to grow up with their mother and father. It does not cross the sexual Acheron.
Repeat that three times, and fall to your knees in gratitude to God. Not to the bishops.
Suppose you come upon a man in a broken heap, dribbling blood through the mouth and ears, and unable to tell you what day it is. Are we to be grateful for a doctor who manages to refrain from prescribing blood thinner and a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl? Has it come to this, that we wipe the sweat from our brows and breathe a sigh of relief, because our bishops have not betrayed us utterly?
For the “progressive” bishops, mired in the confusions of the sexual revolution, are, to put the most charitable construction upon their behavior, sentimental homeopaths. Imagine going to a homeopathic laundry to clean your soiled linen by immersing it in mud. That is as absurd as believing that you can mitigate or neutralize the poison of the sexual revolution by prescribing additional doses of it, or by calling it another name. The bottle is the same, and the ingredients are the same, but now the label is sky blue, with a smiling Jesus holding forth a chalice. Take and down.
Why you would need to go to a church to get that drink, I don’t know, nor why you would care what the Catechism teaches about it. People who have accepted the sexual revolution as an anthropological fait accompli, a “new thing” that the spiritus mundi is doing, are not going to sweat what the catechism has to say about the bed-springs. A few may wish to change that catechism, not because they themselves intend to change, but to level the last outpost of resistance. Heresy loves company.
Now for the sentimentality. Let me not be misunderstood. I do not imply any depth of feeling. Sentimentality is to passion as rubber is to flesh. Sentimentality is to compassion as a photo op with the Samaritan is to the Samaritan himself in that ditch. There is no love without truth, for God is love, and God is truth, and there can no more be a contradiction between them than there can be division within God Himself. Jesus descends into the squalor of our sins not to dabble in them and pretend that all is well, but to lift us from them and make us clean.
There is little genuine human feeling in that embarrassing document. It is written in Italian, sort of; but its language is really the patois of the bureaucrat, of white-collar semi-educated social welfare agents and advertisers the world over.
The bishops, for example, say that they wish to “walk with” people. Are Hans and Berthe shacking up? The Church will “walk with” them. Are Hans and Peter shacking up? The Church will “walk with” them too. No matter what you are doing to help to destroy the family and the welfare and innocence of children, the Church will “walk with” you. It seems never to occur to the bishops that most of those people don’t care whether the Church tags along. For if the Church is only going to say, “You know, what you are doing isn’t exactly perfect,” the obvious response is to shrug and say, “So what?” If the sin is not a cancer but a mere blemish, why trouble oneself over that? One man’s blemish is another man’s beauty mark — or tattoo.
Meanwhile, let me name some people bleeding and weeping, with whom those bishops who seized the synod’s agenda from the outset have not the slightest intention of walking.
You are a young woman, and you have kept yourself pure in act and in intention, and you very much want to be married. But it is becoming appallingly clear to you that your choice is between loneliness and mortal sin. The bishops have no comfort for you. They pat you on the head and tell you how wonderful it is to be single. Walk with you? The progressive, static and stubborn, stuck in the mud of the sixties, rolls his eyes. “Another young person who needs to loosen up,” he says, and blames her parents and the Church he pretends to serve. Get with it, girl, or get lost.
You are a boy — not even a young man — and your turbulent desires, battening on the vilest and most squalid temptations at every hand, have wrestled you to the ground. You are rotting your soul out with porn. It won’t stop there, and if you can’t find a girl to do things with you, it will be the old story, you will find some expedient, sub-natural or unnatural. You are bleeding in a ditch. Will the self-styled Priest of the Future get into that ditch to bind up your wounds? Hardly. But when you’re a little older he will throw a party for you to celebrate the “identity.” For the providential God who can bring good out of evil can turn boys assailed by porn into men who act it out, or produce it.
You are parents trying your hardest to raise your children as faithful Catholics. You have no pretensions of sainthood. It is utterly unfair to call someone a health-freak, merely because he wants to keep his children free of malaria, scurvy, and syphilis. It is no heroism in a healthy culture for a young couple to approach the altar without having sweated and stewed in bed. That is no other than to observe the moral law. We do not raise monuments to people who refrain from theft and murder. So you are trying to keep your children reasonably healthy.
You are mocked.
The schools are against you, and the teachers sneer.
The television is against you.
Popular music, bitter, nasty, and vicious, is against you.
The magazines at the grocery store, in all their gaudy brutishness, are against you.
The intelligentsia call you Neanderthals, because you prefer fresh air and sunshine to a sewer.
Every institution of government is against you. Every wealthy foundation is against you.
Amnesty International is against you. The Southern Poverty Law Center is against you. The liberal conformist churches, no longer protesting but waving the rainbow banner, are against you. The aging Sisters of Perpetual Revolution are against you. Your own parish priest may be against you.
You are hurting badly. How many of the bishops walk with you? How many of them look askance and cross the road, so as not to be seen in your company?
You are a friend of mine, a good woman with two children, whose husband has abandoned her. She doesn’t want a divorce. She doesn’t want an annulment. She wants her husband back. Will the officials at Quik Mart Marriage Court help you get him back? Forget it, lady. Get on with your life. Don’t bother us.
You are a boy growing up without a father. You have not the slightest idea what it really means to be a man. Everything you hear from your teachers and from the media says that the sex responsible for virtually every life-enhancing invention, scientific or social, in the history of the world, is violent or lazy or stupid. You suffer both poison and malnutrition. Do the synod’s Levites give a fig about you? They say that men and women are different from one another. Such a revelation! But when it comes to specifics, they avert their eyes with the most delicate demurral. What’s the only advice they give you, boy, in your sad journey? Make sure, kid, that you do your share of the household chores when you get married. Kid, you don’t merit even the pretense of compassion.
The authority of the family has been breached on all sides. The bishops have nothing to say. Fathers have been supplanted by perverse welfare provisions that punish women who marry and who care for their children at home. The bishops give a pat on the back to the welfare state, because, as we know, all human problems are reducible to political power and money. Name a single statesman, liberal or conservative, who lived before the revolution, who would not have broken down in helpless weeping to see what we have done to what used to be a Christian culture.
It stinks to heaven. The bishops say that it presents “challenges.” The patient is unconscious and bleeding internally. That is not a “challenge.” It is an emergency. Life and death hang in the balance.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. My fellow Catholics who love the Church and who trust the words of Jesus — laymen and priests and, God bless us, even bishops — the time to work is now.