Last week cardinals and bishops attending the Ordinary Synod on the Family separated into thirteen small groups to discuss the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris and propose amendments to the document. The reports of their work, made public yesterday, reveal a striking failure to protect the family from the serious threats contained within the first part of this heterodox preparatory document.
It is important to note that these reports are not the only documents that will be submitted to the commission that will write the final report of the synod (if such a report is written). The small groups are also submitting suggested amendments to the text of the Instrumentum Laboris. There are no plans however to make these texts public. This ensures that there will be little pressure on the mostly heterodox commission to incorporate them into the final document.
The reports published on Friday were the last chance for the synod fathers to publicly protest against the attacks on life and family contained in the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris. The almost complete failure to do so will have catastrophic consequences for the family if these errors make their way into a final document.
The subordination of God to history
Paragraph 3 of the Instrumentum Laboris states that the principle “describing the synodal experience and indicating the task at hand” is “to read both the signs of God and human history, in a twofold yet unique faithfulness which this reading involves.” This “interpretative key” of the document proclaims that the task of the synod is to be faithful to two different sources of authority (1) “the signs of God” and (2) the signs of “human history”. It is in accordance with this principle of dual fidelity that many synod fathers wish to bring the Catholic Church into conformity with the modern world. If man must be faithful both to God and to “human history” it follows that whenever there is a clash between their mutual demands a compromise must be found. When this approach is adopted, the natural moral law is no longer regarded as immutable but rather as subject to change over the course of time. A fuller account of our argument, and analysis of the historical roots of this approach, can be found in our Analysis of the Final Report of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.
Unless this false approach is corrected any final document of the Ordinary Synod will necessarily be unacceptable to faithful Catholics. Yet twelve out of the thirteen small groups do not even address this issue in their reports. One group “Circulus Anglicus ‘C'” did engage in “a larger consideration of the engagement of the Gospel and culture, the Church and history.” Unfortunately their report, far from rejecting the erroneous approach, would tend to confirm it by stressing the fact that the Church does not “inhabit a world out of time” or “a world outside human cultures” without recalling the eternal and supernatural aspects of the Church and her teaching.
Paragraph 8 of the Instrumentum Laboris opens the door to ecclesiastical approval of same-sex unions when it acknowledges the necessity of “defining the specific character of such unions in society” and calls for “a more thorough examination of human nature and culture which is based not simply on biology and sexual difference”. This is particularly dangerous given the rapid proliferation throughout the world of laws permitting homosexual civil unions and so called “same-sex marriage”. The majority of “developed” nations now have such laws and there is much pressure being placed on “developing” countries to adopt such legislation. This pressure is often tied to aid; the needs of some of the poorest populations are being manipulated as a means of promoting the radical homosexual agenda. Pressure from the “LGBT lobby” is also leading to the homosexual agenda being promoted in schools in many parts of the world including in Catholic schools.
None of the thirteen reports makes any reference to the grave threat contained in paragraph 8. Only one report, “Italicus Circulus ‘A'”, makes any reference to homosexual unions, and then only indirectly by stating that “since the beginning the only model of the family that corresponds to the doctrine of the Church is the one founded on marriage between a man and a woman” (VOTF translation).
“Emancipation of women”
Paragraph 30 of the Instrumentum Laboris adopts uncritically modern secular notions of “gender equality”. The paragraph asserts that “many quarters are witnessing an emancipation of women which is clearly indicating a woman’s role in the growth of the family and society.” There is no awareness shown here of the suffering caused to many women and many families as a result of the economic and social pressure which forces women out of the home, often leaving children to be cared for by others. The document also asserts that “in western countries, the empowerment of women requires a rethinking of the duties of the spouses”. In the absence of any clarification to the contrary it seems this should be interpreted as a call for the Church to embrace the continuing dissolution of traditional family structures and the abandonment of the different but complementary roles of men and women.
Twelve of the thirteen reports make no mention of these threats to the family and the authentic role of women. “Italicus Circulus ‘B'”, which contains a brief criticism of feminism, is the one exception.
Artificial methods of reproduction
Paragraph 34 of the Instrumentum Laboris discusses the “so-called bio-technological revolution” that has made possible the separation of “the act of human reproduction” from the “sexual relationship between man and woman.” It notes that such methods are “gaining increasing popularity”, are “having a profound effect in relationships, in society and in the judicial system which intervenes in an attempt to regulate a variety of different situations and what is already taking place.” The paragraph contains no moral judgement on these procedures. There is no reference to any previous Church teaching, such as the CDF instructions Donum Vitae and Dignitatis Personae. The Instrumentum Laboris fails to mention that these methods which are “gaining increasing popularity” have led to the deliberate destruction of many millions of human beings.
This paragraph, by speaking of artificial methods of reproduction as if there was doubt about the Church’s position, is a direct threat to the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, the human embryo.
All thirteen reports are silent on this point. It should be noted that “Gallicus Circulus ‘C'” does make reference to dangers inherent in other procedures such as human cloning.
Paragraph 36 of the Instrumentum Laboris states: “Many request that the group of persons referred to as ‘far from the Church’ not carry the connotation of ‘excluded’ or ‘rejected,’ since such persons are loved by God and are at the heart of the Church’s pastoral activity.”
Pro-life, pro-family advocates working in the political arena, especially at the international institutions, know well that the language of “rejection” and “exclusion” is political code for resistance to the homosexual ideological agenda, as in the following examples:
“Many of the people we work with are excluded from development opportunities specifically because of their sexual orientation or gender expression, contributing to the staggering levels of inequality around the world.” (Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme)
“I am outraged that we still have to fight prejudice, stigma, discrimination, exclusion, criminalization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, not only in their homes, but in their streets, police stations and court rooms.” (Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme)
“LGBT young people too often face rejection by their families and communities who disapprove of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This can result in high rates of homelessness, social exclusion, and poverty.” (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations)
None of the reports of the small groups rejected this language of “exclusion” or protested against the implication that the Catholic Church has previously practiced forms of unjust “exclusion”.
“Gallicus Circulus ‘C'” embraces the use of this language: “[Our final text] must avoid making certain people feel excluded from our concern, because all families participate in the mission of the Church! Let us remember that the families depicted in the Bible are often dysfunctional; nonetheless, the Word of God was realized in them and by them” (VOTF translation).
There is a great danger that such phrases are used to undermine the true definition of the family and to promote structures, such as homosexual couples who have adopted children, with no consideration for the harm caused to the children involved.
The family is under attack. This week’s events at the synod have signaled to the enemies of the family that the time is ripe for them to intensify their assault.