Thursday, 15 October 2015


For months now,  the Synod on the Family has occupied centre stage in private conversations and in every form of Social Communication. Rightly so, because how  family and human sexuality are to be understood touches the lives of everyone.

 The Catholic Church has seen the necessity to hold a most important forum, known as a Synod, to discern and declare how Almighty God, the Creator, intends family life to be lived and human sexuality to be exercised.
In the world of today these are highly contentious issues, even within the Church itself.  

At times there have been, and still are, fierce and furious clashes between exotic optimism over expectation of changes in the Church’s teaching and abysmal despair  that the Church was losing its integrity  in a soft-hearted desire to respond with compassion to every  human problem.

In the heat and cloudiness of argument I fear the well-being of the family, of flesh and blood human beings, has become obscured.
In all discussions about human behaviour the basic issue has to be, “Where do people get there certainties from?” Note that often with a sense of certainty goes a sense of security!

 Christians take as their point of reference Jesus Christ, the Son of God made Man…the one who claimed to be, “The Way, and the Truth, and the Life,” (Jn.14.6). He described the height of blessedness to be to  “HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND KEEP IT!” (Lk. 1.28). For the very early Christian Communities the watchword had to be   LET ANYONE WHO CAN HEAR, LISTEN TO WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCHES,"(Rev. 2.29).

In His final discourse to His closest friends Jesus assured them, “I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you to bear now.  However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking of his own accord, but will say only what he has been told; and he will reveal to you the things to come. 14 He will glorify me, since all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.(Jn. 16.12-14).
In the midst of all the heated discourse all of us, as Church, must be attentive to what the Holy Spirit is now saying to us and then be willing to put this into action. We must not be full of our opinions, simply because they come from us. I presume to say this applies to each and every member of the Synod. “COME HOLY SPIRIT; SPEAK LORD, I’M LISTENING” should be the dominant refrain throughout the Church…prayer for the docility to listen to God, to promote and live the life God is calling us to.
Now is the time when we should ask ourselves how much does it mean to me, to any of us, to  profess, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church?
 Closing time will come when  the proceedings of the Synod.  Resolutions will have been formulated and handed to the Pope.  The participants will have departed for their homes. Pope Francis will prayerfully ‘LISTEN TO WHAT THE SPIRIT HAS BEEN SAYING TO THE CHURCH’ OF  TODAY  THROUGH THE SYNOD.

 After prayerful deliberation the Pope will follow the post-Synod custom of writing an authoritative letter, known as an Encyclical.

 The conclusion of such a momentous exercise within Church should resound with the confidence of the of the early Church when it pronounced its decision after serious deliberation, “IT HAS BEEN DECIDED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BY OURSELVES ….,” (Acts 25.28).

I believe that we should see the working of the Holy Spirit in the election as Pope someone of immense pastoral experience and sensitivity. He would surely be able to address those very issues – family and human sexuality - that are of major concern to those whose ministry in the Church is essentially pastoral rather than administrative.

It is bound to be that those who think the Pope has been too liberal will be shocked. Others will be dismayed that he has been too rigid. 

My final words, to you and to myself, are taken from the prophecy of Haggai, "MY SPIRIT IS ABIDING IN YOUR MIDST; DO NOT FEAR!" ( Haggai. 2. 5). Be assured that neither the Pope nor the Synod will betray the teaching of the Church.

Peter Clarke, O.P

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