Oct 11, 2014

Listen hard to the "beat of this age"

Pope Francis has called his first Synod of Bishops to deal with issues facing
families.  A synod is a meeting of the minds to discuss and solve important issues.  In this case about 200 bishops from five continents are expected to participate.  For our Pope no question is taboo, but for his first synod we should not expect monumentally sweeping changes in doctrine or social teaching as this has never been his goal.  Instead, the issues to be discussed how to properly minister to average, everyday practicing Catholic who are dealing with real life issues.  It is important to remember that this meeting of minds is always in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Ultimately, it is God who guides the decisions of a synod.  Men question and God answers.

”Pope Francis urged Catholic bishops gathered in Rome to listen hard to the ‘beat of this age’”. The Pope has challenged bishops to keep their focus on the mission at hand, to avoid intellectual “one-upmanship”, and work creatively.  (The Guardian)  The Pope is expected to be active in the discussions so we will see how his ideas and leadership shape this council.

There are some opposing viewpoints that Bishops will need to tackle before addressing specific issues.

Pastoral Approach Vs Doctrinal Approach to Church Leadership
Simply put, this debate calls into question how the Church compassionately ministers to people while maintaining strict adherence to doctrine.

Bottom-up or Top-down Church Governance
Historically unprecedented is the fact that last year, Pope Francis surveyed Catholics about their concerns for the Church.  The distribution of the survey was left to each diocese to handle as they saw fit. Pope Francis is viewed as a shepherd that listens to his flock.  Many of the individual concerns of the laity are expected to be presented to the Bishops. This “bottom-up” view challenges the traditional hierarchical nature of our traditional Church.  This is an issue is centuries old.  We have tried throughout the history of the Church to strike a balance between these two polar viewpoints.

Whether “All are welcome” or if there is one proper Catholic path
These ideas are particularly challenging. On one hand, some believe that the Church should welcome all with varying viewpoints. Whereas others believe that the Church must adhere to a single viewpoint on all issues.  This debate has plagued so called “liberal Christianity” for decades.  Many the churches that have welcomed too many competing ideas have splintered and shattered, leaving to confusion in belief and schism.  In our case many have left the flock, while others have turned away from Christianity to follow where own personal path.


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