The Synod Ends Without A Schism … Yet

I expected the Synod to issue a controversial vote, at least on Communion for the divorced and remarried. But they did not. Instead, they issued a vaguely worded text some Bishops might interpret to allow them more leeway in some cases. But most divorced and remarried persons will be unaffected because, like the majority of other Catholics, they do not go to Confession. They are not going to meet with a priest and/or bishop and workout some way to receive Communion.

Does this mean a schism was averted? Not at all. A Synod does not issue infallible Canons, like an Ecumenical Council. Instead, a Synod is largely advisory. The role of the Synod is to advise the Pope. And then, subsequent to the Synod, the Pope may issue decisions on doctrine and/or discipline. In this case, it seems clear that the Pope was not happy with the final document of the Synod:

Washington Post: Pope rebukes Catholic elders at closing of synod on family

So I believe Pope Francis will issue controversial decisions on doctrine and discipline soon, including loosening the rules for Communion. And I don’t think he will stop at allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried. There is no theological reason to single out divorced and remarried persons from other “marginalized” Catholics who should not be receiving Communion. Commentators on the strangely politicized right wing of Catholic thought have singled out divorced and remarried persons as if they alone sin gravely, without repentance, yet seek Communion. The liberal commentators make no such distinction. They wish Communion to be available on a good conscience basis. And I suspect that Pope Francis agrees.

I propose that Pope Francis will issue new guidelines for reception of Communion, permitting anyone not conscious of grave sin, or who has made an act of perfect contrition after grave sin, to receive, prior to a good Confession. This will open the door to a wide range of persons to receive Communion, who are unrepentant from objective mortal sin, but whose poorly-formed consciences (overly influenced by sinful secular society) do not accuse them of grave sin. I don’t agree with this approach, as I think that few Catholics today make a good Confession (and most don’t even make an attempt). But the Pope holds the keys.

And there is no reason to suppose that the holy Pontiff will stop at changing the rules for Communion. Eventually, he will seek to give women a greater role in the Church by ordaining women deacons, and appointing women Cardinals. I also think that he will remove the excommunication for abortion entirely. And if he delves into salvation theology, he will teach that non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, and non-believers can possibly be saved without converting.

And the result will be a rejection of Pope Francis by many conservatives, including some Cardinals, Bishops, priests and many lay persons. I expect the schism to begin before the end of this calendar year. Pope Francis is not happy with the indecision of the Synod, and he will not sit idly by and say nothing. Since his election, he has had in mind to make substantial changes in the Church. Stay alert.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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One Response to The Synod Ends Without A Schism … Yet

  1. Dot says:

    This conflict is surely happening among married couples: after contracepting for awhile, one spouse is moved to open up relations to life, the other is not. Or the opposite: after a certain number of children, one spouse moves to contracept, over the objections of the other. 1Corinthians 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another … So this marriage needs all the graces possible at this particular moment in time.
    As for the divorced and remarried, when one or both of the two spouses desires entrance to the Catholic Church, the entire predicament is so difficult that it begs for grace from God.
    It is the Catholic Church alone which offers the saving Eucharist. Again, we are not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.

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