Francis vs The Theocons

They are, naturally, having a collective breakdown. Here’s a taste:

John Smeaton, co-founder of Voice of the Family, a coalition of 15 international pro-famiy groups, said it is “one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history.” “Thankfully the report is a preliminary report for discussion, rather than a definitive proposal,” he said in a press release. “It is essential that the voices of those lay faithful who sincerely live out Catholic teaching are also taken into account. Catholic families are clinging to Christ’s teaching on marriage and chastity by their finger-tips.” … At the Vatican press conference this morning, Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.TV challenged the authors on this section. “Are the Synod fathers proposing that ‘gifts and qualities’ flow from the sexual orientation of homosexuality?” he asked. “Is the Synod proposing that there is something innate in the homosexual orientation that transcends and uplifts the Catholic Church, the Christian community, and if so, what would those particular gifts be?”

Maggie Gallagher is close to collapse:

I hope to respond intellectually to the synod report. Tears right now are streaming from my face, and it is not about objections to welcoming gay people. There is something more profoundly at stake for me. Is this me? In the corner?

Cardinal Raymond Burke, demoted rather abruptly by Francis, is apoplectic:

He strongly criticized yesterday’s Relatio … which the Catholic lay group Voice of the Family had called a “betrayal,” saying it proposes views that “faithful shepherds … cannot accept,” and betrays an approach that is “not of the Church.” … The relatio, he said, proposes views that many Synod fathers “cannot accept,” and that they “as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.” … “Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable,” Burke told Olsen.

“The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called ‘revolutionary’, teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.”

To get a flavor of how Burke would respond to a family welcoming their son and his partner for Christmas, check this out:

At Patheos, Father Dwight Longenecker writes:

We are to “value their sexual orientation”? Again, what exactly does that mean? Am I to value what my own catechism calls an intrinsic disorder? How do I do that? Do I value their orientation by saying, “I think it’s wonderful that you desire to have anal intercourse with another man?” Would that be honest or true to natural law and the divine revelation? Just how do I do this without “compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony”?

Celibate lesbian Catholic Eve Tushnet helps explain why valuing gay people cannot be reduced to anal sex (the priest above sees all gay people as sodomites and lesbians as non-existent):

For many of us our sexual orientation does flow out into expressions of love. For example, I agree with Wesley Hill that for some gay people it’s precisely our orientation which makes us unusually attuned to same-sex friendship. That may be especially true in our particular cultural moment, in which homosexuality is quite public and friendship relentlessly shunted into the private and even the trivial sphere. And I obviously don’t mean that gay people have “better” or deeper friendships than the rest of you people! Nonetheless I think the language of gay people having “gifts to offer” may help gay Catholics explore how our sexuality can be expressed, rather than repressed: how it can be channeled into friendship, artistic creation, teaching, etc.

Some reactionaries are simply in denial. George Weigel uses the occasion to attack the New York Times, which is as good a sign as any that he is still reeling. Then he makes the utilitarian point that rigidly orthodox churches survive and more open ones fail in the modern world:

Christian communities that maintain a clear sense of their doctrinal and moral boundaries survive and even flourish, while Christian communities whose doctrinal and moral boundaries become porous wither and eventually die. Why have the Catholic leaders who have gotten the most press at this synod, including Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, failed to grasp that? Why do they want to emulate the pattern charted by the dying communities of liberal Protestantism?

But this is not an argument against the mercy espoused by the first week of this Synod. It’s a very tired argument from the 1980s. One wonders why Weigel thinks the church in Ireland has all but collapsed in a generation? Too chill and welcoming to outsiders – or a clerical elite that believed it could get away with raping children because its boundaries were not porous at all? Last but by no means least, here’s Rod Dreher:

I suppose anything could happen, but it seems to me that the fix is in. This is a pastoral synod, not a doctrinal one. But the change in pastoral practices it mandates will be a de facto change in doctrine, because that’s exactly how it will be received by the Catholic public.  Recall these 2013 remarks by Ross Douthat, commenting on Pope Francis’s “who am I to judge?” remarks:

“But still, such a tonal difference … on a fraught, high-profile topic is surely newsworthy, even if the news media inevitably offered misinterpretations of its significance as well.

And it’s especially newsworthy since a latitudinarian statement on this topic is of a piece with the tone of Francis’s pontificate as a whole. Popes do not change doctrine, but they do choose what to emphasize and what to downplay, which issues to elevate and which to set aside, where to pass judgment and where to talk about forgiveness, and so forth. And we’ve seen enough of this pontificate to sense where Francis’s focus lies: He wants to be seen primarily as a pope of social justice and spiritual renewal, and he doesn’t have much patience for issues that might get in the way of that approach to Christian witness.”

You can also teach falsehood by failing to teach the whole truth.