The recent extraordinary synod of bishops on the family (The Synod) has concluded and yielded hopes for many while creating so-called ‘confusion’ among others, Catholic or not. The action in Rome during this event drew an enormous wave of media coverage with most sources eyed on aching topics such as homosexuality, cohabitation without marriage, and divorced and civilly remarried couples. Although ‘confusion’ is the buzz word, the meaning of it bears different meanings depending on the lens of parties of interests. Discussing this ‘confusion’ to entangle the non-conclusiveness of The Synod can be a daunting task for the reason that the intention of The Synod was only paving a beginning for the quest of finding a pastoral solution for the said challenges on family. As a matter of fact, it could not get any clearer that Pope Francis and the leadership of The Synod clearly stated, over and over again, that The Synod sought neither changing the doctrine nor deciding a pastoral solution. It was simply a beginning!
“In the beginning… the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss,” (Gen, 1:1-2). That was what beginning looked like when God created the heavens and earths, and it sure looks the same now—‘confusion’—when the media described the result of The Synod, omitting the fact that it was just a beginning. It was even more interesting when prominent clergy chimed in and sprayed the ‘confusion’ on all the faithful, appearing as though they (the clergy) were confusing themselves. Cardinal Raymond Burke took the ‘confusion’ further to describe the state of the Catholic Church as ‘a ship without a rudder.’ (http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/31/cardinal-catholic-church-pope-fra…)
‘Confusion’ sometimes causes people to have doubts and behave radically with an attempt to seek a clear path. And for Cardinal Burke, his public expression of doubt toward the leadership of Pope Francis who, to Cardinal Burke, was ‘long overdue’ in defending the church’s teaching appears to make the matter even more confusing. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is clear that Cardinal Burke looked at the issue through the lens of a defender of the Canon Law. For Pope Francis, his lens was of a father who lost his son.
‘Confusion’ to Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, ‘is of the devil.’ (http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/archbishop-chaputs-remark…) But before the beginning of time when “…darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters” (Gen, 1:2), the Spirit of God already exists and ‘sweeps’ over the ‘confusion’—formless and shapeless earth and dark abyss. When one stands at a crossroad that presents difficult choices, ‘confusion’ exists, and so does the Holy Spirit with His seven gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, reverence, and fear of the Lord. If ‘confusion’ represents the fear of speaking the truth, then it is of the devil. However, when ‘confusion’ describes the state of discernment, it deserves the Holy Spirit sweeping over and raining down the seven gifts in order for the faithful to follow Christ decisively.
Many have followed Pope Francis enthusiastically since he became pope not just because of his papacy (obviously, he was not the first or only pope) or his un-surpassed intellect. For me, I am drawn to Pope Francis for his unprecedented humility and love for people, despite of who (or what) they are. I have always been with the church and am an active member of the church in many aspects such as teaching catechism, volunteering at parish events, attending retreats and conferences, and leading youth groups. But Pope Francis, resembling the image of Christ in my heart, is the one who makes me proud of being Catholic and opens the door for me to understand my troubled brothers and sisters around me.
Although I am no theologian, I, a Catholic faithful who have many flaws and weaknesses, believe wholeheartedly that the institutional structure of the Catholic Church guides me in my journey toward Jesus Christ but does not force me to choose whether I am in (or out) the Catholic Church, just like Jesus would never push me away because I am a sinner. I imagine that Jesus would never tell me to stop coming to Him for I am a sinner. My sweet Jesus would leave the 99 perfect and holy sheep to go and find 1 lost ‘me.’ He would put nice clothes and rings on me to celebrate my return instead of investigating me of my ‘runaway’ and judging me of my worth to return to Him. Pope Francis’ kind gestures to people with sufferings and struggles reflect the pope’s deep love found on Jesus’ divine mercy. Mercy needs nothing else besides a torn bloody heart that opens up to receive the return of all lost sheep.
I still believe in the infallibility of the Holy Father. Do the cardinals and bishops have faith in Pope Francis? And do you?