Sunday, 11 October 2015

Stakes are high for unborn children at Family Synod

Maria Joanna Madise, manager of our Voice of the Family team, working here in Rome to lend support to faithful Synod Fathers during the Family Synod, and I, were delighted to run into Cardinal Burke at Living the Truth in Love, an international conference and resource event to address pastoral approaches toward men and women with homosexual tendencies*.

Cardinal Burke has travelled the world defending Catholic faith on marriage and on the truth about human sexuality. Our friend and collaborator in Voice of the Family, Fr Giordano, new head of the Rome office of Human Life International, stands behind the good cardinal. We believe that Cardinal Burke would happily lay down his life to defend the truth of Catholic teaching on the family and on the sanctity of human life.

Why are we here and why did SPUC co-found and decide to give a lead to Voice of the Family? The answer can be found in the Gospel reading at Mass earlier this week from Matthew Chapter 18,6-7: "But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh."

In view of what appears in the working document, the Instrumentum Laboris of the Family Synod, on cohabitation, that Gospel reading could not be more relevant to the work of our group. The relatio synodi of last year's extraordinary Synod on the family stressed the so-called "positive aspects" of cohabitation in its various forms, at the expense of a clear presentation of the sinful nature of fornication, and the resultant harm caused to individuals and society. This approach is extended and endorsed in the Instrumentum Laboris, on which Voice of the Family published a widely-praised analysis by Matthew McCusker, a member of our SPUC and Voice of the Family team.

This is the workplace to which we will be returning for our Voice of the Family "desk work" and meetings during this busy month in Rome. The card on the table is a most welcome Mass card from Jacek and Caroline Zdziarski, tireless SPUC supporters in Nottingham.

Our Voice of the Family team  got under way with a strongly-worded manifesto as the Family Synod began last week. The manifesto opens: "Noting with alarm the increasing tendency of prominent figures within the hierarchy of the Church to promote positions contrary to the Catholic faith and the natural moral law, Voice of the Family appeals to Pope Francis and the Church’s teaching authorities “to take all necessary steps to protect the integrity of Catholic doctrine and, by so doing, to protect our families from the ravages of the culture of death.”

At the same conference at which we ran into our good shepherd and friend Cardinal Burke, I had the opportunity of having a brief word with Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. He was speaking on "God or Nothing", an address reflecting on the challenges of Christian life in the modern world and how the teachings of Christ and His Church remain unchanged, a point he underlined during question-time. The Voice of the Family team is praying hard and working hard to try to ensure that many many Synod Fathers take Cardinal Sarah's position at the Family Synod itself.

Tragically for our families and for our pro-life work, the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document for the Family Synod, contains language (paragraph 8) which appears to suggest the possibility of giving approval to same-sex unions on some level. For the sake of our families, for the sake of our pro-life work, and for the sake of true mercy which is found in the truth about human nature and the Church's unchangeable teaching on the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual acts, our prayers and prudential speaking out boldly, have never been more important. (Please drop me a line at my email address below if you would like a full explanation as to why upholding and teaching the natural law on homosexuality is so fundamentally important for our pro-life work.)

Cardinal Sarah raised fears about the manipulation of the Ordinary Synod which opened last Sunday, 4th October. In the recently published book Christ’s New Homeland Africa: Contribution to the Synod on the Family by African Pastors, His Eminence wrote: "We also see communications strategies being implemented; it would even seem that new methodologies for the synod assembly are being examined in order to give a voice to some lines of thought while endeavoring to make others inaudible, if not to silence them completely. Everything leads us to believe that the next synod assembly will be for many people a synod with high stakes. The future of the family is indeed at stake for mankind today.”

Cardinal Sarah's warning is timely and justified. The Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Synod, clearly undermines the core teaching of the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Given that experienced pro-life campaigners as well as leading academics have long concluded that the acceptance of contraception is a basic building block of the culture of death, a view held too by St Pope John Paul II, such confusion generated by the Vatican can only lead to a renewal of the abortion holocaust which, it is estimated, has already cost the lives of more children in the womb than there have people killed in all the wars throughout recorded history. That's why SPUC is in Rome as co-founder of Voice of the Family for this Family Synod. As Cardinal Sarah says: The stakes are high.

We begin our day by praying the Rosary at 9 am daily. Do please join us.

*Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on sexual ethics important specifically for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in no. 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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