Thursday, November 20, 2014

Theologian José Arregi on Synod on Family: Was It Worth It?

At her Iglesia Descalza site, Rebel Girl offers a translation of commentary on the synod on the family by Basque theologian José Arregi from the journal Redes Cristianas. Arregi frames what he has to say about the synod by noting that the Greek word we render as "synod" has the root meaning of "journeying together": as he states, 

That is being Church -- being companions in the journey, following Jesus together and freely. That is life -- a shared journey.

And then he notes that "what's true for the bishops must be true for all of us who are Church, traveling companions." We're all on the journey together, as church. Not just bishops . . . . 

And so the question that occurs to Arregi, a question many of the rest of us who are not bishops may be asking as well, is this: 

So many celibate bishops talking about the family, holding forth on issues that the vast majority of people, including long-time Catholics and priests, had resolved long ago ... Was it worth it?

When a tiny minority of the people of God — bishops — meet to deliberate about the journey we all share, and to pontificate about family life, a life those doing the pontificating don't even live, then this is a predictable question: Was it worth it?

I really like Arregi's conclusion:  

I do expect, though, that after the General Synod next year, Pope Francis will take three timid steps, namely: 1) An invitation to receive homosexuals with mercy (as if they were sick or sinners), 2) The possibility that some divorced people with new partners might take communion on the condition -- a humiliating condition -- that they confess their guilt for their marital failure and commit to not re-offending (Jesus didn't humiliate anyone this way), 3) Streamlining and cheapening the annulment process (a device not to recognize something very simple -- that wherever there is love there is a sacrament of God, and that there is only a sacrament while there is love). That will be all. Is so much baggage needed for this journey? Those are the bishops' problems, not the people's. The people are suffering for other reasons. Listen to the people, listen to life. 
Life goes on striving in the little beating hearts of men and women today, believers or not. The Spirit and Love live in the marriages the bishops call "irregular", in the different types of families with their everyday joys and anxieties, in people who've failed in their love and remade their lives with another partner. They weren't, nor will they be, called to the Synod, but Life is guiding them.

We, the people of God, may not be called to take part in synodal discussions of our family lives. We may never have any official voice in such synodal discussions. 

But these somber realities do not cancel out the fact that we're on the journey every bit as much as the bishops doing the pontificating. And what they may decided timidly to affirm in a year's time, many of us have already long since affirmed in our own journey as the people of God.

The life of the Spirit continues right on happening among us, no matter what the anointed pontificators say or do. And it continues right on happening among those of us living in what the anointed pontificators choose to call "irregular" families — no matter what they choose to say or do about those "irregular" families.

(A tiny side note: it's interesting to me how much Catholic commentary about the synod, including commentary from Catholics who support welcoming gay people to the church, chooses to continue using that old, discarded, "othering" term "homosexuals." When gay people have chosen a long time ago to call ourselves "gay" . . . .

This reminds me how far the church, including its liberal members, remains from really understanding and engaging with the members of the human community who are gay. To a lamentable extent, the formula remains, Catholic ≠ gay, gay ≠ Catholic.

This needs to change.)

I find the photo of José Arregi at the top of the posting at many blog and news sites, but without any clear indicator (that I have found) of its origins.

No comments: