One of the most informative and useful of all items related to the Synod on the Family could be seen to be Fr. Daniel McCaffery’s comments during my recorded telephone interview with him last week. Please, try to take the time to listen to this unusually straight-talking priest tell it like it is as few other clergyman dare to do. And he does it with love.
Fr. McCaffrey zeroes right into the heart of how we got to where we are and what the obligation of the Catholic Church is to help us all get beyond it. And what the consequences will be if the Church leadership does not now, at this late hour, finally wake up.
Pope Francis is quoted to have stated in an interview, “The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma.” Other cardinals and bishops also repeat the mantra that the world has changed and that the church has to change to meet this changed world. They say we have to become more open, more “merciful”, less demanding, more accepting of irregularities, soften our language, and so on.
Here’s my problem and, I suspect, also Fr. McCaffrey’s. What is being proposed is not new. We have already been doing just that for about 50 years now. Can anyone really deny that? It has been a disaster.
And now the push is to go even further with more of the same, failed approaches, instead of trying what has still not yet been tried. That is, to finally make a major, international effort to effectively teach the truths of Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body in all the parishes and schools of the world. Believe me, anyone who is a leader in the pro-life, pro-family movements knows that this has been attempted in extremely few places in the Catholic Church, at least in all the developed nations of the world and likely most others as well.
And to our non-Catholic readers, I am essentially talking about traditional moral principles that all Christians used to accept as the norm for many hundreds of years.
In an address to the Synod on Oct. 6, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, said that “Humanae Vitae needs to be considered in light of the law of graduality.” He suggested that it was unrealistic to expect immediate acceptance of the widely flouted teaching.
That now appears to have been a self-fulfilling prophesy guaranteed by many of the world’s Catholic clergy and hierarchy. I humbly suggest Cardinal Erdo is unintentionally conveying false information. I say that because Fr. McCaffrey has for years proven that, contrary to Cardinal Erdo, teaching Humanae Vitae can be revolutionary and widely accepted by Catholics and others everywhere.
However, is it that such faithful teaching of Christian sexual principles is not wanted by many of the bishops and other clergy, rather than not wanted by the laity? Has that been the real problem since 1968? Fr. McCaffrey has shown time and time again that laity are very much attracted to such spiritually and morally logical teaching when it is well presented in a loving manner.
The key however, is that the presenter has to genuinely believe in what he or she is preaching. And he or she cannot in any way be living a life contrary to the teaching.
Human nature has not changed. Humans have the same basic needs for guidance and are governed by the same natural laws, despite what Bishop Bonny and many other European bishops and other liberal bishops say, that still apply and will continue to apply for all of history. It is in our DNA, not determined by a time in history.
Why is something that seems so elementary, so not understood, or shall we instead say, so strenuously resisted? Why do the simple, humble faithful grasp and accept it the most and so easily?
I guess God’s eternal moral laws of love are not as alluring or exciting as the sound of “it’s a new world now requiring us to explore many new ways of living and thinking” – even if we have no idea where they will lead us.
It is far better to follow the tried and proven way.