Hope all is well on this wonderful “Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi” – arguably the greatest of all saints and the first ever to bear the Stigmata – the “5 wounds of Christ”. And, St. Francis is also the name sake of our 266th Catholic pope, the former Jorge Bergoglia of Argentina. And, this weekend – beginning tomorrow, Sunday, October 5th, a very significant event in the history of the Catholic Church, will be taking place – THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS in Rome.
The Synod of Bishops, in the Roman Catholic Church, is an advisory body for the Pope. It is:
“[A] group of bishops who have been chosen from different regions of the world and meet together at fixed times to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world”.
Of its nature, the Synod of Bishops is permanent, even when not in session. Periodically, it holds assemblies, which are either general, if called to consider matters directly concerning the universal Church, or special, if called for problems of a particular geographical area. The general assemblies are either ordinary (held at fixed intervals) or extraordinary (held to treat of some urgent matter).
As well as holding these periodical assemblies, the Synod of Bishops has a permanent secretariat which is headquartered in Rome but is not part of the Roman Curia. The Code of Canon Law’s chapter on the Synod of Bishops comes after that on the Pope and the College of Bishops, and before that on the cardinals. In the Annuario Pontificio, information on it is given before that on episcopal conferences.
The “Extraordinary Synod” – the third of its kind in the modern history of the Catholic Church – is part of a process of reflection that will last more than a year. It’s likely to reveal both the nature and, most likely, the limits of the change heralded by Pope Francis. And, it could not have come at a better time. Our world is in a “world of hurt” – sin, violence, war, persecution of Christians, abortion, terrorism, Ebola virus outbreaks, deterioration of the family, you name it.
The coming together of our our Bishops with our Holy Father is truly what I believe GOD has been calling for, for years, now. And, with Pope Francis – the bold and humble leader that he is – I honestly think that the setting and the timing could not have been better. I have personally been calling and pleading for a “Vatican III” for the past several years, as we truly need to get the Holy Catholic Church back on track – back to where Jesus envisioned it over 2,000 years ago when He built our solid Church upon the Rock of Peter.
The Second Vatican Council – commonly known as Vatican II – was, in theory at least, the seismic event in the modern history of the Catholic Church. It was a huge event! It ran from 1962 to 1965 with over 2,800 bishops involved. Some think that it was quite controversial. Others felt like it was the best thing that ever happened to the Holy Catholic Church.
I personally believe that it was “necessary” – just like I believe that this Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome this weekend is long over-due. We need a “shake-up” in the Catholic Church…We need those “Judas warm Catholics” – those sitting on the fence – to wake up and get involved. We need some “house cleaning” – the House of the Lord! We need to overturn those tax collector’s tables all over again at the Temple and run all those out who are sinning and manipulating the system. And, we need all of our clergy – including some of our prominent church leaders – to get back on the same page – the same book – the Holy Bible.
My prayer is that this shake-up isn’t a controversial one – a negative one – but, rather a positive one. One that will even catch the liberal, secular media by surprise and stop them in their tracks. That same media that is salivating, waiting for the pope to make a comment that they can take out of context and make the pope appear that he is just as liberal as they are. They are dying for him to fail, to fall through the cracks. This opportunity is when I truly believe that Pope Francis will have the “global stage” – the platform and the attention of the entire world – and be able to lay down the real Truths of the Catholic Church teachings. I have referred to the pope’s approach as a “Global Open House” – where he has embraced and invited the entire population – the atheists, the sinners, the homosexuals, the outcasts, etc. to come to listen to what he has to say. I think that this Synod of Bishops will be a huge step in the pope’s process of laying down the “law of the land” from a devout Catholic’s perspective.
And, since the topic of discussion at this particular Synod will be “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”, you can just imagine how tense the air will be. With so much attention being paid to same sex marriage in today’s society – with “19” states in America allowing same sex marriage to take place in their respective states today…with Pope Francis marrying 20 couples a few weeks ago right there at St. Peter’s Basilica (with some of the couples having lived together and a couple having babies out of wedlock) – you know that there is bound to be some heads turning and some ears burning with what may come out of these conversations.
Is Pope Francis going to play it conservatively and not make any waves with this topic of Family, or is he going to make some statements that may ruffle feathers with the conservative Catholic faithful? How is the Holy Father going to tackle the issue of same sex marriage at this Synod when he already caught the entire world’s attention last year when he calmly made that comment about not judging the homosexual lifestyle during his interview on an airplane coming back from World Youth Day in Rio by uttering those “famous 5 words”: WHO AM I TO JUDGE?
Friends: The stage is set for this weekend in Rome as we truly need to pray that the Holy Catholic Church gets back to the basics of Catholicism – the basics of our beloved Catechism – the principles & doctrines that our church was built on. I, for one, love the “old school” as well as the New Evangelization that Saint John Paul II instituted less than 25 years ago where I honestly believe that every Catholic in this country needs to maintain that balance in his or her walk in Faith. Maintaining that tradition from the true, Traditional Holy Roman Catholic Church, tied in with the New Evangelization that the past 3 popes have clearly elaborated on – is the ideal formula for the Catholic Faithful to build their faith on and to help build the Catholic Church today. That is what Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus were banking on and what I pray that Pope Francis continues to push and takes it to another level.
Change is tough. It can be good, but it can be controversial. My prayer is that Pope Francis institutes some wholesome, positive changes (if need be), within the parameters of the institution of the Family and that nothing he institutes or comments on during this Synod, causes the Catholic Faithful to turn on the Holy Father and criticize him for being too liberal, too progressive. Pope Francis will NOT be changing Catholic Church doctrine – just merely delivering it an a less orthodox fashion. As of today, countless Catholics all over the world have criticized the pope for being too liberal and too progressive and for playing too much to the liberal media. The last thing we need at this Extraordinary Synod is for the pope to say something about okaying same sex marriage and having it twisted and turned every which way by every reporter in the world. In my heart of hearts, I think that Pope Francis knows what he is doing and will do what the Holy Spirit has asked him to do in leading the Catholic Church. And, the Holy Spirit is that passionate third person in our Blessed Holy Trinity. GOD and His son, Jesus, will be watching closely and with all the angels and saints – including the humble saint in whose Feast Day we celebrate today, and whose namesake our beloved Holy Father took after – we will be in good hands…in GOD’s hands.
And, all the Catholics in this world said: AMEN…
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of RTE News.