….A question that I raised several times in the small group conversations, however, was whether, in our enthusiasm to include people in the governance of the Church, we forget that the vocation of 99 percent of the Catholic laity is to sanctify the world, to bring Christ into the arenas of politics, the arts, entertainment, communication, business, medicine, etc., precisely where they have special competence. Generally speaking, I was worried that both the Instrumentum Laboris and the synod conversations were far more preoccupied with the ad intra than with the ad extra, and this despite the fact that Pope Francis has been consistently calling for a Church that goes out from itself. On a number of occasions during the synod, I proposed the Catholic Action model that was, in the preconciliar period, such an effective way to form the laity in their mission to the world.
Another principal theme of the synod discussions was the play or perceived tension between love and truth. On the one hand, we must welcome everyone, but lest this welcoming devolve into a form of cheap grace (to use Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s term), we at the same time must summon those we include to conversion, to live according to the truth. As you might suspect, this issue became concretized around the outreach to the LGBT community. Practically everyone at the synod held that those whose sexual lives are outside of the norm should be treated with love and respect, and, again, bravo to the synod for making this pastoral point so emphatically. But many synod participants also felt that the truth of the Church’s moral teaching in regard to sexuality ought never to be set aside. One of the interventions that I made to the plenary assembly was on this theme. I observed that, when the terms are rightly understood, there is no real tension between love and truth, for love is not a feeling but the act by which one wills the good of another. Therefore, one cannot authentically love someone else unless he has a truthful perception of what is really good for that person. There might, I argued, be a tension between welcoming and truth but not between authentic love and truth.
A third area of interest/concern for me centered around the notion of mission. The term “mission” was used constantly in the texts we considered and the conversations we had. That the Church is a mission, to use Pope St. Paul VI’s language, was taken for granted by the synod members, and this represents a significant and very encouraging appropriation of the teaching of Vatican II and of the postconciliar papal magisterium. Pope St. John Paul II’s indefatigable teaching on the New Evangelization has evidently worked its way into the heart and mind of the worldwide Church. But there was, at least to my mind, a fair amount of ambiguity around the meaning of the word itself. Judging from what we read in the Instrumentum Laboris, mission seemed, more often than not, to designate the Church’s work in favor of social justice and the betterment of the economic and political situation of the poor. Conspicuous by their absence in the texts on mission were references to sin, grace, redemption, cross, resurrection, eternal life, and salvation, and this represents a real danger. For in point of fact, the primary mission of the Church is to declare the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and to invite people to place themselves under his Lordship. This discipleship, to be sure, has implications for the way we live in the world, and it certainly should lead us to work for justice, but we must keep our priorities straight. The supernatural should never be reduced to the natural; rather, the natural order should be transfigured by its relationship to the supernatural order….
A final point — and here I find myself in frank disagreement with the final synodal report — has to do with the development of moral teaching in regard to sex. The suggestion is made that advances in our scientific understanding will require a rethinking of our sexual teaching, whose categories are, apparently, inadequate to describe the complexities of human sexuality. A first problem I have with this language is that it is so condescending to the richly articulate tradition of moral reflection in Catholicism, a prime example of which is the theology of the body developed by Pope St. John Paul II.
From Word on Line