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Archbishop predicts Synod won't change Church teaching. Why am I not reassured?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 07, 2015

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, tells John Allen of Crux that if the Synod of Bishops voted right now on a proposal to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, his guess is that the vote would go about 65- 35 against the proposal. However,

  • things could change, and
  • under the new rules in force this year, the Synod never will vote—on this proposition or any other, and
  • the archbishop suggests that if the proposition were to allow individual bishops or episcopal conferences to set their own policies, the vote would be evenly split.

So the archbishop’s estimate of the Synod’s intentions, which at first glance looked promising, turn out to be simply confusing. Are we to believe that the bishops will refuse to change the teachings of the universal Church, but allow individual bishops to dispense with those teachings on their own authority? As a practical matter, then, the universal Church would no longer have a clear teaching on the subject—or else you might say the teaching, however clear, would be honored only when the local bishop(s) wanted to honor it. Sometimes it seems that many of the bishops participating in this Synod are not ready to change doctrine, but quite ready to disregard it.

By the way, Archbishop Coleridge also reports that he senses a broad consensus in favor of “less condemnatory” language regarding homosexuals. That would make perfect sense to me, if I could find “condemnatory” language in any recent Church document.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: VICTORIA01 - Oct. 18, 2015 1:27 AM ET USA

    This is an Archbishop who refers to his Archbishop’s regalia as “clobber” and his zucchetto as “ a beanie.” (From his Australian website.) After reading his blog, I can quite understand that Abp Coleridge would find the words “intrinsically” and “disordered” a little difficult to understand; they were probably translated from Latin and state perfectly correctly the problem with homosexual sex.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Oct. 10, 2015 11:11 PM ET USA

    I doubt that there is condemnatory language regarding an objective medical disorder in any Church document of any age (including St. Paul's letters). What is condemned is acts, with the degree of responsibility dependent on the condition of the mind. Is the will free to choose between right and wrong? Is the intellect well-formed in terms of God's morality? It seems that Archbishop Coleridge is thinking as the world dictates rather than as the Church has always believed, taught, and judged.

  • Posted by: claire5327 - Oct. 09, 2015 6:24 PM ET USA

    No one can change the Wrod of God, not even the Church! “The heaven and the the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Anyone who tries to change the words that came out from the mouth of The God-Man Christ Our Lord is not with Him nor for Him, thus, they are not with the Church, therefore, they do not speak for the Church! “You may call me Lord, Lord, but, I will say to you, I know you not!” It is the time for all of us to truly looking within our souls; whom do I Serve?

  • Posted by: feedback - Oct. 07, 2015 7:24 PM ET USA

    If it came to division, where local Bishops would define individually their own practical application of the Doctrine of Faith, the big new problem, besides universal confusion, would be the obedience of priests. How would they be obliged to follow orders against the faith? And where could they appeal violations of their conscience? And what about their obedience to the Bishop's successors who will have each different idea? I trust and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Synod in all Truth.