These past few weeks have been filled with a lot of confusion as faithful Catholics and even the larger world have been trying to make sense of various pieces of information coming from Rome and the Synod on the Family. In the process we’ve seen bishops of the Church engaging in political shenanigans, outright lying, and leaking a host of misleading statements. I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that this has often been the case throughout the history of the Church; it’s just that now we have Twitter to cover the play by play.
In spite of the very human side of the Church exposed for all the world to see, the Holy Spirit has indeed been at work. Today the Church beatifies Pope Paul VI who faced similar pressure from society in his day to change Church teaching regarding contraception. The Holy Spirit protected the Church from error then and will continue to do so. In the mean time, the process may indeed look a little messy. They say that if you like sausage you shouldn’t look at how the sausage is made. While that’s not an excuse for some of the behavior we’ve seen over the last weeks, it does give us a reminder to be somewhat patient.
As is often the case, the media is not so good about covering the Church. They try to fit things into categories they can understand. In this case, they have tried to explain the synod by supposing that there are two factions or political parties at work. On the one side there is truth and those rigid conservatives who demand adherence to outdated teaching with cold and unfeeling hearts. On the other side are the pastoral and compassionate progressive bishops who want to show mercy. This might make for a nice news story, but it is simply not that case that there is some battle going on between truth and mercy. The two are not opposites. Both truth and mercy come from the same God and must always be in harmony. Today’s homily seeks to explain the role of each and how they relate to marriage and the family.