A mainstream English broadsheet newspaper recently reported on the Amazon Synod. The feature recalled one of the indigenous peoples as having commented: "Eden is here and we are destroying it..." More recently, NCR has presented coverage on the recommendations made by the Synod; including the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the admission of women to ordained ministry. The latter reports Pope Francis as having provided an assurance to re-activate his recent commission, with supplemented membership. It is said that these recommendations have been formulated to reflect the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church; citing the writings of St John Paul II for this purpose.
The rise and fall of mankind as recorded in Genesis may be attributed to concupiscence; pure and simple. However, the modern lexicon of inclusivity upon which so many senior Church Leaders depend appears to have discounted this term, along with 'sin' itself. It appears we have reached a moment in human history in which our primary ambition must be the avoidance of "offence". Seemingly, the Church is now prepared to go to extraordinarily lengths to fulfil this ambition. As such, the ideology of the world has been adopted as the raison d'être, not of the individual, but - so it appears - of the Church herself.
Achieved by a carefully choreographed sleight of hand, the Amazon Synod was presented as a response to very particular local difficulties. As intended, however, it is set to become the paradigm for the path of the Church in other parts of the World. Initial reports cite "the right to the Eucharist", "the dignity of the baptised" and "equality of the faithful" as justification. However, what is in issue here is not the relationship between the faithful, but the relationship between the faithful and God Himself.
As recounted in Genesis, the Lord God entrusted to Adam and Eve the gift of creation. So too, has Christ made a gift of Himself. At the time of receiving the gifts of creation, God also gave instruction. That is, he communicated in clear terms the means by which the gifts were to be enjoyed and the wisdom required if the life-giving character of those gifts was to be maintained and enjoyed to the full. So too, in the institution of the Eucharist, Christ gave the gift of life. Accompanied by His mandate, he exhorted the disciples to 'do this in memory of me'.
Both the narrative of Genesis and the Words of the Second Adam affirm one simple reality: our life in faith must be founded upon our engagement with the wisdom of God. It cannot be constructed on an ideology which is egocentric or politically expedient.
It is a curious feature of this synod that it has placed such heavy emphasis upon the need to protect creation from ecological sin and has given so little consideration to the sin caused against the will of the founder of the Church. Something akin to Adam and Eve fencing off the tree of the forbidden fruit, to protect the tree itself; caring little at all for the sins of arrogance, vanity and pride, which caused them to eat of it in the first place. How can this be?
It would appear that we live in an age where celebrity and societal approval are key motivators. The desire for (or teaching and practice of) virtue has been politely laid aside. The need for approval, the desire for social status, acceptance and popularity, have caused senior Church Leaders (i.e. of the faith community) to foster an attitude of appeasement. Witness the centrality of pagan images in the reportage of the Synod and its preparations on the one hand and the determination of the Vatican authorities to identify and prosecute those who removed them from a consecrated Church and despatched them to the Tiber on the other. It might be thought that this betokens a mindset which is sensitive to issues of ethnicity and cultural diversity whilst being neglectful of one's own. The same may be true of those who advocate the protection of creation without consideration of the wisdom of the Creator; instead adopting the so-called wisdom of the age.
In times such as these, we must not and cannot doubt the power of God. In the words of the hymn for morning prayer:
"I bind unto myself today, the power of God to hold and lead...
Of whom all nature hath creation; Eternal Father, Spirit, Word,
Praise to the Lord of my salvation:
Salvation is of Christ the Lord."
Perhaps we might also keep in mind:
"The tax collector went home again at rights with God; the man who took pride in himself did not..."
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom - pray for us.