by Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano
Bishop of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay 2004-2014
Member of the personal prelature of Opus Dei
Originally published in eponymous flower
In the Holy Mass for the opening of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, Pope Francis called on the bishops to participate in the plan of God and so to form a holy people. I offer these reflections in the desire to serve the Pope so in the best way I can.
The Church which was founded on the rock of Peter expects the Synod promoting the Christian Church. But what the Bible calls “the world”, however, has very different expectations: The media calls every day that the Church should “renew itself.” A euphemism which seeks the blessing of the aberrations but not condemnation, which spread more and more, partly because they are systematically promoted by the press and the entertainment industry.
The Church, however, was not founded to endorse what is desired by the world, but to teach what God wants from us and to lead on the way to holiness. For it is the will of God, who knows everything and can not be misled and can not be led astray, that we find true peace and true joy. Neither the doctrine nor the following of this teaching, pastoral practice, are the result of consensus of the priest, even if they were cardinals or bishops.
Since the origins of Christianity, the Apostles and their successors had to endure the pressure of the powerful religious and political elites who pushed it to distort the truth, and the evangelical mission they had received from Christ. However, instead of bowing to other gods, they gave us a testimony of unconditional loyalty to the truth by shedding their own blood. After all, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). These days it is a comfort to think of the example of Saint Athanasius. He was not once, but five times expelled from his diocese due to machinations of his confreres, Arian bishops, with whom he was not “in communion”, was because he wanted to promote the “Catholic and apostolic faith”, as it is called in the Roman Canon of the first Eucharistic prayer.
To bless and accept “what all ask” is neither mercy nor pastoral charity. Rather, it is inertia and convenience because we do without it, to evangelize and educate. And it is a genuflection to the people, because we are more important, as they say, rather than the prophetic rebuke in obedience to God. St. Benedict already grasped in a different era which was also marked by great confusion, the principle of eternal life in obedience: “To thee, therefore, I now teach my word, whoever you are, by renouncing your self-will, you will fight under the Lord, the true King, and take firm hold of the strong and most excellent arms of obedience “(…)” So, you return by the labor of obedience to the one you have left by the sloth of disobedience “(Rule of Benedict, Prologue ).
Inside the Church – and more recently on some of the highest levels – “a new wind is blowing”, although not from the Holy Spirit. Even the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, among others, has criticized the trial as utopian to think they can make substantial changes in the pastoral practice, without thereby attacking the Catholic teaching on the family. Without condemning their intentions and for want of which I will assume the best and I regret having to name them, Cardinal Kasper and the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica are active promoters of this confusion, and it was sad to have to call them by name, but they are anyway . What has been banned as serious disobedience to the law of God, is now blessed in the name of His mercy. They justify what is unjustifiable, with the help of subtle interpretations of texts and historical events. But those who really know the issue, have quashed these quibbles. Let us not forget what the Lord has promised us: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
We take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity that the Synod gives us to affirm in a positive way what the Church has always and everywhere believed on the family and implemented by Her order in practice. This requires at the same time that we defend the truth that divide the people of God and confuse against those who attack it. The situation is very serious and I’m not the first to draw attention to the fact that we are tragically facing the risk of a major schism. It is exactly what the Lord and His Blessed Mother have predicted in the apparitions recognized by the authority of the Church.
Against those who thirst after, “remaking anew” the sanctions and to manipulate the statistics, as though the people of God are in the mind to want to impose on reality with the power to abuse authority, we recall that the Church is neither defined by the opinions of people, nor lives lived in changing times, yet is defined by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. As the story ends when the schism of the Church of England was imposed on a whole Catholic people, is a lesson that is worthwhile today, as is shown and deepened precisely together in the testimonies of the martyrdom of St. John Fischer and Saint Thomas More.
Let us pray for the Pope, the cardinals and bishops, so we are all prepared, if necessary, to shed our blood for the defense and promotion of the family against the storms of deception and against the idolatry of an alleged sexual freedom of man before God. Let us not deceive ourselves nor be deterred from the faith and practice of morality that Jesus Christ has taught us. We know that the world has hated our Lord. The servant can not be greater than his master. The world will persecute us and do so fraudulently even in the name of God. And the Church leaders who talk like the world, enjoy listening to it, who are applauded, they will be loved, “because they are of it” and not from God.