Saturday, October 24, 2015

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

From Robert Royal:

Andre Malraux, French novelist and anti-Nazi Resistance fighter, tells a story in the first pages of his Anti-Memoirs [I’m in Rome and have to summarize from memory] about putting a question one evening, after a long day of firefights, to a comrade-in-arms, who was also a priest: “You hear confessions, father, you must learn a lot about human nature.” The priest demurred. No it’s Christ, not me there, forgiving. But after a few more glasses of wine, he said: “Actually, there are two things. First, people are much more unhappy they you would think.” Malraux replied that, as a novelist, he already understood that quite well: “And the other thing, mon père?” “There are no real adults.”

A truth worth keeping in mind if you have been reading the press accounts about the Synod in the past few days, which have contained some quite interesting interviews. In particular, I was reminded of the Malraux story while looking at Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich’s personal press conference last Friday in Rome. He has since denied what some in the media claimed he said about always following conscience, or Communion for the Divorced and Remarried and for active homosexuals. Working with people directly, he argued, he’d come to see that it’s best to “accompany” them and teach them to be guided deeply by conscience. He cited a wise priest, now deceased, who declared that he hoped his ministry would be remembered for having treated people “as adults.”

Well, yes, as long as we understand what Malraux’s priest had to say about adults, and that the Church did not just recently discover human weakness and the need to address it appropriately. During Vatican II, a meme got started in the Church that humanity had now “come of age.” If there’s evidence of this new human maturity in the world, I’d be very happy – very – to see it. We hear a lot these days about people wrestling with their consciences – and as a witty friend once put it, “It’s amazing how often they win.”

(Read more.)

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