By Lisa Bourne and Maike Hickson
Cardinal Francis Arinze
|Cardinal Robert Sarah|
|Cardinal Dominik Duka|
Church leaders are striking back against assaults on marriage and family in a slate of new books countering proposals seeking to circumvent Church teaching at the upcoming Vatican Synod in October.
Four titles coming out in Ignatius Press’ fall releases all refute challenges to Catholic principles in the hot-button areas of marriage and human sexuality, with special consideration for the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family.
Authored by prominent Church figures representing the Church’s orthodox leaders, they directly address the contentious issues expected to be the focus of the Synod. Two of the books gather roughly a half-dozen cardinals or bishops to write in defence of the Church.
Ignatius Press Founder and Editor Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. told journalists those at the publishing house felt the topic was important, and they wanted to give a voice to those “who have something substantial to say, and who are both deeply rooted in the Church’s long tradition and aware of the challenges of contemporary culture.”
Last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family was fraught with controversy, with some liberal bishops attempting to thwart Church teaching in the areas of marriage and sexuality, most notably German Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to allow Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. Homosexual advocates have also made a concerted continual push for their agenda to be advanced at the Synod as well.
The attempts to sidestep Church principles were masked as “a more pastoral approach” to the moral questions of Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and homosexuality.
“Nothing which conflicts with authoritative teaching can be pastoral,” Father Fessio told journalists.
The four new books are not the first literary effort to defend the Church’s teaching at the Synod.
Five cardinals collaborated to write the book Remaining in the "Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church" to defend Church teaching on marriage and family ahead of the 2014 gathering, and sent the book to the bishops taking part. Reports surfaced later that the Synod lead organizer took steps to block the book’s distribution to the bishops.
Three bishops penned another book this past spring, "Preferential Option for the Family — 100 Questions and Answers Relating to the Synod", to clear up the Synod confusion on Church teaching.
One of the Synod’s most provocative moments last year was when Cardinal Kasper was recorded dismissing the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality.
African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” Cardinal Kasper stated in an interview with ZENIT news agency, adding that he didn’t think the other Synod participants were listening to the African bishops either.
Cardinal Kasper also said Africans were “very different” about homosexuals, and that, “You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.”
While African bishops were not being listened to at the Synod, he said, their views are “of course” listened to in Africa, “where it’s taboo.”
Cardinal Kasper initially denied his statements but was forced to walk back his denial after the recording of the interview was released.
In the wake of the ideological and cultural divide at the Synod highlighted by the incident, one of Ignatius’s fall releases is "Christ’s New Homeland - Africa – A contribution to the Synod on the Family", by 10 African cardinals and bishops.
The contributors include Cardinals Robert Sarah, Francis Arinze, Christian Tumi,Théodore Sarr, and Archbishop Samuel Kleda.
Cardinal Sarah, prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican, was appointed in 2014 by Francis I. He has stated emphatically that any attempt to separate Catholic teaching from “pastoral practice” is a form of “heresy and a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.”
“The African Church will strongly oppose any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and the Magisterium,” the Guinean cardinal has also said.
Cardinal Arinze provides the preface for the African cardinals’ book.
“The African prelates make a concise presentation of the attitude of Africans toward marriage and the family,” Cardinal Arinze wrote. “Africans see the family as a community of love between a man and a woman, with a loving opening to children. Marriage is the entry. It comes from the creating hands of God, and so no human being has the authority to try to re-invent it. A marriage in Africa establishes a link between the families of the man and the woman, with each side ready to help to make it a success. Appreciation of the complementarity of man and woman and of the divine origin of marriage and the family cuts across cultural, linguistic, and religious frontiers.”
“Marriage and the family are in crisis,” states the preview from another of the new books, "Eleven Cardinals Speak – On Marriage and the Family", an international collection of essays from 11 princes of the Church.
"Eleven Cardinals Speak" gives an introduction to the upcoming October Synod and discusses pertinent issues such as divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and the demands of authentic pastoral care.
Contributors are Cardinals Sarah, Carlo Caffarra, Baselios Cleemis, Paul Josef Cordes, Dominik Duka, Joachim Meisner, Camillo Ruini, Antonio María Rouco Varela, Willem Jacobus Eijk, John Onaiyekan, and Jorge L. Urosa Savino.