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There is a synod of bishops coming up this fall. Yesterday the Vatican released the working document that will guide it. Excellent review from the National Catholic Reporter here.

I will boil it down thusly: same old same old, a document that retired pope Benedict would assent to with enthusiasm, and further proof that Francis may make a few progressive-sounding sound bites from time to time, but in practice absolutely nothing has changed.

Theme #1: Its not us - its you:

Thursday's document paints the upcoming meeting as an event for the prelates to evaluate how to re-articulate current teachings, not to evaluate the teachings themselves.

The document, known in Latin as an instrumentum laboris, also blames modern culture for Catholics' poor acceptance of certain church teachings.

Got it? The Catholic Church, like Conservatism, cannot fail, it can only be failed.  And liberals and Hollywood are to blame:
Responses to the synod office's global consultation -- which saw bishops' conferences around the world answer a long questionnaire on how Catholics perceive church teachings -- were "in agreement on the underlying reasons for the difficulty in accepting Church teaching," the document states.

Among those reasons: "the hedonistic culture; relativism; materialism; individualism; the growing secularism; the prevalence of ideas that lead to an excessive, selfish liberalization of morals; ... [and] a culture which rejects making permanent choices."

If you read on you will see that there are all kinds of "permanent choices" that the Vatican detests. So I can only assume that there was a mistranslation for the Latin here, because clearly the issue isn't "permanent choices". The issue is thinking for yourself and exercising your own judgement about what is best for you and your family.

Theme # 2: Would you please get back in the closet?

The synod is preparing to recommit to the ideas that homosexuality is abnormal and same-sex marriage is out of the question.

The document bluntly restates Catholic opposition to both same-sex marriage and artificial contraception.

On the first issue, the document states: "Every bishops' conference voiced opposition to 'redefining' marriage." Some responses, it says, "recommend not using phrases such as 'gay,' 'lesbian' or 'homosexual' to define a person's identity."

It states: "The great challenge will be to develop a ministry which can maintain the proper balance between accepting persons in a spirit of compassion and gradually guiding them to authentic human and Christian maturity."

I do not doubt that this synod will result in a totalitarian crack down on those few parishes who have been welcoming to the gay community.

Theme #3: Women, do as we tell you and accept your status as a birth canal.

The document bluntly restates Vatican opposition to birth control. Its big idea?

To assist in spreading the church's arguments against contraception, the document suggests parishes have presentations in favor of so-called natural family planning methods, "in collaboration with well-qualified people from both the field of medicine and the parish."
And of course no point for guessing what issue is in the forefront of the drafter's minds:
One of the first issues that the document mentions as a "critical situation" within Catholic family life is abortion. The document says many bishops' conferences around the world said they were "greatly concerned" about the issue.

"In many ways, today's society seems to promote a culture of death regarding the unborn and to manifest a culture of indifference in approaching life in general," it states. "Many responses also stress that a contraceptive mentality has a negative impact on family relationships."

Because nothing has a positive impact on family relationships quite like an unplanned pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother.

Theme #4. We are proud to be the last remaining institution on the planet that puts scare quotes around "human rights".

1775 just called, it is excited about this synod!

Generally speaking, the notion of “human rights” is also seen as highly subjective and a call for a person to self-determination, a process which is no longer grounded in the idea of the natural law. In this regard, many respondents relate that the legal systems in many countries are having to make laws on situations which are contrary to the traditional dictates of the natural law
How dare they....

Postscript:

If any of you are thinking that your local bishop is cool and he won't be going along with this nonsense:

Prelates attending the Vatican synod are expected to review the document in preparation for whatever statements they might make during the meetings in October. Those statements, known as interventions, are usually limited to four or five minutes and are submitted for review before the opening of the event.
He'll be going along - whether he wants to or not.

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