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Sex and the Synod: What Women Think

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The views of experts on marriage (who happen to be women) seem under-represented at the Synod

One of Walsh’s proposals resembled a sort of do-it-yourself annulment process, in which individuals “convinced that their first marriage was not sacramental [can] approach Communion according to their own well-formed conscience.”

Rejecting that proposal out of hand, Prof. Smith declared that “marriages are governed by law not by conscience. A well-formed conscience would want to submit to the Church.”

Sr. Anne Flanagan, known as “nunblogger” to her more than 15,000 Twitter followers, similarly looked askance at Walsh’s proposal. “Even in ordinary human matters, we are often quite blind to things we really ought to know about ourselves. How can we appraise our own spiritual condition, especially in matters of the heart?” asked Flanagan. She emphasized that reception of the Eucharist involves much more than the individual’s personal relationship with God, because it is also a public act of communion with the Church.

“The communion issue is so huge for people today … because at this point, Catholic life has been reduced to Sunday Mass,” continued Flanagan. “Fifty+ years ago, it was not odd to see five or six people remain in a pew at Communion time, and communicants had to awkwardly step between kneelers and legs to get to and from the aisle.  … While frequent Communion was the ideal, it was not a given as it is now.” She mourns a lack of vibrant parish life that could fully welcome people in social and communal activities outside of Mass.  

Dr. Savage similarly sympathized with the divorced and civilly remarried, seeing them as “victims of a culture that has taught them that marriage is a convenience.” But she cautioned that we must “be realistic” in our hopes of providing them with a warmer welcome without breaking with the history and traditions of the Church. The Synod “isn’t a Vatican Council [such as Vatican II]. We need to peg our expectations to the forum,” she stated. The Synod’s role is merely to advise Pope Francis.

Observing that not all Catholics run in the same circles, Dr. Savage noted that “some people are anxious for change, and others are hopeful that the Church will stay the course. I’m with [the latter group]. I see the Church as the last bastion in pushing back the tides of secularism.” There’s a tidal wave of cultural collapse looming, she predicted, and “there’s one wall left.” That wall is the Catholic Church.

Karee Santos
is the co-author, together with her husband Manuel P. Santos, M.D., of a Catholic marriage advice book forthcoming from Ave Maria Press in 2016. She and her husband began teaching marriage preparation and enrichment classes in New York City in 2003. Karee has written numerous articles on marriage and family for the "National Catholic Register," "Faith & Family"
magazine, and various Catholic websites. She also founded the online Catholic marriage support community Can We Cana?.

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