Rorate Caeli

Letter from a Reader in East Africa: "My Bishop Wept When He Read the Synod Summary"

We got this letter some hours ago, and asked this reader in Africa for his permission to post it. He just asked to have any information that could identify him or the diocese removed.

Dear friends of,

I live in the diocese of [omitted] in [a small country in East Africa], a diocese that's very full of life, marriages, baptisms, confirmations, vocations are so abundant that they would seem improbable elsewhere. Since I lived for many years in Belgium and in Ireland years ago, I know what I'm talking about. Our bishop, [name omitted], though not at all old, doesn't like to be online or read things on screen, he also hates smartphones even though they're everywhere here now, so I often print things I find online to show him. Now, our diocese isn't traditional at all, it was thanks to the web and pages as yours that I found out about the Old Mass, but Mass is usually very respectful, even when it's filled with our African joy, which is always very respectful.

Anyway, the bishop asked me to bring him news from the Synod as often as possible, and since I live very near the cathedral I am trying to print things and take them to him daily. So, yesterday I printed this page and he was struck by this passage from Thursday's meeting.

"With regard to cohabitation in certain regions, it was shown that this is often due to economic and social factors and not a form of refusal of the teachings of the Church. Often, moreover, these and other types of de facto unions are lived while conserving the wish for a Christian life, and therefore require suitable pastoral care. Similarly, while emphasising the impossibility of recognising same sex marriage, the need for a respectful and non-discriminatory approach with regard to homosexuals was in any case underlined."[*]

He was in the office with the Vicar-General, and he stood up and then fell down on his chair, took his hands to his head and started to weep silently. He was obviously very shaken. He said to the Vicar-General: "Oh my God, what are they doing? The people will soon get hold of declarations like these and they'll prefer to become evangelicals or even Muslims than remain Catholic! What are they doing in Rome? Oh my God, oh my God!"

He then looked at me, calmed down, and said, "I'm sorry you saw this, sorry." It was shocking. They were both extremely nervous with what will come out, Muslims and Evangelical missionaries will make great inroads if the Church is seen as soft on morals, a situation Africans hate, and make very difficult the work of priests to stop couples from just living together, very often one man and several women, but actually getting married in church. I'm not sure they understand the impact that even small things like these have in how Africans at least here in [country] view the Church. The Vicar-General said something like, "What is this softness? Why 'impossibility of recognising' and not, this false marriage is a grave aberration and an abomination against God and against Creation? At least the Anglicans here can say decisions in Europe are not their responsibility, but how can we as Roman Catholics say that what happens in Rome has nothing to do with us?"

I thought you'd be interested. Thanks for the blog and keeping us informed here as well.

God and Mary bless you,

[Name omitted]

[Spelling mistakes corrected]
* Rorate note: The reference is to this summary, of the October 9 proceedings.