måndag 20 oktober 2014

Irrelevant synod on the family

What struck me about the synod of bishops which has just closed was its irrelevance. The teaching of the Catholic Church on sexual matters is clear - no sex outside marriage. That is not anti-gay or anti-anybody. We all find it difficult to keep to the rules. That is what the confessional is for, and the end of the matter.

The real concern should be that families are failing, and that is what the bishops ought to have been talking about. There all sorts of pressures on the family - war and instability, economic insecurity, poverty, migration, housing priced out of people's reach, etc. For example, in most developed countries in Europe, one person's wages are often not sufficient to pay for the accommodation for a family. Wages are often dependent on employment opportunities which can vanish overnight.

My former parish priest used to complain about the lack of large families, but the price of a house large enough for a large family was well out of reach of most people in that parish.

The most successful families seem to be those where the family is also an economic unit, running a family business or perhaps an agricultural smallholding. The rise of the firm as the primary economic unit has been detrimental to families, yet our bishops - neither the "progressives" or the "conservatives" say anything about this.

There is no excuse, since there is a substantial body of Catholic church teaching, known as "Catholic Social Teaching", which has been developed since Rerum Novarum was issued in 1891. It serves as a good starting point despite its deficiencies, and is the grounding for the system of economic organisation known as "Distributism". Having developed the ideas in the 1930s, what has always been needed is for lay people to get together, with the blessing of the hierarchy, to formulate a legislative and fiscal structure which would bring about the Distributist economy, where the economy was organised in the interest of the family. When it comes to it, however, there seems to be a complete lack of interest. Instead of solid proposals, all we have is the uttering of platitudes and an embarrassing debate about bedroom morality.

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