A promise of trial as well as hope

By Daniel J. Bauer

Commentators in the media are expressing generally positive views on the cautious first steps that nearly 200 Catholic bishops, priests and lay persons have taken in recent days at what is shaping up to be a groundbreaking meeting in Rome, called a synod. The steps involve lengthy discussions, followed by straight from the shoulder feedback from participants representing a wide gamut of personal, theological, and social views on the concept of family.

Pundits however are not the only ones talking about the synod. Friends of mine, missionaries here in Taiwan not usually addicted as I sometimes am to tracking current events, appear to also have their eyes almost glued to recent newspaper headlines. No one anywhere (especially in Rome) is assuming official Catholic teaching will change much on subjects such as divorce and remarriage, cohabitation (such a chilly word, that one), sexual behavior, and sexual orientation. Suddenly, however, Catholics and non-Catholics alike are sensing the opening here of a few stuck and hard-to-budge old windows, and the letting in of some badly needed fresh air. What might all this be about? Perhaps I am wrong, but I think we are sensing here a great change in something called ��attitude.��

Now, I could have hung quote marks around a special term or two above (synod, for example, or family) but I did not. No Madame, and no Sir. I am choosing to highlight one word alone at the beginning here. Attitude is so very vital to helping all of us, regardless of our backgrounds, to open eyes and hearts so that we might better see others as they truly are, and to feel with them what their lives feel like to them. Attitude enables us to treat others not merely with the decency, but, in the case of the Christian family, with the care and (dare I say the word?) the love that they deserve. The more we ponder our fundamental attitudes, the more we realize how much they influence our ways of responding to people who in some ways may be different than we are.