Although not papist myself, I’ve long thought I have more in common with orthodox Romans than with Liberal “mainline” Protestants – much more. And I note and share conservative Catholic concern about Pope Francis’ Synod on the Family.
In the next three weeks, I fully expect the leadership of my own One Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church to fall into apostasy, at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family that begins today in Rome. This is the outcome Pope Francis has shaped over the entirety of his pontificate, and particularly with his recent appointments. An event like this —heresy promulgated by the Pope and his bishops — is believed by most Catholics to be impossible. But they should be prepared for it anyway. This is not an ordinary religious conference, but one to be dreaded.
My prediction is that, after much fixing and machinations by its leaders, the Synod on the Family will declare that the Holy Spirit led them to a new understanding of the truth. The Synod’s leaders will adopt the position that those living in second marriages, irrespective of the status of their first marriage, should be admitted to Holy Communion. This is commonly called the “Kasper proposal” after its author, the German Cardinal Walter Kasper. The Synod will likely leave the details of a “penitential period of reflection” for these souls up to local bishops and parish priests The leading bishops will assure critics that in fact no doctrine has been changed, only a discipline — even if these will make no sense when considered together.
Certain theologians will cheer this as a radical break. They will declare this change of discipline to be what the critics alleged all along: a rupture within the tradition of the church, a change in doctrine. They will say that this glorious event proves the church is capable not only of developing its doctrines, but also of evolving them into something new, even something that contradicts the old. Those who had made themselves enemies of papal authority for decades will become a new kind of ultramontanist. The papacy that had been the final guardian of the faith will now become an ongoing oracle, dispensing new gospel teachings that our Lord and the Apostles missed.
The church’s teachings on contraception, homosexuality, and pre-marital sex must all be subjected to this evolution, in light of what we know about how people actually live. How they ought to live is a moot question.
That is alarmist perhaps. But after watching Francis, I think it not unrealistic.
Two matters about Synod that should concern (And trust me that this is for starters.):
1. Francis’ insistence that bishops should be able to keep their interventions in Synod secret, which of course greatly undermines accountability. There has already been a notorious example of this from Synod:
The actual interventions that take place on the synod floor are not made available to the public, by the will of the Holy Father. However, Archbishop Gadecki heroically took notes on the interventions made by the synod fathers, and actually made them public on his blog here. They were quickly taken down at the behest of Cardinal Baldisseri. Fortunately, copies of these interventions were saved and thanks to the work of Archbishop Gadecki, we know what kind of evil is taking place behind closed doors. Case in point, one intervention made by Cardinal Lacunza Maestrojuan suggested that the church should return to the Law of Moses on the matter of divorce and remarriage, which naturally implies the words of Christ on this matter should be abandoned.
Rorate Caeli, which is following Synod closely, has provided more detail on this silencing.
The Venerable Fr. John Hunwicke notes and notes well that this secrecy of Synod is the will of Francis and is completely out of line with scripture and tradition and with reason for that matter:
A bishop is not a distinguished individual; he is episcopus in et cum Ecclesia sua. Episcopacy is not a personal fashion accessory. I can think of few things more disgracefully clericalist, more ecclesiologically corrupt, than bishops meeting privately "in a protected space" in which they believe themselves free to stitch together something which might not be according to the traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum; and to do this without any element of the discipline and responsibility which comes from it being publicly known what each has said. Have their diocesan priests, deacons, and layfolk no rights whatsoever? Is Episcopacy simply a matter of lording it over the flock of Christ (I Peter 5:3) without oneself being answerable to the plebs sancta Dei? I am reminded of what an English poet called Kipling once said to an English Press Baron called Beaverbrook: "Power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages".
Fr. Hunwicke’s entire post on this matter merits reading.
2. Pope Francis is more than willing to rig Synod.
Some has said that there is no way the conservative bishops attending Synod will allow serious error to come out of it. (Which begs the question of how Francis got elected Pope, but anyway.) The problem is Francis is not above rigging matters, not at all. Heck, he reminds me of Harry Reid.
At the end of 2014, there was a major controversy when the Holy Father allowed from various controversial paragraphs to remain in the 2014 Relatio Synodi document, to be used as a basis for the 2015 synod (in a document called Instrumentum Laboris), even though they didn’t receive the required two-thirds vote. To make matters worse, when those controversial paragraphs, which include the Kasper Proposal, were questioned by some synod fathers this week, they were told by Cardinal Baldisseri: “Well, if you want to get them out, it will require a two-thirds vote”! To be clear, this means that instead of needing a two-thirds vote to include paragraphs in the document, it will instead require a two-thirds vote to remove problematic language.
This demonstrates the Holy Father is allowing for the ramming of the Kasper Proposal down the throats of the Synod fathers, whether they like it or not.
Again, Rorate Caeli is noting, in some detail, the rigging of the Synod on the Family.
More can be said. But methinks those Catholics not alarmed about the direction of Synod underestimate the perfidy of this Pope and of his allies.