Wm. Oddie on the upcoming Synod: no change in doctrine

At the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, William Oddie has his say about Card. Kasper, his odd notions about Communion for the divorced and remarried, the upcoming Synod and Pope Francis.

Read the whole thing HERE, but I can bring you in in medias res:

So why am I so sure that the Pope does support Cardinal Müller’s insistence that there will be no change in the teachings of the Church, despite his warm words about Kasper’s speech? [Remember?  Tolerated but not accepted?] For a start, Kasper’s speech is such that you could find it interesting, even to be commended as an intellectual exercise, without agreeing with a word of it. It’s tentative, speculative; I didn’t exactly find it “serene” (incidentally, I seriously wonder if the Holy Father wasn’t teasing Cardinal Kasper when he said that “It is pleasant to read serene theology”; he’s known for his sense of humour) and if Pope Francis had actually agreed with it, wouldn’t he have used rather different wording?

In an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times on Kasper’s proposal, which is roughly that a second “marriage” might be tolerated but not accepted, Ross Douthat comments that “whatever individuals and pastors decide to take upon their own consciences, declaring the reception of Communion licit for the remarried-but-not-annulled in any systematic way seems impossible without real changes — each with its own potential doctrinal ripples — to one or more of three theologically-important Catholic ideas: The understanding that people in grave sin should not generally receive the Eucharist, the understanding that adultery is always a grave sin, and/or the understanding that a valid sacramental marriage is indissoluble.

If he actually did effect some change of the kind being fondly touted by liberal Catholics, Pope Francis would be either dissolving important Church teachings into incoherence, or else changing them in a way that mainstream Catholics firmly believe that the Pope, any pope, cannot do. [Yep.]

Anyway, I confidently predict that there will be no change and that the Holy Father is NOT preparing the way for one. It’s a matter of his entire attitude to the Church’s doctrinal tradition. Not once has he cast any doubt on his support for what the Church teaches. [As I have been saying.] I draw your attention to one of his little sermons, preached at his daily Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in January, and reported on this site but otherwise unnoticed, in which he made it quite clear that fidelity to Church teaching is a fundamental part of belonging to the Church and that we cannot, in his words, use Church doctrine “as we please.”

He defined the three “pillars” of belonging as “humility,” “fidelity” and “special service.” He said that fidelity was the “second pillar: “Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. We receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received.”


Read the rest there.  There is a great Chesterton quote.

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  1. SimonDodd says:

    On the other hand, the LMS chairman (an interesting video from whom on ad orientem worship Father posted the other day) suggested in a recent blog post that Francis may be “testing the waters”–seeing what kind of reaction the proposal gets. If that is correct, then scalding and public criticism is very much in order. And if Oddie is correct, then scalding and public criticism will do no harm. Either way, it seems to me that we should be forcefully and publicly teaching orthodoxy and making the argument that it cannot be changed.

    (As to whether Oddie is correct, FWIW, I continue to believe, as I have said here before, that what walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck is much more likely to be a duck than a cunningly-disguised lion.)

  2. iteadthomam says:

    The upcoming synod has me very concerned. If Kasper’s view is accepted, it will create such a dichotomy between doctrine and practice that anything would be acceptable from this point on. We might as well, give communion to those in fornication, or homosexual unions. We might as well facilitate homosexual unions and just say that we don’t agree with the doctrine but we will facilitate the “wedding”.

    One of my questions is: if Kaspers view is accepted, how would this affect the doctrine of the Church? I know the Church is infallible so it cannot err on faith and morals, but this would seem to be a threat to the Church’s credibility on that matter. Thoughts?

  3. Del says:

    I can almost hear the Fishwrap’s nutty as it germinates.

  4. Mike says:

    I mean, hey, Pope Francis’ comments on the Evangelicals is right in line with Church doctrine…er…well….

  5. Bob B. says:

    Given the reports out today about even fewer Catholics going to Mass in Germany, this might be a continuation of the Germans trying to run things, as they did in VII, this time using the synod to try to stem the tide of their own ineptitude in not upholding the Magisterium. (And they don’t have the IRS looking in on them.)

  6. jacobi says:

    The Pope cannont change establised doctrine on Communion, adulterry, and indissolubility of marriage. He does not have the authority to do so.

    Were that to happen either openly, or in some indiect way devolved to individual bishops, the Church would split into profound schism. The faction maintaining Catholic doctrine would continue to be the Catholic Church and the other would not.

  7. iteadthomam says:


    That seems to be a problematic view because if the Pope is on the wrong side, then that means the Catholic Church would no longer be in communion with the Pope, which is a contradiction. Plus, that seems to be what the Orthodox argue. They say the Pope has erred so the Catholic Church is not the one in union with the Pope.

  8. jacobi says:


    I don’t know if it is a problem, but it is certainly a nightmare which is now in the minds of an increasing numberof loyal, intelligent, educated, orthodox catholics, clergy and lay who a couple of years ago would have fallen off their chairs laughing if any one had suggested that.

    By the way this matter, surprisingly, has been looked into by many writers I have recently found out. I think the technical answer is that the in such a case the Pope would no longer be in union with the Church, which cannot err.

    Recommend the paper by Michael Davies “A Heretical Pope?”, and that by Fr Georges de Nantes, “the Question of Papal heresy Schism and Scandal”. Apparently there have been up to five popes accused of heresy.

    Strongly recommend you do not stay up reading too late and that you have a stout whisky to help you sleep!

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    Here are some more details about the forthcoming book-length interview with Cardinal Mueller:
    Cardinal Mueller’s book-long interview emphasizes indissolubility of the marriage

  10. asophist says:

    Ah, but if Francis is not really infallible due to (debated as possible) irregularities of Benedict XVI’s “resignation” (in which Benedict may still hold the charism of infallibility, in which case Francis would not hold it), then he could “pretend” to change Church teaching on the subject, and everybody would either believe he had done so infallibly, or would probable cease to believe in the Catholic Church – if they even cared a fig for what the Pope says. Confusion would reign, even more so than it does now. Just a thought – and not a pleasant one. Or is everything all square, clear, and unquestionable regarding the BXVI “resignation”? (or could Francis be the “bishop in white whom we thought was the pope [in the vision of the 3rd secret of Fatima] .” )

  11. bourgja says:

    Unfortunately, many people *say* that they accept and uphold the teachings of the Church, but for various reasons do not actually do so. Often they have a mistaken view of what the Church teaches, or they (perhaps unintentionally) misrepresent the Church’s position. So the question is whether the parties in question really do accept all 3 of the doctrines that are outlined in the article, as permanent Church teaching.

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