Is the leadership of the Synod dealing from a stacked deck?

Italian journalist Marco Tosatti, who writes for the Italian daily La Stampa,  hit it directly on the head today.  He points to some facts. You decide.  HERE in Italian.  My translation:

 Un Sinodo un po’ taroccato? A Synod a bit “phoney”. [Italian “taroccato” is hard to get into English with the right nuance. It can mean “counterfeited” or “falsified”. But the origin of the word has to do with a deck of cards, card games. “Taroccato” carries the sense of dealing with a “stacked deck“, having an “ace up your sleeve”. The implication is that the Synod’s outcome is predetermined through cheating.  One might, for example, try to imagine how the 6000 word Relatio post disceptationem was so swiftly produced, in tolerably good translations, in several languages seemingly by magic, overnight. Is it possible that some of the sections were written in advance?  Now back to Tosatti…]

When the [Synod’s] supervisor, a Cardinal of holy Roman Church, disowns more or less explicitly his paternity of a report that bears his signature, there’s a problem.

When the same Cardinal, in referring to a passage of the text, certainly more interesting and abounding with problems, having been asked for an explanation, tosses the response to an Archbishop [synodal] secretary added (by the Pope) to the Synod because he is the author, there’s a problem.

When many bishops and cardinals, from Poland, Africa and Australia, complain that the report, as it is written and presented to the press, does not, according to them, reflect what was said in the Synod hall, and that it adds things that were never said, there’s a problem.

When the text is called “unacceptable” by Cardinals and Bishops, “irredeemable” by another, and when it is said by the Circuli Minores [subcommittees] that “we are working to review the test, strikeout some phrases and so forth, but that it is a sick text [un testo malato] and it isn’t known how many of its proposals can be accepted, there’s a problem.

When there are bishops – and there are more than one – who are saying that they don’t want to come to future Synods if they are conducted like this, because they are turned into a farse, there’s a problem. When the South African Cardinal Napier confirmed on Twitter, namely in the public way, that [Tosatti quotes in Italian but I think Napier would have written in English] ““mentre è possibile che alcuni elementi stiano cercando di adeguarsi all’opinione del mondo, la maggioranza vuole restare fermamente con la verità… while it is possible that some factions are trying to adapt to the opinion of the world, the majority when to remain firmly with the truth” [which sounds much like the title of the “Five Cardinals Book“]; namely, he asserts exactly the contrary of the proposals that some journalists, for various reasons, are trying to confirm, there’s a problem.

When in the choice of the leadership of the Synod an entire continent, in which there is taking place the greatest growth of Christianity and of Catholicism in terms of the faithful (as opposed to Europe and North American, or Latin America where evangelicals are gobbling up millions of ex-Catholics), and, thus, Africa is forgotten, there’s a problem. [I made this point the other day.]


There’s more, but that is enough to frame the synodal situation well.

Here is an example of coverage from a writer and organization that leans to the Left in their reporting on the Church, Nicole Winfield and AP.  HERE  The interesting stuff is is in the second part.  Watch what happens.  Winfield calls Card. Burke a hardliner – there’s a surprise – but then admits that “he has a point”.  Then she goes on to make his point for him.   Even the MSM can’t easily spin what is going on too far out of orbit:

Hard-line American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s supreme court, told Catholic World Report that the document contained positions “which many synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.”

He accused the Vatican press operation of releasing “manipulated” information about the synod debate that didn’t reflect the “consistent [in Italian, consistente, “large, substantial”] number of bishops” who opposed such a tone.

To some extent, he had a point. [!]

The Vatican has greatly reduced independent access to information about the closed-door proceedings, withholding bishops’ individual speeches from public view, much to the dismay of Burke and other conservatives [Interesting way to describe the situation.  So: liberals are okay with the lack of transparency.] who want their side known. The only information released has been summaries of the day’s debate by the Vatican spokesman, whose briefings have reflected a general a tone of opening and welcome.

[Watch!] The briefings made scant reference to gays at all, and yet the provisional report gave significant ink to the issue. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said while he only recalled one major speech about gays out of 265, it was likely that bishops’ written remarks covered the material and were reflected in the document. [Surrrrrre.]

The big question looming is how the battle over the final document will shake out.

The bishops themselves elected a host of known conservatives to lead the working groups hammering out details of the final report. In an apparent bid to counter their influence, Francis appointed six progressives to draft the final document. [So, Francis opposed himself to the bishops?]



Whatever is going on at the Synod, it’s messy.

It seems as if it is messy in part because of attempts to orchestrate the outcome.

Meanwhile, no substantive response has been given to the arguments presented in the “Five Cardinals Book”.  Why is that?

Sure, by now, most of the Synod participants have seen The Book.  It is out in Italian, German, Spanish, French and English.  The English version, so I am told, wasn’t in print yet, when the Synod began, so pre-publication copies were run up for distribution to participants.  Surely they have made an impact.  I suspect that in the days ahead, we will hear from participants about the impact of the The Book.  It would take a bit to read and absorb.  That should be coming into play right about now, as the subcommittees are meeting.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Joe in Canada says:

    Jesuits have a phrase for this: Tarbo. Typical affair run by Ours. Just be glad they’re not holding candles or thuribles.

  2. mrshopey says:

    When they said they were going to keep it secret, I misunderstood what they were saying. I thought it meant they could freely speak and within that secrecy, correction would be given if necessary (that seems to be the case!). I didn’t think it was going to mean that people were going to spread this….stuff…unchallenged esp for the media to grab and spin. Well, not really spin, is it?
    I take back what I said, that the secrecy was a good idea. It is only good if it is to provide correction where it should be given, in privacy.
    This is crazy. Sorry.

  3. McCall1981 says:

    Card Kasper says he thinks the growing majority (and the Pope) are with him.

  4. JesusFreak84 says:

    From Amazon re: the Book: Expected delivery: Monday, November 3, 2014 – Thursday, November 6, 2014 by 8pm =-( And I have Prime =-\

  5. Traductora says:

    Thank you for presenting those interesting articles! I was thinking about Cardinal Burke, and one of the reasons I believe even liberal journalists have to concede his points is that he is unmistakably someone of great solemnity – not speaking frivolously – and honesty, even at times when it is inconvenient.

    When I look at the Pope’s appointees, all I see is “pensamiento débil” (literally, “weak thought,” meaning a relativistic, “culturally adapted” view), and an absolutely yipping-dog-like desire for media attention and approval.

  6. JeremyB says:

    Hmm…where in recent history have we seen this type of sleight of hand? Vatican II of course. It worked for the liberals then and it might work again. Of course, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but the confusion that is being caused deliberately will cost many souls. That is the real tragedy here. We know that the Church will never officially teach error. However, many souls will be lost because of this document.

  7. Baron Korf says:

    It might be a stacked deck, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a full deck.

  8. acardnal says:

    I still do not have my copy of The Book in my hands even tho’ I ordered it back in August. Ignatius Press and Fr Fessio, SJ, blew it. They should have printed this book and had it in the hands of all the bishops well before the Synod began.

  9. majuscule says:

    The Book is available for Kindle and there are free apps for various platforms enable you to read it.

    When I got notification that the hard copy would not be available right away I cancelled and immediately downloaded the Kindle version.

    Yeah, I know. Real paper books that you can page through or loan to people might appeal more to us older folks (like me). But there are some advantages to digital copies–like a search function and immediate delivery. (Oh but I do love the heft of a real book!)

  10. Patti Day says:

    The book is available on Kindle for $9.99. I ordered mine here on Fater A’s Amazon link last Thursday. Sad if the book version is not yet ready.

  11. Ignatius says:

    The REAL question at this point, I think, is: is it the Pope himself the one who has stacked the deck?

  12. Pastor Bonus says:

    ‘Attempts being made to orchestrate the outcome’ of the synod?! Say it isn’t so!

  13. LarryW2LJ says:

    Very turbulent times to be a Catholic. I was but only 5-7 years old when Vatican II took place – old enough to remember what the Pre-Vatican II Church was like. I share with a lot of you the angst, apprehension and unease of what is going on (or appears to be going on, at least) right now. When something is not “right” that innate sense kicks in that buzzes in your head. And mine is buzzing overtime. I’m a pain speaking type of guy, not the most educated or nuanced,but IMHO, there is something about this Synod that definitely smells like day old fish. Fortunately, I have found that the way to find peace and balance right now is in the Rosary.

  14. LarryW2LJ says:

    That should have been “plain speaking”

  15. Martlet says:

    Larry – I think “pain speaking” was very apt and probably could be used to describe every post I am reading here. I think we are all in pain. I was a teen when the results of Vatican II came out, and I welcomed them. I still do, as interpreted by John Paul and Benedict. But this… My husband just asked what we will do if it all turns out to be true. My answer? Stay Catholic, confess our sins, receive Holy Communion, attend Mass on base or ensure that the German churches we go to are ones that adhere to Truth. This too shall pass — but I don’t know if we will live to see it.

  16. Johnno says:

    Who needs a stacked deck when the game is such that one side must stick to the rules while the other side can ignore them and create new rules as they go…

  17. Landless Laborer says:

    Ironically, this whole debacle has strengthened my faith. When I converted from Orthodoxy, after a number of years discerning which side, West or East, was in schism, there still remained one nagging doubt. There are a couple of things, one in particular, in the V2 Council’s documents which seem nearly impossible to reconcile with tradition, or at least the reconciliation is very awkward, if not contrived. But how can this be, when the documents of ecumenical councils, i.e. all bishops of the one true church together, in union with the Pope, solemnly declaring a matter of faith and morals, are infallible? I understand the answer to that riddle now, watching first hand the workings of this Synod in the production of the midterm document. Nevermind that this is not the final document, it doesn’t matter. The document was not a representation of all bishops in union with the Pope, therefore not infallible. There was sleight of hand. Conflict resolved, but this has been a huge eye opener for me. I will no longer take every nuance of Vatican II as infallible; anything that appears to conflict with tradition, DOES conflict with tradition.

  18. Oh Dear God, we have been reduced to something along the lines of “what did the pope know, and when did he know it”!?! I knew that this synod would be a messy thing, but to see it being used as a cover for some back-room predetermined outcome is shameful. If major changes to practices/teaching/disciplines are to be made, they should be made in an open and public fashion, NOT by some parliamentary slight-of-hand.

    Worse yet, Card. Kasper’s latest and greatest includes nothing less than an overt and wholesale dismissal of the entire church on the African continent! Pardon my pessimism, but seeing this madness run rampant makes me think we are headed for the next great schism, for I see no way to square this circle. The de-facto dismissal of the beliefs of a plurality (if not majority) of the Church – beliefs based directly on the words of Jesus Christ – is ignorant and condescending as to be beyond words.

  19. Patti Day says:

    Martlet, That is my fear too, that our Church may break apart and not be restored in my lifetime. I’ve read enough of the lives of the saints to know that the Church has had serious problems before now and weathered them, but it is painful to see what appears to be a terrible rift occurring before one’s eyes and feel unable to intervene. Yes, I am praying the rosary, but my heart still hurts to see this.

  20. anilwang says:

    Ignatius says: “The REAL question at this point, I think, is: is it the Pope himself the one who has stacked the deck?”

    It’s obvious he has. His appointments make it clear. The question is, why?

    Is he trying to engineer another “Humanae Vitae” committee so he has enough liberal objections so he can create an orthodox “Familia Vitae”? Or does he really believe Cardinal Kasper is right and wants to use the engineered synod as cover. In short, is he a sheep in wolves’ clothing or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Either way, the synod is a farce, and it is the first black eye on the Pope Francis pontificate that I don’t think he can recover from, even if he produces a spectacular and insightful “Familia Vitae” that convinces the majority of people living in sinful situations to repent.

    People (cardinals included) don’t like to be manipulated, especially on matters of doctrine, and if there was any hope of getting the Orthodox to accept that the Pope would be a good pastor (as Pope Benedict was, even working liberal Cardinals) rather than a tyrant, that hope is gone….for at least a few decades. The same can be said for Anglicans and Protestants who are considering converting because they see their own denominations imploding. After all, why go through the pain of loosing family and friends if they’ll just end up in the same situation? As Catholics, we know the answer, but I can speak from personal experience that the choice for an outsider is by no means clear. Some conservative Protestant denominations appear solid and the Orthodox case is compelling, especially in light of how similar (to the outsider), the synod maneuverings appear to look no different than the maneuverings in the Anglican Church.

  21. thomas tucker says:

    One thing in particular that is beginning to disturb me is this: when you contrast this document, and the whole tone of the Synod, to the teaching byt the Apostles and the first Christians, there seems to be a disconnect. The first Christians preached vociferously about rooting out sin, and called mightily for repentance. Do we see that now, amongst all this talk of gradualism, and finding the positive in otherwise sinful relationships? Where is talk about repentance, rooting out sin, and striving for holiness?

  22. mrshopey says:

    Thomas, I had the same thought. We have not heard one cry from the laity there for help getting their child/spouse/family to heaven. It has been focused on welcoming them. I am not focused on my children being necessarily welcomed, first, but getting to heaven! Isn’t that what St. Monica did, asking for various Bishops to pray for her son’s conversion?

  23. Woody79 says:

    Vatican II was not a doctrinal council; only pastoral. Very important to remember. This synod is bringing out the enemies of Tradition. Now we know who they are. It is very likely that all those who will align themselves with Pope Francis will be part of the faction that does not go along with Tradition. They are more like Luther–sola scriptura. Let your conscience determine what the bible says. Now, every heretical movement must have a way to bring the people into its web. This modernist heretical movement does it through the word “Mercy.” The abortionists use the word “choice”; the homosexuals use the word “love.” However, they misuse and corrupt the true meaning of these words. Satan is at work. Do not dialogue with the evil one. Stay with Tradition. Stay with the one true Catholic Church. No matter the names or titles of those in the Vatican, they cannot change the Dogmas. They cannot change Tradition. They cannot change the Truth. Tradition, Magisterium, Bible, Dogmas. All come together to make the one, true Catholic Church founded by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be at peace. God is on our side.

  24. CatholicMD says:

    The Orthodox critique of Vatican I is becoming more resonant to me.

  25. Quanah says:

    I was able to buy a hard copy of the “Five Cardinals Book” at a local Catholic book store in Indianapolis. Since it’s available there, I have no idea why it’s taking so long on Amazon. Back log of orders perhaps? Anyways, the book (what I have read so far) is phenomenal. It has been an extremely enjoyable read (though not by any means light) and a great jumping off point for reflection. I especially enjoyed the second chapter concerning the revelation on marriage and divorce in Scripture.

  26. Pat says:

    Padre, could you comment on this You-tube video that many people are going to be watching

    [No thanks.]

  27. This synod should be an eye-opener only to those who were not around in the 1960s. The daily business at Vatican II was carried out—that is, manipulated and stage-managed—in much the same way as we’re seeing now. The apparent intent, and certainly the result, was that by the time the final documents of the Council appeared and were generally available, their actual content mattered little. Because the results in the Church, and their disastrous effects on the faith and practice of ordinary Catholics, were largely carried out not through papal or even magisterial pronouncements, but though non-magisterial media distribution channels while the Council was still in session, and through various extra-hierarchal mechanisms (liturgical and catechetical commissions, etc) afterwards during its implementation.

    The pervasive effect of Vatican II was due precisely to the fact that the Council was pastoral rather than doctrinal—that is, it changed pastoral practices rather than doctrinal formulations. From what we’ve heard so far, that seems to be the intent with the current synod—to replace doctrine with praxis in dealing with matters such as reception of holy communion by people living in irregular relationships. Likely this is already occurring, independently of and far in advance of any formal pronouncements of Synod or Pope.

    [As old time liberals are learning, what they once got away with, they no longer can. Social media now exists. Had blogs and Twitter existed in the ’60s, Bugnini’s projects would never have succeeded.]

  28. Clinton says:

    It appears that when the Holy Father said “Vaya lio!” he also intended to lead by example.

  29. LarryW2LJ says:

    Henry Edwards:

    “From what we’ve heard so far, that seems to be the intent with the current synod—to replace doctrine with praxis in dealing with matters such as reception of holy communion by people living in irregular relationships. Likely this is already occurring, independently of and far in advance of any formal pronouncements of Synod or Pope.”

    Sadly, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.

  30. Paulo says:

    Thomas Tucker (@12:59) speaks of a disconnect between the tone of the Synod and the teachings of the early church. That is true, as it is not hard to admit that there are striking similarities between the ethos of the then dominant Roman society of the first three or four centuries of the Church, and that of the modern Western society. The truly significant difference between the latter and the former is that, today, we can widely spread (mis)information at lightning speed (which is not really good for reasoned discourse…)! In essence, we are facing many of the same problems as the Fathers of the Church once did, with the added problem of being constantly bombarded through all kinds of mass media, by notions that (1) are strange to the teachings of Christ and the magisterium of the Church, but, at the sme time, (2) resonate well with this highly autonomous subspecies of mankind (“Homo autonomos”?) paradoxically arising from this same process (“and ye will be as God, knowing good and evil”). The Relatio, unfortunately, does not seem to be helping matters.

    That the Relatio seems to fit so well within the two points brought above raises many questions, one of them being to whom is the Relatio really intended: is it to the Synod itself? To the “faithful” (both liberal and traditional )? To cultural catholics (fallen away, cafeteria, and other flavours)? To the world at large (atheists, agnostics, adherents of other religions, schismatics, and so on)? The other is: has it hit its target audience as intended?

    From this, we see a further, more profound disconnect: in closing with the words “(…) the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all”, the documents purports to be all things to all people, but speaks only to those who are already certain that each one has his or her own “road of truth”.

  31. anilwang says:

    CatholicMD says: “The Orthodox critique of Vatican I is becoming more resonant to me.”

    It shouldn’t. The same thing is going on in the Orthodox Church, albeit in a more muted way hidden by “pastoral practices” at the local level. Have a look at this history of how Metropolitan Jonah was deposed from the Orthodox Church of America and the reasons for the revolt (i.e. the Orthodox gay lobby). Orthodox’s orthodoxy varies from country to country, based mostly on how westernized the country is. Some patriarchates accept the Lambeth 1930 compromise on contraception, while others even view NFP as being a sin. The same polarity can be said about virtually every other issue of the sexual revolution. Ultimately, it’s the local bishop or priest that find out what needs to be applied and what doesn’t. You can be in an invalid second marriage in one patriachate and then walk across the street (in North America at least) and be welcomed. The validity of any Catholic sacrament (including Baptism) also varies from patriachate to patriachate. Patriachates regularly go out of communion with each other because of the pettiness of some of their leaders. In short, there is unity of liturgy, nationalism on every other issue.

    That being said, I do think that the relationship between the papacy, liturgy, sensus fidelium, Magisterium, ecumenical councils, canon law, and pastoral practice needs a better definition. Since Vatican II the impression is made in the minds of most Catholics that the Church has the authority to change a lot more than it has the authority to actually do so. Essentially, this is the issue of doctrinal/pastoral/canon law development and the hermeneutic of continuity. If we can get the proper balance that reflects what Christ wanted and gave the authority to the Church, then reunion with the SSPX, sedavacantists, and even the Orthodox will be a whole more plausible. As it stands now, we might be on the brink of a schism.

  32. lh says:

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, please help us.

  33. mrshopey says:
    “Of the many glaring omissions in the reports (e.g. chastity is not mentioned once), the most striking is the absence of any reference to holiness as the goal of all Church teaching and pastoral practice. Cardinal Erdö’s report does mention sanctity once—albeit in passing—but otherwise it is exclusively concerned with assuaging people’s feelings by showing sympathy to every possible irregular situation. This might help overcome the negative image of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, and as such would be welcome, were it not in fact scandalous, in the strict sense of leading people astray from God (cf. Mt 18:6). Sad to say, the Synod’s (now not-so-hidden) agenda feeds into a bigger agenda, which is that of a secular society that threatens the traditional family to its very foundations. Even that is secondary. What is at stake, ultimately, is the Church’s mission to guide people to union with God in Christ: holiness.

    The day after the report was published, the topic chosen by the Peruvian Archbishop, Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon for his homily that morning, was, significantly, holiness. It was a most timely intervention in what is, indeed, an extraordinary Synod.”

  34. “As old time liberals are learning, what they once got away with, they no longer can. Social media now exists. Had blogs and Twitter existed in the ’60s, Bugnini’s projects would never have succeeded.”

    On the other hand, perhaps it could be argued that what what worked then is still working now, even as we speak. In that, now just as then, the views of many in the pews (and the pastoral practices of many priests) are being determined by what they’re hearing via the very social media you reference, and will not likely be changed by whatever the final synod documents may say. (Setting aside any speculation that what is now happening is just window dressing to an already pre-determined fait accompli that unfortunately will not be forestalled by any conservative push-back.)

  35. lweisenthal says:

    I’d like to ask a question. It is my impression that, for a great many centuries, Jews were, as an entire group, held to be culpable for the crucifixion of Christ. This goes back to Matthew 27:24–25. Through the centuries, Popes have reinforced this concept, e.g.

    “Ungrateful for favors and forgetful of benefits, the Jews return insult for kindness and impious contempt for goodness. They ought to know the yoke of perpetual enslavement because of their guilt. See to it that the perfidious Jews never in the future grow insolent, but that they always suffer publicly the shame of their sin in servile fear.” (Pope Gregory IX) 5

    “Crucifiers of Christ ought to be held in continual subjection.” (Pope Innocent III) 6

    “It would be licit, according to custom, to hold Jews in perpetual servitude because of their crime. (St. Thomas Aquinas)” 7

    “Let the Gospel be preached to them and, if they remain obstinate, let them be expelled. (Pope Leo VII)” 8

    and so on. Now, Vatican II and subsequent statements and actions by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI represented a sea change in tone and teachings about the Jewish people. All of the above papal statements and actions (both “bad” and “good”) represented exercises in Papal teaching authority.

    So here’s my question: in what respect are the current actions and words of Pope Francis fundamentally less legitimate than those of his many predecessors (particularly given that he’s not, to my knowledge, sought to change doctrines, but only “tone” and “approach?”).

    – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

  36. Chumly says:

    These tactics are how Bugnini got the liturgy changed and how Bernadin got communion in the hand in the US. I have been what you may call a medieval Catholic but I am no longer sure. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor if they can make it up as they go to hell with it. The Church was once so beautiful.

  37. Bobby says:

    I suppose I should begin by saying that I’m not a Catholic, I would describe myself more as a non denominational Christian. I’ve always had an interest in the Catholic Church as the Mother Church of all other churches, ecclesial communions and individual believers (such as myself). What saddens me most about what I see happening in the Church appears to be confirmation of my worst fears. That Christianity itself is a mere figmant of the imagination of history. Another way of putting that is that it is the institutional manifestation of the best hopes and abilities of human beings expressed through art, architecture, music, ritual, etc., each generation of believers adding new layers of expression to what went before. What is the cause of my wobble of confidence? I was first was attracted to Catholicism as a teenager but also wary of it because of Vat:II. Arguments of the actual Council and the Spirit of the Council seemed irrelevent since it is the same body of faithful either way being moved by the Spirit that was promised by Christ. All that seems to have come out of that Council is disorder and fracture, not as in Councils of the past where there was two positions that gradually resolved their differences or parted ways (as with the Old Catholics). Vat:II shattered the unity of the Church by allowing heterodoxy to take root in individuals and then allowing that heterodoxy to be celebrated as “diversity”. Benedict seemed to come along just at the right time and begin to restore the unity that was once lost through his hermeneutic of continuity. I was seriously considering becoming a Catholic when he suddenly abdicated and when I saw Francis come out onto the balcony I immediately had a bad feeling. As I now see how quickly and ruthlessly Francis is dismantling everything that Benedict did I find myself believing that the Church really had been a mere institution, though one that was mesmerising by its beauty. Here is the knub of my thinking: If the Church really is moved by the Spirit, how can that Spirit allow so much fracture? Even in the days of the popes of dubious morality they did not have a dubious theology which threatened the unity of faith within the Church. As an outsider who watches with avid interest all I see eminating from Francis is confusion, the alienation of those who remained faithful to orthodoxy, the affirmation of non Christians in their rejection of Christ and with this synod the threat of a schism between the more orthodox southern hemisphere and the wacky northern hemisphere. Which bit of the Church is the body of Christ at the moment? Just as an anti-religion (Islam) is making itself felt the world over and persecuting Christians and other minorities wherever they meet, the Church has decided to focus on homosexuality and divorcees. Francis elicits within me a feeling of hopelessness for the future of Christianity and doubt about the true nature of the Church. Surely that isn’t what popes are supposed to do, especially in non-Catholics.

  38. Kathleen10 says:

    @lweisenthal, at this point, fatigue sets in trying to read points made between the lines. I have done that on numerous occasions for the last year, and you’ll please excuse me that I can’t do it now. I may not be bright enough.
    Are you saying that attitudes that belonged to a prior era regarding the Jews are now thought to be misguided, so that might lead to the conclusion that perhaps we who are unhappy about developments thus far are perhaps also misguided about the current Synod?

  39. Peter in Canberra says:

    It sounds just like the UN. A cabal called the secretariat, working with a few ‘special’ parties, to drive a particular agenda. At least in the UN there is often a draft text going in.

    This is disgraceful and rocks my confidence in the governance of the Church.

    Come back Pope Benedict, we still need you.

  40. PA mom says:

    Synod Members-Please consider viewing and including in consideration the recent episodes of the Duggars.
    The Duggars have shown demonstrated near perfection in the efforts to bring their children to marriage. They have raised their children thoroufhly and knowledgeably Christian, they pray daily with and for their children and future spouses, they have been involved in all selections for possible spouses, praying openly with their children about it. They have led their children through supervised courtship, meeting weekly with them for marriage prep complete with manual.

    Great application of Christian principles.

  41. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Pat says:
    15 October 2014 at 1:38 pm
    Padre, could you comment on this You-tube video that many people are going to be watching

    Notice how none of these three snakes ever says: “Sodomy is not a sin.” Or “sodomy is a sin.”

    But they pile on the insinuations: I have a friend who is gay who serves as a lector. It doesn’t matter if the choir director is gay. All that matters is that he puts on a good performance. Blah blah blah.

    Example after example of “gay” people doing things in the Church–without ever once stating whether or not the word “gay” signifies that these people are habitually committing sodomy–which is the ONLY thing that really matters.

    Of course, if “gay” DOESN’T mean “habitually committing sodomy,” why the agitprop?

    This is how innumerable “Catholics” come out as pro-abortion and pro-sodomy. The Nuns on the Bus invite Joe Biden to kick off their latest tour. But they won’t SAY they are pro-abortion, so the ogres in the Vatican are stymied. Countless Catholic colleges have had pro-abortion Commencement speakers. This has happened less frequently in recent years, except at Notre Dame and at the Jesuit institutions. Fordham, Georgetown, Wheeling and, AFAIK, every Jesuit college continues to invite pro-aborts to give the Commencement address. But they’ve never SAID they are pro-abortion themselves. Cardinals O’Malley, Dolan, and Wuerl have never SAID they are pro-sodomy, but all three are associated with “Dignity Masses.” Cardinal O’Malley has never SAID he is pro-abortion. He just presided over the quasi-canonization of Ted Kennedy, and slobbered on the shoes of Obama and all the other pro-aborts in attendance.

    Real Catholicism is a religion of propositions and syllogisms. Surreal Catholicism* is a religion of word clouds. With emphasis on the word “cloud.”

    * Term coined by Fr. Rutler.

  42. Kathleen10 says:

    @lweisenthal, I retract my question. If you considered an answer, thank you.
    I’m upset about all this. Bobby’s comment above is a sad one.

  43. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Lweisenthal – Actually, your premise is incorrect. There’s a whole book that a scholarly sister wrote, reviewing the entire history of the Church’s teachings about the Jews. I can’t remember her name right now, but I seem to recall that she found that, overall, the popes and the Church taught that all humanity was guilty of Jesus’ death, and that Jews overall weren’t any more guilty of Christ’s death than Romans overall, or Vikings overall. Individual government leaders (Romans, Jews, and Herod) and individual members of the crowd were individually at fault, but the Church has also always taught that as Jesus said, they didn’t know what they were doing. Naturally it was not the best episode in Israel’s covenant relationship with God and it was bound to invoke bad covenantal consequences, but the fact was that large numbers of Jews who had also been in town for the holidays became the first Christians shortly afterward, so obviously everybody wasn’t cursed forever and ever.

    Now, the problem is that if you want to make a riproaring sermon about sadness over the Passion or to stiffen the spines of backsliding Christians, a lot of your homilists over the years tended to be mentioning fire and brimstone in the same breath with “the Jews.” And anywhere that relations were bad with Jews, or prejudices strong, people tended less and less to picture themselves screaming in the crowd, and “those wicked people over there” became a lot easier to see as killing Jesus Christ than themselves and their own sins.

    (Also, “blaming the Roman Empire” was not something you did lightly, especially once Christianity was legal but “treason” and “subversion” still weren’t. Guess why preaching the Book of Revelation wasn’t popular anywhere the Empire was strong. It was always pretty safe to blame wicked Herod, though, so he got a lot of blame down the years.)

    Once nastiness starts, it’s hard to stop. But there’s always been a strong number of theologians who pointed out that blaming everything on the Jews is not just mean, but theologically heretical. All the sinful humans who ever lived and will ever live are to blame. Anybody tells you anything else, they’re selling something. (And squirming away from responsibility.)

  44. CatholicMD says:

    I commented earlier that the stream of converts who see the Church as a rock in the sea of relativism will dry up. Bobby’s post above proves my point. We had a chance with 35 years of JPII and BXVI but alas it doesn’t appear like there was enough time. Kasper and the other liberals just waited them out.

  45. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and anybody who thinks only Jews would pull off stuff like the ungrateful worship of the golden calf, or Baalpeor? Also not paying attention. Salvation history is the history of how fallen human nature works, and it’s meant to show you that fallen human nature stinks. Medieval theologians loved the history parts of the OT, because it was so applicable to their everyday lives. (They also loved allegorical interpretations that were a bit more uplifting, but the OT had a story for every possible nasty activity they might come across and need to condemn.)

  46. brianwalden says:

    Instead of focusing on the circus, let’s get behind a positive request for the Synod Fathers to focus on over the next year – something like a pastoral application of John Paul II’s theology of the body. Imagine what would happen if the Church spent the next year trying to figure out how to ensure that every Catholic has a basic understanding of who they are as a man/woman and coming up with ways to help people live that out in their everyday vocations. It would address all these hot-button issues by putting them in their proper context, on the fringe, and refocus our attention on knowing who we are and working to become who we are meant to be.

    If a significant group of the laity could rally around a simple call like that, would we be heard?

  47. The whole thing reeks of phoniness. The appeal for submissions was a great idea, except that ours were to be sent to the Archdiocese where they would be ‘collated’ by some faceless member of the Archdiocesan team.

    From there, they would be sent somewhere else, probably to be ‘collated’ a bit more.

    And then finally to the Synod, once anything improper had been ‘collated’ away.

    And the appearance of the Pirolas – which I have already apologised for to the Universal Church, but in case you missed it, I’ll do it again here – was for me the final nail in the coffin. I can think of a dozen articulate, Catholic, large Australian families who would have given the Synod a completely different view of the Church here. But for some reason, there’s ol’ Ron and Mavis.

  48. Chumly says:

    Mr Weisenthal thank you for your comments and question. I do believe that what we are seeing is a a profound change in doctrine. While changes with regard to the Jewish issues could be welcomed and praised. These expedient efforts can only be viewed with great sadness. We like the episcopalians will be left giving sermons on the environment to desolated churches.

  49. Landless Laborer says:

    As Father alluded, what happened at Vatican II will probably never happen again. It was a strange confluence in the world of technology, when the rulers had mass media, but the proletariat hadn’t received social media, the internet.
    None of this nonsense shakes my faith in the Magisterium. (It does shake my faith in HH.) As Woody79 said, we already posses the deposit of faith, thanks to the perseverance and sacrifice of our forebears in union with the Holy Ghost. We are all literate, and most of us have computers and can afford books. They just can’t take the truth from us, which is kind of remarkable. But I don’t deny the weak, and spiritually lazy are vulnerable. Parents must catechize their children.
    There is also the “Church’s Ultimate Trial” to consider. Paragraphs 675 -677 CCC.

    Someone mentioned Vatican I. I don’t see how that compares. Papal infallibility, the dogma was unanimously accepted. The argument was over whether or not the time was right to formally define and declare it; that it could alienate the Orthodox, which it did. One thing people need to realize about the Orthodox is that they alienate easily. The other thing is that every branch of Orthodoxy has already come back to full communion with Rome. We know them as the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. Each Orthodox branch (the deadbeats), has its corresponding Eastern Catholic Church who accept ever doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church and her administrative authority. The schism was already healed, for those who ever had any intention of mending fences. Any further mending would involve laying off redundant hierarchy in the Orthodox church, and that’s not going to happen before the Second Coming…imho.

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  51. trespinos says:

    Cdl. Dolan speaks of a reworking of the “Relatio”. Fine, rework it, but first, repudiate it. Repudiate it as the work of at least one “cretinaccio” (robtbrown, do you remember?), who has brought early shame on the Extraordinary Synod. Is it too much to hope for that a unified group, perhaps with Cdl. Muller in the lead, will be able to push a repudiation and reworking through as the final work product, despite any blocking efforts of those running the Synod? Let them assert their right to have their (majority) report substituted for what the Pope’s hand-picked group may produce.

  52. CharlesG says:

    The “spirit of Vatican II types” have been all about “Collegiality” for a long time. However, it is apparently all a sham, as now they don’t believe in actual collegiality at the Synod by actual bishops, but rather want an orchestrated predetermined outcome set by the Holy See and handpicked liberals in the secretariat. They also want to control the media presentation with liberal spin by concealing the texts of interventions by orthodox prelates, a distinct novelty in Synodal practice ever since Vatican II. It’s the nouveau ultramontanisme… And it reminds me of the Anglican “indaba” conference at Lambeth a few years back designed to prevent believing Christian prelates from actually having any effect on the outcome.

  53. robtbrown says:

    Trespinos says:

    Cdl. Dolan speaks of a reworking of the “Relatio”. Fine, rework it, but first, repudiate it. Repudiate it as the work of at least one “cretinaccio” (robtbrown, do you remember?), who has brought early shame on the Extraordinary Synod.

    Of course, I remember.

    BTW, the source of that comment died in Mar 2013.

  54. stephen c says:

    As far as I know, Pope Francis has never ever said, or hinted at saying, that any form of contraception or any form of abortion or any form of semi-polygamous second or third or fourth marriages is or should be licit – which I believe makes him a rock of faithfulness compared to almost every powerful Orthodox prelate on the face of the earth, compared to every current Mormon leader, and compared to all but a handful of Evangelical pastors (not to mention a few American bishops, but that is another story). Go to one of those churches and prepare for a likely major disappointment if you expect faithfulness to the words of Jesus on those generationally important subjects. Also, Pope Francis has never said, or hinted at saying, that adultery or fornication – same-sex or otherwise – is all right. He has never said (and I do not believe he will ever say) that he wants to “change” or would even like to “change” (as if he could) the words of Jesus on whether a man or woman can leave his wife or her husband for a new and better substitute, and, after a few days or months of penitence, have a “new marriage”. Jesus absolutely did not believe in such “new marriages” and I am convinced that Pope Francis does not, either. Maybe his friends have said silly things on that subject – actually, his friends have definitely said silly things on that subject – but Pope Francis has a right to have silly friends – I guess he believes they are “trying their best” to “communicate” with specific groups of “lost sheep.”.(My personal belief is that nobody “tries their best” to communicate, absent an extraordinary amount of grace, but I am less optimistic than our Pope.) Still, as of today, he has been more true to the teachings of Jesus with respect to marriage and fertility (against the hard-heartedness of men) than almost every Orthodox, Protestant, or Mormon leader out there. And if he changes, it will be he who changes, not the Church. Many Popes – including recent Popes who are now saints – had friends who said many cold-hearted and just plain wrong things – on ethnic grounds, on hedonistic grounds, on anti-Semitic grounds, on anti-American grounds, on political grounds, or on just plain arrogant and vengeful grounds. As Catholics, we do not have a right to be free of disappointment in the friends of our Popes, and we do not get to choose which set of disreputable friends of Popes we have to live with.

  55. RJHighland says:

    Bobby, great post and thanks for stopping in. You express what is going on very well for one that is outside so to speak. The Church is in a chaotic state at the moment but inside Her you will find the way, the truth and the life, but you have to dive in and swim hard. Don’t let the false teachers and wolves in sheeps clothing scare you off, they have always been around it is just like peak allergy season right now, so to speak. We all have to make a choice in life to be the disciples that continued on with Jesus like after His discourse on the bread of life or to walk away and do our own thing (John 6). That path you seek is in the Catholic Church it is just a little harder to see at the moment and a little tougher to stay on but it is here. I was in the group that walked away but have find my way home. God bless and praying for you on your journey.

  56. robtbrown says:


    1. It’s impossible to answer your question because it asks for a comparison between very specific things said by popes to general references to the present pope. It would be like asking for someone to compare a specific protocol used by one oncologist to a visit to the office of another. If you would like to specify what exactly Pope Francis said, I would be happy to reply.

    2. The Jews are a unique case–Salvation is through the Jews.

    a. Over the centuries anti-Semitism has been mainly a European phenomenon–US and S American analogs pale in comparison. IMHO, that is because of European nationalism and its relation to Christianity. Some Euros I know insist that the Jews caused the current mess in the Church. I point out to them that Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and Kung are not Jews. Neither was Bugnini.

    Personally, I prefer the company of Jews to Protestants (and I come from a Protestant background). They are smarter and, even more important, funnier. I also, BTW, know some Jews who have become Catholics, including priests.

    b. By definition culpability is to be attributed to personal acts. So it is impossible to attribute the Death of Christ to contemporary Jews–they weren’t around. IMHO, in the 2d half of the 20th century the Church has emphasized this principle in Jewish attitude.

    c. But iit must be kept in mind that Jewish identity is tied to Judaism (You will be My people)–also that Judaism is Messianic. According to Revelation the Jews rejected their own Messiah, who is believed by Christians to be the Savior of the World. If that is true, the Jews have a problem: A people brought together by God, have rejected their Messiah, first promised, then sent by God. I once heard a fairly well known Jewish convert and philosophy professor say that as much as 90% of contemporary American Jews are either atheists or agnostics. If so, it could be a consequence of having come to the conclusion that Judaism is irrelevant.

    My understanding is that much of contemporary Judaism has replaced Messianism with Zionism.

    BTW, IMHO, the Double Covenant Theory and the Replacement Theory are both wrong.

  57. joan ellen says:

    Is Pope Francis trying to unstack the deck? Is he trying, also, to bring Tradition to the forefront? Is he trying to bring peace and unity to the Church at the same time that it appears not? Is he trying to awaken us from our slumber?

  58. Ferde Rombola says:

    robtbrown, you beat me to the punch. The sin of the Jewish people is not the killing of Our Lord, it’s their rejection of Him.

    Bobby, yours is the most erudite commentary on the Catholic faith I’ve read from a non-Catholic. The Holy Spirit has obviously guided you. I urge you to reject the voice of Satan. The Catholic Church is not her bishops and priests. She is the Bride of Christ and Christ Himself. St. John Chrysostom said a long time ago, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” This current crisis is nothing new for the Church, which has endured far worse heresies. In St. Ambrose’s time over half the bishops of the world were Arians.

    Many of us are depressed by the current mess, yet I hear the Voice of the Lord telling be to trust in Him and I will. “He who perseveres to the end will be saved” By God’s grace that will be you and me.

  59. Joe in Canada says:

    the question by Larry Weisenthal is simply answered. Catholics can fully accept that Popes can say incorrect things in the course of their regular writings or sermons. Now that an ecumenical council, convened with the Pope, has addressed the question of interpreting Mt 27:24-25, no one can henceforth teach the responsibility of all Jews for what some did and said at the crucifixion of Christ. The guilt of all Jews was never accepted by all Christians or all Popes, or taught as a matter infallibly to be believed – it was one opinion among others. And now it is taught to be a wrong opinion.

    This synod was not convened, as far as we know, to resolve a contentious issue, or to “reconsider” a question with an unclear answer, or with opposing answers. Part of my frustration is that the apparent support given to Cardinal Kasper a) seems like factionalism and b) could be taken to imply that there is an agenda that has not been announced.

  60. The Cobbler says:

    Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick,

    Fr. Rutler’s term is interesting… I would have said not “surreal” but “subreal”, but then, there’s probably good reason nobody wants me in charge of language…

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