John Allen pulled a fast one over at Crux about the Synod

A preliminary list of some of the bishop-members of next October’s Synod of Bishops to discuss “the family” has been released.  There are big holes in the membership still, since many conferences haven’t yet elected officers, etc.  You can tell this is only a partial list: there’s no one on it from, for example, Germany (not that that would be horrible).   I am guessing that the Lord of the Synod, Card. Baldisseri, having learned from criticism last year that the names of the members were pretty much shrouded in mystery, got some names out early.  Who knows when we will see the rest?

With that in mind, over at Crux, on 3 Feb Crux John Allen pulled a fast one.

To be fair, he got something right.  Check out the headline: Forecast: 2015 Synod of Bishops will be just as stormy as last time

You bet.

But wait! There’s more:

“If anyone wondered whether Pope Francis might try to “stack the deck” in advance this time around, Saturday’s confirmations clearly seem to refute that idea.”

“clearly seem”?

I think John Allen ought to know by now that the Pope basically approves the delegates who are elected by the many bishops’ conferences, but that he – the Pope – is then entirely free to appoint his own bishop-members as well as other non-bishop members, such the Jesuit General and his ilk …. who can also vote.

So it clearly seems to me that the Pope still has plenty of time to stack the deck.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. samwise says:

    For those in MN (St. Paul and Minneap), the Archdiocese encourages Catholics to fill out the survey for the upcoming Synod:
    It takes about 15mins and is a good way to give feedback.

  2. McCall1981 says:

    To me, Card Maradiaga seems to have backtracked a bit on the communion for the renarried issue. He recently said:

    “For example, we did not talk only about giving “communion” to re-married Christians —that was a collateral argument, it was never essential. What was really said, and I repeat and emphasize, is that the realities of dissolved and rebuilt families are not an impediment to live and participate in the abundant life of the Church; that the “sacramental communion” is not the only way to vitally participate in the pastoral dynamic of the parish community and that every Christian couple that seeks God will find Him because he allows Himself to be found and that every re-married Christian can be a full-time Christian, has a right to be happy, and his house can become also a place where the love of God is born witness.

    For me, there is no “place in the basement” of the Church for Catholics that have wanted to rebuild their lives having remarried, though they cannot receive the Sacrament of Communion…”

  3. ChrisRawlings says:

    You’re assuming far too much. The truth is that exactly what the Holy Father thinks about synodal issues is secondary to what he thinks about throwing his magisterial weight behind those opinions. And to assume that not only does he want to approve the Kasper proposal but that he wants to stack the deck to do it is farfetched indeed, especially given the vociferous opposition from around the world those inside and outside the synod of bishops. State king the deck does not even make strategic sense because it will only make matters even more divisive.

    You have gone from almost sanguine nonchalance to feverish rabble rousing about the synod and I don’t think that either are warranted or helpful.

  4. Traductora says:

    Chris, Francis is the most autocratic Pope we have had since forever. He interferes in things at diocesan and even parish levels, does not consult the Curia which was supposed to advise him and instead acts on the counsel of mysterious friends he has brought from Germany and Argentina, and doesn’t give a darn about vociferous opposition from the faithful.

    Not only does he influence the Synod through whom he invites, but also through those he does not invite: that is, the JPII Institute on the Family, specifically founded to discuss these issues, was not given any representation at the last synod. And neither was the NeoCatechumenal Way, a group that can hardly be considered traditionalist (they were the ones whose home-grown liturgy both JPII and BXVI tried to reform) but is staunchly conservative in family matters – huge, strong families of very devoted orthodox Catholics. I expect the same to happen this time around.

  5. Robbie says:

    It’s also important to remember the Pope doesn’t even have to listen to the consensus of his hand picked Synod participants. Even though the group rejected several passages in the 2014 Synod, he still had the passages reinserted on his own accord. So, regrettably, it doesn’t really matter who participates and who doesn’t. If the Pope decides he wants something to happen, he just has to decide to make it so. That’s not unique to the current Pope either.

  6. Polycarpio says:

    Chris is right because the use of the phrase “this time around” by Mr. Allen prevents his statement from being “a fast one.” Ie, nothing in Mr. Allen’s statement, because of that phrase, can lead us to think he meant that Francis had forever forfeited the opportunity to “stack the decks.”

  7. Franklinwasright says:


    I think exactly the opposite. The term “this time around” leads one to believe this is the final list, which is isn’t. It is a partial list.

    Fr. Z isn’t saying that Pope Francis will stack the deck, he is saying that it is too early to judge the makeup of the synod. We don’t yet know everyone who will attend. In other words, the deck may or may not be stacked, it’s too early to tell.

  8. danidunn says:

    Today I began a novena to St. Jude. As such, I decided to read his Epistle. I think his words have as much meaning today as they did when they wrote them.

    Godless men, long since destined thus to incur condemnation, have found their way secretly into your company…It is for you, beloved, to make your most holy faith the foundation of your lives, and to go on praying in the power of the Holy Spirit…To some you must give a hearing, and confute them; others you must pluck out of the fire, and rescue them; others again you can only pity, while you shun them…

  9. Athelstan says:

    And to assume that not only does he want to approve the Kasper proposal but that he wants to stack the deck to do it is farfetched indeed, especially given the vociferous opposition from around the world those inside and outside the synod of bishops

    Nothing far-fetched about it, Chris. After all, the circumstantial evidence is abundant that, in fact, the Pope stacked the deck the last time around.

    Look at the decisions we know he *did* make, as opposed to those he was not in a position to. He doesn’t appoint the bishops selected by the conferences, but he does have his own slate of appointees – and that slate, in October 2014, was tilted heavily progressive, starting with Cardinal Daneels. And there is more. He appointed Baldisseri and Forte, who were in charge of the running of the Synod. He also gave Cdl. Kasper a special role to open discussion with the cardinals by promoting his position. Likewise, he also specifically approved the release of the final relatio with the two paragraphs that failed to gain synodal approval included. These are all *positive* actions, not mere passive permissiveness.

    The Pope claims to uphold traditional teaching on these issues. But his actions to date are those of a man eager to give tactical support to those prelates who do not. At the end of the day, the old saying “personnel is policy” has some real validity here.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Well, if there were plenty of Catholics living as penitents, Cardinal Maradiaga’s idea would probably work better. But when people aren’t taught to refrain from Communion for mortal sin, improper disposition, or breaking the fast, and there aren’t guilds and sodalities encouraging everybody to repent, I’m sure that Catholics not sacramentally married have a hard time understanding why they’re the only ones not receiving.

  11. Boniface says:

    I can’t stand the use of the term “progressive.” Please stop conceding, at least literally, to liberals that their nutty, modernist, empty-headed ideals constitute “progress.” Progress depends on the eye of the beholder. For Hitler, death camps were “progressive.”

  12. DonL says:

    Boniface, relax, remember that cancer progresses too.

  13. JARay says:

    I would say, DonL., that cancer advances rather than progresses. When something progresses it implies also, a benefit. Old age advances, and that does not imply a benefit also.

  14. The Cobbler says:

    What I want to know is whether there’s any chance they’ll actually talk about the family this time around.

  15. CharlesG says:

    Since the Pope still has Cardinal Baldisseri and Archbishop Forte running the show for the next Synod, and they clearly tried to manipulate the earlier Synod in a Kasperite direction, I would say the Pope has already some cards stacked. And if Catholic Herald Journalist Edward Pentin hadn’t had the foresight to record his interview with Cardinal Kasper, we wouldn’t even have Cardinal Napier on the steering committee. Also, Cardinal Baldisseri’s instructions that responses aren’t supposed to discuss the application of doctrine in proposing “pastoral” solutions effectively stacks the deck as well, since an attempt to water down and change doctrine is what is at issue here. I still pray that the Pope will in the end refrain from trying to change Catholic moral doctrine through alteration in doctrinally-related discipline of the sacraments, but I’m likely to be on tenterhooks this whole year.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    Mr. Allen likes to stir the pot for his own interests, methinks.

    Of course, the Pope is in charge of his choice of bishop-members.

    Praying for the Pope daily seems a better topic for Mr. Allen’s pencil.

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