#Synod15 notes – ‘Status quaestionis’ after Week 1

The on-again, off-again status of a Final Report is still up in the air.  However, today it was announced that there will be a Final Report.  So, we are “on” again. UPDATE: HERE

Also, concerning the 13 Cardinals Letter™, as I understand things now, Tornielli broke the news.  Sandro Magister had a source for the text but without names.  He got names from someone else, but made a few mistakes and/or used information that was not verified.  So, some names of Cardinals are right, some are wrong.

ALSO Fr. Robert Dodaro was on EWTN.  Catch this at 14:45. It’s worth it:


I had it from a third independent source just now that Card. DiNardo was one of the signers.   Also, the text that was circulated was not the text that the Holy Father received.

___ ORIGINAL Published on: Oct 12, 2015 @ 12:06

You should start with Andrea Gagliarducci’s wrap up of Week 1 over at Monday Vatican.

The big news was that 13 Cardinals, members of the Synod, gave a letter to Pope Francis in which they expressed … concerns.  Sandro Magister has the text and the names of 9 of the Cardinals.  HERE

In alphabetical order:

– Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy, theologian, formerly the first president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family;
– Thomas C. Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada;
– Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, United States;
– Willem J. Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, Holland;
– Gerhard L. Müller, former bishop of Regensburg, Germany, since 2012 prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith;
– Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban, South Africa, president delegate of the synod underway as also at the previous session of the synod of October 2014;
– George Pell, archbishop emeritus of Sydney, Australia, since 2014 prefect in the Vatican of the secretariat for the economy;
– Robert Sarah, former archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, since 2014 prefect of the congregation for divine worship and the discipline – Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy;

Card. Dolan surprised me a little, but not Müller, Pell and Sarah, who hold the key curial positions at Faith, Finance and Worship.

The text of the letter to Pope Francis:

Your Holiness,

As the Synod on the Family begins, and with a desire to see it fruitfully serve the Church and your ministry, we respectfully ask you to consider a number of concerns we have heard from other synod fathers, and which we share.

While the synod’s preparatory document, the “Instrumentum Laboris,” has admirable elements, it also has sections that would benefit from substantial reflection and reworking.  The new procedures guiding the synod seem to guarantee it excessive influence on the synod’s deliberations and on the final synodal document.  As it stands, and given the concerns we have already heard from many of the fathers about its various problematic sections, the “Instrumentum” cannot adequately serve as a guiding text or the foundation of a final document.

The new synodal procedures will be seen in some quarters as lacking openness and genuine collegiality.  In the past, the process of offering propositions and voting on them served the valuable purpose of taking the measure of the synod fathers’ minds.  The absence of propositions and their related discussions and voting seems to discourage open debate and to confine discussion to small groups; thus it seems urgent to us that the crafting of propositions to be voted on by the entire synod should be restored. Voting on a final document comes too late in the process for a full review and serious adjustment of the text. [Almost as if it was planned that way?]

Additionally, the lack of input by the synod fathers in the composition of the drafting committee has created considerable unease. Members have been appointed, not elected, without consultation.  Likewise, anyone drafting anything at the level of the small circles should be elected, not appointed.

In turn, these things have created a concern that the new procedures are not true to the traditional spirit and purpose of a synod.  It is unclear why these procedural changes are necessary.  A number of fathers feel the new process seems designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions. [There it is.]

Finally and perhaps most urgently, various fathers have expressed concern that a synod designed to address a vital pastoral matter – reinforcing the dignity of marriage and family – may become dominated by the theological/doctrinal issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. [There may be less danger of that now, but the Synod is not over.  Attempts to distance Card. Erdo’s opening statement from the workings of the Synod clearly leave the issue on the table for some people.  Also, remember that what the late-great Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”] If so, this will inevitably raise even more fundamental issues about how the Church, going forward, should interpret and apply the Word of God, her doctrines and her disciplines to changes in culture.  The collapse of liberal Protestant churches in the modern era, accelerated by their abandonment of key elements of Christian belief and practice in the name of pastoral adaptation, warrants great caution in our own synodal discussions.

Your Holiness, we offer these thoughts in a spirit of fidelity, and we thank you for considering them.

Faithfully yours in Jesus Christ.

However, John Allen in his recent offering (HERE) has this:

Napier acknowledged signing a letter, but said its content was different from that presented in Magister’s report. The letter he signed, he said, was specifically about the 10-member commission preparing the final document.

The plot thickens.

Moving on…

Damien Thompson has a panic-stricken take on the Synod as it stands.  HERE

Crisis for Pope Francis as top-level cardinals tell him: your synod could lead to the collapse of the church


This is the gravest crisis he has faced, worse than anything that happened to Benedict XVI, and he knows it.

And, talking of the Pope Emeritus, I suspect that, had he been free to sign the letter, he would have done so.


Moreover – and this is very dangerous for Francis – the main point of contention is not the question of whether the church should be give communion to divorce people in second marriages, or whether gay unions should be given some degree of recognition.

This is an argument about the wisdom of calling the synod in the first place, and expresses the suspicion of over 100 Synod Fathers that the organisers are manipulating proceedings by confronting them with working papers and procedures designed to push them in a liberal direction. Others are simply fed up with the amateurish nature of the proceedings and wonder why, after last year’s chaotic preparatory synod, the Pope left the same people in charge. To quote the Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge, ‘At times our work has seemed more muddled than methodical’.

I’m one of countless commentators who has warned that holding this synod could split the church. Now it’s happening, much faster than any of us anticipated.

Mr. Thompson also indicates that some Cardinals have denied signing the letter, to wit, Piacenza (a surprise), Erdö (a surprise and yet not, since he is the General Relator), Scola (he said some squishy things about the new tribunal norms), Vingt-Trois (a President-Delegate for the Synod).

Meanwhile… what do the enemies of all that is truly Catholic say?  Let’s look, for example, at Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter).  Their writer, MS Winters, offers another loooong, angst-ridden piece HERE.  If you can fight through the logorrhea you get a sense that he (and his tribe) are worried.  They are worried for different reasons than Mr. Thompson, of course.  I don’t think that the National Schismatic Reporter would mind a schism in the least.  Nay rather!  Anyway, steel yourselves and check out Winter’s paragraph starting with Archbp. Chaput, toward the end.

The libs are worried that they are not going to get their way.  Redoubts springing up as the Synod continues.

On that note, I point you also to the intervention made by the President of the Bishops Conference of Poland, Stanislaw Gadecki, Metropolitan Archbishop of Poznan. HERE  Remember: The Poles have this figured out.  They have correctly sensed that the Magisterium of John Paul II is under attack and they are not happy.

Here is his intervention.  It’s really good, so let’s read all of it:

Intervention at the general session 6th
Saturday, 10 October 2015.
+ Stanislaw Gadecki, Metropolitan Archbishop of Poznan
President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

To begin, I want to emphasize that the following intervention reflects not only my personal opinion, but the opinion of the entire Polish Bishops’ Conference. [Whoa!  He’s not fooling around.]

  1. [He presents a statement, like a “thesis”:] There is no doubt that the Church of our time must—in a spirit of mercy—help civilly remarried divorcees with special charity, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, while they may indeed, as baptized, participate in Her life.

[The Gadecki’s comments on it:] Let us, therefore, encourage them to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show Herself a merciful mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope (cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 84). [Remember: the Poles see what is going on as an attack on the body of teaching of John Paul II.]

  1. Yet, the Church—in Her teaching on the admission of remarried divorcees—cannot yield to the will of man, but only to the will of Christ (cf. Paul VI, [JP2 and now Paul.] Address to the Roman Rota, 01.28.1978; John Paul II, Address to the Roman Rota, 01.23.1992, 01.29.1993 and 01.22.1996). [That’s a shot at the Kasperites, who would modify theology according to shifting mores.] Consequently, the Church cannot let Herself be led by feelings of false compassion for people or by modes of thought that—despite their worldwide popularity—are mistaken.

Admitting to Communion those who continue cohabiting “more uxorio” [as a husband and wife] without the sacramental bond would be contrary to the Tradition of the Church. The documents of the first synods of Elvira, Arles and Neocaesarea, which took place in the years 304-319, already confirmed the Church’s doctrine of not admitting the divorced who have remarried to Eucharistic Communion.

This position is based on the fact that “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist” (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 84; 1 Cor 11:27–29; Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 29; Francis, Angelus, 16 August 2015). [Citing, again, JP2 and now also B16.  Francis too, though why he cites that particular address is puzzling. HERE]

  1. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the baptized who are in the state of sacramental grace. Admitting the civilly remarried divorcees to Holy Communion would cause great damage not only to family pastoral ministry, but also to the Church’s doctrine of sanctifying grace.

In fact, the decision to admit them to Holy Communion would open the door to this sacrament for all who live in mortal sin. This in turn would lead to the elimination of the Sacrament of Penance and distort the significance of living in the state of sanctifying grace. [yes… Not just damage to the Church’s teaching, but also practical and immediate damage to Penance, which is already on the ropes.] Moreover, it must be noted that the Church cannot accept the so-called “gradualness of the law” (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 34).

As Pope Francis reminded us, we who are here do not want and do not have power to change the doctrine of the Church.


Meanwhile, John Allen reports on what is going on. HERE  In regard to the “rigging” of the Synod (Edward Pentin wrote about what happened last year), Allen has this:

[Card.] Wuerl bristled at suggestions that the outcome of the synod has been pre-determined, which were widely voiced among predominantly conservative commentators prior to the event, and which he said are also shared by some inside the synod itself.

“I had never been in a synod that has been as open,” Wuerl said of the 2014 gathering, “and the one we’re in right now follows that same openness.”

“I don’t see this intrigue, because I don’t know how you could make that happen,” he said.

Wuerl said much of the content of the synod’s conclusions will be determined in small group discussions, and “unless you had some way of silencing everybody in all 13 circles, I just can’t buy this idea that it’s all rigged.”

We don’t know what the Synod will produce.

Right now it is producing process stories.  Process is not unimportant, however, since it points to deeper questions about the people who are guiding the Church and, therefore, the Church’s preaching and practice for the nonce.

Frankly, I will be happy if it produces nothing at all.  Nothing better than possible alternatives.   On my wall above my desk is a painting by Salvator Rosa of “Philosophy”, an ascetic scholar holding a sign that reads: Aut tace aut loquere meliora silentio.  If there is no Final Report from the Synod, that’s okay by me, when I consider what could be in it.  Of course that has its own problems.  It signals that the process (of obtaining certain predetermined ends) might not be over.

I refer to the readership again to Yogi Bera.

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  1. DisturbedMary says:

    As to the letter, several of the signers on Magister’s list have said they aren’t signers. I’m beginning to think that Magister was duped with a false list of signers so as to relieve him of all credibility.

    For me, as a New Yorker, Cardinal Dolan signing anything even gently critical of the Pope’s Synod is utterly unbelievable. I will eat my biretta (only kidding, I’m not a priest) if it turns out he actually signed it. I hope someone asks him.

  2. juergensen says:

    It is interesting that a man whose appointment to Prefect of the CDF by Pope Benedict XVI was criticised by many in orthodox circles, is now one of the men standing up for and defending the Church and the Faith. Bravo, Cardinal Müller.

  3. CatholicMD says:

    As a former Anglican now suffering with a relapse of episcopal PTSD due to this synod I can offer a few predictions based on observations from my former ecclesial community. I suspect a final document does get written by Tucho Fernandez, et al that is basically a fudge that glosses over the issues and remits them to further study. Then the Holy Father will make a speech in which he sets up straw men and tries to hold two mutually exclusive “truths”. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

  4. NBW says:

    I am very surprised that Dolan would sign that letter, but hey, perhaps all those prayers people are saying for him are starting to work. Cardinal Burke has requested all the faithful say the Chaplet of the Holy Face for the Synod.


  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    I think that we must keep in mind that the Church is not a democracy. Further, we must remember that the Synod is not a Council and therfore cannot define anything and that even a Council cannot define anything without the assent of the Supreme Legislator, the Pope.

    I think that the purpose of this Synod was to have the Bishops reflect on their positions on the application of matters of Doctrine. In that sense it has fulfilled it purpose. I anticipate no changes in Doctrine.

  6. majuscule says:

    This, from Cardinal Dolan (dated Oct. 12):

    Can I suggest as well that there is now a new minority in the world and even in the Church? I am thinking of those who, relying on God’s grace and mercy, strive for virtue and fidelity: Couples who — given the fact that, at least in North America, only half of our people even enter the sacrament of matrimony– approach the Church for the sacrament; Couples who, inspired by the Church’s teaching that marriage is forever, have persevered through trials; couples who welcome God’s gifts of many babies; a young man and woman who have chosen not to live together until marriage; a gay man or woman who wants to be chaste; a couple who has decided that the wife would sacrifice a promising professional career to stay at home and raise their children —


    I approached it from a link and at first thought it might be from a satire site. Please forgive me for thinking that, Your Eminence, but…

    …I will say no more…

  7. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    My darling bride just sent me a link to Cardinal Dolan’s post that majuscule just posted. I was in the middle of reading the 13 Cardinals Letter(tm) here when her text appeared with the link. I went over to read it, then back here to post, but majuscule beat me to it. I must say I’m pleasantly surprised.

    Keep praying, folks!

  8. Gabriel Syme says:

    As others have said, I too was shocked to see Cardinal Dolan listed as a signatory – but, hey, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

    Damian Thompson has an interesting take regarding the denials from supposed signatories:

    It’s extremely hard to get at the truth. ‘Not signing’ can mean a number of things, ranging from an outright false claim that a cardinal supported the letter to panicky backtracking by cardinals who did assent to it but are grasping at the technicality that they didn’t personally append their signature. But the damage to the synod is done.


    Cardinal Pell seems to have confirmed he was a signatory, in a roundabout fashion via a spokesperson, but did say the letter should have remained private. Perhaps the publicity is a factor in the denials.

    In my humble opinion the Synod is an embarrassing farce and should be abandoned.

    Interestingly, Thompson also says this letter is “worse than anything that happened to Benedict XVI” which is quite eye-opening, given the scheming, slings and arrows poor Benedict had to contend with from the very start.

    And we should note that this letter was presented to Francis on day one of the synod, and – since then – Cardinal Napier (a signatory) has said:

    “Suspicion about rigging of synod has been allayed”


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  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    I am very happy and joyful that the bishops from the land where my grandparents came from are not caving into the wishy-washyness of the day. Thank you Synod Fathers from Poland and to ALL of the Fathers who are laying it on the line and are grasping steadfastly to Jesus!

  11. scotus says:

    “I don’t see this intrigue ….” he said.
    Sounds rather like Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen saying, “I see no ships”. Whatever you don’t want to see, you won’t see. Or as they say, ‘There’s none so blind as them that will not see.’
    Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’).

  12. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Here’s a good one that’s going round:


    Be sure to listen to all of them.

    “It’d be funny if it weren’t so bl–d’n serious.”

  13. Supertradmum says:

    The Synod is not causing schismatic ideas or rebellion. Those were and have been in the Church most of my adult life. Nothing being said is shocking, as we have all heard lib priests teach such immoral and even heretical ideas from the pulpits and even, yes, in seminaries.

    What the Synod has done is awaken the laity to what so few wanted to admit–that the poisons of Modernism and Marxismovertook the Church a long time ago, about seventy years ago, to be more exact, between the wars.

    There is a reason why the Popes, including a saint, wrote against Modernism even over 100 years ago, as it was entering the Church then. So, why are people shocked when the evil demons which have plagued us, in our educational systems, and in our parishes, for years, is seen clearly in the Vatican?

    The Synod is bringing to light all the rubbish we have known about….and if the Church splits, it is not the fault of Francis, but every Catholic in the pew or in the sanctuary, who went along with the heretics and schismatics for too long.

    God has allowed this chaos to come to the fore. He gave all of us a period of mercy in which to sort out the problems, and these issues were not addressed at the diocesan level.

    We are seeing the fruit of the sowing of the seeds of rebellion, Masonry, Marxism, Modernism.

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Card. Dolan surprised me a little …” Not me. Piacenza’s not signing, yes, a little surprising (assuming he was asked), but Dolan’s signing, not a surprise — to me, anyway. Just sayin’.

  15. gracie says:

    The Poles still can recognize Marxists when they see them.

  16. Robbie says:

    Maybe I’m reading too much into these events, but it feels like something “big” has happened. It’s one thing to see Cardinals and Bishops gripe anonymously in press clippings, but here we have prominent ones putting their names down on paper. And we’re not talking about obscure Cardinals from far flung corners of the world. We’re talking about powerful Curia Cardinals and leaders of various factions of the conservative block in the Sacred College.

    While I’m not surprised to learn Cardinals Muller, Sarah, and Pell are concerned about the Synod process or its possible dire effects, it’s still striking, at least to me, to see powerful Curial Cardinals challenge the process and the topics of something the Pope clearly has wanted to see debated. Add in Cardinals Caffara and Napier and it becomes clear this just isn’t about the manner in which the Pope rules the Vatican.

    That said, I think the biggest news of this day was the inclusion of Cardinal Dolan’s name on the letter. Maybe this has changed, but I’m not aware that he’s denied signing the document delivered to the Pope. Regardless, Dolan has never struck me as one likely to be on the vanguard of something like this. That he apparently is today suggests to me the discontent among the Synod, and among all Cardinals and Bishops, is far deeper than previously thought. I don’t think he’d go out on limb unless he knew there was great backing for him and the other signatories.

    Like I said, I could easily be overreacting to the news of the day, but it does seem like something big has happened with this pontificate. And if the Synod ends in some sort of confused and fractured wreck, well who knows.

  17. Phil_NL says:

    Panic is counterproductive. It benefits immediate survival instincts, but contrary to received wisdom in some quarters, there is no immediate survival issue.

    Imagine what would happen if the Pope would say, at the end of the synod, “Well, due to the important nature of the matter at hand, and the requests of many synod fathers, we’ll delay publishing any conclusions until such time as we can see more clearly how to proceed. In the meantime, the sequence veni sancte spiritu will be prayed after every Sunday Mass.”

    Do I hear the corks popping on champagne bottles? Do I hear a sizeable glass of XO cognac being poured? Do I hear an order for foie gras, venison and roast porc being placed? Now surely, not in all quarters, but even in Germany they would simply continue with hearty bratwürsten. They’d believe that delay wouldn’t stop the ‘inevitable’ anyway.

    So, as Father Z said, if nothing happens, that’s a good outcome. That means there is no existential threat.
    And if there is no acute problem, that means a rational view is warranted instead of panic-mode.

    We’ve seen that the Pope pretty much ‘owns’ the synod. He has clearly indicated that neither the process nor the outcome will be discussed outside him. That leaves three possible scenarios:

    1. His Holiness will, either through wrong priorities or carelessness, let the entire thing explode in all our faces. Surely, some people would like nothing better. yet I find it hard to believe that Francis, even though fallable human, would care so little about important doctrines or be so negligent in his duties. It’s possible perhaps, but if he really was an agent of ‘the other team’, he’d have moved much more boldly, and despite his casual style, he does seem to believe the importance of his responsibilities. At any rate, in the worst case scenario, we can’t do anything – but keep praying.

    2. His holiness will try to work out a way to keep what I’ll call ‘the Germans’ on board. Those of sound doctrine won’t move out anyway, so Francis has some leeway. In that case he thinks he can produce some sort of formula that will put the lid on this for a decade or so. It’s ambitious, it may not work nearly as long as hoped, but it seems a possible strategy. Especially since it seems likely that 10-15 years from now, the ‘biological solution’ will have made this entire issue a rearguard action except among septuagenarian prelates.

    3. His Holiness will, by current intention or as a fallback should option 2 be deemed impossible, simply muddy the waters so much that, in effect, not much happens. Of course, everyone will be angry at him to some extent, everyone will continue doing what they wanted anyway, but the slow bleeding of the extremes on either side will cause him little distress, and save him from more trouble in the coming years. The confusion in the centre will pain him more, I guess, but I’d also guess that Francis will reckon that in other ways he can comfort their souls even if the support of doctrine is weak. Doctrine is not his way to begin with.
    In fact, if he owns this problem, not solving it but letting it slowly decay, he’d make life easier on his eventual successor, who could then decide with less opposition. Sometimes, tension is best released gradually.

    Now, I could be wrong entirely of course, but one can always press that panic button later. Meanwhile, I propose having some faith in the Holy Father. And a veni sancte spiritus, perhaps.

  18. SimonR says:

    America Magazine is claiming that 13 Cardinals did indeed sign a letter to the Pope including 4 not on Sandro Magister’s list.

    From America Magazine’s website at http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/thirteen-cardinals-including-di-nardo-and-dolan-challenged-popes-decisions-synod

    “The names of the 13 signatories are, in alphabetical order:

    – Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy, formerly the first president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family;

    – Thomas C. Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada;

    – Daniel N. Di Nardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, vice-president of the U.S. Bishops Conference;

    – Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, United States;

    – Willem J. Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, Holland;

    – Gerhard L. Müller, former bishop of Regensburg, Germany, since 2012 prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith;

    – Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban, South Africa, president delegate of the synod underway as also at the previous session of the synod of October 2014;

    – John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya.

    – George Pell, archbishop emeritus of Sydney, Australia, since 2014 prefect in the Vatican of the secretariat for the economy;

    – Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, Mexico;

    – Robert Sarah, former archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, since 2014 prefect of the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments;

    – Elio Sgreccia, president-emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Vatican City;

    – Jorge L. Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela”

  19. Giuseppe says:

    When Pope Francis announced changes in the annulment process, I saw where this was going.

    The synod will stir up a lot of discussion, debate, ideas of openness, mercy, etc, and the conclusion will be a resounding reinforcement of longstanding church beliefs about marriage and the sin of remarrying while married. Yet, there is a quiet whisper from the Pope to all Catholics in irregular marriages: “P.S. Get an annulment”. And a similar plea to his bishops: “P.S. Declare the prior marriage null.”

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  21. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Phil_NL,

    Thanks for your reasoned analysis. I think that either Option 2 or 3 would be most likely outcome.

  22. Vincent says:

    Now, I may be wrong – but, I don’t see analysis of Pope Francis ever being right… I don’t see any strategy, any plan. There’s no analysis that can reconcile the mess that he’s made in the Church so far. If there is a plan, he certainly plays his cards close to his chest…

    Thompson’s post was pretty panic stricken. I like that description. Cardinal Pell made a non-denial denial. He didn’t say that those were the contents of the letter, he just said there was a letter and that there were concerns about the structure of the synod. Sorry; this comment has been a bit of a colloquium, but it’s worth commenting on this article: The drama of this synod is beginning to match the hype!

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    The Cardinals said nothing, not one word in the letter, about the elephant. The huge, bloated, gay elephant, sits right there and the Cardinals are going to pretend they don’t see him.
    If the church continues to promote the change in language, handing out “pro-homosexuality” literature at Synods, and in other ways supporting or happily tolerating homosexuality, seriously, where are we.
    I find myself in the odd position of disagreeing with Supertradmum on a point. I don’t blame the man or woman in the pew for this mess. This is on the pope, (popes), the Cardinals, the Bishops, to a slightly lesser degree, really, the priests. The fish rots from the head down, and this has been infecting the church for many decades. The people responsible are the people whose job it is to protect and defend the teaching of Christ. The person in the pew only has a little bit of power, the slight power of the purse, but we aren’t responsible for teaching, or in this case, not teaching.
    No, this is on Pope Francis. He will be helped out by Cardinals who can’t or won’t even publicly identify the problem.

  24. ChrisRawlings says:

    In addition to the nine cardinals mentioned (who have not disputed their signatures), America Magazine reports that Cardinals DiNardo, Njue, Rivera, and Sgreccia are also signatories. I find that important for these reasons:

    1.) Cardinals DiNardo and Dolan are hardly right-wing rabble-rousers. They are, rather, part of the broad center of the American episcopate. You sense that they are signing on behalf of that episcopate as much as for themselves.

    2.) Cardinal Rivera of Mexico City is one of the most prominent Latin American prelates. His voice has resonance throughout Mexico and beyond.

    3.) Cardinal Njue is one of the African continent’s most respected prelates. He is from Kenya. Where is Pope Francis visiting very soon after the completion of the synod? Kenya. Throwing African prelates and their concerns under the bus would make for a really awkward trip, not only for the prelates but also for the African faithful. Is it a big deal? Not really. But for a pontificate accutely aware of even subtle public relations situations and signals, having Cardinal Njue and other members of the African churches even appear to oppose what is happening in Rome is a real problem that even a Franciscan charm offensive won’t easily fix.

  25. anna 6 says:

    I am not shocked that Cardinal Dolan signed the letter. He has made some questionable decisions at times, but generally I think he has gotten an undeservedly bad rap. He speaks often about his love and admiration for the Pope Emeritus and quotes him frequently. He does an admiral job of explaining the Church’s teaching on controversial matters in an orthodox and joyful way.

  26. Norah says:

    I have been praying fir guidance what to do if the Church under Pope Francis changes the teachings She has promulgated over the millennia. I have come to a prayerful decision to remain in the new Church where the language of dissent (the title of a book by Kevin Lents) becomes the new norm. I will continue to practise the true Faith until I die. This is easy for me to say because my children are grown up and I am not a Faithful priest; I fear for them.

    St Joseph. Saints Peter and Paul please intercede for Holy Mother Church.

  27. MWindsor says:

    Jeszcze Polska nie zgin??a!!

  28. Tantum Ergo says:

    This is what would clear up the whole mess: We need a 21st Century Saint Nicholas
    I saw Santa Punching Arius

  29. KingofCharity says:

    I’m worried that too much transparency into the inner workings of the See of Peter and the messy synodal process will diminish the RCC’s claim to be the divinely ordained voice of God on Earth. Studying the history of the Church and the Councils, we know that Councils have always been contentious, heated, and sometimes even violent. Nothing new. BUT . . . those councils were before the days of social media. Now the eyes of the whole world are on the inner workings and proceedings of the Barque of Peter . . . . and it is ugly to watch.

    Nothing Pope Francis or this synod has officially said discredits the Church’s claim to indefectiblity and infallibility. But, with some of these novel “pastoral” ideas gaining steam– it appears that, if not worded very carefully, they could pose a threat to the doctrinal foundations of the Church.

    Over the last few days, Bishop Chaput has released multiple statements regarding this entire synodal confusion. And his clarity and precision of speech is undeniable. We need Chaput for Pope. He speaks with a clarity, firmness, and directness that can only be from God.
    Ambiguity, vagueness, and inclusive open-ended language only lead to confusion, distrust, paranoia, and conspiratorial angst. And ultimately relativism and division. We know that confusion, fear, anxiety, and division ALL come from the Devil. We need the clarity of someone like Sarah or Chaput steering the Barque of Peter.

    I’m ready for God the Father to crack open the sky and cast down thunder bolts at the liberal lobby in the Vatican.

    Is it possible that we are now flirting with the reality that Francis is an anti-Pope?? Could there have been BIG anti-Catholic money (George Soros and the likes) that rigged the Conclave? Bought out infiltrated bishops?? The more I think about it– Francis tried to present himself as humble and surprised by being voted pope- yet, in reality, he came charging out of the gate with all these plans and ideas right from the get go. Did he develop all these “ideas” from a few weeks of prayer, or were these “new ideas” already “waiting for him”??? I don’t know what to think anymore. Sadly, I feel disconnected from my Church. I love a lot of what Pope Francis has done . . . his radical, Christ-like teachings and actions regarding the poor and the excluded. His actions are challenging and unsettling, but I can’t become comfortable with his “loosey goose” view of doctrine and canon law. Too many times he has belittled the Church’s rich history of philosophy, theology, doctrine, and canon law- lowering doctrine to the level of “rules” and “rigid” legalism that is “closed” to the Spirit.
    All the conspiracies about the Jesuit “Black Pope,” and the infiltration of Communism into the Church, all seem “plausible” now. I don’t like feeling anxious and scared inside the bosom of Holy Mother Church. She has always been a place of refuge from the anxieties of the world- a sanctuary from the tumultuous relativism of the secular humanist world.
    The Pope sounds more and more like a Leftist sociology, psychology, or English professor from an East Coast Ivy League college then the Successor of St. Peter.
    He used the word “dialogue” so many times during his U.S. visit that I threw up. He throws out more Left elitist buzz words like they’re candy, e.g. dialogue, tolerance, inclusive, environment, sustainability (ugh), global, diversity, pluralism and on and on. In addition, all these buzz words get intermingled with murky, gray, theologically muddled language that is so general and vague that it could literally be interpreted to mean anything to anybody.

    We know the Church is indefectible and infallible in her official teaching and ex cathedra proclamations, and the Gates of Hell can’t destroy her.
    But man . . . this is getting scary.
    Chaput or Sarah for Pope!!!

  30. frjim4321 says:

    It’s all rather fascinating.

    Any idea when the next consistory will be?

  31. thomas tucker says:

    Or the next conclave?

  32. stephen c says:

    There have been billions of faithful Christians before our day and there may be many more billions of faithful Christians after our day – although, to tell the truth, I disagree with the people who say we – meaning those of us alive right now – will all die some day – St John and others told us we do not know when God will decide to put Death itself to death and take home those who believe in Christ. I have not done my part to help the necessary revival in today’s church, and I feel sorrowful enough about that to pray daily for forgiveness. However, I think contraception is wrong, always and everywhere. I am not surprised that a church that is as effectively pro-contraception as today’s church is has been made to suffer so much. No bishop or priest who is willing to preach against adultery, divorce and remarriage, homosexual actions, pornography, and abortion, but who refuses to preach against two spouses deciding to contracept can persuade me that the current hard times of the Church are not fully merited. Similarly, no lay person who refuses to be, in that person’s station of life, as completely, with respect to the gravity of the matter, against contraception within marriage as they are against other forms of sin, can persuade me that the current hard times of the Church are not fully merited. If I am wrong – if the sin of contraception is specifically mentioned thousands of times every Sunday in sermons that I always happen to miss – and if millions of lay Catholics act in their personal lives as if they believe that acts of contraception within marriage and knowing support of acts of contraception within marriage are as sinful as, say, willfully providing “communion to the divorced and remarried” would be – then I think I may be wrong that the hard-hearted idolatry of contraception is a reason for the Church deserving its current hard times.

  33. Curley says:

    I think pope Francis realizes the synod has gotten away from him, but doesn’t want to admit his mistakes as the procedures continue. I think he will in the end hold to the church’s teaching which is why he isn’t going to bother changing the rules, drafting committee, etc. but the more pressure is put on him by the orthodox believing bishops, the more he will realize how serious this all is.

  34. benedetta says:

    One expects a synod on the family to say a word of import with regard to, the family. A synod on the presently divorced and remarried would obviously have a different locus.

    It cannot really be disputed that so called “progressive” (so called because it isn’t and wasn’t) pastoral and theological leadership in the west, certainly in North America, these past decades has been nothing other than an abysmal disaster, precisely for, young people and the family, who in these particular times, now more than ever have need of solid formation and the worthy celebration of the sacraments, crucially, as in, life or death need, in this life and the next. The very people who now could most benefit from a place in a parish listened to the direction of our leaders in the Church and listened right out of the Church and left. A lot of political action was accomplished via this method, and we all delivered on the projects of choice of our leaders for accomplishment in the political spheres, but when we are in need, as in that two way street, of the grace of the spiritual life for ourselves, there is no coherent foundation we may turn to to lead us to that next step.

    I am sure people can relate myriad anecdotes and experiences and point out the way many kind of crawled back to the Church after being scarred following the logic of progressive leadership. One observation I have made is that right now, in our very times, the great majority of formation programming in parishes for children, youth, and adults (or Catholic schools for that matter) lacks any sort of formation as to prayer, personal prayer or communal, and even praying the Mass is not really something that is discussed. I think we all know the din we hear upon entering and leaving Sunday Mass. It goes without saying that if people are chattering (and there is nothing wrong with chattering, except that the sanctuary is supposed to be, well, a sanctuary, from all other conversations redirecting to hear God and have a different sort of conversation) in the church before and after Mass just as at a cafeteria, then, people are really not by and large praying, that is obvious. But if one inquires, or looks into it, we find that most Catholics from childhood on up really have little idea what prayer is. A certain generation may still pray the rosary. Some kids may get lucky to be taught the rosary in ccd or parochial school. But past that, you are on your own. I recall being in a very elite reading group with an urban and urbane parish some years back when the discussion of the election of Thomas Merton to live an even deeper contemplative life by the silence of a hermitage came up. The reactions of people I think were instructive as to how we regard prayer in our times — overwhelmingly, people regarded his decision, a Trappist monk, to devote even more time to prayer, alone as “selfish” and “a waste” and a betrayal of the goals of more important political action. No one seemed to think that a life devoted to contemplative prayer, even for a Trappist monk, something “worthwhile” or valuable. I think if Catholics do not learn, somewhere, in the family, or at the parish, to pray, then, well, these other discussions are really just sort of bandaids on a more important area of concern in need of healing. Right now, anyone who homeschools knows that homeschoolers teach their children quite clearly and naturally about prayer, and let the little ones come to the Lord, permit them to attend to that still, small voice amidst all the great noise in our world. Don’t just take my word for it that our children need it, and that we need it. There are plenty of secular studies that show the benefits of prayer and belonging within a congregation. It’s understandable that some do not think that say the Legion of Mary with a junior corps is going to bring people back to Mass. But clearly going ahead with more of the same of the past decades is not really what people are yearning for either. I’ll reference also M. Kelly’s work — his studies show that people who pray end up being much more connected to the parish — it’s not the people who just vote the one political party once a year and are done with it after being pushed or nudged repeatedly in that direction. I don’t think people mind doing that, but I think the Church owes the same people a little support for the difficult lives they are leading by the same token, and they deserve an examination into more of the sorts of obvious areas that can benefit all families wherever situated than some small group deliberations that will not have effect.

  35. Gratias says:

    I am well pleased to learn that Cardinal Doland has moved beyond Obammunism.

  36. KingofCharity says:

    Catholics don’t know how to pray because learning to talk to God in sincere prayer ultimately comes from the home– the domestic church. The domestic church led by a firm, loving, faithful father and mother.
    Parents who gently correct, chastise, and nurture their children. Parents who become “icons” of God and the Church. Kids learn about the love of the God the Father and the tenderness of Holy Mother Church first and foremost through the example and model of their earthly father and mother.
    Yet, Loosies Goosie bishops let Catholics run wild with birth control for fifty years.

    Birth control has decimated the domestic church. The institutional church is dying because the domestic church is dying.

  37. Chrisc says:

    I think a goodly number of these men are nothing more than jackals. Pope Francis has encouraged their prowling and attacking, and so they do, without any fear of repercussions. The truth is attacked, its flesh is torn. Many are astounded that this could have transpired so quickly.

    As Supertradmum has said, this has been in the making for a while.

    I think there are two methods of recourse against jackals. You either fight them off directly, which with the rules of the synod being imposed, seems to be very difficult. They shall attack and do so mercilessly. The other method is a bit harder to pull off, but when jackals attack they often become some overwhelmed by their bounty that they begin to attack each other. This is how Augustine describes those of the City of Man – they fight not only with the good, but with each other just as viciously. These cardinals (Italian, German, Latin) are not real allies,for such is impossible among evil men, but merely associates of convenience. So what can be done to have them turn on each other? The problems – racism, careerism, greed all exist in the hearts of these men who are to be ‘excellent’ – so I think the question to ask is: if the faithful bishops in the synod have little recourse in having the synod bear witness to the truth, how can the faithful bishops make it abject disaster for the attackers of truth?

  38. Gratias says:

    I wonder whether Pope Francis, the First of that name, will find it in Himself to condemn pornography as a threat to the family. Forget about man-boy sodomitic associations that have so damaged the Church and its Faithful; I stipulate He will not be able to judge these. In my Archdiocesis Cardinal Roger Mahony, still an Elector, paid 640,000,000 U.S. Dollars and it was generally judged a great bargain for all those children spoiled.

  39. DonL says:

    If it says nothing at all, in terms of conclusion, then that leaves its interpretation wide open to deceptive analysis and could become the source of much more confusion (can there be more?) which may be the entire goal of certain elements who have had more than a mere voice at this most enlightening of synods.
    Fortunately, truth, (though painfully disrupting of naïve notions about the construct of our Church) will eventually set us free.

  40. TNCath says:

    This week’s news compels me to conclude that these past 50 years we have been living in the worst crisis of the Church ever. Consider the following:

    1. Generations of young Catholics have been lost because they were either poorly taught or never taught the very basics of the Faith.

    2. An alarming decline in Catholic baptisms and marriages has taken place that will mean a huge decline in the Catholic population.

    3. Save for a few here and there that have remained faithful, most Catholic colleges and universities are in complete heresy in doctrine and practice. St. John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae was widely ignored.

    4. There has been a steady decline of European ethnicity–French, English, Italian, German—thanks to widespread disregard of the Church’s teachings on family life.

    5. Secular states are in place that will more and more crush out Catholic teachings by oppressive laws as in Obamacare, the HHS mandate, and now, most recently the “right” to terminate one’s own life in California, thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, a proud product of the Society of Jesus.

    6. The slow but steady increase in Muslim populations in Western countries is leading to more and more demands on the part of their growing populations, what Mohammed, the father of the “religion of peace,” called “conquest by immigration.”

    7. So-called Catholics, who are leaders in the political world, are openly defying their bishops under the idea of “primacy of conscience.”

    8. We have a betrayal by once great religious orders such as the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Christian Brothers, and innumerable communities of once thriving women religious that have poisoned large areas of Catholic education and Catholic parishes.

    9. We have a determined and large group of people under the auspices of “Catholics” such as Sister Joan Chittister, Father Hans Kung, and many others who want to destroy the Church from within. As Rosemary Radford Reuther said: don’t leave, stay and destroy it from inside, unlike the Protestants who at least had the intellectual honesty to get out.

    10. We have experienced a couple of generations of destructive bishops who, by commission or omission, have betrayed and abandoned their priests and people in an effort to save their collective necks on so many issues from Humanae Vitae of 1968 to the abuse scandals of the twentieth century.

    11. We have a Pope whose almost daily utterances leave people confused and seem to encourage freedom in settled issues such as sacramental marriage and homosexuality. We have a retired pope who did some wonderful things to restore the Church but then resigned to the delight of some and the disappointment of others because he felt he was no longer able to properly fulfill his responsibilities as Supreme Pontiff.

    12. We have a synod manipulated by the Pope and his liberal allies such as Cardinals Daneels and Kasper and Archbishop Maradiaga to produce a determined result and silence those cardinals (Erdo, Burke, et alia) who wish to remain faithful to the Christ and His Church’s teachings.

    While I know the Church will ultimately survive, we are in a unique time in history, and I’m not sure we will ever be quite the same again. Veni Creator Spiritus!

  41. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m thankful for this blog where I can come and read commentary that so well sums up my feelings entirely, and which enlightens me in many ways. Thank you, Fr. Z., and thank you, fellow readers of this blog.
    Social media has, in my opinion, done much to destroy the individual, family, and society, but it has done two great things here, that I can think of. It has enabled us to see what is going on in the Vatican in real time, as hard as that is, and it enables the faithful to gather in locations “together”. A burden shared is a burden lightened.

  42. FXR2 says:

    I think we must re double our efforts to pray for the Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and especially the Holy Father. Perhaps we could ship bundles of firewood to St. Peter’s as well.


  43. MikeM says:

    While the letter, given the signers and the circumstances, is clearly significant, I’m puzzled by the interpretations that seem to imply that this is the first time that senior bishops have ever told a Pope that they don’t like something. I can’t imagine that it’s new for Pope’s to get some frank push-back from bishops when they try to implement new things.

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