The Synod on the Family: Can the “Good Bishops” Save Us? (Don’t Hold Your Breath)
Written by Hilary White
“The absurdity of the Synod organisers, including the pope, simply writing final documents for a Synod weeks in advance of the bishops even arriving in Rome, seems to be the final message. They no longer feel any need to hide their intentions…”
The “good bishops” are not going to help us at the Synod. This is something we have to get used to right now, the weekend before the show starts. Every day I see in commboxes around the internet hopeful exclamations like, “Oh, but Archbishop Whosits is going to stand up to them.” Or, “Cardinal Youknowwho,” or “that guy from Africa” won’t stand for that stuff again. Well folks, I hate to tell you, but they stood for it just fine last year.
There have been no demands that the pope guarantee a transparent proceeding, no open objections to the scandalous contents of the working documents, and, most significantly, no demand for the removal of the ringleaders of the affair, the Synod General Secretary, Cardinal Baldisseri, Cardinal Kasper, Archbishop Bruno Forte, the author of the outrageous mid-term relatio… et al. All the same characters of last year’s vaudeville act are back, and no word of objection has come from our “good bishops.”
In fact, apart from a few grumpy video interviews, the whole matter went mainly unremarked. Last year, after a year and a half of increasingly bizarre Bergoglian shenanigans, despite the small number of noisy and public disputes, the bishops at the Synod ’14 tiptoed around saying polite things after the fact about how wonderful it had all been. At the end, even those who had been most vocal about the Synod secretariat’s manipulations, gushed about how great the actual discussions were, and lamented only that the organisers had given such a different impression to the public.
In the surreal year since then, who have we seen stand up in front of a microphone and say, “Pope Francis Bergoglio is the one at the centre of this conspiracy-that-is-no-longer-a-conspiracy to render irrelevant Catholic teaching on sexuality, to undermine the priesthood, to enable systematic sacrilege on a global scale and to end once and for all the Christian character of the Catholic Church”? Which one has named the name that needs to be named? Anyone?… Bueller?
Even the interviews seem to have dried up, and we are hearing nothing from any of the “good guys” in these last few days. The date draws ever nearer and anxiety is rising, and even Cardinal Burke seems to have given up making public statements, leaving all the remaining Catholic believers to sit and watch that giant flaming asteroid coming barreling down on us, without a peep.
And now, there are more “rumours” (is there ever anything else out of Rome?) that the bishops who will attend are bringing the same diffident and placating attitude with them this year. Today I had a conversation with someone who works Inside who told me that a group who “probably” included Synod bishops, had been preparing a statement against any repeat of last year’s manipulation tactics. This was in response to reports that the Synod secretariat was contemplating a total lockdown of the proceedings.
It was all going to be published early this week, before tomorrow’s Synod launch press conference. There were stern words being prepared. No more nonsense! They expect transparency and honesty! A fair and accurate report of the discussions and documents that reflect the substance of it. No more reframing the rules! No more controlling the message!
Well, here we are, Thursday night, the first Synod press conference all set to go in just over twelve hours and… they just…decided not to issue the statement. Inopportune time?… Don’t want to start the show off on a bad foot?… Who knows why. And at this stage, who cares?
Tonight I was contacted by someone in the US who wants to get a book on the Catholic teaching on marriage into the hands of the English speaking Synod bishops. He wanted to know if I knew anyone in Rome who could help.
I responded with the names of some people who might be able to help, but warned him, “There are already mechanisms in place to prevent exactly what you’re suggesting. This was tried last year, with considerable effort and expense and with some very high-ranking men in Rome, and it failed utterly.”
The Synod Secretariat is very much forewarned and on top of all this. They have taken to heart the lesson from last year, responding to the public outrage at their brazen manipulations and the demands from bishops and cardinals for transparency and openness, with an even tighter lockdown and control of the message.
I told my friend, “It’s a mistake to imagine that the Secretariat is running a synod. They’re running a very different kind of operation.”
And it seems that the top level of the Church’s governance knows it. There has been what looks like a defeated silence from the higher ranks. Cardinal Sarah has published a book defending the Church’s doctrine, that was recently promoted by Cardinal Muller to a tiny invited audience of German aristocrats and their friends. At that book launch, Muller warned obliquely that trouble could be ahead – of an unspecified historical nature assumed to be a reference to the Protestant revolution – if the Kasper plan goes forward, while undoubtedly knowing that the very same plan was being implemented back in Rome, even as he was speaking. This little non-event was covered briefly by a small subsection of the German language press.
So much for the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. Anyone else? No? The head of the German bishops’ conference openly threatens schism, and the head of the CDF confirms that this is the way we’re headed, and … crickets…
Lay and lower ranking clerical voices are getting louder and louder, of course. Sandro Magister reports on a document issued by a group of three priest theologians who have warned that the Synod’s working document, the Instrumentum Laboris is “unacceptable,” and “compromises the truth” of the faith. Voice of the Family – who made no friends last year in the Synod Secretariat – continues to trumpet the danger from atop the walls of London and again… nothing comes in response from Rome.
Neither has any statement come from the Vatican in response to the 811,092 signatures collected on the Filial Appeal, begging Bergoglio to reiterate and defend Catholic teaching on sexuality and the family. Worth noting for the irony value, those signatures include dozens of bishops and cardinals from what Bergoglio himself would doubtless describe as the “peripheries,” places like Chad, Madagascar, Congo, the Philippines, Guatemala, India, Kazakhstan. More than 200 bishops and cardinals, many from some very poor countries, have signed, and again, nothing. No response at all.
Nothing, of course, except for the gushing and fawning of Fr. Thomas Rosica over Bergoglio’s US trip, on Twitter: “Frequently asked question of me by journalists: ‘Fr. Tom, is it normal that I found myself with tears in my eyes many times this past week?’” And, in reference to one of Bergoglio’s speeches, shaving alarmingly close to blasphemy: “I have often wondered how Jesus taught on a Galilean hillside. Tonight in Philadelphia I saw how Jesus taught.”
Meanwhile, the Synod organisers continue to tighten up the procedures to ensure that the affair does not suffer from another unfortunate attack of overexposure to the public. There will be no reports published of the discussions of these groups, and no mid-term or final documents. Two well-placed Vatican experts, Sandro Magister and Andrea Gagliarducci, have both reported that there will also be no formal Apostolic Exhortation issued by the pope to summarize the bishops message to the faithful.
“What is certain is that there will not be a final message, no commission having been set up to write one,” Magister said on September 28. “The only embodiment of the provisory conclusions will be the pope’s talk at the end of the work, which will as a matter of course overtop and obscure all the other voices.”
In fact, the news has come out that there are to be no plenary sessions in which the bishops all get to talk to each other in the presence of the pope. Instead they will be immediately separated into language groups to have their discussions in “circoli minores”. Edward Pentin’s book can give us a good guess how those small group discussions will proceed, including the likelihood of all these meetings being closely monitored by a Kasperite bishop assigned to each group to make sure there is no substantial deviation from the programme. In one of the creepier little moments of Pentin’s “Rigging of a Vatican Synod,” he noted that in the case of these appointed monitors, “if one left, he would be replaced by another,” to ensure that the direction remained steady.
Over the last month the news keeps coming in the form of “bombshells”. In fact, the Synod and Vatican news is starting to resemble an artillery barrage, starting in early September with Bergoglio’s motu proprios on annulments. Here we had the first inkling that he was not going to go the passive-aggressive route that some of us had expected, that is, to punt the hot topics of Communion for divorced and civilly “remarried” Catholics (and now by extension, probably same-sex partners and unwed cohabitors too) down to the national bishops’ conferences. No, this was the first real sign we had that Bergoglio knows exactly how much power he has as pope: all of it.
The new rules, issued by fiat and apparently without discussion from the Vatican’s offices overseeing changes to canon law, continue to be criticised hotly, including for having created a major, and catastrophic, legal paradigm shift of inverting the assumption of the law to favour annulment instead of the validity of the marriage. The discussion has by no means died down, and the warnings are still coming that Bergoglio has brought the Catholic Church into line with the secular world by creating Catholic “no fault” divorce.
Following this, the German bishops conference, the head of which, Cardinal Reinhardt Marx, sits on Bergoglio’s personal privy council, the Group of Nine, announced that they were ready to implement Catholic “gay marriage.”
Next, the Vatican issued the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris that has been denounced by faithful Catholics for bringing back the rejected issues of homosexuality and unwed cohabitation for discussion.
Following this the news briefly flared of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the repellant former archbishop of Brussels, a man already well known as an immensely politically powerful puppet master of European Catholic and secular politics, claiming on Dutch television that he and a group of ultra-progressives had conspired for decades to bring about precisely the disaster we are seeing unfolding before us in the Church today.
Danneels claimed in a televised interview promoting an authorized biography, that this “St. Gallen Mafia” – that had boasted a who’s who of European “progressive” Catholic prelates, including the sinister Cardinal Martini – had worked together to bring about Bergoglio’s election. He even hinted that pressure from this group had played a part in Benedict’s resignation.
Immediately this had good Catholics openly discussing whether this invalidated the 2013 Conclave under rules against specifically this behaviour put in place by Pope John Paul II. Seeing the growing reaction, the authors of Danneels official biography, whence these assertions came, quickly put out a statement denying that the cardinal had said he had broken any rules.
The question, “Is Francis an antipope?” has become so widely and openly discussed that it was actually brought up by Bergoglio himself during the US trip, who, it must be said, did not deny it, but only mocked and derided those disturbed by it, as usual.
Pope Francis said a cardinal “who is a friend” was telling him about an older Catholic lady, “a good woman, but a bit rigid,” who had questions about the description of the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation and if that was the same thing as an “anti-pope.”
“‘Why are you asking,’ the cardinal said. ‘Well, I am sure Pope Francis is the anti-pope.’
“‘Why do you say that?’
“‘Well, because he renounced the red shoes, which are so historic,’” the pope said the woman responded.
People have all sorts of reasons to think, “he’s communist or he’s not communist,” the pope said.
Despite the now-normal scorn of the pope for the concerns of the faithful over his increasingly bizarre and alarming antics, Catholics are still arguing in various internet forums over whether the growing revelations of canonical misdeeds surrounding the conclave could make Bergoglio’s claim to the papacy… well, let’s say, “irregular”.
The next bombshell landed earlier this week when an Italian Catholic journalist poured a little more gasoline on the antipope fire, saying that a shadowy but immensely powerful international banking organization had threatened to cripple the Church’s finances if Benedict XVI did not resign. In a piece that has so far appeared only in Italian, Maurizio Blondet wrote that the Vatican’s ability to continue to function in the financial world was facing a lifespan “measured in hours.”
The Belgium-based American organisation, “SWIFT” (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), Blondet alleged, had used its power to blackmail the pope into giving up the chair of Peter.
“There was a blackmail come from who knows where, through SWIFT, exercised on Benedict XVI. The underlying reasons for this story have not been clarified, but it is clear that SWIFT has intervened directly in the management of affairs of the Church,” he wrote.
Again, from the Vatican… silence. A pope blackmailed into resigning? Nothing. And again, and again…
And today, the day before the Synod’s opening press conference, the latest in the barrage comes from Rorate Caeli who report that, to no one’s surprise, we are expecting a post-synodal document after all. In fact, it is already being drafted as we speak by a large committee of Jesuits encamped in the Domus Santa Martha.
Marco Tosatti, who normally writes for La Stampa’s Vatican Insider, revealed definitively what most of us had already more or less taken as read, “that the synodal process is a sham.”
“…Around thirty people, almost all of them Jesuits, with the occasional Argentinian, are working on the themes on the Synod, in a very reserved way, under the coordination of Father Antonio Spadaro, the director of Civiltà Cattolica…who spends a long time in Santa Marta, in consultation with the Pope.
…One possibility is that the ‘task force’ works to provide the Pope the instruments for an eventual post-synodal document on the theme of the Eucharist to the remarried divorced, on cohabiting [couples], and same-sex couples.”
Perhaps we forget sometimes what the word “remnant” means. It means we are a tiny minority with, in worldly terms, no power. None. No one knows how many Catholics identify themselves as “traditionalist,” and there is evidence that the number is growing. But we know that we are very, very few.
But if we are going to pull the camera back and look at the bigger picture, we will see throughout the Church something like what we saw last week with the papal visit to the US. Huge crowds, veritable throngs of people out in force to greet their pope with tears of joy, even claims of miracles. Santo subito! Can a pope canonize himself? Would anyone object?
What has become abundantly clear in the last year, and especially in the last weeks, is that the plan that we have come to call the Kasper Proposal, is much, much larger – and older – than the mere potential disaster of systematically offering Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers.
Again and again at last year’s Synod, the refrain I heard from everyone, from bishops and clergy, from lay observers and journalists, was shock at the absolute brazenness of what was being done. The way it was happening right out in the open.
With Cardinal Danneels, one of the most outrageous heretics and enablers of sexual abuse by homosexual priests, including a bishop, getting in front of an adoring audience and openly bragging about having succeeded in a decades-long plan to subvert Christ’s Church, how can we doubt any more? I see no evidence against Danneels’ claims. On the contrary.
These men believe they won the war in March 2013, that their power is absolute and they can simply stamp out any resistance. The absurdity of the Synod organisers, including the pope, simply writing final documents for a Synod weeks in advance of the bishops even arriving in Rome, seems to be the final message. They no longer feel any need to hide their intentions.
Even if by some miracle, the bishops were suddenly to grow the necessary body parts, they have been, in effect shut out of their own Synod before it has even begun.
My Comment : A great article, as usual with Hilary White even if she looks quite sad as if there was not hope anymore, as if they had already won the final battle, of course not as she knows also, surely some may believe that it’s the case but not me, in fact more they beleive more I am confident but let pass this Synod of shame to be sure then I may have some news for all of us, good news but at the right time, so be strong and hopeful.
I have not heard the name of Russia and you ?