Monday, October 12, 2015

The Kettle Is Boiling

Pope Francis on his way into the

 Well the Synod on the Family, Part II is underway and the kettle has come to a boil.  Several Cardinals have written a letter to Pope Francis complaining that the Synod is “stacked” to get pre-determined results in favor of the “Kasper Proposal” for greater inclusion in the life of the Church of the divorced/remarried and the LGBT community. 
The Cardinals expressed three specific complaints about the processes of the synod.
1.   In the past, Synodal documents contained a series of propositions which could be voted up or down according to the mind of the Synod to give an adequate reflection of where the Synod members stood on the concrete issues at hand.   The current Instrumentum Laboris—the Synod agenda—lacks this structure of propositions and makes it difficult to draw the lines of approval/disapproval of the final text.
2.   The Committee which drew up the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris—was not elected by the Synod members but appointed (presumably by the Pope) and thus the agenda does not reflect the ideas of the Synod but ideas being imposed on the Synod from above. 
3.   The real agenda at work behind the scenes is not about the spiritual welfare of the Family but about communion for those in irregular unions (divorced and remarried, same-sex couples) and this involves doctrinal principles which, if shifted, put the Catholic Church more in line with the cultural trends espoused by the liberal Protestant Churches who are facing extinction as they move away from sound biblical and doctrinal principles.  (To be precise, the letter only mentioned the “divorced and civilly remarried.”)
Frankly, I think the objecting Cardinals have some interesting points, especially the final one.  However, anyone familiar with the Synod process knows that for decades now the conservative curiae of Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI had extremely tight control on the previous synods and the documents were pretty much pre-determined.  The Synods have rarely, if ever, been the truly open discussion forum for the bishops of the world to give honest and open advice to the Popes.  It was always ok when the conservatives did it; but now some people are smelling a rat. 
The strange thing about the letter is that when it was leaked to the press (through the anti-Francis Italian journalist, Sandro Magister) it was alleged that thirteen Cardinal-delegates had signed it.  (There are thirteen Cardinals in the faction determined to block the Francis Agenda, and the Synod is “stacked?”  I am missing something here.)  Four of the alleged signers have, however, denied ever seeing the letter, much less having signed it.
Pope Francis gave a rather strong address to the Synod during the first week condemning a “hermeneutic of conspiracy”—a perspective on the Synod that suspects there is a lot of back-room/back alley pushing and pulling for one agenda to win out over the other.  Signing Cardinals’ names to a letter they had never seen sure sounds to me like there is a conspiracy, but not a conspiracy to push the alleged Francis/Kasper agenda, but rather one to block any significant change in Church practice.  


  1. On a much smaller scale, this little contretemps reminds me of the infamous "black week" during the third session of Vatican II -- a little coterie of conservatives convinced Paul VI to intervene personally in the conciliar deliberations and reserve to himself certain tendentious issues. Paul caved and the council was unable to press the issues of episcopal collegiality, priestly celibacy and birth control. One might say that Francis has imitated Paul by "reserving" certain synodal outcomes to himself and hence seeming to limit a truly collegial exercise of teaching authority. On the other hand, Francis is no Paul and will not give in to an (apparently) unrepresentative group of malcontents. Magister, moreover, is no Rynne, Kaiser et. al. On another note, the synod, as with the council, points out the difficulty in ascertaining just what the "ordinary (universal) magisterium" teaches since it is so difficult to know with certainty just what the bishops really think and believe when such gatherings can be manipulated if not hijacked. Add to that the mendacious and craven careerism that leads so many bishops to hide their real beliefs so as to win favor with whoever is backing their candidacy and dangling preferment before their hungry eyes and fueling their scarlet fever.

  2. Protestant? As has been often said the Orthodox permit at least three tries at marriage.