On this episode of the podcast, Steve flies solo, breaking down a couple of very important stories not currently being widely discussed.
First, the Directory for Catechesis has been revised for the first time since the papacy of John Paul II, and those behind the changes are seeking to shift the emphasis from teaching doctrine to evangelization – to include care for migrants, ecology, and a new view of the death penalty as “inhuman.”
Second, we examine an interview with Anne-Marie Pelletier, a member of the pope’s latest commission to study women deacons. She offers some extremely telling insights into the possible agenda at work behind the commission, which may not so much be an attempt to take over the sacrament of holy orders, but to try to make it nearly irrelevant, giving women new roles not currently prohibited by existing Church discipline or teaching, seeking an ape of sacramental grace without sacraments. An empty, human church.
On the whole, it’s the picture of the real Church being set aside and remade in a new image, and it appears far more sinister in that respect than even many concerned Catholics expected.
TRANSCRIPT: (Please note, this is not a complete transcript, but based on the original script for this episode. Some variations may exist, and it has not been checked for typographical errors):
Hello and welcome to the OnePeterFive podcast, episode #68. I’m Steve Skojec.
Today’s episode is brought you by…OnePeterFive. Our shows don’t have sponsors for the time being, so I just want to remind you, like we do, that we’re an organization that runs totally on your contributions. If you’d like to help us meet our fundraising goal for June and pay the bills, please do so at onepeterfive.com/donate.
So today there’s no guest, just me and some thoughts. If you’re not a fan of monologues, this is your chance to run screaming, but I think if you stick around you’ll find what I have to say worth listening to today. I think it’s pretty important.
A mistake I think a lot of folks make in these increasingly polarized times is the genetic fallacy. It’s the sort of thing you encounter when you link to an article about some interesting or important topic and someone immediately responds, “That’s in the New York Times. I would never read anything from them.” Or just swap out the New York Times with any outlet they don’t like. It could be Breitbart. It could be 1P5. I see it all the time. Pretty much every day.
It’s a mistake for two reasons: first, because the truth is the truth, no matter where you find it. I don’t care if you find an answer to what’s going on under a rock or in a trailer park sewer. Facts are facts, and they can usually be verified. Certainly, we should understand the bias of the publication we’re reading if we’re getting information from them, but we should be looking past the opinion or the editorializing and identifying what might be said that is, in fact, real. Because only the Real matters.
The second reason the genetic fallacy is such a huge mistake, I think, is because we are at a strategic disadvantage if we fail to understand the way the enemy thinks. We may think they’re full of it, we may think they have nothing to say that we haven’t heard before, but the fact is, we’re often wrong. Sometimes, they lay out their thinking so clearly that they tell you what they’re planning to do. Right there. In the open. Things you wouldn’t know if you didn’t take the time to read.
All of this is why I don’t just read, but actually pay to subscribe to a little publication known as La Croix international. The English version is headed up by a guy called Robert Mickens. He’s written for a number of publications over the years. He was actually fired by The Tablet — the British Catholic magazine known by many as the bitter pill — for making disparaging comments about Pope Benedict XVI, calling him the rat, and asking if one of the cardinals who he believed should have been elevated sooner would be coming to the rat’s funeral. Mickens is also openly homosexual. This should give you an idea of the tenor of the content one often finds at La Croix, which, by the way, let’s the little Italian prima donna Max Beans write a column for them as well. Little Massimo Faggioli and his never-ending airing of grievances against orthodoxy.
But there’s an unusual candor at La Croix. There’s not really any beating around the bush. The agenda is just out there in the open for us to see. And that can make it very informative.
So today I want to talk about two articles I read at La Croix.
The first is the story of how The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has put out a new edition of the Directory for Catechesis, which hasn’t been revised since the pontificate of John Paul II.
The directory previously fell under the authority of the Congregation for the Clergy.
“For too long catechesis has focused on making the contents of the faith known and on the best pedagogical methods by which to reach this end, omitting the most crucial moment which is the act of deciding for faith and the giving of one’s assent,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, at the press conference to launch the new book-like document.
“Evangelizing is not primarily about transmitting doctrine; rather, it is about making Jesus Christ present and proclaiming Him,” states the directory. “Evangelizing is not primarily about transmitting doctrine; rather, it is about making Jesus Christ present and proclaiming Him,” states the directory.
“In short, catechesis is meant to lead to the knowledge of that Christian love which leads those who have embraced it to become evangelizing disciples,” added Archbishop Fisichella.
And of course, there’s a new emphasis on the pastoral care of migrants and ecological issues, and describes the death penalty as “inhuman.”
It calls catechists, by the way, experts in the art of accompaniment. So you can get that merit badge for your rainbow catechist sash now, which is great.
So now I want to pivot to the Vatican commission on women deacons.
One of the members appointed to this commission is a French biblical scholar named Anne Marie Pelletier. Evidently it was important for us to know, based on the article I was reading this morning, that she has a special expertise on the Song of Songs. I bet she’s got quite a collection of Romance novels, too.
Pelletier has showed up in the news previously, by the way. I know it’s hard to keep track of all the names of all the weirdos Pope Francis attracts like moth to a flame, but it was Pelletier who, in 2017, was asked by the pope to write the meditations for the stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on good Friday of that year. Meditations that the pope himself was to have read.
She is also a big proponent of remarried divorcees and was involved in some of the preperatory discussions that led to the Synod on the Family in 2015, and to Amoris Laetitia thereafter.
It’s exhausting to try to chase down all these interwoven threads. What I’ve seen time and again in the past 6 years of watchdogging this Vatican is that Francis returns to the well again and again. When he finds someone he likes, someone whose thinking is in accord with his own, he’s remarkably loyal. He keeps them in the fold. And so Pelletier didn’t show up as a part of this commission because she’s some uniquely qualified exegete. She showed up because she’s in the pope’s cadre of BFFs. And the fact that she was personally appointed by him should drive this home — she was wanted there, and her opinions on the matter at hand were almost certainly already known to Francis. It wasn’t like they had just met for the first time in some interview process.
So Pelletier gave an interview to La Croix, and right out of the starting gate they tackle the question of Anne Soupa.
If you don’t know who Anne Soupa is, don’t feel bad. I didn’t either until today. Apparently, she is a 73 year old journalist and biblical scholar who has applied to be the next Archbishop of Lyon in France.
I didn’t know people could apply for episcopal seats, but there you have it. She sent her resume to the papal nuncio. She wants in. She says she knows it isn’t going to happen, but she wants people to be able to imagine a woman being an archbishop without it being a joke.
Sorry Annie, sweetie, I think we’re gonna have to mark that one as mission failed.
Well, it’s failed for all the sane people out here who are nonetheless laughing maniacally at the Church pretty much every day.
But officials in the Archdiocese of Lyon are apparently taking her far more seriously than she deserves, saying that they don’t want to dismiss the symbolic character of her application. Because it’s [French accent] super duper important to them to promote the place of women in ze Church.” The Archbishop of Potier wrote an incomprehensible bit of psychobabble affirming her stunt as serious without ever really saying anything. It’s very important that everyone be seen to be playing the accommodating and inclusive role.
So Pelletier launches her interview by talking about this move by Soupy. Soupa. Whatever.
And she’s actually not in favor of the initiative, because she says that this isn’t how it’s done. One is called, she says, to a position of responsibility within the Church. One doesn’t merely apply for it. And she disputes the idea of competing to take over existing roles. Because, it is implied, new roles should be created for women.
She seems not entirely opposed to the idea of women in the ministerial priesthood, but again condemns the idea of this being about power or competition.
She wants to see women exercising authority in the Church regardless of the role – she mentions the parish level, episcopal councils, the pope’s council, and the college of cardinals.
But in emphasizing these other potential roles she sees for women in the Church, she de-emphasizes the priesthood, saying that it “cannot be the sole authority to decide on the life and governance of the Church.”
The priesthood, the diaconate, in other words, is not enough. Pelletier thinks that some lesser female diaconate would only “confirm the inequality between men and women.”
Her emphasis is on the opening of ministries in the Church to both sexes and different states of life. Again, we see in her comments not the desire for an elevation of women to the higher calling of the priesthood, but a desire to take the priesthood down a few pegs so that women can be more important.
I have to tell you, this feels even more insidious to me. Not only because attacks on the priesthood seem to be common in all heresies and destructive forces hell bent against the Church, but because this is the typical misandry we see from the feminist mind. They don’t want to be lesser versions of men, but they have no problem diminishing men so that they can be aggrandized and put on a pedestal.
It’s a massive double standard, and they don’t care. The priesthood is a traditionally male role. If they can’t have it, they’d rather destroy it and put something in its place.
On the specifics of the work of the commission, Pelletier says that in 1997, the commission that studied this tended toward favoring women’s diaconate, but ultimately concluded against it. No, she does not substantiate this.
Then, in 2016, she says the commission formed by Pope Francis agreed that deaconesses existed, but not how. They weren’t certain if they were ordained or not.
I want to read a section of her interview to you here, because it sets the stage:
Today the pope is relaunching a new commission, of which I am a member.
Its work, it seems to me, will have to begin with the question of fidelity to tradition.Is it a static reality, as such a normative one, that we can only repeat? Or are we not being asked for a work of creativity, of aggiornamento (updating), as Father Congar taught?
In the same way, we will certainly have to uphold the present Church, while starting afresh from the needs of the Christian communities, and taking into account the lived realities.
Let us not forget that this commission is an extension of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which highlighted the reality of communities deprived of priests, having survived only thanks to Catholic women who are entirely devoted to the faith and the exercise of charity.
It is to be hoped that these communities will receive institutional and sacramental empowerment, and that others may be called for such a ministry confirmed by ordination.
This is really painting with a broad brush, and so, we can see the blank check that Francis has written here. I wonder if perhaps we’ve been too narrowly focused on the institutions we’re seeking to protect without realizing that for these quote unquote reformers, the institutions are just roadblocks they need to either bulldoze or go around. They don’t necessarily care about the deaconate or the priesthood. Just empowerment. They can use the lack of vocations in countries where the Church has destroyed itself by being awful and tepid and progressive and unappealing for many years as an excuse to just start creating new positions where there are no rules already established that they have to overcome.
Pelletier specifically points out that it isn’t a kind of clericalization to receive a mandate from a bishop to act in some ministry in the Church. She even calls clericalism a vice.
Why do I feel like we were guarding the castle when the invaders never planned to take it in the first place. While we’re all holed up inside the walls, they’re sweeping past, taking the farmland from which the denizens of the castle drew their nourishment. We had a totally different idea of where the treasure was.
So Pelletier says it, flat out. Here’s another quote from her. It’s a bit long, but you need to hear the whole thing:
We should certainly not confine ourselves to what we know from the past.
The woman diaconate was essentially dedicated to the service of women, especially in the celebration of baptism by immersion.
Today, we are in a very different situation, and one that varies from country to country.
This diversity must be taken into account, as must the new conditions of ecclesial life in a country like ours.
The diaconate should allow women to baptize and to celebrate marriages, just as it should allow them to preach.In the same way, actions that confer grace could be enhanced. For example, when a woman – or a male who is not a priest – hears a confession, even without being able to give absolution.
Sacramental grace is not limited to our seven sacraments alone.
They don’t want to take over the Church. They don’t want to take over the priesthood. They want to entirely re-invent both. They want catechesis to stop being about learning doctrine. They want evangelization to be about the environment. They want to make the priesthood irrelevant by building new roles that totally circumvent it – roles that men or women could hold, roles that aren’t even actually sacramental.
As I’m reflecting on this, I’m recognizing that it sounds a lot like something Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich mentioned in one of her visions. I hope you’ll forgive me for reading a bit of a longer excerpt, but tell me if this isn’t at least reminiscent of what we’re discussing today:
September 12, 1820—“I saw a fantastic, odd-looking church being built. The choir was in three parts, each raised some steps above the last; and under it was a deep vault full of fog. On the first platform of the choir was a seat; on the second, a basin of water; on the third, a table. I saw no angel helping in the construction, but numbers of the most violent planetary spirits dragging all sorts of things into the vault where persons in little ecclesiastical mantles received them and deposited them in their various places. Nothing was brought from above; all came from the earth and the dark regions, all was built up by the planetary spirits. The water alone seemed to have something holy about it. I saw an enormous number of instruments brought into the church, and many persons, even children, had different tools, as if trying to make something; but all was obscure, absurd, dead! Division and destruction reigned everywhere. Nearby, I saw another church, shining and rich with graces from on high, angels ascending and descending. In it were life and increase, tepidity and dissipation; and yet it was like a tree full of sap compared with the other which was like a chest of lifeless institutions. The former was like a bird on the wing; the latter, like a paper dragon, its tail adorned with ribands and writings, dragging over a stubble field. I saw that many of the instruments in the new church, such as spears and darts, were meant to be used against the living Church. Everyone dragged in something different: clubs, rods, pumps, cudgels, puppets, mirrors, trumpets, horns, bellows—all sorts of things. In the cave below (the sacristy) some people kneaded bread, but nothing came of it; it would not rise. The men in the little mantles brought wood to the steps of the pulpit to make a fire. They puffed and blew and labored hard, but the fire would not burn; all they produced was smoke and fumes. Then they broke a hole in the roof and ran up a pipe, but the smoke would not rise, and the whole place became black and suffocating. Some blew the horns so violently that the tears streamed from their eyes. All in this church belonged to the earth, returned to the earth; all was dead, the work of human skill, a church of the latest style, a church of man’s invention like the new heterodox church in Rome.”
[Schmoger, Very Rev. K. E.. Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich Volume 2 (with Supplemental Reading: A Brief Life of Christ) [Illustrated] . TAN Books. Kindle Edition.]
All was dead, the work of human skill, a church of the latest style, a church of man’s invention. That’s what this is. That’s all this is. It doesn’t even matter, frankly, if this is what Emmerich was talking about. Because the analogy is apt. It’s a Church without meaning or purpose. It’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning of this pontificate – it’s all immanentism. It’s all about the here and now. All this excessive concern about the environment, the poor, the unfairness of economic systems, unemployment, weapons manufacturers, the loneliness of the elderly, and so on, it’s all of a piece. It’s all about trying to make some kind of earthly utopia. And the kind of people who want to make an earthy utopia are almost always the same ones who do not believe in an eternal one.
If you don’t believe in heaven, why not try to make heaven — or at least your conception of it — right here?
I am starting to think, perhaps, that in the grand scheme of things, we’re only in the nascent stages of the antichurch within the Church. That even though it’s taken a century to get to this point, that was merely the deconstruction phase. It’s taken this long for them to begin replacing the old institutions with new ones. We may be in for a long haul, so prepare yourselves for an extended siege. What has become exceedingly clear is that God will only intervene when he is ready to do so, and his view of time is not our view. His ways are not our ways. So hold fast, and keep asking him what he wants you to do.
And on that note — sorry to be kind of a Debby Downer today — we need to wrap up this episode.
Please remember to leave us a like on the video, to share it with your family and friends, to subscribe to our channel, and to support our work at onepeterfive.com/donate.
Until next time, I’m Steve Skojec, thanks for watching and listening. God bless you.
- The Vatican wants to decompartmentalize the catechism (La Croix/Paywall)
- Woman theologian wants to become Catholic archbishop in France (La Croix/Paywall)
- A woman archbishop for Lyon? (La Croix/Paywall)
- “We need to revisit the issue of ministries in the Church” (La Croix/Paywall)
- Pope Francis Asks Defender of the “Remarried” Divorcees to Write the Good Friday Meditations (1P5)
- The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich (2-Volume Set) [Amazon/Affiliate Link]