From John Allen at Crux:
Despite an online petition calling on prelates “faithful to Christ’s teaching” to abandon the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family, due to perceptions of a “pre-determined outcome that is anything but orthodox,” one of the summit’s most outspoken conservatives says “there’s no ground for anyone to walk out on anything.”
Australian Cardinal George Pell, who heads the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, told Crux on Friday that by the midway point of the Oct. 4-25 synod, concerns about stacking the deck circulating in some quarters have “substantially been addressed.”
The online petition calling for a walkout, which can be found at change.org, has garnered roughly 2,300 signatures in two days.
It asks any bishop alarmed by the prospect of progressive changes to Church doctrine to “do his sacred duty and publicly retire from any further participation in the synod before its conclusion,” and suggests that Pope Francis is responsible for promoting “confusion and scandal.”
Pell was among roughly a dozen cardinals who signed a letter to Francis at the beginning of the synod raising doubts about the process, but he says reassurances have been given by Vatican officials that the final result “will faithfully present the views of the synod.”
Among other things, Pell said that Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the synod secretary, has stated from the floor of the synod hall that voting on a final document will take place “paragraph by paragraph,” providing a clear sense of where the bishops stand on individual issues.
He also said that members of a drafting committee for the final document have vowed to be true to the content of the synod’s discussions, rather than using the text to promote their own views.
“That’s all we want, for whatever the synod says, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent, to be represented,” Pell said.
“That’s in the long-term interest of everyone, because no matter how it might turn out, people want to feel that the bishops got to that situation fairly,” he said.
Asked if he feels the synod now has a level playing field, Pell said it’s “level enough.”
A couple quick thoughts:
It’s fantastic to have acknowledgement that this is being considered by the cardinals at the Synod so soon after launch and with only 2300 signatures. The Filial Appeal to Pope Francis went on for most of a year and gathered the better part of a million signatures, and went unacknowledged. While it has always been a fairly low probability that we would actually see what we want — bishops walking out of a rigged Synod in protest — it is of vital importance that they are made aware how concerned the faithful are, and the extent to which we are watching, hoping, praying, and desirous of courageous action.
In other words: if any of the Synod fathers are having a conversation about the existence of our letter, it’s a win. We support those who are there to uphold Church teaching, and we want them to know it.
The fact that Cardinal Pell says that “there’s no ground for anyone to walk out on anything” is perhaps a hopeful sign that things within the Synod are going better than we had hoped, but it’s not sufficient reason to end our campaign. It has always been our intention that the Synod fathers fight for this as long as they still see hope; some of us think the very fact that fundamental doctrines are being discussed as though they are subject to change is sufficient reason not to participate, while others want a drop-down, drag-out brawl until the very last day.
At some point, though, if there is sufficient cause to believe that they are facing a fait accompli, the faithful bishops should leave in protest – and head straight to the media with their side of the story.
I’d like to say it’s nice to hear assurances that things are looking good for Team Jesus, but I must admit that I find myself deeply skeptical. The bishops who represent the greatest danger to Church teaching on marriage and family are those personally invited by Pope Francis, and Pope Francis has the final say on the Synod outcome. And we’re already seeing some of these men emboldened in their reckless desire to offer the Eucharist to those who would receive it sacrilegiously, thus eating and drinking condemnation unto themselves. (1 Cor. 11:27-30)
Are we to believe that the Synod has discouraged them in such pursuits?
So rest assured, the petition goes on. If you haven’t signed it, please consider doing so today.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.