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No, the Pope Can’t Order them to Stay, or Return to the Synod



The other thing also is that as the Synod begins to wear on, there’s an awful lot of people right now, faithful Catholics, who are becoming concerned, and many laypeople aren’t really sure what they can do. And they feel right about that because there really isn’t anything they can do on the temporal level. We can certainly pray; as we’ve said on the Vortexevery day, be sure to pray your Rosary specifically for the Synod, specifically for the Church.

But outside of that, when we’re dealing with these sorts of questions about what can lay Catholics do, a number of them are starting to get a little panicky about what’s happening. To that end, there’s even one effort, an online petition, encouraging some of the bishops to walk out of the Synod — just do a walk-out. While that certainly may be well intentioned, I’m not sure how that would play out because what happens if the Pope turns around the next day and says, “Get back in here”? They’d look a little silly. But it’s not the question of petitioning to walk out, it’s the point that there are many, many faithful around the world who are starting to get very nervous as they see things unfolding. – Michael Voris

I’m going to say it again: I like Mike. I consider him a friend (we have had dinners and drinks whenever we’re on the same continent and he even attended my 45th birthday party, to great hilarity all round) and I like and respect his work. I know he’s done a huge amount of good helping Catholics understand the seriousness of the crisis, and he has done some great work exposing certain prelates, in a Catholic journalistic atmosphere that is almost stifling when it comes to bishops. We don’t agree on every point, (and some of the people he works with can be a little… odd… now and then) but the points of disagreement aren’t at issue for the moment.

But I do want to correct him on a little of the above. First, as I posted the following under his piece:

“Mike, the pope invites bishops to participate. They are free to come or not, or to go. Perhaps a little bit of the papolotry we see so often has crept into this assumption that the pope could or would “order” a bishop to attend a synod once the latter had decided to leave. The idea would be abhorrent, particularly to the liberals who claim to value collegiality and the notion (heretical) that the pope is merely first among equals. They’re supposed to be colleagues, freely participating in a gentlemanly ‘process’ for the good of the Church and the good of souls.

Even from the point of view of PR, it would be disastrous for Francis to do anything like that, since it would severely undermine the careful facade they have all been at such pains to create. The synod, moreover, is nothing like an ecumenical council or conclave, that does have some kind of canonical requirements.

It was all conceived by Paul VI (probably from the Anglicans whom he admired) as a very modern notion of ‘dialogue’ and ‘discussion’ to perform, ultimately, a strictly advisory role. Even in the case of Councils, there have been cases in the past where bishops have deemed the process to be so corrupt or the discussions so dangerous in terms of leading the Church towards heresies that they have left, in protest.

People have asked what good it would do if they did leave. but if nothing else, it would grant them, at least temporarily, a platform in the press to say freely what they want to say. And I’m pretty sure even CNN, the BBC and the NYT would grant them more than the three minutes offered by Baldisseri and his cronies.

Second, I’m afraid he has unfairly characterized the motives of the petition’s authors and sponsors, of whom I am one. The reaction we are expressing in the letter, which can be found here, is not “panic” or “nervousness”. In fact, among all those in the Church objecting to the goings on at the Synod, the self-identified Traditionalists are the least frightened, nervous or worried. And we are far from being “panicked”.

Traditionalists have been expecting precisely this kind of result since the close of Vatican II and all that followed. We are neither nervous, nor panicked. Honestly, we are not even surprised. Weary of being misrepresented… but nothing new under the sun, eh? It is certainly true that many in the conservative Catholic world, perhaps particularly in the US where this phenomenon of “papal positivism” has become so prevalent, nervousness, and even outright fear, seems to be the order of the day. This problem of Catholics being afraid has been one of my main motivators to creating and to taking the bullish and lighthearted tone at What’s Up With the Synod?. We aim to help talk people down from the ledge, give them a laugh, and remind them that a bad pope does not make the Faith untrue.

This petition is part of that effort. It is simply the obvious logical response to a situation that has already got so far away from the purposes of the Church that it has become a public disgrace. My fellow petitioners have been careful to point out that its request that the bishops leave the Synod is conditional. The letter says, “if,” the situation deteriorates to the point where participation can no longer be justified we urge them to leave. This action, moreover, has longstanding precedent in the history of the Church.

Personally, I believe that point was reached last year, and confirmed in the intervening year when Pope Francis appointed the same group of men, allowed the Instrumentum Laboris to be published as we have seen it, and then went to the extra trouble of personally inviting Cardinal Danneels and men of his ilk, men who have spent their entire episcopal lives working to destroy the Faith of Christ. Had I been the sole author of the letter, I would not have bothered with the conditional “if”.

This is not a matter of “panicking”. This is a sober evaluation. The Synod is “locked down”. The evidence is clear that the outcome is fixed, and has been fixed since long before they bought their tickets to Rome. A man of integrity does not participate in a “process” that can only end to the destruction of souls.

We have called ourselves the Canon 212 Society, because we are availing ourselves of the means of public communication to address our legitimate concerns, for the good of the Church and for souls, to our lawful superiors in the Faith.

Can. 212 §3 They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

Now, Mike appears to disagree with this assessment. He has not signed, and I have just been informed that after my comment, another of the letter’s signatories attempted to post a link to the petition but that it was immediately removed by the site’s administrators. This is also fine. It’s their site. They don’t have to post things they don’t want to post. We don’t have to agree on every method and means. But I do ask my friend Michael Voris to be careful from now on how he characterizes his fellow Catholics who are gravely and soberly responding to the outrages being perpetrated before the eyes of all the world.

I continue to be grateful for the work of Mike and his staff, and send them fraternal greetings, should they stop by WUWTS.


A version of this post originally appeared on Whats Up With The Synod?

21 thoughts on “No, the Pope Can’t Order them to Stay, or Return to the Synod”

  1. I signed the petition. That said, i would like to remember that St Athanasius was excommunicated for not going to Rome when he was summoned. So if they are called back they would have to go back, but all he agenda would have been changed after that.
    Its the strongest possible statement: “We are not going back but we are not going to discuss what its not possible to be discussed”
    And, no, nothing to do with panic.

  2. I oppose walkout for the time being because I believe the ad intra lio-making opportunities are too good to discard. Paul should confront Peter to his face.

      • I get that, Steve. So it’s a bit confusing that in blog posts petition sponsors are sending a mixed message that in many ways says Get Out Now.

        • It’s a semantic question. We had limited space. If you read this:

          “Therefore, we faithfully request that each and every faithful Catholic bishop at the Synod, having made every effort to resist these attacks on Christ’s teaching, if its direction remains unaltered and those faithful voices remain unheard, do his sacred duty and publicly retire from any further participation in the Synod before its conclusion so as to prevent greater scandal and confusion.”

          There are conditions here:

          – Have you made every effort?
          – Is the direction continuing, unaltered?
          – Are faithful voices still unheard?

          If you can answer YES to these, then you need to get out before the thing ends. Last day works. Today works. Up to you.

          Not everyone agrees on the prudential details, even among the organizers. We do all agree on the fact that this has to come to an end.

  3. Will there ever again be a pope who defends clearly and promotes faithfully the Holy Faith? Or is the current state of things the new normal?

  4. Please God, don’t let this turn into a squabble between CM and 1P5… we need both sites focused on the baddies.

    • I have neither the time nor the interest of pursuing such a course. Michael’s error here is important to note, however, for those considering signing the petition. If the pope were to “order them back” it would be disastrous for his papacy and the veneer of collegiality he has so carefully constructed.

  5. Nicely put Hilary! Some may understand such a ‘walkout’ to be some sort of abandonment of the sheep. On the contrary! Such a walkout, or boycott, may make a greater statement than any use of words.

  6. Voris has been making errors for a long time but i have never seen him back down or apologize once (im not including his cringeworthy public apology to Francis).
    He typically doubles down. I think you may have just fired the first few shots of yet another divisive and destructive Catholic in-fight.

  7. No walk outs. Stay and fight for the Truth. Pope Benedict XVI should have never left his post. I will never understand that. Never.

  8. Michael Voris is part of the establishment that he once used to attack. The cognitive dissonance in his videos is staggering, not the mention the arrogance displayed to those he vilifies e.g.) The Remnant. I do not take him seriously any more


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