It’s typically bad form to say “I told you so.” (But if you’re going to gloat, do it like Hilary. Then it’s hilarious.) Still, when you are perpetually maligned and attacked for your concerns and predictions, it’s sometimes appropriate to document the events as they unfolded to show that you really were on the scent. (Sorry #Bishopsgotthis hashtaggers – you got it wrong. Again.)
A new report is out today, and it’s credible, insofar as it confirms what we have been hearing all along (and because Rorate scoops are rarely duds.) A “wise, knowledgeable, and highly influential cleric, writing under the pen name of don Pio Pace” has written an Op-Ed about the yet-to-be-released Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. It’s not long, but it’s difficult to excerpt without quoting most of it, so I’ll just encourage you to read the whole piece.
Though I don’t think I did it in public, I had taken to referring to the events of October as the “Potemkin Village Synod” among friends. And the gist of the revelation follows suit: Pope Francis, along with “Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Assembly, Abp. Bruno Forte, Special Secretary, Abp. Paglia President of the Council for the Family, and a few others” conspired to draft a pro-Kasper post-synodal document before the Synod even opened, and had a multi-stage plan about how to implement this, in part, through the manipulation of the Synod itself.
I said I wasn’t going to excerpt, but to sum up, here’s the pithy conclusion from New Catholic:
In sum, the October 2015 assembly was nothing but a theatrical play destined to prepare the final act which is already written: the post-Synodal Exhortation of mercy and forgiveness for all. Its message will count on the unanimous support of the secular media, and of the vast majority of the Catholic media which a long tolerance for liberalism naturally inclines towards solutions that please the world.
If this is true, it confirms the suspicions I’ve been relaying to you all along. Let’s revisit:
On September 11th, I warned:
So now, we see a rumored attempt to close down the proceedings entirely. To keep the small working groups even from communicating effectively with each other. To put the disjointed reports of disparate groups in the hands of the pope without ever publishing them, so we’ll never know what was actually said, and how much they opposed the final outcome.
Just like last time. Only last time, the good guys fought back and won the day.
This is a power grab.
It’s an autocratic move, and it signals confidence on the part of the Synod managers, who have proven themselves at the very least to be sympathetic to the Kasper agenda, that the pope will give them exactly what they want. Otherwise, they would be doing all that they can to keep the proceedings transparent. I can’t stress enough how important that is. We can see what they’re doing by what they’re trying to hide, and where they’re placing their bets.
Only God can stem the tide of what is coming now. Only His hand can steer us toward victory. Still, we are not excused from duty. Humanly speaking, those of us who remain in this battle for the soul of the Church and the protection of the family are the last line of defense. Nobody is coming to our rescue. The few bishops who have spoken out are very likely the only ones who will. We cannot place our hopes in a deus ex machina solution. We are on the eve of a great schism, and if we do not hold fast, if we do not ensure that we are doing Christ’s will and not our own, we will fail.
My sources in Rome say that there is a press conference scheduled for this Friday, where we will likely learn what we need to know about the proceedings. I expect that an attempt to lock down the information pipeline and keep the word from getting out to the media will be very difficult to enforce…
Now, more than ever, we need to remember what it means to be Catholic. The Kasper Koalition will not take that away from us.
I encourage you all to pray for God’s will in the Synod. I’ve stopped trying to petition Him for certain things. As a wise clergyman recently said to me, “I think that God permits that the evil inside the Church must grow and reveal itself in all its wickedness, and then God will intervene and make shine the truth and the beauty of the faith…”
God may in fact will that this Synod give forth some very wicked fruit indeed, if only that what has been hidden in darkness may at last be brought into the light.
On October 1st, I shared with you the revelation that a “Shadow Synod” was already meeting to work on the post-synodal document. (I followed this up by sharing a report on October 13th in which it was alleged that Pope Francis was meeting with such a group on an ongoing basis during the Synod.)
On October 3rd, I reiterated this point again, adding to the list of 7 reasons Voice of the Family believed the Synod would be manipulated:
There have been reports of a “Parallel Synod” already at work on the documents that may be presented at the conclusion of the Synod, despite the fact that the work of the Synod fathers won’t begin until tomorrow.
On October 7th, I substantiated the concerns I expressed on September 11th about a Synod information lockdown with this profile piece on Fr. Thomas Rosica, who as the English-language spokesman for the Synod was clearly obfuscating the reality of events as they were transpiring and supplanting them with his own agenda:
We have heard that even before the Synod began, a secret group of theologians began work on its final documents, which would make it somewhat difficult for them to accurately reflect the proceedings. We know that whatever happens in the Synod, Pope Francis has the final say on what we are to take from it. We have been told that Francis’s own intervention in the opening days of the Synod has kept the most controversial aspects of last year’s portion in central focus. And now, we have one of Francis’s biggest fans in the position of telling us what (and only what) he thinks we should know about the proceedings.
On October 14th, overwhelmed by the preponderance of evidence that the fix was in, I joined with other Catholic writers and theologians in launching an open letter/petition, asking the Synod fathers to walk out rather than be co-opted by a manipulated gathering oriented toward a pre-ordained outcome. In the letter, we cited the reasons for our concern, then wrote:
We fear, evidenced by all of the above, that the Ordinary Synod will attempt to recommend changes in teaching and pastoral practice that are contrary to the Gospel of Christ and the constant teaching of the Church on the sacred mystery of Catholic marriage and the nature of human sexuality. This would pose a clear and present danger to souls.
The Code of Canon Law 212 §3 states that the Catholic faithful “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…”
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.
Those bishops who remain as participants, accepting this process and its outcome, must certainly bear responsibility for whatever confusion and sin may result among the Catholic faithful from what would be the disastrous fruits of the Synod.
On October 16th, Cardinal Pell, considered by many to be the leader of the “resistance” to the Kasper proposal and one of the 13 Cardinals who expressed their concerns over the Synod proceedings to Pope Francis, was asked about our petition during a press event. He chose to rebuff our concerns:
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.”
On October 20th, undeterred in my concerns, I penned an Op-Ed in the Washington Post on my concerns that the Synod was all for show, and that the final outcome had already been decided:
[Pell’s] assurances provided little comfort. Bishops in attendance from Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia — regions where progressive ideology holds less influence — have continued to issue dire warnings about the Synod. Archbishop Peta of Kazakhstan said that he detects the “Smoke of Satan” in the meeting’s working documents and interventions, favoring compromises with Gospel truths that cannot be accepted. Archbishop Stankiewicz of Latvia said that “the admission [to Communion] of persons living in new unions would be an act of injustice against those couples who are struggling to save their marriage and with a great effort to remain faithful.”
Meanwhile, media coverage of the advances of radical proposals to change established practices, coupled with the implied approval of Pope Francis, has given the impression that many of the rules under discussion have already changed. Subsequently, individual Catholics are not waiting for a final document but are instead drawing the conclusion that the existing rules no longer apply to them.
Lacking a corrective word from the vicar of Christ, a gesture that might calm the storm, Catholics are left to wonder which side the pope is on. In his address last Sunday, Francis spoke of “the synodality of the Church” and his intention to impose greater “decentralization.” Were he to delegate to local bishops, as many suspect he will, the authority to determine such questions as whether the divorced and remarried could receive communion without a change of life, the effects would be catastrophically divisive, as the battle between opposing camps within the Synod has demonstrated.
Also on October 20th, I wrote:
It has long been my concern that Francis will make an end-run around the restrictions of papal infallibility by not making a decision that is binding, but rather by delegating the decision on matters as important as Holy Communion given to the unrepentant to Bishops, who must determine their own “pastoral process.” We know what this would lead to. We know that it could be done through ambiguities and vagueries, so that no one could easily pin the blame on the Holy Father. We even know the language to look out for – the idea that the Eucharist is “not a prize for the strong, but a source of strength for the weak, for sinners.”
Of course, we saw the handwriting on the wall in numerous gestures over the past 31 months, gestures we and others have documented through countless posts and articles while we have seen our concerns go dismissed and even scoffed at.
And finally, on October 27th, to the resounding cries of “conservatives won!”, I pushed back, hard:
Did anyone truly expect a deeply, openly heterodox [Synod relatio] text? Does anyone believe that this ends here? Does anyone think that Pope Francis — the same pope who imposed two apostolic letters to streamline annulments without the consultation of any relevant dicastery, without speaking to any of the canonists at the Apostolic Signatura who should have vetted the jurisprudence therein — has really been put in his place by “conservative” Synod fathers? Does anyone think that his concluding speech signaled defeat – a speech which lashed out at those “dead stones” who care about doctrine, promoted cultural and moral relativism, and said that “the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness”?
This is not over. We didn’t get the cure to this fatal disease, we got an obvious placebo. Stop celebrating, because the next wave is already coming, and no matter how exhausted we are, the fight goes on.
The heretics in the Church are not cowed. They are more empowered than ever. Those who advanced heterodoxy at the Synod were not disciplined – nor were they, as so many wishful-thinkers speciously tried to convince us, brought to Rome by Pope Francis to be “smoked out.” They are his friends. They helped get him elected.
Pope Francis is the guardian of the Church. He has allowed these rough men to attempt to violate Christ’s sweet spouse, and has raised his voice in protest not against those seeking to have their way with her, but against us – the very ones who would protect our mother from such an outrage.
People who listened to my podcast earlier this week about Francis Fatigue said they could hear how exhausted I am. That’s because I’ve been warning and warning and warning since October, 2013. (And back then, I was mostly alone. Now, not so much.) What did I write then? The same thing I am saying now:
Not all popes are chosen by the Holy Spirit, folks. Not everything a pope says is infallible, either. Heck, most of it isn’t. It’s OK to distance yourself from a dangerous pope. You don’t need to keep saying that things he said or did are being taken out of context, or that he didn’t contradict doctrine. The pope is not the faith. Eastern Catholics have been getting along fine without much input from him for millennia.
History shows us the truth of this. Pope Stephen VI wasn’t taken out of context when he held the cadaver synod. Pope John XII wasn’t misunderstood when he was committing adultery and murder. Pope Urban VI wasn’t being taken advantage of by the media when he tortured members of his curia who opposed him.
And none of these popes contradicted doctrine. They were all real popes. Valid popes. They were all protected by the Holy Spirit from promulgating doctrinal error in an official capacity, and that guarantee worked out just fine. But they were all a****le popes. Terrible, lecherous, murderous people. May God have mercy on their souls.
The thing they couldn’t do that Pope Francis can do? Give interviews that can be read by a global audience. Talk about doctrine in a non-doctrinal capacity in a way that gets everyone all confused. You can argue that they were worse while they were bedding women and killing enemies and digging up the corpses of their predecessors, but I honestly find that a lot easier to deal with. Nothing like, as Nancy Pelosi likes to say, a “Wolf in wolf’s clothing.” I like an enemy I can see.
No, what’s worse is when the enemy speaks in half-truths. When they veil themselves in cryptic language that can be taken to mean one thing by the orthodox and another by the progressive. When they speak in code that tells their brothers in the revolution that the fight is still on, that the 1960s aren’t dead yet and getting better. When they say nothing at all that can be definitively denounced as heterodox but everything that can be embraced by the heterodox if they so choose.
Stalin had a word for the people who sympathized with the Soviets in the West: useful idiots. This papacy is looking to be a continuation of the revolution that began before Bl. John XXIII invoked the council. This is a battle for the soul of the Church that is happening within the boundaries of papal infallibility, but make no mistake – a lot can go wrong without changing a single doctrine.
So am I saying I told you so? I guess so. I am frustrated with those who have fought me tooth and nail along the way, because the handwriting was on the wall. In huge capital letters. In neon.
But here we are. And my guess is that the revelation that the document was ready back in September means that its release is imminent. These things rarely surface too far in advance of the main event. So buckle up.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher 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 eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.