Back in September, I told you about the proposed Synod rules, which were being revised to reduce transparency and keep the inner workings a secret. There would be no controversial mid-term report, they’d keep the discussion in small groups to avoid cross-pollination, and no final report or post-synodal exhortation was expected.
In other words, those in control of the Synod were locking things down. They weren’t going to be embarrassed again by such strong backlash against their heterodox agenda. And they were doing this in the knowledge that it would be Pope Francis, not the Synod fathers, who would make the final determination on outcome. Everything would be in his hands. At the time, I said:
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.
Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, said as far as doctrine is concerned, the German episcopate remains in communion with the Church, but on individual issues of pastoral care, “the synod cannot prescribe in detail what we have to do in Germany.”
The German bishops want to publish their own pastoral letter on marriage and family after the synod, the article says.
“We are not just a subsidiary of Rome,” Cardinal Marx said. “Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.”
This statement made serious waves. Cardinal Burke, in a video interview with Polonia Christiana, said:
“I don’t know what the…those German bishops who made that statement are trying to say but if they’re saying that they’re independent from the Universal Church, then they’re no longer Catholic. That can’t be.”
Cardinal Marx: “We must try to remain together,” he said. “The Church is the only institution in the world that can reach unanimous agreement. Thank God we have the pope. We bishops do not have to decide. Church unity is not in danger. And once the pope has decided, we will abide by his decision.”
This is a complete reversal of his previous position. But has anyone heard Marx say he was wrong? That Kasper is wrong? That communion for the divorced and remarried is off the table?
Rather than a change of heart, could he, perhaps, have been reassured by certain private conversations, or perhaps even by the Holy Father’s intervention last weekend?
Pope Francis delivered an unscheduled intervention in the synod yesterday morning. He instructed synod fathers that they should consider the Ordinary Synod to be in perfect continuity with the Extraordinary Synod. He told them that they were to consider only three synodal documents as formal documents of the synod; these were his own opening address at the Extraordinary Synod, the Relatio Synodi of the Extraordinary Synod, and his own closing address of that synod. The heterodox nature of the Relatio Synodi, which received the Holy Father’spersonal approval, was discussed by Voice of the Family in our Analysis of the Final Report of the Extraordinary Synod. The Holy Father also said that the question of the reception of Holy Communion by the “divorced and remarried” was not the only one for the Synod to consider. This would indicate however that Pope Francis considers the question to be open, despite being clearly resolved by Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the teaching of his predecessors. The content of the Holy Father’s intervention was repeated a number of times by Fr Lombardi and other speakers at the press conference.
The intervention of the Holy Father yesterday has undermined the authority of Cardinal Erdő’s report and has signaled to the synod fathers that the Holy Father would prefer the discussions of the synod to proceed along the lines established by the heterodox Relatio Synodi rather than the orthodox introductory address of Cardinal Erdő. The Holy Father’s actions have gravely weakened the cardinal’s efforts to reorient the Ordinary Synod towards an affirmation and defence of Catholic doctrine.
Most of you reading this are by now already awake. But not all. Some of us are still trying to find some orthodox explanation for the actions of Pope Francis.
The signs, however, are there – if you only open your eyes to look for them.
This is Pope Francis’s Synod, and it has been from the beginning. He calls the shots, he appoints the fathers and the administrators, and he will have final say over what it produces. That the most vocal enemies of Christ and His Church are taking comfort from this fact is not at all reassuring.
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 eight children.