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Monday, October 5, 2015

Bracing for the Synod…Means, Motive, and Opportunity

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Bracing for the Synod…Means, Motive, and Opportunity

A few weeks back, I happened upon an article from Catholic Answer’s own Karl Keating in which he speculated upon the possibility that Pope Francis might resign in a year or so in acceptance of his own limitations and suitability to the role. While that is certainly an interesting topic, it was not that part of the article that greatly interested me.

After making fair and respectful critique of Pope Francis’ communication style and general suitability to the role of Vicar of Christ, Mr. Keating makes the following remarks:


"I don’t think it [retirement] would be before October’s synod. He certainly would want to see that project through. Unlike some others, I’m not much concerned about the wayward cardinals and bishops who will be in attendance. I don’t think they will come close to having the votes to force through a less-than-orthodox final statement, and I don’t for a minute suspect that Francis secretly wants them to prevail.

"Nothing in his moral teaching over the years—whether as cardinal or pope— gives any support to such speculation.

"But I do think Francis wants the synod to be a “success” (however he envisions that)…" 

With all respect to Mr. Keating, I believe his assertion that there is “nothing” that gives any support to speculation that Pope Francis supports the activities and mission of what Mr. Keating acknowledges are “wayward cardinals and bishops” either displays willful blindness to the implications of basic facts, or a stunning lack of imagination.

I would like to suggest some few “somethings” that suggest at least the possibility that the Pope supports some or all of the agenda of those “wayward cardinals and bishops” and that the Pope not so secretly would like to see them prevail. Further, new information suggests that those “wayward cardinals and bishops” are placing all their bets on the Pope making them prevail.

I take it from the context of Mr. Keating’s remarks that he would wholeheartedly agree that it would be a crime against the Church if the synod produced a “a less-than-orthodox final statement” or in any way undermined the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, whether through deliberate ambiguity or changes to immemorial praxis.

To establish the likelihood of this crime being committed, let’s look at whether the potential perpetrators have the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.

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So let’s look at some basic facts. It was Pope Francis who called for the Synod on the Family. It is the Pope who is the President of the Synod. It was Pope Francis who selected Cardinal Kasper to deliver the preparatory speech in February of last year, the speech that put the question of communion for the divorced and remarried front and center.

The Pope saw and approved the contents of that speech in advance, according to Cardinal Kasper.

It was Pope Francis who appointed Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the Cardinal who later publicly bragged about how he would manipulate the Synod to nefarious ends.

It was Pope Francis who appointed the rest of the Synod leadership, the leadership that produced the disastrous and un-Catholic Instrumentem Laboris of 2014.

It was Pope Francis who approved that disastrous Instrumentem Laboris.

It was Pope Francis who reviewed and approved the disgusting and heretical Relatio Post Disceptationem, a document rightly called by the group Voice of the Family “one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history”.

It was the Pope, who allowed the initial attempt by Cardinal Baldisseri to prevent the reaction to that document by the Synod Fathers from publication, before being shouted down by them and relenting.

It was the Pope, who by his sole authority, ordered the publication of troubling non-Catholic paragraphs stricken by the Synod Fathers in the final document of the 2014 Synod.

It was Pope Francis who approved the equally troubling Instrumentem Laboris for the 2015 Synod.

 It was Pope Francis who just this past month ordered changes to the annulment process, changes opposed by many Synod Fathers, which will undoubtedly lead to widespread abuse and the continued weakening of marriage.

And now, if recent reports are to be believed, these very same Synod leaders who did all of the above, have entirely changed the rules of the 2015 Synod, eliminating entirely documents and discussions of the Synod being published. Instead, there will be no interim document published (the document which caused all the controversy in 2014). There will be no discussions published; in fact there will not even be any general discussion, but only small groups that cannot communicate with each other. There will not even be a final document voted upon and published by the Synod Fathers. No, instead, there will only be a closing address by the Holy Father.

And that’s it. And then the Pope can do whatever he wants following the Synod.

Why the changes? Why would the very same people with the very same goals as 2014 now change the rules of the 2015 Synod so dramatically and invest all results in the will of the Pope if they did not have at least some confidence that the Pope desires the same ends?

With all respect to Mr. Keating, there are plenty of reasons to suspect that Pope Francis wants the heretical innovators to prevail. There is also good reason to suspect that the innovators have that same expectation.

None of this suggests that I know what the Pope will do. I don’t even know if the Pope knows what he will do.

Further, there is always the possibility of a Holy Spirit moment from out of the blue, for which I pray daily. But there are very good reasons to be suspect about the upcoming Synod and what the Pope wishes to prevail. ■

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Last modified on Monday, October 5, 2015
Patrick Archbold

Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report and a Catholic writer on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company. Patrick, his wife Terri, and their five children reside in Long Island, N.Y.