When Francis reconvenes the Synod on Synodality in Rome on October 4, 2023, the world will see how much progress he has made in completing the plans for “a different church” he announced almost two years ago:
“Dear brothers and sisters, may this Synod be a true season of the Spirit! For we need the Spirit, the ever new breath of God, who sets us free from every form of self-absorption, revives what is moribund, loosens shackles and spreads joy. The Holy Spirit guides us where God wants us to be, not to where our own ideas and personal tastes would lead us. Father Congar, of blessed memory, once said: ‘There is no need to create another Church, but to create a different Church’ (True and False Reform in the Church). That is the challenge. For a ‘different Church,’ a Church open to the newness that God wants to suggest, let us with greater fervour and frequency invoke the Holy Spirit and humbly listen to him, journeying together as he, the source of communion and mission, desires: with docility and courage.” (Francis, October 9, 2021, Address to Open the Synod)
Many faithful Catholics have managed to ignore the Synod on Synodality thus far, but those who now want a primer on the Synod need look no further than these words from Francis about Congar’s inspiration. Fr. Matthias Gaudron’s description of Yves Congar in his The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church provides enough detail on the man to alert us to the likelihood of wickedness involved with any project following his lead:
“Subject to strict surveillance after 1947 (he would later say: ‘From the beginning of 1947 until the end of 1956, I experienced nothing but an uninterrupted series of denunciations, warnings, restrictive or discriminatory measures, and mistrustful interventions’), he cleaved to the same ideas (in his intimate diary, he relates that twice while at Rome he went to urinate against the door of the Holy Office as a sign of revolt!). Nevertheless, Yves Congar was summoned as an expert to Vatican II by John XXIII and greatly influenced the Council. John Paul II named him cardinal in October 1994.” (p. 36)
As we can see from the Synod’s first two years, Francis and those leading the Synod have already created a different church, one that no longer resembles the Catholic Church.
As filthy as it was for Congar (“of blessed memory”) to urinate on the door of the Holy Office, he actually treated the Catholic Faith with even less respect, which is why he had been “subject to strict surveillance” by the Church during the pontificate of Pius XII. Here, for instance, is how he praised one of the Church’s greatest enemies:
“Luther is one of the greatest religious geniuses of all history. In this regard I put him on the same level as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, or Pascal. In a certain way, he is even greater. He entirely rethought Christianity . . . I studied Luther a lot. Scarcely a month goes by without my revisiting his writings.” (The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church, p. 36)
Unfortunately, Congar’s studies of Luther allowed him to learn the all-important lesson of keeping the “reforms” within the bounds necessary to avoid being censured — Congar thus learned how to push the limits of heterodoxy. That is the critical insight of the book Francis cited as inspiration for his push to “create a different church.”
As we can see from the Synod’s first two years, Francis and those leading the Synod have already created a different church, one that no longer resembles the Catholic Church:
Church Identification. The Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris for the October 2023 meeting has 114 references to the “Synodal Church” and 26 references to the “Catholic Church,” most of which are simply to identify the “Eastern Catholic Church.” By giving the “different church” a new name, Francis has made it much simpler for us to discern that the Synodal Church definitely is not the Catholic Church.
Membership. In his 1943 encyclical, Mystici Corporis, Pius XII clearly explained the membership of the Catholic Church:
“Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.” (Mystici Corporis, §22)
Conversely, the Synodal Church has a much more amorphous membership, which appears to include all baptized people:
“[A] synodal Church is founded on the recognition of a common dignity deriving from Baptism, which makes all who receive it sons and daughters of God, members of the family of God, and therefore brothers and sisters in Christ, inhabited by the one Spirit and sent to fulfil a common mission.” (Instrumentum Laboris)
The Synodal Church does not explicitly reject Catholics, but it includes those who Pius XII (like his predecessors) always excluded from membership in the Catholic Church.
Throughout its documents, the Synod frequently suggests that its membership is synonymous with the People of God:
“Indeed, both synodality and ecumenism are rooted in the baptismal dignity of the entire People of God.” (Instrumentum Laboris)
As Fr. Dominique Bourmaud described in his One Hundred Years of Modernism, it was Congar who helped introduce this concept of the “People of God” in the Vatican II documents:
“To Congar, friend of Rahner, do we owe the schema of Lumen Gentium, which, with its famous ‘subsistit,’ claims that the separate Churches belong to the Church of Christ — pure heresy. Small wonder if equivocacy of terminology was rampant at the Council. Where the traditional magisterium dealt with the nature of the Church, Congar spoke instead of the mystery of the Church; where Pius XII consecrated the notion of member of the Mystical Body of Christ, Congar inserted Tyrrell’s vague notion of ‘communion of the People of God.’ Why? Because one is or is not a member of a body, but one can be more or less in communion.”
Thus, the Synodal Church does not explicitly reject Catholics, but it includes those who Pius XII (like his predecessors) always excluded from membership in the Catholic Church.
Missionary Spirit. The actual Catholic Church understands its relationship to the world in terms of the mission Our Lord gave it. Leo XIII described this mission in his 1885 encyclical on the Christian Constitution of States, Immortale Dei:
“For the only-begotten Son of God established on earth a society which is called the Church, and to it He handed over the exalted and divine office which He had received from His Father, to be continued through the ages to come. ‘As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.’ ‘Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.’ Consequently, as Jesus Christ came into the world that men ‘might have life and have it more abundantly,’ so also has the Church for its aim and end the eternal salvation of souls, and hence it is so constituted as to open wide its arms to all mankind, unhampered by any limit of either time or place. ‘Preach ye the Gospel to every creature.’”
The world will hate us for trying to convert souls, but that will remain the Church’s mission until the consummation of the world.
So, according to Congar, we should not try to convert souls to the Church because we might be motivated by seeing large numbers of converts.
As quoted by Fr. Bourmaud in One Hundred Years of Modernism, Congar rejected the Church’s mission, apparently because it opposed his heretical views:
“Today nobody can claim that any need to save souls from hell is what accounts for the missions. God saves them without their knowing the Gospel. Otherwise we should all leave for China.” (Fr. Bourmaud cited the following for this quote from Congar: Jean Puyo, Jean Puyo Interroge le Père Congar: Une Vie pour la Vérité (Paris: Centurion, 1975))
Crucially, it appears that Congar could not have expressed this heretical rationale for abandoning proselytism in his True and False Reform of the Church without compromising his unholy undertaking of reforming the Church, so he crafted the thoroughly disingenuous position that trying to convert souls is bad because Catholics may begin to place too much weight on seeing the fruits of their labors:
“Some time ago I published a study on proselytism and evangelization in which I made a contrast between two attitudes that we can adopt. Using these two terms, we can see how we pursue the success of the institution of which we are ministers (proselytism) rather than seeking the spiritual good of others and their grounding and progress in Christ (evangelization). Looking at our real motives and the spirit of our actions, we perceive sometimes that we have allowed ourselves to be overtaken by enthusiasm and by a preoccupation with what is easy and immediate. So ultimately what we’re looking for, it seems, is converts to our group, numbers in our organizations, growing influence, and the support of influential people.”
So, according to Congar, we should not try to convert souls to the Church because we might be motivated by seeing large numbers of converts. He makes it seem as though Our Lord did not understand human nature when He gave the Church its mission! Congar surely knew how to work wonders with his malicious sophistry, much to the detriment of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Although Francis routinely condemns proselytism, the Instrumentum Laboris does not directly condemn proselytism but instead follows Congar in speaking of the Synodal Church’s missionary spirit in terms of evangelization:
“As a synodal Church, we are called to discern together the steps we should take to fulfill the mission of evangelization, emphasizing the right of all to participate in the life and mission of the Church and drawing forth the irreplaceable contribution of all the Baptized.”
Obviously there is no reason for the Synodal Church to convert souls to the Catholic Church. Tragically, it will be naive Catholics who are convinced to leave the Catholic Church to follow the Synodal Church.
Congar was “like the child who takes a perverse pleasure in destroying.” And yet he was one of the most influential experts at the Council, a Cardinal, and now the inspiration behind Francis’s Synodal Church.
Movement and Fluidity. The first sentence of Instrumentum Laboris describes the spirit of movement that animates the Synod: “The People of God have been on the move since Pope Francis convened the whole Church in Synod in October 2021.” Similarly, the Synod’s Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) spoke of the movement as a journey:
“The DCS will be understandable and useful only if it is read with the eyes of the disciple, who recognizes it as a testimony to the path of conversion toward a synodal Church.”
Essentially this “path of conversion” boils down to Catholics transmogrifying into anti-Catholics (like Francis, Cupich, McElroy, Martin, Hollerich, Grech, etc.) without having any suspicion that they have lost the Catholic Faith.
Congar spoke of this same process as one of “becoming”:
“‘Becoming’ means opening the mind to new dimensions of reality; failing or refusing to do that constitutes a new kind of moral category—a historical fault—a sin against the truth that reality has this dimension of becoming. Further, this is a collective failure, a historical-social failure of responsibility.”
This is one of those statements from Congar that is so ludicrously anti-Catholic that we can truly understand Fr. Bourmaud’s observation that Congar was “like the child who takes a perverse pleasure in destroying.” And yet he was one of the most influential experts at the Council, a Cardinal, and now the inspiration behind Francis’s Synodal Church.
Catholicism, on the other hand, does not involve any evolution of the Faith. Indeed, St. Pius X condemned the following proposition in his 1907 Encyclical Condemning the Errors of the Modernists, Lamentabili Sane:
“The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.”
We see the immutable aspect of the Faith so clearly when we notice that the pre-Vatican II popes could always cite the popes and saints of the Church’s entire history to support their positions. Conversely, today’s “authorities” rarely cite anything other than Vatican II and John Paul II.
Whereas the Catholic Church safeguards the beliefs Our Lord entrusted to it, the Synodal Church discovers its beliefs from the “living consensus of the whole body.”
Content and Source of Beliefs. Naturally, the distinction between the Catholic Church’s immutable Faith and the Synodal Church’s “becoming” will lead to vastly different beliefs. Congar spelled out the need for those differences in his True and False Reform in the Church:
“In antiquity, the world was stable and the ideal was to continue a tradition. The church was required to be faithful to itself and it hardly felt any need to pursue new human initiatives. By contrast, we have entered a world of perpetual change, marked by an evolution of events that the world interprets as progress. We have acquired a sense of history that is something other than, and more than, simply knowledge of past events; there is a feeling of progress in the world, of development in human affairs. No longer is the church the framework for the whole of social life; no longer does the church carry the world within itself like a pregnant mother. From now on the world stands before the church as an adult reality, ready to call the church to account. It no longer suffices for the church to verify its fidelity to its own tradition. The church now must face up to questions and criticisms with respect to its relationship to the world, to social values, to progress, and to social developments.”
So we who hold the Catholic Faith remain in the period of “antiquity” described by Congar, which is likely why Francis routinely denounces Traditional Catholics as backwards. Conversely, the “enlightened” followers of Congar are in-sync with the modern world.
Interestingly, Congar spoke of the “synodal principle” as the means by which a church could “respond to the living consensus of the whole body,” which ultimately translates into following the “predilections of the modern world”:
“This link between church reform and the synodal principle makes sense. It clearly expresses something fundamental. It is a question of linking together an initiative from the base to the action of the authorities, linking support from the bottom to the leadership of the organization. An assembly, whatever form it may take—chapter, synod, council, congress, palavers—is a place of dialogue where a common will can form and be asserted, and where authorities can respond to the living consensus of the whole body.”
Whereas the Catholic Church safeguards the beliefs Our Lord entrusted to it, the Synodal Church discovers its beliefs from the “living consensus of the whole body.” In 2023, that “living consensus of the whole body” prompts the Synodal Church to ask the most enlightened of all questions in its Instrumentum Laboris, such as:
“In the light of the Post- Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church because of their status or sexuality (for example, remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people, etc.)?”
As faithful Catholics, we can respond to this question with some of our own:
- Does anyone other than Satan and anti-Catholics benefit from pretending that the Catholic Church and the Synodal Church are the same?
- Given the fact that the Synodal Church is not the Catholic Church, can Catholics belong to both?
- Can Francis preside over both the Synodal Church and the Catholic Church?
- Can our good shepherds, with good conscience, fail to unequivocally denounce the Synodal Church?
It seems that the answers to each of these questions must be a resounding “no!” We still have good shepherds in the Church who know this. May God grant them the grace to see what is clear and have the courage to act upon it! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
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