A few days ago, in his blog Settimo Cielo, the well-known Vaticanist Sandro Magister published this commentary on the current state of the work for the coming Pan-Amazon Synod. We invite all our readers to read it:
On Monday, June 17, the Synod on the Amazon, to be convened in Rome in October, was given its Instrumentum laboris, the document setting the basis for its discussions.
While it runs 59 dense pages, these few lines from paragraph 129 suffice to understand where Pope Francis wants to arrive:
“While affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, one asks that, for the more remote areas of the region, the possibility of priestly ordination of elders, preferably indigenous, respected and accepted by their community, be studied even though they may already have an established and stable family, in order to ensure the Sacraments that accompany and sustain Christian life.”
The last time the Pope had proposed this goal was at the press conference on the plane returning from Panama on January 27, 2019. When asked, “will you allow married man to become priests?” he first answered, repeating the words of Paul VI: “I would prefer to give my life before changing the law of celibacy.” But he went on to admit such a possibility in “more remote” areas of the world such as the Pacific Islands and “perhaps” in the Amazon region and in “so many places.” He ended by recommending a book by Bishop Fritz Lobinger that launches, among others, the idea – which Francis called “interesting” – of ordaining married men and giving them only the “munus” or task of administering the sacraments but not those of teaching and governing, as has been always the case with Holy Orders.
Lobinger, 90, was bishop of Aliwal, South Africa, from 1988 to 2004 but was born and raised in Germany, where he still lives. He is not the first German bishop or theologian who Jorge Mario Bergoglio has recruited in recent years to increase attention and consensus for ordaining married men to the priesthood, starting in the Amazon.
Before him, we can cite the theologian and spiritual master Wunibald Müller, with whom Francis, in 2015, exchanged letters precisely on this topic which Müller later made public.
But above all we must remember the bishop emeritus of the Brazilian prelature of Xingu, the Austrian Erwin Kräutler, 80 years old and a member of the preparatory council of the synod on the Amazon, whom Pope Francis always warmly encouraged in repeated meetings to fight for this result and now as a member of the synod’s preparatory council.
Not to mention Cardinal Claudio Hummes, 85, a Brazilian of German extraction who for years has been an open supporter of the ordination of married men. He is president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, which brings together 25 cardinals and bishops from the countries of that area, and has been designated by the pope as general rapporteur of the synod.
All this is done with the unfailing blessing of Bergoglio’s most beloved among German cardinals and theologians, Walter Kasper, 86, who in a recent interview with the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau said that Francis is just waiting to put his signature on a synod decision favorable to the ordination of married men.
The axis between the Argentine pope and Germany is not, however, a characteristic exclusive to this synod on the Amazon. It also has a before and an after.
The “before” was the genesis of the double synod on the family.
When Bergoglio, elected pope for less than a year, gave Cardinal Kasper the introductory report of the consistory of February 2014 and Kasper supported giving Eucharistic communion to the divorced and remarried, the fate of the synod on the family was already written.
In its two sessions of 2014 and 2015 that synod split vertically on that issue, but Francesco decided on his own authority to reach the set goal, albeit in the ambiguous form of a footnote in the post-synodal exhortation Amoris laetitia.
Ever since, any bishop in the world can authorize in his diocese that communion for the divorced and remarried, for which some German bishops led by Kasper had already fought in the nineties. At the time, they were strongly opposed by Pope John Paul II and by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
After the double synod on the family, there was an intermission at the Vatican, albeit with the scent of a German-speaking city in Switzerland named Sankt Gallen. Before and after 2000, it was the site of meetings of the club of progressive cardinals – who later elected Bergoglio to the papacy – whose leading exponents were the Germans Karl Lehmann and Kasper and the Italian Jesuit Carlo Maria Martini.
They were to decide on the subject of the next synod and on the agenda of Pope Francis, beginning with the question of ordaining married men.
“The lack of ordained ministers, the role of women in society and in the Church, the discipline on marriage, the Catholic vision of sexuality…”
However, Bergoglio chose to take his time and assigned the topic of youth to the synod scheduled for October 2018, with the implication of eventually discussing “the Catholic vision of sexuality,” including homosexuality.
Due to a prudential decision by Bergoglio himself during the work, that did not happen and the synod on young people ended up being one of the most boring and useless in history.
However, the special synod on the Amazon was also scheduled for 2019. And here Martini’s agenda was fully resumed, not only by dealing with the ordination of married men (which was practically decided before the synod began), but even with an enigmatic wish, again in paragraph 129 of the Instrumentum laboris, to “identify the type of official ministry that can be given to women,” which will not be the “female diaconate”, which Pope Francis referred to “further study,” but will still be a “ministry”, perhaps sacramental.
This is not over yet, because the synod on the Amazon will also have an “after”, and that will be it precisely in Germany.
Last March, the German Bishops’ Conference, meeting at a plenary assembly in Lingen, set up a national synod with three preparatory “forums” on the following topics:
– “Sexual morality,” chaired by the bishop of Osnabrück, Franz Josef Bode;
– “Form of presbyteral life,” presided over by the bishop of Münster, Felix Genn.
The Martini agenda is back in full swing and the introductory reports of the plenary assembly of Lingen clearly state they want both to legitimize homosexual acts (the unfinished goal of the synod on young people) and to introduce the ordination of married men in Germany too (therefore no longer only in the remote outskirts of the Church like the Amazon).
They also insisted that a majority vote be enough for these decisions, without a minority being able to block its entry into force and without the need for a green light from the Catholic Church as a whole.
Everything leads us to believe that Francis did not object to this explosive program of the Church in Germany –which is one of the most disastrous in the world by all leading indicators except for monetary wealth. Yet, Bergoglio promotes it as a beacon of his pontificate.
For a critical interpretation of the synod for the Amazon, in Italian and English:
> Pan-Amazon Synod
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