The management of the last two synods of bishops and, at least until now, of the coming Synod on the Amazon seems destined to kill the Synod as such by emptying it of authority and reducing it to a set of ecclesiastical policy moves agreed in advance. When the Synod on the Amazon is held, the faithful will realize for the third consecutive time that “everything had been planned in advance” and will lose interest in synods despite the organizers’ rhetoric on how the Holy Spirit blows upon synodal works. At that point, synods will have become a clever, secularized ecclesiastical practice and will have come to an end, dead from asphyxiation.
In recent days, some blogs and news outlets have reported on a secret and confidential meeting held in the Vatican with the participation of influential cardinals, including the usual Schönborn and Kasper, whose purpose would have been to condition the outcome of the coming synod on the Amazon. Such practices are not surprising. As you will recall, a similar event was organized during the Synod on the Family. On May 25, 2015, a closed-door meeting was held at the Gregorian University, organized by the Bishops’ Conferences of Germany, Belgium and France to condition the ordinary synod. Only a few people, however, deemed it scandalous.
The twin Synods on the Family of 2014 and 2015 can be considered prototypes of a new form of synodal assembly: planned from the beginning and guided systematically to produce certain pre-established results. Cardinal Kasper was asked to give the cardinals an initial lesson that dictated the path to be followed. It was drawn verbatim from a 1979 book of his on the theology of marriage. It was no coincidence that Kasper was put in charge, nor that no representative of the John Paul II Institute was invited to the extraordinary synod. Then there was the finding – for the first time in the history of the synods – of forbidding the Fathers to make statements and restricting outside relations to Father Federico Lombardi who went about them (as they say) in his own way. In the relatio post disceptationem at the mid-way point of the extraordinary synod, the secretariat inserted doctrinally disruptive passages that had nothing to do with the synod’s discussion.
Thirteen cardinals wrote to the Pope to emphasize that the members chosen for the synod’s Secretariat were too biased. But the secretariat was left in place and drafted all other documents of the synod. The questions asked in the questionnaire of the ordinary synod were biased. Contrary to the practice followed until then, even articles on homosexual relations, rejected by a large majority, were included in the relatio synodi. During the work, Cardinal Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod, prevented the distribution to the Fathers of the so-called book “of the five cardinals”. In the instrumentum laboris of the ordinary synod, articles with dubious content were included, such as the famous article 137, against which a large group of moral theologians led by Stephan Kampowski and David Crawford wrote a public appeal in defense of Humanae vitae. At a synod still in progress, the Pope produced the two Motus propri on the revision of the marriage nullity process. The Exhortation Amoris laetitia seems to have been thought – even if perhaps not written – before the synod, and the latter seems to have been instrumentally governed to bring it there [you can see on this my recent book in https://www.fedecultura.com/Esortazione-o-rivoluzione-p140491624,].
The subsequent synod on young people was also planned in advance and conducted to have certain results. Among the various aspects of this planning, we recall the preliminary tendentious data collection and, above all, the expression “LGBT Catholics,” present in the instrumentum laboris. It was disputed by some authoritative synod fathers and eliminated from the subsequent synodal documents in which, nevertheless, and in a quite unusual way, they stated that also the instrumentum laboris, and therefore the disputed expression, were part of the synod’s conclusions.
What painfully affects the conscience of faithful Catholics is, on the one hand, the obvious and even ostentatious manipulation of synodal processes, and on the other, the presentation of the synodal assembly as an event animated and dictated by the Holy Spirit.
It is striking, therefore, that the planned manipulations aim at obtaining intra-ecclesial effects and above all doctrinal change. The objectives of the coming Synod on the Amazon have been defined in advance: integral ecology understood as Gnostic ecologism, religious pluralism that includes various forms of animism and paganism, condemnation of the historical modalities of evangelization of the Latin American continent as an opportunity to pass from evangelizers to evangelized, and openness to overcoming ecclesiastical celibacy, a change that will be imported also in Central Europe. But if synods are reduced to a cunningly manipulated machine to produce a new Church, then they are doomed to die. Perhaps that is just as well.
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