Sunday, October 19, 2014

Synod Wrap Up

The farcical but epic event that was the 2014 Synod on the Family has now come to a close. What an astonishing two weeks it has been! Some were predicting fireworks, and others a hum-drum business-as-usual affair, but I don't think anybody could have predicted what we got - nothing short of a revolt of the global episcopate against the manipulation of Kasper, Baldiserri and Bergoglio. There's so much that can be said and that has been said; in particular I'd like to commend Rorate Caeli for their excellent coverage of the Synod and their wonderful articles, which will no doubt form an important component in the historical archive of this momentous event. I do not wish to retread ground already broken by other blogs, so let us be content with reviewing a few of the major points to consider coming out of this Synod.

First of all, to those of you who in the run up to the Synod were predicting it would be a non-event, boring, dull, nothing to get excited about, etc., etc., to you I say "Ha!" Not only was this Synod an extraordinarily dramatic event, but probably the most eventful ecclesiastical clash to happen since Vatican II. The Synod marks a turning point in the pontificate of Pope Bergoglio and has sent a clear message to progressives everywhere: it's not going to be as easy as you think. Therefore, regardless of what we think about the final documents of the Synod, we certainly ought not to neglect the importance of the Synod as an event. In Roberto de Mattei's monumental work on the Second Vatican Council, he notes that the fundamental failure of the traditional reaction in the 1960's was due to a narrow focus on the documents themselves and the inability of the conservatives to understand the Council as an event. We should not make the same mistake; focusing exclusively on the text of a document ignores the importance of this Synod as a watershed turning point.

2. Those who are now saying, "See, I told you the doctrine would not change because doctrine can't change!"...well, those people never adequately understood the issue to begin with. If you are one of these people, please stop, visit this link and attentively read the article, and then return here. Nobody ever seriously thought the doctrine would change. The concern was that the discipline might be undermined while on paper the doctrine remained in place. This would have been much more insidious. I think my friend Blake from Popin' Ain't Easy got it more accurate when he referred to this Synod as "Humanae Vitae II"; that is, a lot of effort to create the momentum and impression of an imminent doctrinal shift only to find that the tradition is reaffirmed, much to the chagrin of the idiotic progressives who were banking on "change." This is in fact what happened. However, despite the orthodoxy of the Relatio Synodi, a tremendous amount of damage was done because the impression was given that admitting the putatively "remarried" to communion and accepting homosexual so-called marriage are at least open for discussion. This is why Burke insisted so strongly that these particular topics be taken off the table altogether.

3. Though the final Relatio Synodi is not ultimately the most important thing to consider, it does merit some attention. The revolt of the bishops ensured that the final product we got was at least orthodox - although I should point out that it is still extremely wimpy and shot through with mushy Vatican II humanist vocabulary. But that is at least on par with what we have been getting for the past forty years. The bishops' revolt simply stopped the language from getting worse than it already would have been. Or, as Mundabor says, the document suffers from the Vatican II disease, but not the much more aggressive and deadly Bergoglio disease. Yes, the final Relatio could be stronger, but at least orthodoxy has been upheld and the document is not subversive. So Te Deum.

4. That the final Relatio Synodi is not a subversive mismash of Bergoglian gobbledygook and Modernist platitudes is due to the courageous protest of our bishops. They are the true heroes of the Synod, and a surprising bunch of heroes at that. Yes, I never thought I would say it, but I am proud of our bishops. Burke of course is worthy of the most praise as the leader of the reaction, but I also want to single out Cardinal Pell, who despite his waffling apparent implied denial of Original Sin in his debate with Richard Dawkins, redeemed himself by firing the opening salvo against Forte and Baldiserri. Cardinal Müller also deserves praise. Cardinal Mueller is a perfect working example of the concept of the grace of office. Though many Traditionalists had grave reservations about Gerhard Müller when he assumed direction of the CDF in 2012, during the Synod he functioned exactly as he was supposed to in his office - as a watchdog of orthodoxy. So yes, I am proud of these bishops. Are they ideal bishops? Am I ready to acclaim Müller, Pell and Napier as the vanguards of tradition? Of course not. But when it really came down to it - when their backs were against the wall - they stood up when it really counted, and for that we should all be grateful. Our prayers for our bishops, which we so often thought were offered in vain, were in fact efficacious.

5. If you think about it, this is the opposite dynamic as at Vatican II. At Vatican II, you had a cabal of Council Fathers drag the Council in a progressive direction in a manner unanticipated by the pope, who through weakness or indecision, failed to stop it. At the Synod you had the pope and a few fellow conspirators trying to push a liberal agenda against the will of the vast majority of bishops. This obviously puts Michael Voris in an awkward position. Voris had made a name for himself by following the "good pope, bad bishops" line of thought. The acts of the Synod run so contrary to that mantra that it may be a wake-up call for Voris; that is at least implied by this update from Rome Voris published the other night. It will be interesting to see how he takes all this. [UPDATE: Voris announced on Oct. 22nd that he had removed the above-mentioned article because he felt it incorrectly insinuated that he was criticizing the pope. See Voris' clarification here]

6. Voris' special report is entitled "Pope Harming the Church" and is a quote from Cardinal Burke's now famous Buzzfeed interview. More than any other Cardinal, Burke emerged as a clear and powerful voice in favor of orthodoxy and  tradition. Despite Burke's demotion, his leadership at the Synod may actually elevate him to the status of a papabile in the next conclave. How so? Apparently, the majority of Synod fathers are "furious and indignant with Pope Francis" for the manipulative tactics of the Synod - and these are not any bishops, but the most important bishops and cardinals in the world. It is highly possible that they are realizing that Francis is a huge disaster for the Church, and even those who may have cast a ballot for him might now be stepping back from the cliff after witnessing the auto-demolition of Catholic faith and morals almost accomplished this month. These "furious and indignant" bishops will most likely not be voting for a Bergoglian in the next conclave, but rather a man who can clearly, powerfully and charitably teach Catholic dogma. Burke has singled himself out for the job by his admirable performance in defense of orthodoxy before the whole world. We all prayed for Pope Burke in 2013; ironically, Burke may have a much greater chance post-Bergoglio. God may be preparing him for greater things during his exile.

7. If Burke's credibility unexpectedly went up, Kasper's was unexpectedly demolished. And I mean destroyed. Kasper is finished. What delicious irony! This event so carefully managed, so minutely choreographed, that moment in which Kasper expected to celebrate a supreme triumph ended up being the occasion of his ultimate humiliation and downfall. Profound, serene theology indeed! Kasper is a laughingstock and can never be taken seriously again, at least not by any of the bishops. "They make a pit, digging it out, and fall into the hole that they have made. Their mischief returns upon their own heads, and on their own heads their violence descends" (Ps. 7:15-16).

8. That being said, upon reading Kasper's infamous comments on the African bishops, I have to say that I did not find them racist or xenophobic. Condescending? Yes. Racist? No. Upon rereading his statements a few times, Kasper essentially made the argument that the African Church is in no position to lecture the western bishops on moral issues since the African Church itself struggles with its own unique moral problems, such as polygamy and "gradual marriages." It was a subtle way to say 'clean up your own house before you worry about ours.' This position, however, is extremely condescending, precisely because those Catholics who have to contest against perversions such as polygamy and gradual marriages have greater insight into the value of the Catholic family than we in the west. Their testimony is more valuable, not less, because they have a keener understanding of how important traditional marriage is. This is why Kasper's comments were so insulting. And his denial of making them establishes him as a liar, too. Other bloggers have opted to label these comments as racist; I mean no prejudice or disrespect to bloggers who have done so, but for me personally there is not enough evidence to meet my threshold of what constitutes a racist, so I choose to abstain from using that label for the time being.

9. I mentioned above that this Synod is a turning point in the pontificate of Pope Francis. Some have even narrowed this turning point down to Thursday, October 17th, shortly after 9:00am, when Cardinal Pell began the attack against Baldiserri's manipulation. This is a turning point for Francis because it may amount to a vote of "no confidence" in his leadership. No doubt Francis will spend the next twelve months exacting retribution on the members of the conservative backlash in preparation for Synod 2015. He may or may not be successful. But the point is, the breach has been opened. Things will never return to the status ante-bellum for Bergoglio.

10. On a final note, the Synod ended with the beatification of Pope Paul VI. Do not be surprised if sometime shortly - maybe a few months, maybe a year - new "evidence" emerges to strengthen the old accusation that Montini was a homosexual. Then the Church will be saddled with a homosexual beatus and the world will have a field day. I am not the only one predicting this.

In closing, this Synod revealed definitive evil intentions on the part of several actors, who were intent on lying and manipulating the proceeding to obtain their own desired ends. Whatever degree his involvement in the actual shenanigans, our Pontiff is definitely aligned with this group, which is profoundly disheartening. But the Synod was also an occasion of some tremendous moments of grace as bishop after bishop stood up and refused to go along quietly while the Catholic faith was dismantled. In this Synod, despite its huge problems, we all caught a glimpse of what would be possible if all the bishops of the world actually stood up for the Catholic faith. It was a small glimpse, a fleeting glimpse - a tiny crust of bread fallen from heaven - but enough to marvelously strengthen faith in the fidelity of God and the efficacy of all our prayers, rosaries, Masses and sacrifices offered for our bishops. Let us commit ourselves with renewed zeal to these pious efforts towards the restoration of Holy Mother Church.


Gigi S said...

Excellent analysis! Thank you!

Brian S said...

Yes. Excellent analysis indeed. It was quite a rollercoaster. And I agree with you in thinking that Kasper's infamous comment on African bishops was more condescending than it was racist.

Anyway, I feel a lot better. I was beginning to lose hope; the beautiful witness of our bishops has done much to renew it.

Agnes said...

Regarding your 2nd reflection, I am appalled that you seem to be implying that we can't trust the infallibility of the Magisterium. I read the article you give, and I am still confused. I agree that it is troubling how clouded the very fallible clergy have presented doctrine for us lay people, but I don't agree that the doctrine itself is clouded. Could you please clarify?

Boniface said...

Agnes, I think you misunderstand. People like myself were never worried that the teaching would change; the doctrine can't change. Therefore people who were saying "Don't worry the doctrine can't change" never understood what we were worried about. The concern was not that the doctrine would change, but that they would leave the doctrine in place while finding a way to change the practice, which is a more subtle and realistic danger, since unlike a change of doctrine, this could conceivably happen.

Agnes said...

Thank you Boniface, this makes much more sense, however I do wish that a lot of the Traditionalists blogs/ articles would be more clear on this. Once the document itself comes out that is an official teaching though, correct?

Boniface said...

Depends on what sort of document it is. Many documents issued by the Magisteriun nevertheless have no "Magisterial authority" because they are exhortations or directed to a particular minority (ex. JP2's letter to artists) or are otherwise not meant to convey any teaching. For example, if the post-2015 synodal document is merely meant to be a summary of the two synods and an exhortation, then yes it is official, but it has little Magisterial authority. It all depends on if the pope is intending to teach something universally and the language he uses in explaining this.

Joao said...

Have you seen the video footage ?

Read the body language: they're happy, smiling, relaxed.


Well first of all, there's that 5 minute applause after the Pope's speech. That covers a lot "sins".

Second, the Pope is now presenting himself as the middle way between the "traditionalists", who want to preserve the current doctrine and discipline, and the "progressivists" who want to "develop" the former and change the latter. The Pope (and Kasper) want to keep the doctrine (in theory) while changing the praxis. Its ridiculous and ilogical of course, but that's what they wanted all along and now they are in a excellent position to present this as middle ground.

Third, everybody is implicitly accepting doctrine by majority vote, now. This is the most insidious development.

Fourth, by promoting a "free" discussion and extending it for a full year, heresy will become (even more) acceptable in speech and practice.

Finaly, the 3 offending paragraphs are still in the document (along with several others that were not voted down). They will be sent to the national bishops conferences "for discussion".

The Erdo/Bruno Forte document was an excelent strategic move. Bar any direct Divine intervention, they are in a stronger position now that they were in the beggining of the synod.

Unknown said...

The Synod should include Mathew 22:12. The man with the wrong clothes are homosexuals. They are totally in the wrong with anything to do with sexual relationships. ie marriage between man and a woman.

Arturo Ortiz said...

Regarding the comment that Boniface stated regarding the fact that doctrine and dogma can't change I think I can add a little bit more insight.

The truth is that as Boniface has stated traditionally minded Catholics as ourselves were never worried that doctrine was going to change. What we were worried about is that discipline was going to change or in other words become lax. I think that the following article by Fr Chad Ripperger is the best in regards to what I am talking about. He states that the Church has been going through a period of extreme imprudency in its changing disciplines and of making them lax.

David said...

The Voris video "has been removed by the user". Do you know if it has been republished with another address? It would be good to see Mr. Voris becoming a bit more realistic on this point.

I thank you for this strengthening analysis, and for your call to increased zeal. That is what we need now, when the defenses have been tested by a raid.

In Christ,

Elizabeth said...

Excellent essay, Boniface, as usual. I'm afraid that I agree with Joao, though. At least his comment gave me pause. Praying for our Bishops and Cardinals!

Boniface said...


1) Body language is overrated...and bishops would clap after a pope's speech no matter what he said, so, eh...

2) Agreed. The pope wants to resurrect the old fake distinction between a radical-right "integralism" and a radical-left progressivism. Many of our prelates also accept this dichotomy. I would not suggest that the purpose of the Synod was to create this dichotomy; this is a rear-guard action. The pope wanted a clear progressive victory; since that was denied him, positioning himself here is Plan B. It is not nearly as strong as a position as they hoped, but it is better than admitting a conservative victory.

3) Yes, heresy could become more rempant in the next year...maybe...but it cuts both ways. Defenses of traditional marriage could also become stronger in the next year. The bishops have realized how they are being manipulated. The resistance demonstrated at the Synod could continue.

4) These paragraphs are not "in the document" but appended to it. Not a big difference. But again, if we are focusing narrowly on the document, I would tend to agree. However, the document is not the whole of this. A line has been crossed by the bishops resisting the pope and his cronies, and if we view it more as an event than as a document, the outlook is not that grim, although still fraught with danger.

In conclusion, I agree that there are still dangers - the next year could see the pope coming down on individual bishops, scattered, disunited, who are effectively silenced. But the opposite could happen as well - a more formal protest to these sorts of moves could materialize.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that Kasper is through. He is the epitome of a liberal crusader and will never give up, and he has many allies inside the hierarchy.
He is wounded, but not dead.

Boniface said...

He will still be the darling of the media, and maybe the pope will dote on him, but I don't think he will ever have respect among his brother bishops again.

Anonymous said...

I googled youtube for "pope harming church" and came up with nuthin. I think Voris took it down. But I'm still on his side. He is trying to run a Catholic apostolate, seeking the spread of the faith, and conversions. He won't get far saying "Be Catholic - Ignore Pope."

The rest of us, already Catholic, are in the position to make distinctions.

Kasper's words regarding the African Bishops weren't racist, or even too condescending, if you consider his position. He wanted to loosen up the concept of Catholic marriage, and maybe extend it to homos. He knew it was futile to expect the African Bishops to side with him, and he said so. That was clear. We just tend to see such things through the fog of political correctness, 'cause we are marinated in it day after day.

What would have been great is if he could say the same thing about all the bishops! "We can't expect them to change doctrine or relax morals because it is taboo! It is against the Truth of Christ!"

That is what would have been cool!


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Boniface. Typically thoughtful, well written, and accurate. Kudos.

Our Pope and Our Cross has lost a battle but not the war - even though it is ineluctable that he will lose the war if he continues; that is, the Vicar of Christ is opposing the will of Christ re the divorced and remarried and he will not win in the end.

It may happen that about the time for the final Synod report to be issued, he will realise he can not win his war of surprises and he will abdicate.

That is probably the best case scenario for IF he continues to war until the end, God will withdraw His Providence and he will die in office prior to the final report being promulgated.

Boniface said...

FYI. Why the Voris video is gone.

Not That Guy said...

So Voris jumps on every wayward syllable of a Cardinal Dolan, but when it comes to the Pope, all of that behavior is wrong?

I really don't understand.

Aetius said...

I don't think it looks good for the 'progressives' at all. Though I'd like to think the Bishops and Cardinals were moved by the 'Holy Spirit'... even just material considerations will keep them orthodox.

Why? Because once the Church goes full 'progressive', then these Men are going to suddenly have to become 'entertainers' (like Benny Hinn) to keep their congregations.

At some point, throwing beachballs and dancing gets old.

GeorgeB said...

There was nothing wrong with the video. And he didn't even criticize the pope in the video. He was quoting Cardinal Burke's public criticism of the pope in the video. How is that wrong?

And even if he was criticizing the pope, why would that be wrong? Is the pope above criticism? Are we not allowed to criticize the pope? Burke's criticism, which Voris was quoting, was perfectly legitimate.

Would we have not been allowed to criticize John XII?