As the apostolic nuncio to the United States tells the
American bishops to get in line with the Holy Father and show they are taking
steps to hand on the “Magisterium of Pope Francis” to their flock, ten German dioceses
have affirmed their solidarity with the projected ‘Synodal Path’.
So the question arises: what does Francis want? Is he a proponent of centralised authority (as his ‘bombshell’ to the American hierarchy implies?) Or is he sympathetic to regional synodical authority (like that of the German project?)
The answer probably lies in the curious wording of Archbishop Christophe Pierre’s message. The Americans are being encouraged to ‘get alongside’ not the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (as evidenced, for example, by the Catechism); but the Magisterium of Pope Francis (as evidenced by Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si.) Pierre is stressing the personal authority of Francis and conformity to it.
The Americans, in the view of the Vatican are clearly ‘rigid’, and need to loosen up.
It remains to be seen whether the German, with their aspirations for women priests and same sex marriages, are too pliable, or not flexible enough. With this Pope you can never tell.
Things, as Alice remarked, simply get curiosser and curiouser.
It has now been reported that Francis has described critics of the Amazon Synod as ‘racists’. Nothing could more plainly illustrate the Looking Glass world he presently inhabits.
The racists, surely, are those who impose the myth of the ‘noble savage’ – and the theology of German liberals – on the unsuspecting peoples of the Amazon. This is the real and destructive colonialism. The manipulation of the synod has been flagrant and apparent. Indigenous peoples would never speak of themselves as the final document of the synod speaks of them.
They are being rendered pawns in the game of Western relativists, who seek to foist on them, in the name of diversity, a denuded and ersatz Catholicism. That this is allowed to pass as a ‘new evangelism’ further compounds the offence.
Why does Pope Francis put up with Eugenio Scalfari? It is a puzzling question. The veteran journalist has been given privileged access to the Pope twice recently. And on both occasions he has claimed that the Holy Father spoke in a way that all would call unorthodox and most would categorize as heresy.
The question surely is this: why does Francis permit it? And why is the Vatican Press Office left (ineptly) to pick up the pieces? The Holy Father could as easily (and more authoritatively) deny the assertions himself.
There are after all, a number of possibilities. That Scalfari is theologically naive and ill informed, and so unable to comprehend Francis’s subtlety of argument; that he is old and confused; that he was enthusiastically trying to foist his own opinions on the Holy Father; that Francis had (not for the first time) spoken imprecisely or carelessly.
But we need to have a word, as to which it was, from the only other witness who was present at the interviews. As in the case of the dubia, silence is not an option
To view truth is to move away from a binary right or wrong attitude, a binary them and us, a battlefield of ideas and loyalties. St John Henry saw truth and loved it, despite the cracked pots in which it was held.
If you are an apostle of ‘inclusion’, everyone and every thing is grist to your mill.
As Francis has dragged S.Francis of Assisi. into his warped world of eco-ethics and multi-faith celebration, so these were the (nearly) last words of Justin Welby in a sermon preached about John Henry Newman at Vespers in Westminster Cathedral. Both traduce the saints to whom they refer.
Francis of Assisi sought to be reconciled with Muslims by converting them; and John Henry paid the price of a ‘parting of friends’ for his belief that Truth is binary. Both Francis and Justin. alas, are prepared to betray history in pursuit of principles which they hold to be self-evident. And in so doing they show themselves to be prisoners of their own time.
Let the saints be saints; not vehicles for Virtue Signalling.
In the culture wars which have ravaged Europe since the seventeenth century, the principal tactic of the Left (to use the term broadly) has been entryism. This has been particularly so in the Churches. More recently WOKENESS in the guise of ‘inclusion’ has sought to replace the Christian virtues of tolerance, hospitality and forgiveness. This was never more true than in the cases of women’s ordination and the approval of gay marriage. (Bishop Michael Adie’s assertion in the women priests debate that the innovation was ‘required by the tradition’ comes readily to mind.)
Seldom have orthodox Christians called the bluff of the liberals. They have been prepared to acknowledge that the innovations were church-dividing issues; but they have – with few exceptions – stopped short of dividing the Church.
Step forward the evangelical Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glen Davies, who called for gay marriage supporters to leave the church, provoking from liberals the expected response: ‘he seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them’.
What liberals want is endless conversation, dialogue without terminus. What they cannot stomach is a blunt recognition of their own apostasy. Davis has called their bluff: it is open to them to found a new church. What they cannot legitimately do is to claim fellowship in the Body of Christ, the Church Apostolic.
Stephen Bullivant has produced a wonderful book. Mass Exodus is a masterly and authoritative analysis of the statistical decline of the Catholic Church in Britain and America (and in other parts of the Anglosphere).
Whilst Bullivant does not lay the entire blame on the effects of Vatican II, he persuasively demonstrates that the reforms often attributed to the Council were a major contributory factor. With the legendary Peter Berger he agrees that there is little or no evidence that the use of Latin (or indeed Cranmerian English) was alienating for the laity. But both were axed with a clerical ruthlessness which is difficult to explain. With the legendary Mary Douglas he agrees that the removal of other cultural markers (such as fish on Fridays) weakened a sense of loyalty and belonging. God, he points out – in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – has no grandchildren. Converts are no more than a tenth of those abandoning the Church.
What the book does not say, because of the limits Bullivant has set himself, is that the numerical decline of the German Church is as disastrous and precipitate; but that in the Bergoglian Church German theology is in the ascendant.
It is now pretty clear that Francis has got what he wanted out of the Amazon Synod. He promises very quickly to come up with his magisterial post-Synodal Exhortation – though in truth that was probably drafted some time ago.
He will get three things from the synodal exercise:
Permission for local conferences of bishops to authorize a married priesthood. This will begin as a concession to the special circumstances of the Amazon basin, but will spread like wildfire to other areas. (Just watch the proposed German ‘Synodical Path’!).
Encouragement to re-open his Commission on women deacons – and to pack it with further nominees in favour of the innovation. No longer will the Commission’s focus be historical. History will be massaged to serve what are perceived to be the needs of the Future.
Further endorsement for synodal ‘walking together’, which is in fact a cover for further diminishing central authority and devolving it to local or national churches. More and more decisions about doctrine and praxis will be taken at the regional level rather than at the level of the Church Universal. |So ‘walking together’ becomes walking apart.
All this fulfils what have long
been this Pope’s aims and aspirations. It amounts, with Francis’s egalitarian
view of other religions (as expressed in the Abu Dhabi Declaration), to a
radically new ecclesiology.