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October 18, 2014

The Mods Defeated–at Least for Now

It is at least partly reassuring to learn  from Australian Cardinal George Pell that  the attempted  putsch by modernist bishops at the synod on  the family has been thwarted–at least for the present.  According to the Catholic  News Service, the Cardinal has said  that working-group reports have finally given a true picture of the assembly’s  misleading mid-term report.  

We wanted the Catholic people around the world to know actually what was going on in talking about marriage and the family and, by and large, I think people will be immensely reassured, We’re not giving in to the secular agenda; we’re not collapsing in a heap. We’ve got no intention of following those radical elements in all the Christian Churches and going out of business.

He described  the synod’s mid-term report as tendentious and skewed, and said it didn’t represent accurately the feelings of the synod fathers:

 In the immediate reaction to it, when there was an hour, an hour-and-a-half of discussion, three-quarters of those who spoke had some problems with the document.
A major absence was Scriptural teaching. A major absence was a treatment of the church tradition. The secret for all Catholic vitality is fidelity to the teachings of Christ and to the tradition of the church.


Cardinal Pell said only three of the synod’s 10 small groups had supported the proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, even without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriages.

Communion for the divorced and remarried is for some–very few, certainly not the majority of synod fathers–it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions. The church cannot go in that direction. It would be a capitulation from the beauties and strengths of the Catholic tradition, where people sacrificed themselves for hundreds, for thousands of years to do this. If people are heading in the wrong direction, there’s no virtue in the church saying ‘that’s good.’ A lot of people outside won’t accept our views, won’t welcome them, but certainly not the people in the pews, the good people. Our task now is to ask people to pause, to pray, to catch their breath, to realise there’s going to be no abandonment of Catholic doctrine, and to work to diminish the divisions and to prevent any radicalisation of different factions or points of view.

That’s Cardinal Pell’s take on it all. My own view is that we’ve won a battle, but not the war; this modernistic shower will soon return with more knavish tricks. I’m  confirmed  in this belief by the fact that Fr John Hunwicke says much the same (at the end of this quotation):

That Relatio [the mid-term report] was in no sense magisterial but simply an unsubtle attempt by a tiny faction to promote an extreme agenda; unsubtle because they attempted to land their paratroops at least one bridge too far … far further than they could have realistically hoped to get away with. It is very good that they made such a bad mistake.

It is clear that the panic which followed the publication of the Relatio was right over the top…The fathers themselves were determined not to let their Synod be kidnapped in the way that the First Session of the Council was…[R]opy moments have often happened before, and that Black Monday was by no means the ropiest of them. In fact, it was really quite low in the Richter Scale of Ropiness. Ask St Athanasius, when you get a chance.

As Newman found, it helps to keep one’s nerve, having a bit of knowledge of the messiness of Church History.  Joseph Ratzinger, also, showed that an examination of the messiness of earlier Councils enabled one to see Vatican II in a balanced way, and to avoid hysteria.

But it seems to me that… manoeuvring the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [Cardinal Mueller] into the position of being a rebel against the system just has to be one very serious piece of bad politics. The wise general selects a modest and attainable objective and then organises a broad coalition in support before he advances, keeping a prudent eye all the time on his lines of supply to make sure that the enemy doesn’t snip them off with a pincer movement, as happened  when poor  Bruno Forte was hung out to dry  [by Cardinal Peter  Erdo]  .

If I have a fear, it is that their next attempt (because, as somebody once said about a different gang of terrorists, `They haven’t gone away`) will show that they have learned elementary tactics from this particular dismal failure.

A word of explanation for those who haven’t been following events too closely. Archbishop Forte, who appears to have sneaked in his own heterodox views on homosexuality into the Relatio, is the special secretary to the synod  rapporteur Cardinal Erdo, who blew his cover.

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