Cardinal Raymond Burke (file photo)

    Letter #120, 2023, Monday, August 28: Cardinal Burke on the Synod

    Synod as “Pandora’s Box”: New book raises and answers 100 questions on the Synod on Synodality

    A new book has come out warning about the coming Vatican Synod on Synodality. The format of The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box is a series of 100 questions and answers composed by its author, Cardinal Raymond Burke and co-authors José Antonio Ureta and Julio Loredo de Izcue addressing issues of concern after two years of preparation for the Synod and, most recently, its Instrumentum Laboris published on June 20 of this year.

    One interesting facet of the ongoing commentary on the Synod noted by my old colleague and friend Jean-Marie Guénois in the French daily La Figaro, and quoted in the one of the articles republished and linked below, is that a new unease seems to be appearing among “moderate” Catholics – no longer only among “conservatives” – who now seem to be waking to the possibility that the “reforms” planned for the Church are actually substantive and profound changes that they are not willing to swallow whole.

    The Synod on Synodality is set to begin October 4 in Rome and run through October 29; a second session is planned for October 2024.

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    Note: I am leaving this week for Garabandal, Spain and then visits to Lourdes and Our Lady of La Salette in France. During these coming days, I will try to send letters and do podcasts if time permits. If you wish to tune in live to the podcasts, you should subscribe to our YouTube Channel (sign up is free) and you will receive a very small ping message a few minutes before the podcast begins so you can sign on for free and never miss any. These visits to these Marian shrines stem from a conviction that the events we are passing through need to be seen in a supernatural dimension. The journey is an attempt to take this supernatural dimension into account and to bring it to bear on what is happening in the Church and in the world. It is, as it were, a search for reinforcements. —RM

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    Cardinal Burke Denounces the Risk of Schism in the Synod (link)

    Observers agree that, since the death of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis’ work has accelerated, with the aim of making his decisions as irreversible as possible.

    By Hélène de Lauzun

    August 27, 2023

    As a new phase of the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ launched in 2021 by Pope Francis, is being prepared for October 2023, many voices within the Church are denouncing the risks and abuses in the project. A new book in the form of questions and answers, with a foreword by Cardinal Burke, takes a critical look at this initiative, warning that it will bring about a number of upheavals for the Catholic Church, with potential consequences that are clearly uncontrolled—and uncontrollable.

    In his preface to the book co-authored by José Antonio Ureta and Julio Loredo de Izcue published in 8 languages on 22 August entitled The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box, Cardinal Burke attacks head-on this project which is supposed to reshape the face of the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church from top to bottom. The conservative Cardinal, who in recent years has repeatedly denounced what he considers to be Pope Francis’ errors, begins by taking issue with the very term ‘synodality,’ calling it “a term which has no history in the doctrine of the Church and for which there is no reasonable definition.”

    Pointing to what has been happening in Germany for several years, placing Luther’s country once again in a situation of schism, he fears that the phenomenon will extend to the universal Church: “it is rightly to be feared that the same confusion and error and division will be visited upon the universal Church,” he says. In fact, he notes that division already reigns at the local level and that the worm already is in the fruit.

    The ‘Synod on Synodality’ is meant to take place over several successive phases: a local phase, a national phase, and finally a ‘universal’ phase. In October 2023 we will enter the universal phase with the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will bring together bishops and lay people in the Vatican. For the first time, equal voting rights have been granted to bishops and other members. A new assembly is then due to be held in 2024.

    The chaotic tone was set by the Instrumentum laborisa working document published in June 2023 on the directions to be taken by the next Synod of Bishops: the traditional hierarchy of the Church is turned upside down, to the benefit in particular of women and lay people. The text recommends collective and standardised decision-making within the Church, in contrast to all its former practices. The document also asks the Church to consider the ordination of married men to the priesthood and the ordination of women to the diaconate. Finally, it envisages the dilution of the Roman See, proposing that groupings of local churches in major regions of the world should have as much influence as Rome on major decisions. Alongside these systemic reforms, we also find a whole range of concerns that are very much in tune with the times: the planet as a victim of climate change, migrants, rejected minorities such as divorcees and LGBT people, and the place of women.

    The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box is presented in the form of a traditional catechism, with one hundred questions and answers to help us understand the ‘synodal approach,’ how it works, its proposals, and its dangers. The tone is clear and precise, without cultivating polemics for polemics’ sake; the bare facts speak for themselves. Question 9 rightly puts the finger on the root of the problem: how can we accept the very principle of ‘synodality’ without opening the door to chaos in the event of disagreement?

    What Would Happen if a Significant Number of the Faithful Disagreed With and Rejected the Decisions of the Synod or the Pope?

    [The Synod implementation] says nothing about what would happen if a disagreement arose between the People of God and the pastors regarding concrete applications of synodal orientations. If the pastors’ will prevailed, the whole listening process would appear vain, and the rhetoric of synodality could appear largely insincere. If the will of the People of God prevailed, the Church would have been transformed into a de facto democracy.

    Cardinal Burke is not the first to mount an assault on this infamous synod, described as worrying and “throwing up trouble,” in the words of French Vatican expert Jean-Marie Guénois from Le Figaro. There is no shortage of critical expressions from eminent figures in the ecclesiastical hierarchy to express the mistrust inspired by the Synod on Synodality. Cardinal Müller spoke of a “hostile takeover” of the Church. The late Cardinal Pell described it as a “toxic nightmare.” Guénois now fears an “autumnal shock,” after the “sweet summer consolation” of the World Youth Days in Lisbon.

    The Synod comes at the end of a path that Pope Francis has been carefully marking out for a long time now, to reform not only the governance of the Church, which he wants to be more democratic and decentralised, but also its doctrine, which must adapt to the changing times and therefore become in essentia progressive rather than conservative, and finally his succession—prepared by massive appointments of cardinals who will be responsible for continuing to work in the spirit of Pope Francis.

    All observers agree that, since the death of the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis’ work has accelerated, with the aim of making his decisions as irreversible as possible. According to Guénois, “the adjective ‘irreversible’ even comes up a lot in his speech, according to several people close to him.” So there is nothing ‘conspiratorial’ about considering that this is, indeed, his intention in carrying out the reforms he has in mind.

    Although Pope Francis knows how to place his pawns, control his collaborators, and push through his decisions with formidable efficiency, he does not have complete control over the consequences of the process that he himself launched. There is growing discontent and dismay, not only among the most conservative, but also—and this is a new development—among a whole section of the faithful and the clergy who could be described as ‘moderate’ and who find themselves bewildered by the whirlwind upheavals promised by the Synod on Synodality. Guénois quotes the testimony of a moderate priest, whose anxiety is growing:

    This synod is generating a great deal of anxiety among people who are interested in the Church, and profound indifference among others. While there should be no debate about the participation of lay people—they should have their place—Catholic ecclesiology is based on ministries, with the priest’s ministry at the heart of it. But what is in the offing is a disarticulation of this backbone of the Church.”

    Another younger priest made the same observation:

    Many people are overwhelmed when they read the synod’s working document. They see in it not the strengthening of the faith but the catastrophe of the deconstruction of the Church. As for the living forces of Catholicism, whether of classical or traditional sensibility, or of African origin or from overseas regions, they don’t feel concerned by this synod whose orientations they won’t follow.”

    Under these conditions, the Pope’s vigorous exhortation to openness in Lisbon, with its striking slogan “todostodostodos,” is likely to ring hollow for many believers, who are suspicious that the forthcoming synod will deprive them of the very Church to which they are attached.


    Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).

    [End The European Conservative article]

    Cardinal Burke drops bombshell on Synod of ‘ideology’ and ‘schism’ (link)

    Diane Montagna

    August 22, 2023 at 11:00 am

    ROME – Cardinal Gerhard Müller has called it a “hostile takeover” of the Catholic Church. The late Cardinal George Pell termed it a “toxic nightmare”. Now, Cardinal Raymond Burke has written a foreword to a new book denouncing the Synod on Synodality as a “Pandora’s Box” that threatens to unleash grave harm on the Mystical Body of Christ.

    The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box, co-authored by José Antonio Ureta and Julio Loredo de Izcue, presents readers with a series of 100 questions and answers aimed at informing the general public about a debate they say has been “largely limited to insiders” despite its “potentially revolutionary impact.”

    In his forward, Cardinal Burke, a former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, writes: “We are told that the Church which we profess, in communion with our ancestors in the faith from the time of the Apostles, to be One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, is now to be defined by synodality, a term which has no history in the doctrine of the Church and for which there is no reasonable definition.

    “Synodality and its adjective, synodal, have become slogans behind which a revolution is at work to change radically the Church’s self-understanding, in accord with a contemporary ideology which denies much of what the Church has always taught and practiced,” he adds.

    The American cardinal warns: “It is not a purely theoretical matter, for the ideology has already, for some years, been put into practice in the Church in Germany, spreading widely confusion and error and their fruit, division – indeed schism, to the grave harm of many souls. With the imminent Synod on Synodality, it is rightly to be feared that the same confusion and error and division will be visited upon the universal Church. In fact, it has already begun to happen through the preparation of the Synod at the local level.”

    Announced by Pope Francis in 2021, the Synod on Synodality is being held in three phases: local, continental and universal. In October, the universal stage will begin with the sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will bring together 300 bishops and laity at the Vatican. A second assembly is to be held in 2024. Earlier this year, Pope Francis took the unprecedented step of granting equal voting rights to both episcopal and non-episcopal members.

    Released on August 22 in eight languages, The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box clearly and concisely answers a whole host of questions surrounding the controversial event. Drawing on official Synod documents and a wide range of sources, topics include the nature of the Synod of Bishops and changes Pope Francis has introduced, the synodal process and whether organizers truly consulted the “People of God”, and the meaning of “synodality”, “listening”, and “inclusion”— repetitive slogans used at Synod press conferences.

    The book also looks at what Synod promoters regard as the Church’s “main problem”, what their solution would mean for a hierarchical Church, and how it would affect the sacred liturgy. The authors then consider the highly controversial German Synodal Way and its potential ramifications for the universal Church. Specifically, they look at the push for Church democratization, the ordination of women, and what the “inclusion” of homosexuals in the Church means for its promoters. Finally, they examine reactions to synodality, whether a “Roman-style compromise” will be found, and what sort of Church would emerge if the synodal process were taken to its final consequences.

    The book’s release comes amid growing pushback in the media. On August 14, the French daily Le Figaro ran a lengthy and stinging front-page article by respected journalist Jean-Marie Guénois, accusing the Vatican of moving forward without truly considering the spirituality of French Catholics.

    “People think that the consultation that led to the preparatory document was biased, like a manoeuvre to reach conclusions written in advance,” one source told Guénois. According to the French Vaticanist, the Synod’s new working document, Instrumentum laboris, “has caused unprecedented turmoil among moderate priests and a good number of bishops. Hitherto uncritical, many are worried about Francis’ authoritarian and voluntarist assault on a reform they consider risky and confused. This new mistrust among moderates is global.”

    Such turmoil and mistrust will not be assuaged by a revealing recent interview given by one of the new voting lay-members chosen by Pope Francis for the October Synod: Swiss laywoman Helena Jeppesen-Spuhler, who in June presented the working document at the Vatican. She openly admitted she is “for the ordination of women,” that she believes “the LGBTQIA+ issue must be taken very seriously” and that “it is our last chance!”

    The synod organisers have insisted that no hidden agenda exists, but the reality of exactly such an agenda is beginning to topple out of this Pandora’s Box, along with so much else that Cardinal Burke and many others fear will do great harm to the Church and to the souls she is charged to save.

    An online version of “The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box” may be read here

    [End Catholic Herald article]

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