Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Schism embraces two distinct species: heretical or mixed schism, and schism pure and simple. The first has its source in heresy or joined with it, the second, which most theologians designate absolutely as schism, is the rupture of the bond of subordination without an accompanying persistent error, directly opposed to a definite dogma. This distinction was drawn by St. Jerome and St. Augustine. ‘Between heresy and schism,’ explains St. Jerome, ‘there is this difference, that heresy perverts dogma, while schism, by rebellion against the bishop, separates from the Church. Nevertheless there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church’ (In Ep. ad Tit., iii, 10). And St. Augustine: “By false doctrines concerning God heretics wound faith, by iniquitous dissensions schismatics deviate from fraternal charity, although they believe what we believe” (On Faith and the Creed 9). But as St. Jerome remarks, practically and historically, heresy and schism nearly always go hand in hand; schism leads almost invariably to denial of the papal primacy.” —The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Schism” (link)

It is not to be excluded that I will enter history as the one who split the Catholic Church.” —Words attributed to Pope Francis by German journalist Walter Mayr in the German magazine Der Spiegel (“The Mirror”) in a December 23, 2016, article, almost three years ago now. Francis is said to have spoken those words to members of his inner circle, and the words were repeated to Mayr. It is not clear whether Mayr heard this declaration from one of the members of that circle, or from someone who overheard the words. No disclaimer has come from the Vatican Press Office, that is, the remark has not been denied. But it has also never been officially confirmed (link)

It is to be emphatically stated that the Instrumentum Laboris (for the upcoming October 6-27 Synod on the Amazon Region) contradicts the binding teaching of the Church on decisive points, and is therefore to be qualified as heretical. Inasmuch as the fact of Divine Revelation is here even being questioned or misunderstood, one must also speak of apostasy.” —The German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, 89 — one of the leading Church historians alive today (he is an expert of the history of the Reformation) — in his brief, sharply critical study of the preparatory working document for the Amazon Synod (link), which he issued about two and a half months ago, on June 27, 2019

For me it’s an honor if Americans attack me.” —Pope Francis, one week ago, at the beginning of his just-concluded trip to Africa, on the papal plane, after being handed a new French book, How America Wanted to Change the Pope, by its author, French journalist Nicholas Seneze, a journalist who covers the Vatican for La Croix (a French Catholic newspaper) (link)

I am not afraid of schisms, I pray that there will be none, because what is at stake is people’s spiritual health. Let there be dialogue, let there be correction if there is an error, but the schismatic path is not ChristianA schism is always an elitist separation stemming from an ideology detached from doctrine. It is an ideology, perhaps correct, but that engages doctrine and detaches it… And so I pray that schisms do not happen, but I am not afraid of them.” —Pope Francis, September 10, 2019 (yesterday), on the papal plane returning from a 5-day visit to Mozambique and Madagascar, in an airplane press conference, when asked a sort of “follow-up question” to the remark included just above. Here is a link to an English-dubbed video of the Pope speaking these words, with commentary (link) and a link to a longer article on the Pope’s remarks (link)

“Pope Francis is saying that because he knows the Amazon Synod may provoke a schism. He is ready to say others are making the schism, but (by his actions in continuing to support the Amazon Synod) he is provoking it himself. Is this the attitude of a pastor who cares for the faithful? It is his own duty to prevent a schism.” —Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in a conversation with me today

I think it is likely we are being setup to be labeled the scapegoat ‘schismatics’ when the Vatican officially becomes apostate (and the real schismatics), though the groundwork was laid decades ago. In the eyes of the world, that will support the Vatican’s claims that anything orthodox is ‘outside the Church.’ It is almost a perfect ploy for secular governments intent on eliminating Christianity from any public presence and moral conscience of the world.” —A commenter named “Luxsit” (“Let there be light”) on the Lifesitenews website, commenting on the Pope’s words on the papal airplane (link)

I believe you are spot on here. The liberals could have split off from the Church at any time in the previous 4 pontificates: they have been in a de facto schism ever since the (dissenting) response to Humanae Vitae. But Francis gives them the opportunity, and they want it to appear, that THEY are Church and the Catholics are splitting off from them. That way they get the money, power, property, and can claim to be the Catholic church when by belief they are nothing of the sort. All that won’t last, if you are separated from the Source.” —A comment in response to the previous comment by a commenter named “Borghesius” on the same website (link)

I beseech you, brethren, that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.” —St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:10

The Tragedy of a Possible Coming Schism…

To many observers — who do not follow Catholic affairs with very close attention — the situation of the Church today seems not particularly troubled.

But superficial looks can be deceiving.

In fact, several indications suggest that a break — a schism — between conservative Catholics and Pope Francis (and his top advisors) may be imminent.

The general opinion of the many is that the Church is being reasonably well led by a kind, modest, open-minded Pope — Pope Francis, 82, elected in 2013, six and a half years ago.

They perceive Francis as energetically leading the Church in line with the central teachings of Jesus: “love thy neighbor,” “forgive seventy times seven times,” go beyond even the Mosaic Ten Commandments to observe the “Golden Rule”: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Yet there is a troubling drum-beat of a different sort that increasingly imposes itself.

It is the drumbeat of a criticism of many of Pope Francis’ decisions and actions, from the sexual abuse crisis, to the reform of the Roman Curia, to the agreement with the Chinese government, to his closing of conservative religious orders, to his seeming focus of environmental issues though all previous Popes focused above all on the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ, and on what that meant for all human beings.

This drum-beat seems to have reached the ears of Pope Francis himself (he has said he is quite aware of it) — and this has led him to speak about his own reaction to criticism, and his attitude to the possibility of… a schism in the Church.

The drum-beat comes especially from a still small number of Catholic web sites in America, like Lifesitenews, ChurchMilitant, OnePeterFive, Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, Rorate Caeli, but also from quite a few others in Italy, Spain, England, Poland, and elsewhere.

On these web sites, open critics of Pope Francis and more circumspect supporters of ideas the Pope has criticized or set aside have called on Pope Francis to clarify his teaching on certain matters, but have not received a response from him satisfactory to them.

Generally, the critics say Francis has been “silent.”

Some of these “requesters of clarification” are not without a certain standing in the Church — a small group of cardinals (Brandmueller, Burke, Eijk of Utrecht (Holland), Müller, Sarah — though Sarah has told me that he is profoundly loyal to Pope Francis, calling him “Our Papa“) and they include a few bishops, like René Henry Gracida (born June 9, 1923, now 96(!), former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami (1971–1975), first bishop of Galveston then bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas) and Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan (not an American… in fact, none of the men named thus far are American except Burke and Gracida).

These critics seem to be persuaded that the Church is being badly led by a group of insiders who have persuaded the Pope to go along with a number of initiatives which depart in lesser and greater ways from traditional Catholic teaching.

Some of these critics think the teaching of the Pope, or those chosen and supported by him, has reached the level of heresy — the level of contradicting defined Catholic doctrine (see the text of Cardinal Brandmüller on the Amazon Synod included below).

There does seem to be a danger that this opposition to Francis may be supported by wealthy powers hidden “in the shadows” whose aim is to divide the Church at all costs, no matter what the issue, to weaken the Church — and this suggests caution in calling for any division of the Catholic Church into an “old” and “new” Catholic Church(!).

There also seems another danger: that the circle around Pope Francis, and Francis himself, underestimate the implacable hatred of “the world” for the Church.

Very powerful secular forces seem anxious to subject the Church to their worldly agenda, which begins as a call for “mercy” and ends with an attack on all traditional Christian doctrinal and moral teaching.

The slow erosion of respect for human life is one example.

As abortion is ever more widely accepted, society as a whole has become callous to the taking of human life. Pope Francis has seemingly downplayed the defense of human life, the right-to-life of the innocent. In this context, his actions seem almost incomprehensible to pro-life Catholics. Why has he seemingly lessened the Church’s commitment to the pro-life cause precisely at the moment when it is most needed?

Likewise, marriage is in crisis.

The traditional teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is critical to a defense of the family, and of the right of children to grow up with a father and mother. The seeming downplaying of the indissolubility of marriage seems obviously directed to the situation of millions whose marriages have failed, to provide pastoral care for them. But in the long term, the diminishing of the marital ideal will likely create an even more difficult situation for the flourishing of family life in time to come. Why has Pope Francis seemingly not recognized this?

There is yet time, perhaps, for some change of direction, some meeting to clarify positions and avoid a break.

Something like that would seem much needed, and soon.

But the time is growing short.


The Pope on Schism

Here is the text of the Pope’s remarks about schism yesterday on the papal airplane returning from Africa. It began with a question….

Jason Drew Horowitz (The New York Times, United States): On the flight to Maputo, you acknowledged being under attack by a segment of the American Church. Obviously, there is strong criticism from some bishops and cardinals, there are Catholic Television stations and American websites that are very critical. And there are even some of your closest allies who have spoken of a plot against you. Is there something that these critics do not understand about your pontificate? Is there something that you have learned from your critics? Are you afraid of a schism in the American Church? And if so, is there something that you could do — a dialogue — to keep it from happening?

Pope Francis: First of all, criticism always helps, always. When someone receives criticism, that persons needs to do a self-critique right away and say: is this true or not? To what point? And I always benefit from criticism. Sometimes it makes you angry…. But there are advantages.

Traveling to Maputo, one of you gave me that book in French on how the Americans want to change the Pope. I knew about that book, but I had not read it.

Criticisms are not coming only from the Americans, they are coming a bit from everywhere, even from the Curia. At least those that say them have the benefit of the honesty of having said them. I do not like it when criticism stays under the table: they smile at you letting you see their teeth and then they stab you in the back. That is not fair, it is not human.

Criticism is a component in construction, and if your criticism is unjust, be prepared to receive a response, and get into dialogue, and arrive to the right conclusion. This is the dynamic of true criticism.

The criticism of the arsenic pills, instead, of which we were speaking regarding the article that I gave to Msgr Rueda, it’s like throwing the stone and then hiding your hand…

This is not beneficial, it is no help. It helps small cliques, who do not want to hear the response to their criticism. Instead, fair criticism — I think thus and so — is open to a response. This is constructive.

Regarding the case of the Pope [Note: Here Francis speaks about how his critics seem him]: I don’t like this aspect of the Pope, I criticize him, I speak about him, I write an article and ask him to respond. This is fair.

To criticize without wanting to hear a response and without getting into dialogue is not to have the good of the Church at heart, it is chasing after a fixed idea, to change the Pope or to create a schism.

This is clear: a fair criticism is always well received, at least by me.

Secondly, the problem of the schism: within the Church there have been many schisms. After the First Vatican Council, for example, the last vote, the one on infallibility, a good-sized group left and founded the Old Catholic Church so as to remain “true” to the tradition of the Church.

Then they developed differently and now they ordain women.

But in that moment they were rigid, they rallied behind orthodoxy and thought that the council had erred.

Another group left very, very quietly, but they did not want to vote.

Vatican II had these things among its consequences. Perhaps the most well-known post-conciliar split is that of (French Archbishop Marcel) Lefebvre.

In the Church there is always the option for schism, always. But it is an option that the Lord leaves to human freedom.

I am not afraid of schisms, I pray that there will be none, because what is at stake is people’s spiritual health.

Let there be dialogue, let there be correction if there is an error, but the schismatic path is not Christian.

Let’s think about the beginnings of the Church, how it began with many schisms, one after the other: Arians, Gnostics, Monophysites…

An anecdote is coming to mind that I would like to recount: it was the people of God who saved [the Church] from the schisms. The schismatics always have one thing in common: they separate themselves from the people, from the faith of the people of God. And when there was a discussion in the council of Ephesus regarding Mary’s divine maternity, the people — this is history — were at the entrance of the cathedral while the bishops entered to take part in the Council. They were there with clubs. They made the bishops see them as they shouted, ‘Mother of God! Mother of God!’ as if to say: if you do not do this, this is what you can expect…

The people of God always correct, and help. A schism is always an elitist separation stemming from an ideology detached from doctrine. It is an ideology, perhaps correct, but that engages doctrine and detaches it.

And so I pray that schisms do nothappen, but I am not afraid of them.

This is one of the results of Vatican II, not because of this or that Pope. For example, the social things that I say are the same things that John Paul II said, the same things! I copy him. But they say: the Pope is a communist…

Ideologies enter into doctrine and when doctrine slips into ideology that’s where there’s the possibility of a schism. There’s the ideology of the primacy of a sterile morality regarding the morality of the people of God. The pastors must lead their flock between grace and sin, because this is evangelical morality.

Instead, a morality based on such a Pelagian ideology leads you to rigidity, and today we have many schools of rigidity within the Church, which are not schisms, but pseudo-schismatic Christian developments that will end badly. When you see rigid Christians, bishops, priests, there are problems behind that, not Gospel holiness.

So, we need to be gentle with those who are tempted by these attacks, they are going through a tough time, we must accompany them gently.

[End, comments of Pope Francis]

Here below is the full report of Cardinal Brandmüller on the upcoming Amazon Synod (October 6-27).

A Critique of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Amazon Synod

By Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

June 27, 2019


It is truly astonishing that, contrary to former assemblies, the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon will deal exclusively with a region of the earth whose population is just half that of Mexico City, that is to say, 4 million.

This also raises suspicions regarding the true intentions to be implemented in a hidden way at the October assembly.

But one especially has to question the understanding of religion, Christianity and the Church that forms the basis of the recently published Instrumentum Laboris.

This shall be examined here, with the help of individual elements from the text.

Why a synod on this region?

In principle, we must ask why a synod of bishops should deal with topics which, at best, (as is now the case with three quarters of the Instrumentum Laboris) relate only marginally to the Gospels and the Church.

Clearly, there is an encroaching interference here by a synod of bishops into the purely secular affairs of the Brazilian state and society. What do ecology, economy, and politics have to do with the mandate and mission of the Church?

More importantly: what professional expertise authorizes an ecclesial synod of bishops to express itself on such topics?

Should the synod of bishops indeed do this, it would be a crossing of boundaries and act of clerical presumption which state authorities would have to reject.

On natural religions and inculturation

Furthermore, throughout the Instrumentum Laboris one finds by a very positive assessment of natural religions, including indigenous healing practices etc., even mythic-religious practices and cult forms. In the context of the call for harmony with nature, for example, there is even talk about “dialogue with the spirits” (n. 75).

It is not only the Rousseauian or Enlightenment ideal of the “noble savage” that is being contrasted with the decadent European. The line of thought in the Instrumentum laboris continues right up to turn to the 20th century, ending in a pantheistic idolatry of nature. Hermann Claudius (1913) created the hymn of the Socialist Worker’s Movement, “When we walk side by side….” One verse reads: “Birches green and seeds of green, with a praying gesture old Mother Earth extends her full hands, that man may become her own…”

It is remarkable that this verse was later copied into the songbook of the Hitler Youth, presumably because it corresponded to the National-Socialist myth of blood and soil.

The ideological proximity with the Instrumentum is is remarkable.

The anti-rational rejection of “Western” culture (that stresses the importance of reason) is characteristic of the Instrumentum Laboris, which speaks in no. 44 of “Mother Earth” and of the “cry of the earth and of the peoples” (no. 101) respectively.

Accordingly, the territory — the forests of the Amazon region — even becomes a locus theologicus, a special source of Divine Revelation.

These are “epiphanic places” where “the reserve of life and wisdom for the planet is manifest, a life and wisdom that speaks of God” (n. 19).

The anti-rational rejection of the “western” culture, which stresses the importance of reason, is characteristic of the Instrumentum Laboris.

Meanwhile, the subsequent regression from Logos to Mythos is raised to the criterion of what the Instrumentum Laboris calls the inculturation of the Church. The result is a natural religion in Christian masquerade.

The concept of inculturation is perverted in the document, for it proposes the opposite of what the International Theological Commission presented in 1988, and what had already been taught in the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes.

On the abolition of priestly celibacy and the introduction of a female priesthood

It is impossible to conceal that the “synod” intends, above all, to help implement two most cherished projects that heretofore have never been implemented: namely, the abolition of priestly celibacy and the introduction of a female priesthood — beginning with female deacons.

In any event, it is about “identifying the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women … in the Church (129 a 3).

In a similar manner, “room is now opening up to create new ministries appropriate to this historical moment. It is the right moment to listen to the voice of the Amazon…” (n. 43).

But the fact is omitted here that, in the end, John Paul II also stated with highest magisterial authority that it is not in the power of the Church to administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders to women. Indeed, in two thousand years, the Church has never administered the Sacrament of Holy Orders to a woman.

The demand which stands in direct opposition to this fact shows that the word “Church” is now being used purely as a sociological term on the part of the authors of the Instrumentum Laboris, thus implicitly denying the sacramental-hierarchical character of the Church.

On the denial of the sacramental-hierarchical character of the Church

In a similar manner — though expressed in passing –no. 127 represents a direct attack on the hierarchical-sacramental constitution of the Church, when it is suggested that it would be opportune “to reconsider the notion that the exercise of jurisdiction (power of government) must be linked in all areas (sacramental, judicial, administrative) and in a permanent way to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.” (no. 127)

From such an erroneous view arises (in no. 129) the call for the creation of new offices which correspond to the needs of the Amazonian peoples.

However, liturgy, i.e. worship, is the field where the ideology of a falsely understood inculturation finds its expression in an especially spectacular manner.

Here, certain forms from natural religions are to be positively adopted.

The Instrumentum Laboris does not hold back from demanding that the “poor and simple people” may express “their (!) faith through images, symbols, traditions, rites and other sacraments” (!!) (no. 126 e).

This certainly does not correspond to the precepts of the Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” nor to those in the Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes. It also manifests a purely horizontal understanding of liturgy.


Summa summarum: The Instrumentum Laboris burdens the synod of bishops and ultimately the Pope with a serious break with the depositum fidei.

Such a break consequently implies the self-destruction of the Church or the change of the Corpus Christi mysticum into a secular NGO with an ecological-social-psychological mandate.

After these observations, questions naturally arise: above all, in relation to the sacramental-hierarchical structure of the Church, is there a decisive break with the apostolic tradition constitutive of the Church, or do the authors rather have a notion of the development of doctrine which is presented theologically in order to justify the aforementioned rupture?

Indeed, this seems to be the case.

We are witnessing a new form of the classical Modernism of the early 20th century.

At the time, from a decidedly evolutionist approach, the view was presented that, in accord with the continually higher development of man, higher levels of human consciousness and culture also result, whereby what had been false yesterday can turn out to be true today.

Religion and religious consciousness, with its forms in doctrine and cult — and also, of course, in morality — are also subject to this revolutionary dynamic.

This, however, would presuppose a concept of dogmatic development that is sharply opposed to the genuine Catholic understanding. The latter understands the development of dogma and the Church not as change, but as an organic development of the subject which remains identical to itself.

That is what the two Vatican Councils teach us in their Constitutions Dei Filius, Lumen Gentium, and Dei Verbum.

It is to be emphatically stated that the Instrumentum Laboris contradicts the binding teaching of the Church on decisive points, and is therefore to be qualified as heretical.

Inasmuch as the fact of Divine Revelation is here even being questioned or misunderstood, one must also speak of apostasy.

This is all the more justified in light of the fact that the Instrumentum Laboris uses a purely immanentist notion of religion and regards religion as the result and expression of man’s spiritual self-experience.

The use of Christian words and concepts cannot obscure the fact that, regardless of their original meaning, they are being used merely as empty words.

The Instrumentum Laboris for the Amazon Synod constitutes an attack on the foundations of the Faith, in a way that has heretofore not been thought possible. It must therefore be firmly and decidedly rejected.

(to be continued)

(Note: These Letters are archived on the ITV website…)

Click here to read all of the Moynihan Letters.


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