PopeWatch: Schism



Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa describes the role of the Pope at the Synod.  PopeWatch would very much prefer that Magister’s assessment was incorrect, but fears that it is all too correct:

ROME, October 24, 2014 – It is not true that Francis was silent during the two weeks of the synod. In the morning homilies at Saint Martha’s, he hammered away every day at the zealots of tradition, those who load unbearable burdens onto men, those who have only certainties and no doubts, the same against whom he lashed out in the farewell address with the synod fathers.

He is anything but impartial, this pope. He wanted the synod to orient the Catholic hierarchy toward a new vision of divorce and homosexuality, and he has succeeded, in spite of the scanty number of votes in favor of the change of course, after two weeks of fiery discussion.

In any case, he will be the one who ultimately decides, he reminded the cardinals and bishops who may have had any doubts. In order to refresh their memory on his “supreme, full, immediate, and universal” power, he brought to the field not a handful of refined passages from “Lumen Gentium,” but the rock-solid canons of the code of canon law.

On communion for the divorced and remarried, it is already known how the pope thinks. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he authorized the “curas villeros,” the priests sent to the peripheries, to give communion to all, although four fifths of the couples were not even married. And as pope, by telephone or letter he is not afraid of encouraging some of the faithful who have remarried to receive communion without worrying about it, right away, even without those “penitential paths under the guidance of the diocesan bishop” projected by some at the synod, and without issuing any denials when the news of his actions comes out.

This is one of the ways in which Jorge Mario Bergoglio exercises his absolute powers as head of the Church. And when he pushes the whole of the Catholic hierarchy to follow him on this road, he knows very well that communion for the divorced and remarried, numerically insignificant, is the loophole for a much more generalized and radical sea change, toward that “second possibility of marriage,” with the consequent dissolution of the first, which is admitted in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and which he, Francis, just shortly after his election as pope said “must be studied” in the Catholic Church as well, “in the context of pastoral care for marriage.”

It was in July of 2013 that the pope made these intentions public. But in that same interview on the plane back from Brazil he opened a construction site on the terrain of homosexuality as well, with that memorable “who am I to judge?” universally interpreted as an absolution of actions that have always been condemned by the Church but no longer are, if they are committed by someone who is “seeking the Lord and has good will.”

A turning point on this matter did not have an easy time at the synod. It was invoked in the assembly by no more than three fathers: by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, by the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” and by the Malaysian archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock.

Hock supported himself with a parallel drawn by Pope Francis between the Church’s judgment on slavery and that on the conception that the man of today has of himself, to say that just as the first changed so also the second judgment can mutate.

While Fr. Spadaro brought up the pope’s example of a girl adopted by two women to maintain that these situations must be treated in a new and positive way.

Then, for having inserted into the mid-discussion working document three paragraphs encouraging the “affective growth” between two men or two women “integrating the sexual dimension,” Archbishop Bruno Forte, brought in as special secretary of the synod at the pope’s behest, was publicly disowned by the cardinal relator, the Hungarian Péter Erdõ. And the subsequent discussion among the synod fathers ripped the three paragraphs to shreds, which in the final “Relatio” were reduced to just one without anything new in it, not even reaching a quorum of approval.

But here as well Francis and his lieutenants, from Forte to Spadaro to Argentine archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, have hit their target of getting this explosive issue onto the agenda of the Catholic Church, at the highest levels. The result remains to be seen.

Because this is how Bergoglio’s revolution proceeds, “long-term, without obsession over immediate results.” Because “the important thing is to initiate processes rather than possess spaces.” Words from “Evangelii Gaudium,” the program of his pontificate.

Assuming for the moment, and PopeWatch is not convinced that this is correct, that the Pope does wish to change Church teaching in reference to communion for remarrieds, whose prior marriages have not been annulled by the Church, and in reference to homosexuality, does the Pope understand that a schism may result from  all this?  Does the Pope care?  PopeWatch hopes that this is not the intention of the Pope.  If it is, the Church is in for her greatest period of upheaval since the Reformation.


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  1. Please allow this into your fear; “Throughout history, Church leaders have had there failings. Many apologist note that the fact the Catholic Church still exists is proof that God leads the Church, for no institution with our failings and weaknesses could stand if God was not holding it up. (Acts 5:38-39). Therefore, rejoice that you, a living stone for Jesus are called to be fitted into the Church. Rejoice that you are resting upon the shoulders of the apostles and the bishops, the successors of the apostles. Because there are many great leaders in the Church, when a leader fails and leaves a hole in the structure upon which we are built, we will not crumble, for we are built into the Church “in” Jesus.” Commentary from One Bread, One Body Tues.Oct.28th 2014.

    PopeWatch is a watchtower.
    The king of the Universe will not support an overthrow of His kingdom, for He is Always in control! The breach in the wall will be filled with stronger reinforcement! The King will see to it!

  2. btw. Who does the King want in His Kingdom? Sinners? Legalist? Both! All!
    Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!

  3. As follow up to what Dale price wrote, St. Paul says in Romans 11 the following:
    17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

  4. Thank you Paul Primavera.

    Those words are applicable to a sinner, prodigal as I am. Are they applicable to say…a Pope of Rome? Natural branches coming back to their place after having been self-severed?

  5. “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.” Winston Churchill.

    J. Christian Adams: “The chaos umpire sits, and by decision more imbroils the fray by which he reigns.”

    Orwell: “Reflections on Gandhi”

    “Man is the measure of all things and that our job is to make life worth living.”

    “But it is not necessary here to argue whether the other-worldly or the humanistic ideal is ‘higher.’ The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all ‘radicals’ and ‘progressives’ from the mildest liberal . . . have in effect chosen Man.”

    “We shall go before a higher tribunal – a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as infinite justice, will preside, and where many of the judgments of this world will be reversed.” Thomas Meagher

  6. “….does the Pope understand that a schism may result from all this?” My gut feeling is that he thinks so much of his own theology and popularity that an actual schism isn’t in the realm of possibilities.

    “Does the Pope care?” I think all he cares about is changing the Church to the church of Francis, period.

  7. It appears that Papa-Peron is leaving some of us only one option (other than disobey Our Lord’s own specific commands) and he is precious little concerned about it. It always has appeared it would come down to this (“In the Third Secret it is predicted, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.” – Card. Mario Luigi Ciappi, speaking of what he had read in the 3rd Secret of Fatima). So it is.

    … “Jesus suffered outside the camp: So, let us go also out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” (Heb: 13:13-14)

  8. I’m not over the no life sentences for murderers…..Jackson Browne is apropos

    Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
    I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
    I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
    Looking into their eyes I see them running too

  9. Papa Francesco is a caudillo. Look at the treatment of Cardinal Burke, the FFI, Cardinal Muller’s impending transfer to Siberia, the pro traditionalist bishop of Italy and the excommunication of the FSSPX. Look at the ramblings of Cardinal Kasper and Papa Francesco’s allies such as Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal Dolan.

    Reward your allies, punish your enemies.

  10. DJ Hesselius, I’m going to make a comment that might sound sardonic, but I mean it in an allegorical sense.

    The human brain has two hemispheres, and certain activities are dominant in one hemisphere or the other. For example, one is logical and so arguably would be the locus of theology, while the other is less so and arguably would be the locus of pastoral care.
    There is a nerve bundle called the corpus callosum that connects the two hemispheres so that they can be coordinated. In some extreme cases surgeons cut the corpus callosum. When this happens the two hemispheres become almost totally independent. Some functions that require coordination are lost, but most people would not notice any loss in most day-to-day activities.

  11. Pope Francis wants to make legal what is already largely the practice. All his actions tend to encourage the practice of forbidden sexual morality. My guess is that he will not change the moral law officially as he is already accomplishing his purpose. God can’t be very happy about all this. Let us pray for Pope Francis and ourselves.

  12. . . . in spite of the scanty number of votes in favor of the change of course, after two weeks of fiery discussion.

    I am a bit confused about the voting. IIUC, it took 2/3rds vote to have the questionable paragraphs included in the final document. Those paragraphs garnered more than 50%, but less than the 2/3rds needed. How is >50% a scanty number? Or was the vote different on those paragraphs?

  13. “In the Third Secret it is predicted, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.” – Card. Mario Luigi Ciappi Not “near the top”, but “at the top” were the very clear words he used in the letter to Dr. Baumgartner, ca. 1980’s.
    Cardinal Silvio Oddi:
    “[T]he Third Secret – which John XXIII and his successors thought inopportune to reveal – is not about a supposed conversion of Russia, still far from becoming a reality, but regards the ‘revolution’ in the Catholic Church. ”
    (Silvio Oddi, Il Tenero Mastino di Dio, Rome: Progetto Museali Editore, 1995, p. 217-218).

  14. An interesting parallel of the revolutionary tendencies of Papa Bergoglio’s pontificate is to compare it to that of the retired Anglican Archbp. of Canterbury Dr. Rowan D. Williams’ stormy and schism-generating tenure.

    Both early on chose to re-define moral positions on marriage and homosexuality; both expressed disdain against traditional belief and its adherents; both railed against free-market economics and wealth; and both often displayed the flat of their sabre against “traditionalists” and “orthodox” believers who threatened to split in response to their own authoritarianism. Papa-Peron is very closely following the trajectory of Abp. “Rowin’-Alone” Williams.

  15. Tom D:
    I am aware of the two hemisphere nature of the brain, the corpus callosum, etc.; however, I think there may be another explanation for the Pope’s behavior. He’s a politician, saying one thing to one group, and another thing to another. I think one tends to see this more among socialist leaning politicians rather than small government/free market types.

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