PopeWatch: Failed Synod


From the perspective of Pope Francis the Synod was a failure in that it failed to provide him cover for what he wishes to do:  allow Catholics in adulterous marriages to receive Communion.  Why?  Mercy one supposes, which is the all purpose explanation in this Pontificate for any and all deviations from the teachings of the Church.  Here is the summary of Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa of the failure of the Pope’s hopes for the Synod:


It was palpable that Pope Francis had been dissatisfied with how the synod ended up. In the closing talk and homily he once more took aim at the “conspiracy hermeneutic,” at the arid “faith by the book,” at those who want to “sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”:

> Address of October 24

> Homily of October 25

And yet the final document, approved on Saturday, October 24, is entirely a hymn to mercy, from the first line to the last:

> Relazione finale del sinodo dei vescovi

Only that there is not even one word, in this document, that would pry the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church away from that “no” to communion for the divorced and remarried which was the true wall to be knocked down in the plan of the innovators, the opening that would have led straight to the admission of divorce and remarriage.


The enterprise lasted for two years, from the announcement of the two-part synod to its conclusion. And the February 2014 launch was dazzling, with German theologian and cardinal Walter Kasper, a lifelong reformer, charged by Francis with setting the agenda for the cardinals gathered in consistory.

The selection of Kasper as the lead was in fact a design in itself. For thirty years he had been battling with his historical opponent, fellow countryman Joseph Ratzinger, he too a theologian and then cardinal and then finally pope, and precisely on the two capital questions of the synod just concluded: communion for the divorced and remarried and the balance of power between universal Church and local Churches.

Ratzinger had emerged victorious on both fronts even as cardinal, strong with the authority of John Paul II. But having become pope himself, he neither ostracized nor humiliated his opponent. On the contrary, he kept him close with the prestigious position of president of the pontifical council for Christian unity.

Until everything came back into play with Francis. And with him Kasper rose again as the activist leader of the innovators, with Ratzinger in silence and prayer in his hermitage as pope emeritus.

The error of the innovators was in going too far. At the synod of October 2014 they wove into the “Relatio” halfway through the discussion a series of provocative formulas that led to an immediate outcry over a revolution in Catholic doctrine not only on marriage, but also on homosexuality.

But those formulas did not reflect in the least what had been said in the assembly. And the backlash was deadly. Two highly authoritative cardinals, the Hungarian Péter Erdö and the South African Wilfrid Fox Napier, publicly denounced the maneuver and singled out special secretary of the synod Bruno Forte as the main author of the strongarm tactic. The final “Relatio” omitted the improper passages and took homosexuality off the working agenda.

But the question of communion for the divorced and remarried remained completely open. And in view of the second and last session of the synod, Pope Francis reconfirmed Forte as special secretary and reinforced the team of the innovators with targeted appointments.


That brings us to this October.

The letter that thirteen famous cardinals, including Napier, sent to the pope on the first day irritated the recipient but obtained the desired result: that the previous year’s maneuvers not be repeated.

In the assembly and in the linguistic circles it came out right away that opposition to communion for the divorced and remarried was widespread, especially among the bishops of North America, Eastern Europe, and above all Africa.

The election of the council that acts as a bridge between one synod and another rewarded with massive votes three of the thirteen signers of the letter, cardinals George Pell, Robert Sarah, and Napier, plus three more cardinals and bishops of the same outlook.

It was at this point that the “Germanicus” circle, dominated by Kasper, made the decision to fall back on a minimal solution, which at that point was seen as the only one that could be presented in the assembly with a chance of success: that of entrusting to the “internal forum,” meaning to the confessor together with the penitent, the “discernment” of cases in which to allow “access to the sacraments.”

It is a solution that Benedict XVI himself had not ruled out, if only as a hypothesis still in need of “further study and clarification.” And in fact it was even endorsed in the “Germanicus” circle by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith and a staunch Ratzingerian.

In the draft of the synod’s final document, in the three paragraphs on the divorced and remarried, the “German” solution is transcribed en bloc. But with a few key cuts, the only way it could pass the test of the vote.

And so in the definitive text, approved by more than two thirds of the synod fathers, the words “access to the sacraments” are no longer there, they are left to the imagination. Neither is the word “communion,” nor any equivalent term. In short, no explicit change on the key point.

The final decision is up to Francis and to him alone. But the synod that he so strongly desired has pronounced itself far from his expectations.

Go here to read the rest.  Now the Pope has the opportunity to do what the Synod did not.  If he does, then it will be clear that this contradiction to the command of Christ Himself is purely his doing, and his doing alone.

More to explorer


  1. Pope Francis will cause a schism if he endorses communion for the divorced and remarried without annulment. What irony to talk about the seat of Moses regarding those who oppose communion for the divorced and remarried, yet that is the very thing which Moses would have permitted and which Christ opposed! Is the Pope Christian?

  2. We went to Mass yesterday, and the bishop was in attendance, and gave the homily. Rather predictably, he spoke of mercy. He did get around to saying that this wasn’t a license to sin, that we need to go to confession and whatnot, but he also said that the focus is on what God does (presumably, be merciful) and not what we do (presumably, be sinful).
    The bishop did speak on marriage, and those in “irregular” situations. And it occurred to me that they (the hierarchy), and a lot of laity as well, just don’t have the courage or plain-spokeness of Christ. “Irregular” marriage situations? Perhaps call it what it is–adultery–and let the chips fall where they may. Clearly, trying to raise Mass attendance, marriages, births, and collection plate funds is not working well with the kinder, gentler approach to things.

  3. Per Rorate Caeli, the Pope just told his favorite journalist that the remarrieds will be receiving communion if they want to.

  4. DJ Hesselius, what the Bishop should say is something like this, “If you are re-married after divorce and your previous marriage is not annulled, then either go to Confession and live without conjugal relations or do not present yourself for Holy Communion. The reason why is this. Conjugal relations in re-marriage after divorce without annulment is adultery (mortal sin) as Jesus stated in Matthew 19, and eating and drinking Jesus’ body and blood in a state of mortal sin brings damnation on the receiver as St Paul says in 1st Corinthians 11.”

  5. Re-married people can receive Holy Communion in the same way that anyone else can: Confession and living without conjugal relations unless the first marriage was null and the second one not null, i.e., sacramental – then conjugal relations are acceptable.
    That however is NOT what Pope Francis intends. This is even worse that what the Orthodox do with Oikonomia.

  6. In fairness, do we really know what Pope Francis intends?
    (In unfairness, does Pope Francis know what Pope Francis intends?)

  7. PWP: What the bishop should say, and what he did say, or will say, are two different things. I honestly think we are in the position we are in is due to money. The Church is a business (if God’s business), and management doesn’t understand anything about “the brand,” or “marketing,” or their “loyal customers.”
    As for being in an adulterous “marriage”. I’m beginning to wonder, as I grow a little older, whether it really is sufficient to “live as brother and sister” and go to confession. What does that mean? No relations, but sharing a bed is okay? Separate rooms? No “for my husband/wife” birthday cards? No anniversay cards? I ask because now, courtesy of the internet, cell phones, and texting, it is very possible to have an “emotional affair”. There’s no sex involved, but they can be very damaging.

  8. DJ Hesselius, regarding emotional relationships, I really am not capable of judging. I am in a particular situation that disqualifies me from deciding. I would be interested in what other people think.

  9. Poor Pope Francis, has ever a Pope been so misquoted?

    I took Francis to be acknowledging that there are people in that situation who will be presenting themselves for Communion either because they don’t know or don’t care that they shouldn’t. So it’s possible that he has been misquoted if it’s being presented as Francis approving their participation.
    Though, I haven’t read the underlying articles, so I suppose it’s possible that my take will evaporate like dry ice under the noonday sun.
    In Death Valley.

  10. As an abandoned and faithful spouse, I have categorically rejected, from the moment that I first read of it, the assertion that living as brother and sister has any validity.

    Did I not promise positives or only to avoid negatives? How does sleeping with anyone, other than my wife but not having intercourse, build up my relationship with my wife or encourage our children or honor our vows? How is it not scandalous, when the “two of us are one”?

    I will never accept a brother and sister relationship, never, as somehow justified by circumstances. This should have cost John Paul his papacy and his sainthood and should have disqualified Benedict from the Papacy. This is the extent of how badly things are.

    My mea culpa:

    About three months ago I met a women and we spoke, very intimately for a couple of hours. I was powerfully attracted to her. She was attractive, has a very lucrative job, is a practicing Catholic and traditionally oriented and was still single in her early fifties. She is a diamond among countless lesser precious stones. I attended, because I was there, a very important ceremony in her life. I was part of the ceremony. Her brother always wanted to attend but had died, unexpectedly, and she had no one to take his place. I stood in for him, emotionally and physically, which helped her very much.

    When the ceremony was completed, and from our conversation we both knew, very well, who the other was and how our shared Catholicism mattered so much to both of us(she had never known a man faithful to an abandoned marriage, for 25 years, who did not seek nullity but rather defended that marriage two times before tribunals), I took her in my arms and held her close for more than one minute. I have held no woman for that length of time, save our daughters, since my wife, and I have held no other woman, so emotionally attached to her, since my wife. Through tears in my eyes, and a tight, aching throat, I gently kissed her forehead and looking into her, teary eyes, whispered lovingly, “If I was free, I would ask you out, in a heartbeat!” To which she replied, “if you were free, I would say yes. But, I have to go now because it is best for both of us.”

    She was, absolutely, right. She is a unique woman. May some very blessed man do right by her.

    I would not have pursued her, but every, human, part of me, desperately, wanted to. Even so close to infidelity, God, was merciful and made what could have been so ugly, into something, very beautiful. My eyes are filled with tears writing this.

    So, Paul, stand guard against your human emotions. I do not know your circumstances but do the right thing, my brother in Christ.

    With only love,


  11. For couples in a sacramental marriage: Internet “affairs” though without sex are disloyal, duplicious and hurtful to one’s spouse. It is up to one’s confessor, I would guess, to define the degree of sin. Old girlfriends or old boyfriends should not seek out marrieds, especially if there was itimacy in the former relationship.
    Call me old fashioned, but I was always against women crew members on board ship. Women are quite capable of filling most sea duty billets. The problem as I saw it: Close quarters, long deployments, the youth of the crew, no clergy for counseling and poor or no communication with loved ones can make one vulnerable. Wives told me that a husband’s emotional friendship with a female shipmate would be more hurtful to them than a physical one. There are always predatory males and predatory females about.

  12. As a nuclear submarine sailor, I agree wholeheartedly with CAM about women aboard ship. But they are allowed – even encouraged now – on nuclear suubmarine where we had to hot rack because of space limitations. This is utter freaking foolishness. It is directly because of that godless man of sin and depravity Barack Hussein Obama. It is gender correctness and all the liberal progressive nonsense that comes from the left wing nut part of society. Can women work in nuclear power? You bet! One of the best emergency diesel generator engineers for backup power to a Westinghouse PWR I ever worked with was a woman. But they do NOT belong on a submarine EVER! Not because they are inferior – quite the contrary – but because I know what kind of a man I was when I was 20 years old and aboard a 688 class fast attack.

  13. I’m not convinced that the “fix isn’t in.” It is very good news that the synod against the family seems to have been derailed.

    The Gifts of the Holy Spirit . . .

    PWP: I always have thought they wouldn’t allow women in combat units because they need to avoid concomitant increases in war crimes.

  14. T Shaw: I’m only aware of two US female military POWs captured by the Arabs, but then I’ve been retired for a while. The PC version was that they were not mistreated. However that was not the case.
    PWP: The undersea community was spared social engineering for a long time. The larger ships and carriers did have problems, however the official take was always PC. Who knows what’s going on, now that homosexuality is out in the open and there’s talk of transgenders being allowed to serve. What a mess.
    Getting back to the Synod: What is merciful about waffling, or back pedaling on Church law?

  15. I have to agree with those who say avoid emotional attachments. Remember we are not a soul trapped in a body. Rather, we are an embodied soul. As such, we don’t just act unfaithfully in our body but also in our will. In fact, it is this through the will that we perform good or evil.

    I too have been in a situation where I had a strong emotional attachment to another. I had to let it go because it would have been hurtful to all involved. I still pray for her but have had not contact for 15 years. Grace only provides.

  16. This is a minor setback for Francis. The crafted image
    of a united Church supporting the radical has failed,
    but that will not stop the candidate of a condemned
    secret society. Since commie leftists fancy themselves
    champions of human rights, the radical will argue that
    God’s love and mercy are fundamental human rights,
    in spite of the irregular circumstances or sin, for all, which
    the narrow minded, intolerant, bigoted, oppressive,
    selfish Pharisees continue to deny.

    Francis will allow Communion for divorced and remarried
    Catholics and sodomites. He will allow sodomites to marry
    in the Church and allow female deacons to replace the
    parish priest. He also intends to breakup the Church into
    national or regional churches. This is the radical’s vision of
    a new Church based on a modernist notion of mercy.

  17. “The bishop did speak on marriage, and those in “irregular” situations. And it occurred to me that they (the hierarchy), and a lot of laity as well, just don’t have the courage or plain-spokeness of Christ. “Irregular” marriage situations? Perhaps call it what it is–adultery–and let the chips fall where they may. Clearly, trying to raise Mass attendance, marriages, births, and collection plate funds is not working well with the kinder, gentler approach to things.”

    The first step into sinful downfall/denial is not calling something what it is. That is sexual perversion is called “freedom” and an unborn baby is called a “fetus.”

  18. All this talk of mercy! What does it mean? Very simple. Mercy means money. Hand out some mercy take in some money. That’s the kind of thing the Catholic Church has been doing for centuries. Remember Fr. Johann Tetzel, O.P., the Grand Commissioner of Indulgences in Germany, at the time of Luther? Isn’t this what was driving Kasper: making paying customers out of divorced and remarried Catholics who didn’t get an annulment. What may be different this time is Pope Francis seems to be leading this parade of corruption. What would Christ say if He were here? It would not be pretty.

  19. Google “sugar bullies” and then read my comment re “mercy bullies” in the church. But you Michael Dowd, you have revealed and spoken truth. Of course, yet again “follow the money” explains the liberals’ actions, the dissenters’, the schismatics’, and the heretics’. Martin was right decades ago re the Business of the Church. Although the Pope and the Sin-od have now exposed Christs’s errorr, stil today He would say “Go and sin no more.” I really don’t want to be near these guys as they correct God The Father [see Holy Scripture] on voluntarily engaging in homosexual acts being a mortal sin. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  20. This pope is an unmitigated disaster. He has shown what a disaster the Latin American Church really is. He has surrounded himself with heretics (Kasper), loonybirds (Maradiaga), carreerists (Marx), (if I said what Daneels really is, Mr. McClarey would ban me even if he agreed), nad has bad mouthed and verbally atttacked those who disagree with him. He is petty and mean. His politics are those of a failed ideology and he writes about something he knows nothing about (the climate).
    I would not refer to Kasper, Marx, Daneels and Maradiaga as Cardinals when they behave as ratbirds. it is past time for the faithful laity to go after the heretics, refuse to support them and disregard any and all pronouncements they make that are counter to Catholic teaching that any informed Catholic should know and can easily obtain.

    I am a sinner in need of Confession for a bun ch of sins, but I have not gone because I continue to stew in ager at a particular person who I would very much like to inform that – and the entire City of Pittsburgh that his parents were never married, among other choice words. This particular coworker goes out of his way to be nice to everyone but me – I got the rude mouth. There is a little boy at my son’s hockey practice who runs his mouth at my son and goads him into trouble. I’m mad at him and his dad. I’m mad at the Pope. He has a big mouth, too. I wanna give all of them a big Polish boot in the butt.

  21. The synod seems to have failed according to the “letter oft else” but not according to the “spirit” of it’s promulgators.
    What the pope is reputed to have said to the old journalist is true indeed.

  22. Penguins Fan. Sounds like you are in a bad way. Bishop Athanasius Schneider says humility means courage for truth, and only to those who humbly subject themselves to God will receive his graces. Seems to me you are doing the first part. Suggest you pray for those you don’t like and hopefully God will help you settle down. I will say a prayer for you, too.

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