A Synodal ‘Process’ Only Liberals Could Like

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By Phil Lawler ( bio – articles – email ) | February 16, 2022

Preparations for the synod on synodality are “welcomed with great enthusiasm,” we are told. And who brings us this good news? Why, the people responsible for these preparations, of course.

To be fair, the Synod Office conceded in its rosy progress report that the preparatory process, with its countless local meetings and listening sessions, failed to reassure doubters. “There is also a certain mistrust among lay people who doubt that their contributions are really taken into consideration.”

So some people (the people organizing the process, I would say) are enthusiastic. And others (everyone else) are suspicious. Some people are happy to chat about to treat to establish a to treat by which the Church should be led. Others, impatient for reality solutions to the problems plaguing the Church, will be frustrated by round after round of inconclusive discussions. Theoretically, the preparatory sessions—and possibly the meeting of the synod itself—could reinvigorate the Church. But my colleague Jeff Mirus succinctly expressed the reservations of skeptics:

But the biggest probabilities remain: (a) That the overwhelming majority of very committed Catholics (based on long experience) will distrust the process; (b) Let fashionable dissidents take advantage of this to remake the Church in their own image; (c) That almost all concerns expressed will be translated by professional clerics into resounding phrases that emphasize inclusion rather than fidelity; and (d) That the very presence of almost all of the suggestions in an outcome document, planting new, small seeds of infidelity, will lend further legitimacy to the latest ways in which the Church may become less faithful to its essential mission.

If these predictions seem too pessimistic to you, consider how, for 50 years, references to a vague “spirit of Vatican II” have been used to promote ideas and actions totally at odds with the actual teachings of the Council. Consider how the “synodal path” of the German bishops has already embraced sweeping changes in Catholic doctrine and discipline. Consider how the Office of the Synod encouraged contributions not only from dissenting Catholics and non-practicing Catholics, but also from non-Catholics. And consider how, during the current pontificate, every meeting of the Synod of Bishops has been blatantly manipulated by a clique of liberal insiders, to produce the desired results.

For the synod on synodality, the opportunities for manipulation will be multiplied during the two-year preparatory process, with liberal activists having the opportunity to stage the local meetings, national meetings and regional meetings leading up to the final assembly of the synod. Then, when the bishops meet in Rome in October 2023, the meeting’s most important role will be filled by a prelate who has been outspoken in his own calls for changing the teachings of the Church.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, who was appointed by Pope Francis as “General Relator” for the Synod. He is a Jesuit, like Pope Francis, and he received his red hat from Pope Francis in 2019. Clearly, the pontiff holds him in high esteem. In fact, veteran Vatican watcher Sandro Magister is convinced that Pope Francis wants Cardinal Hollerich to succeed him on the throne of Peter.

As general rapporteur, Cardinal Hollerich is responsible for presenting the report on which the synod will base its discussions and overseeing the preparation of a final document when those discussions are complete. It is therefore fair to expect that the Synod’s final report will be influenced by his own thoughts.

  • If you wonder if Cardinal Hollerich might allow secular ideology to prevail over Catholic doctrine, consider that he said: “Solidarity, the fact of sharing, of wanting to share wealth with the poorest, of respecting human rights: these are the distinctive elements of Christianity.” (The distinctive elements?)
  • It was the same Cardinal Hollerich who announced, in an interview earlier this month, that “it is time for us to revise” the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, because “the sociological basis and science of this teaching is no longer correct. ”
  • Who said that “ecological conversion” was “a matter of life or death” and that the desire to reduce carbon emissions was “a deep moral imperative”.
  • The same Cardinal Hollerich who argues that undocumented refugees should be welcomed into Europe, but Catholics without Covid-vaccine passports should not be allowed into churches.
  • The same Cardinal Hollerich who said, “The change in civilization we are witnessing today is the greatest change since the invention of the wheel. Who told an interviewer that “we can’t give the answers of the past to the questions of tomorrow,” and that today’s church “must be quicker” to keep up with the times. (“Otherwise we lose touch and can no longer be understood.”)
  • The same Cardinal Hollerich who said he would not oppose the ordination of women as deacons, except that “the danger of schism would be great” because “many bishops might not accept it” . The same Cardinal Hollerich who said that “the pope has nothing against conservatives, if they learn from life”.

While conservative Catholics have learned from life, they will remain deeply suspicious of Cardinal Hollerich and the synodal process in which he plays a central role.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for over 30 years. He edited several Catholic magazines and wrote eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is news director and senior analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full biography.

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