Very interesting post-synod analysis from Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture

It’s a long piece, worth reading and very interesting.  Check this out:

Predictably that preliminary report, with its controversial language, has received far more public attention than the final Synod document. It is virtually impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Synod’s main organizers wanted this result. Consider this: the preliminary report, the relatio post disceptationem, was released immediately in several languages; the Synod’s final report is stillnot available in an official English translation.

So naturally the secular media fastened on the relatio as the main story of the Synod, to the exclusion of what the Synod fathers actually said. “No Consensus at Vatican as Synod Ends,” read the New York Times headline. Of course there was plenty of consensus: on an entire document, with most of its passages approved by lopsided majorities. But that message—the message of the full Synod assembly, rather than a handful of organizers—has not reached the general public.

Russell Shaw, an acute analyst of Catholic affairs, observed that the tumultuous proceedings of the Synod could be attributed to one of two possibilities. Either the organizers did not realize the strength of the forces they were unleashing, or they were attempting to present the full assembly with a fait accompli. Shaw concluded: “In charity, I favor the first explanation—culpable naïveté—but others will see it differently.”

In a strained effort to make the argument that the Synod was not manipulated, the Jesuit columnist Father James Martin, writing in the Jesuit magazine America, said that the assembly benefited from “a rather ‘Jesuit’ model of decision-making.” There is considerable irony in that claim, since the most controversial passage of the relatio, on the acceptance of homosexuals, was evidently written by Archbishop Bruno Forte with a substantial assist from another Jesuit journalist, Father Antonio Spadaro. My friend Robert Royal reported from the scene that Archbishop Forte and Father Spadaro exchanged a very visible thumbs-up sign when that passage was read aloud.

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Fr. Raymond de Souza on the synod

This is a great article in the National Catholic Register that I hope you read in full.  An an excerpt (my emphases):

The supposed topic of the synod was the care of the family in the context of evangelization, and evangelization begins with a conviction that there is a Gospel — the Good News — to share. The synod focused on the problems and not the proclamation. There was too much hand-wringing and not enough joy.

Second, the agenda for the synod was decidedly worldly.

On his return flight from the Holy Land, the Holy Father said that his agenda was to address the “global” situation of the family, and he “did not like” the dominance of the issue of civilly remarried divorcees. The Church’s principal worry is not that too many people are getting divorced and remarried, but that too few are getting married in the first place. The world’s agenda is divorce, cohabitation and same-sex “marriage.” The synod succumbed to the worldliness Francis inveighs against constantly. The practical agenda for this synod was too much New York Times and not enough New Testament.

Third, the manipulation of the synod’s proceedings and messages was unworthy of a Roman Curia that the Holy Father has almost daily urged to avoid gossip, intrigues and ambition.

Senior bishops from all five continents publicly denounced the behind-the-scenes decisions that only selectively reported on the content of synod interventions, culminating with the midterm report that captured world headlines but did not capture honestly what had actually been said by the participants. Francis famously denounced the power games of the royal court as the “leprosy” of the papacy, yet the synod was infected by just that. If it is not corrected soon, we have to look forward to an entire year of not listening to the Holy Spirit, but, instead, continued backroom machinations, mendacity and maneuvering.

Read more:

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Fr Longenecker on Pope Francis’ call to be open to the God of surprises

Good article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker:


How then, do we hear Pope Francis’s prophetic call to be open to the God of surprises while still affirming the timeless truths of the faith? How do we steer the course between legalism and license, between eternal truths and their merciful application for the cure of souls? The New Testament shows the way, and in his final speech to the synod Pope Francis not only presented the problem but also the solution.

St. Peter’s revolutionary vision was confirmed and validated by the Council of Jerusalem—the gathering of the apostles. Through conflict and misunderstandings, the apostles came to understand the meaning of St Peter’s vision and commissioned him to preach to the Jews and authorized St. Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

Pope Francis reaffirms this same truth, that the radical vision for change cannot come to Peter alone, but to Peter working in union with the bishops of the church. So in his final speech to the synod, Pope Francis said, “The Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the gospel of Christ, and to the tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church.”

The dramatic and sometimes conflicting Synod on the Family is exactly the way we move forward in the service of Christ to discern the Spirit’s guidance. In the turmoil of the last two weeks, we have heard the echo of Peter and the apostles themselves, struggling to reconcile God’s surprises with their understanding of the law.

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Hilarious post from Fr. Hunwicke

This reminds me of all the hurdles we had to jump through to get into the Catholic Church.  In other words, we had to believe everything the Catholic Church teaches as revealed to be true, and sign on the dotted line to that effect.  Fr. Hunwicke writes, heh heh heh.

When the first wave of Anglican priests was in preparation to be admitted to the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, we all had to go, one by one, to a Church-run centre in Manchester for ‘psychometric’ evaluation.

During one of my interviews, the clergyman interviewing me asked whether there was any part of the Church’s teaching that I had difficulty with. Bishop Newton had very strongly advised us all to be totally honest, so I said “Well, there is something. I have no trouble accepting it theoretically, but I do have problems internalising it, feeling it. To tell you the truth, I feel a little embarrassed mentioning this … “

“Out with it”, he invited, looking interested. So I explained.

“Particularly when I’m in a big, bustling crowd, I look at all those faces, all apparently with their own preoccupations, everybody pushing everybody else, and I get Big Doubts. I wonder if it really can be true that God has an individual and salvific and interlocking plan for each and every one of them. I know, intellectually, that He does … but …. well ….. particularly in the London rush hour ……”

“No no no”, he replied, perhaps a trifle impatiently. All interest had now faded from his face. “I meant Sex”.

It became clear that the process of ‘evaluation’ had little interest in grilling us to check that we were not closet Monothelites, or a bit dodgy on the question of Usury, but a great concern about our complete conformity to the Church’s official teaching on all matters sexual.

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Safe at home in Ottawa

To my readers who are hearing the horrific news from Ottawa, a message to let you know I am home and safe.

However, the very halls were the shootings took place are where I work when I’m on Parliament Hill, so I thank God I was not there today.

This could have been a bloodbath, because the caucuses of the two main political parties meet in rooms on either side of the Hall of Honor, that you will see in news footage.



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Fr. Phillips has a timely post on Papal Infallibility

At the Atonement website, he writes:

Amongst the Catholic doctrines most troublesome to many Protestants (and many Orthodox, too) is that of papal infallibility. Perhaps it conjures up visions of flabella and the sedia gestatoria, or a not-so-subtle Vatican form of mind control, or even an abuse of our valued freedom of conscience.

Actually, it’s a rather straightforward sign of God’s love for His Church.

First of all, papal infallibility is not to be confused with impeccability. Most people understand this, but there are some who think Catholics are supposed to believe that the Pope cannot sin. Infallibility has nothing to do with the absence of sin. It’s a charism – a gift – which God imparts. Although it is rightly referred to as “papal infallibility,” nonetheless it is something shared with the whole body of Catholic bishops. Although they do not have this charism individually, they do exercise the gift when they teach in doctrinal unity with the Successor of St. Peter. This is defined in Lumen Gentium, n. 25:

Despite the myths held by some, the Pope doesn’t wake up in the morning and think to himself, “I think I shall proclaim something infallibly today,” nor are Catholics inhabitants of an ecclesiastical Wonderland in which they are required to believe “six impossible things before breakfast.”


It takes no great leap of faith to accept the fact that the God who created the universe and raises the dead, would also ensure that His children are given the truth. That He protects His Vicar on earth from solemnly defining something as true, if it’s really false, not only harmonizes with Scripture, but it is reflected in the unbroken history of the Church. We should derive great comfort from the doctrine of infallibility, because it’s a beautiful act of God’s divine love.

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Michael Voris on the Holy Father

After the first Scalfari interview, I was angry with Pope Francis, and found myself tempted to allowing a critical spirit about him.  The next thing I noticed was how quickly I began to lose the fruits of the Spirit in my life.

I recognized that I needed to get back under the Pope’s spiritual headship, under his authority as the Holy Father and thankfully, the love, joy and peace returned.  This is not to say I have not had concerns about the synod, especially the mid-term report, though I am relieved by the final document and the Pope’s closing remarks.   This is an exhortation to trust in the charism of Peter and the protection the Holy Spirit guarantees the Church.

After the synod, I see many of my friends experiencing huge doubts about the Pope and with that the temptations to judgment, anger, dismay that come with that.   One can have one’s eyes open to things, still choose to love and give the benefit of a doubt and to pray.  Once you allow a critical spirit, a judgmental spirit, contempt, dismay and so on to take hold, one does not see clearly any more, even concerning what to pray for or against.

I also see a rise in factionalism, as if we are involved in a political battle.   I pray for myself to rise above partisanship and for an ever deeper conversion to Jesus Christ and for reconciliation and unity in the Body of Christ   I think this is what Pope Francis is calling us to, if I’m reading his closing address properly.   And don’t worry.  The Church’s teaching is not going to change.  It can’t change.

In that vein, I think this video of Michael Voris’ is important:

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Pope Francis’ homily today

I had a wonderful, grace-filled day, that included a visit with a friend that blessed me immensely, Mass at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which Fr. Kipling gave an amazing homily, then home to find these words of Pope  Francis’ on the same readings.

From Vatican Radio.  (with a h/t to Fr. Tom Rosica, who sends around to media a most helpful email alerting us to these)

What Christ came to do – he explained – was to give us citizenship, a belonging to the people, a name and a surname. So from being enemies without peace – he said –  Christ has turned us into one by his blood, breaking down the walls that divide.

“We all know that when we are not in peace with others, there is a wall. There is a wall that divides us. But Jesus offers us his service to break down this wall so we can meet. And if we are divided, we are not friends: we are enemies. And he has reconciled us all in God. He has reconciled us as friends, as enemies, as strangers, as sons and daughters.”

From simply being people in the street, people who were not even guests – Pope Francis said – to being “fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God”. This is what God created with his coming. But what are His conditions? – the Pope asked – “they are to await Him, like servants awaiting their master.”

“Waiting for Jesus. He who does not await Jesus, who closes his door to Jesus, does not allow him to go forward with his work of peace, of community, of citizenship. And he does more: he gives us a name. He renders us children of God. We need to adopt an attitude that contains Christian hope. A Christian is a man or a woman of hope. He or she knows the Lord will come. We do not know when, we do not know at what time, but He will come and He must not find us divided. He must find us as He rendered us with His service: friends living in peace.”  

At this point – Pope Francis concluded – there is another question a Christian must ask himself: how do I await Jesus? And first: “shall I wait for Him or not?”:

“Do I have faith in this hope that He will come? Is my heart open to hear Him knocking on the door, to hear Him entering the door?  A Christian is a man or a woman who knows how to await Jesus. He or she is a person of hope. Instead a pagan –and so often we Christians behave like pagans – forgets Jesus, thinks of himself, does not await Jesus. The selfish pagan behaves if he himself was a god: ‘I make do on my own’. And he does not end up well, he ends up without a name, without closeness, without citizenship”.

It’s been as if God is speaking to me through all these people and of course the Scripture readings for hours and I am thankful.

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Great editorial at the Catholic Herald

We would like to offer another metaphor: the synod’s final report is like an unfinished icon. During their two-week meeting the synod fathers did little more than paint the gold background. They have yet to begin the hardest part: drawing a portrait of Jesus that speaks to a contemporary world that has all but forgotten him. Icon painters say that prayer is essential to their work, and so the bishops have paused for a year of reflection, before meeting again for the second, larger family synod. We, too, should be praying that the synod fathers create a compelling image of Christ. For it is all too easy to unconsciously adopt the sporting metaphor, cheering on our respective side as if the synod is little more than an entertaining, inter-tribal game.

Anyone who doubts the bishops’ ability to complete the icon should read the full final synod report for themselves, rather than relying on commentaries. (Unhelpfully, the Vatican did not release an official English translation immediately, but it should appear on its website this week.) The final text is much more deeply rooted in Scripture than the controversial “mid-term” report, but is still unmistakably a document of the Pope Francis era, expressing the same urgent desire to welcome all into the loving arms of the Father.
An unfinished icon can look slightly alarming. But we should be confident that God will answer our prayers and that, when the image is finally completed, the people of our time – our friends and neighbours – will see a radiant portrait of Christ that cannot leave them unmoved.

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John Zmirak on the Synod

This guy can write. Very interesting observations.  Thankfully the final synod message and the Pope’s message at the end were reassuring, though I do agree the mid-term synod relatio sure did read like an Episcopalian document.  Church teaching is not going to change.  The Pope will not allow that to happen.

How we wish that the universe worked Synod-style, that its Creator answered our whims like an obsequious restaurant waiter angling for tips. Wouldn’t it be pleasant if God looked on our sins and saw only the gifts which He gave us, instead of the miserable ways that we use them? Like a child who stuffs his brand new Lego blocks down the throat of the family dog, we’re surprised by praise for our endeavor’s “positive elements.” Were God like the leading Synod fathers — that is, a senile grandfather in heaven — he would nod and tell us: “That’s quite an obedient dog. And those Lego blocks are shiny. Look how very many of them you have managed to fit inside of Fido. What an energetic boy!”

I am sick at heart, like millions of Catholics, to hear shepherds of our Church fall over themselves to sound like liberal Episcopalians. We know from recent history precisely where this leads: To gapingly empty churches, ecumenical services with Islamists — and gatherings like the Anglican synod some years ago, where an openly gay bishop squirmed in his shoes, as an old-fashioned Christian prelate from Africa accosted him and prayed over him to drive out the “demon of sodomy.” Well, the Synod has many sessions left to run. Plenty of time for the faithful remnant to dust off their exorcism kits.



Vatican I rules out any attempts, even by a council, to depose or overrule a pope. Anyway, Christ’s promise to Peter cannot amount to a crass tautology such as “The pope is infallible … until he makes a mistake. Then he isn’t pope anymore.” We may be saved through the eye of a needle, but not through the chink of a loophole. If Pope Francis demolishes marriage, he destroys the throne that he sits on. Future popes might claim to be the “Vicar of Christ.” But then, Queen Elizabeth claims to be the “Defender of the Faith.” We all know how much that means.

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