"Ahead of Synod of Bishops, extreme conservatives gear up". Yet more stereotyping and scapegoating without just cause.
In October, the World Synod of the Catholic Church enters the hot phase - arch-conservative Catholics vehemently reject the papal project and promote their arguments with a new book
It threatens nothing less than the destruction of the Catholic Church. At least that's how representatives of the arch-conservative and traditionalist wing of this very Church present it. About six weeks before the most important stage in Pope Francis' most important project is due to start, well-known opponents of Francis are arming themselves with arguments in a book - and they are also once again taking a good swipe at the "Synodal Path" reform process of the Church in Germany. A conference from the same corner is also to deal with the topics of "Deep Church," "Deep State" and "Great Restart" in a conspiracy-theory manner.
The reason for the doomsday scenarios is the World Synod proclaimed by Francis in 2021, for which a first central assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in the Vatican throughout October. The topic of the synod - "synodality" - probably didn't really sweep anyone off their feet at first. In the meantime, however, it has become clear what explosive power lies behind the technical-looking formula of the "synod on synodality": the approximately 420 synod members and theological advisors are to discuss, among other things, how the church deals with LGBTQ issues, ordained offices for women and celibacy.
"A plan is underway to reform Holy Mother Church," authors Jose Antonio Ureta of Chile and Julio Loredo de Izcue of Peru warn in their now-published book, "The Synodal Process is Pandora's Box." Should this "plan" be fully implemented, they say, it could overturn the foundations of the Church.
The authors identify two dangers: The world synod could overturn church hierarchies and grant new rights to people who, according to Catholic teaching, live in sin, such as homosexuals. Ureta and Loredo de Izcue place both in the vicinity of heresy. In their book, divided into 100 questions and answers, they repeatedly answer leading questions with an unequivocal "yes," such as whether synod proponents are looking for loopholes to legitimize same-sex relationships under church law.
They get support from U.S. Curia Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, an avowed critic of Francis. "Synodality and its adjective synodal have become slogans behind which a revolution is at work to radically change the Church's self-understanding," Burke writes in the preface to the book, published by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Private Property (TFP).
One of the heads of the TFP parent organization, founded in 1960, is Brazilian politician and publicist Plinio Correa de Oliveira (1908-1995). He vehemently opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and was on good terms with the founder of Marcel Lefebvre's traditionalist Pius Fraternity. In Germany, TFP says it is concerned with "the moral crisis that is shaking the remnants of Christian civilization." Accordingly, the values of tradition, family and property form "a protective wall against Marxist, socialist and communist ideology."
Pope's declaration of war
The extreme conservative headwind for the world synod was addressed by Pope Francis himself. During the usual chat with members of the Jesuit order in Lisbon at the beginning of August, he made a challenge to unnamed conservative Catholic groups in the United States. The pope accused them of trying to spread a well-organized, backward-looking ideology in the church. In doing so, he repeated his vision of a church that excludes no one, explicitly naming trans people as those affected.
Then last Saturday, with regard to the World Synod, he told journalists: "We have opened our doors, made it possible for everyone to participate and taken into account all suggestions. Together we want to build a church where everyone feels at home and where no one is excluded (...) There are no first, second and third class Catholics." Both speeches sounded like a response to the louder criticism from the conservative camp in the run-up to the assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
Cathcon: The inconsistent Pope can either declare war on some or include everyone but not both at the same time. Don't they realise people get damaged in the course of even metaphorical wars. A distasteful analogy given what is happening in the world.
Criticism of the German "Synodal Path"
TFP and the authors of the now-published book took particular aim at the "Synodal Path" reform process of the Catholic Church in Germany. "This path concentrates and animates the most extreme demands of German progressives," Ureta and Loredo de Izcue write. The process, they say, is elitist but influential.
In fact, the Vatican has so far rejected demands from the German "Synodal Path," such as for the establishment of synodal councils. Nevertheless, the TFP authors paint a black picture: in the face of extreme ideas from Germany, lazy compromises could be made at the world synod along the lines of "women may not become priests, but we will abolish celibacy." The authors insist that no proposal of the "Synodal Path" may be implemented. Otherwise it would no longer be the holy, catholic and apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ.
Ureta and Loredo de Izcue repeatedly refer to German Curia Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, whom Francis removed from his post as the Vatican's top guardian of the faith in 2017. "They dream of another church that has nothing to do with the Catholic faith," Müller said of proponents of the world synod in an interview last October on Catholic broadcaster EWTN. "They want to abuse this process to move the Catholic Church - and not just in another direction, but toward the destruction of the Catholic Church."
"Rome Life Forum" after Synod
Cardinal Müller's name is also currently appearing in invitations: He will be one of the keynote speakers at the two-day "Rome Life Forum." The "strategy conference" will take place at the end of October, shortly after the end of the Synod of Bishops in Rome. The world synod threatens to formalize heretical teachings on the family, claims organizer "Life Site News," a conservative Catholic online portal that grew out of the Canadian anti-abortion movement.
According to Life Site News, the conference aims to expose "the evil of the Deep Church and the Deep State" and their involvement in the "Great Reset Agenda." The idea that secret elites in the state and church want to usurp power clearly comes from the realm of conspiracy narratives. Perhaps Cardinal Müller, of all people, can help objectify the debate: He will be at the central meeting of the World Synod in the Vatican - because Pope Francis has personally appointed him as a participant.