Synod Answers?

10-01-2023Weekly Reflection

The Church Is Not an NGO* *NGO stands for non-governmental organization. While there is no universally agreed-upon definition of an NGO, typically it is a voluntary group or institution with a social mission, which operates independently from the government.

The Church appreciates the high human and moral values espoused by democracy, but she herself is not structured according to the principles of a secular political society. The Church, the mystery of the communion of humanity with God, receives her constitution from Christ. It is from him that she receives her internal structure and her principles of government. Public opinion cannot, therefore, play in the Church the determinative role that it legitimately plays in the political societies that rely on the principle of popular sovereignty,…(emphasis added) The International Theological Commission on the Sense of the Faith 114

The Synod on Synodality, about to begin, is no longer a synod of bishops, but an assembly of clergy and laity. It has become at the behest of the Pope a gathering of bishops, clergy, and laity to discuss themes laid out in a working-document issued earlier this year called in Latin the Instrumentum Laboris “the working document.” Cardinal Gerhard Muller was recently interviewed about the Synod and the presence of participants, who no longer believe Catholic teaching. Cardinal Muller is the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith now the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some highlights:

Q-This coming October, the final phase of the Synod on Synodality will begin. How are you approaching it?

Cardinal Müller: I pray that all this will be a blessing and not a harm to the Church. I am also committed to theological clarity so that a Church gathered around Christ doesn't become a political dance around the golden calf of the agnostic spirit of the age….

Q-Have you thought about the message you are going to deliver during the Assembly?

A-Above all I would like to say, in view of the many disappointments of the young people in Lisbon: a Church that does not believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is no longer the Church of Jesus Christ. Each participant should first study the first chapter of Lumen Gentium, which deals with the mystery of the Church in the Triune God’s plan of salvation. The Church is not the playground of the ideologues of “godless humanism”, nor of lobbyists for a blocked agenda. (Note: Lumen Gentium [Light of the Nations] is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council it deals with the mystery that is the Church. Mystery meaning a reality larger than human reasoning and understanding, because it comes from the very plan of God for the salvation of the human race.) God’s universal will to save, which we encounter in Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, and which is realized historically and eschatologically, is the future program of His Church and not the Great Reset of the atheist-globalist “elite” of billionaire bankers who hide their ruthless personal enrichment behind the mask of philanthropy. (Note: Eschatology treats of death, judgment, and eternal destiny of human beings.)

Q-What do you think of the decision to make it unacceptable for journalists to follow what is happening [in the Synod] live?

A-I don't know the intention behind this measure, but 450 participants will certainly not keep things under wraps. Many will exploit journalists for their own benefit or vice versa. This is the great hour of manipulation, of propaganda of an agenda that does more harm than good to the Church.

Q-There are some voices that have criticized the presence of the laity in this synodal Assembly. What do you think?

A-The bishops participate in their office by exercising collegial responsibility for the whole Church together with the Pope. If the laity participate in it with the right to vote, then it is no longer a synod of bishops or an ecclesiastical conference [and] does not have the apostolic teaching authority of the episcopal college. … Whenever populist effects tip the balance towards such spontaneous decisions, the sacramental nature of the Church and its mission is obscured, even if subsequent attempts are made to justify it through the common priesthood of all believers, and to eliminate the essential difference between it and the priesthood of sacramental ordination (Lumen Gentium 10).

Q-Are there more and more bishops and faithful expressing concern about what might happen during this Synod? Is there something to be afraid of?

A-Yes, the false prophets (nebulous ideologues) who present themselves as progressives have announced that they will turn the Catholic Church into an aid organization for the 2030 Agenda. In their opinion, only a Church without Christ fits into a world without God. Many young people returned from Lisbon disappointed that the focus was no longer on salvation in Christ, but on a doctrine of worldly salvation. Apparently, there are even bishops who no longer believe in God as the origin and end of man and the Savior of the world, but who, in a pan-naturalistic or pantheistic way, consider the so-called Mother Earth the beginning of existence, and climate neutrality the goal of planet earth.

Q-Do you think that changes in matters of faith and doctrine can be approved, as some groups and movements within the Church claim?

A-No one on earth can change, add to, or take away from the Word of God. As successors of the apostles, the Pope and the bishops must teach the people what the earthly and Risen Christ, the only Teacher, has commanded them to do. And it is only in this sense that the promise that heavenly host and the Head of His body always remain with his disciples (Mt 28:19f) applies. People confuse—which is not surprising given the lack of basic theological education even among bishops—the content of the Faith and its unsurpassable fullness in Christ, with the progressive theological reflection and growth of the Church’s understanding of faith throughout the ecclesiastical tradition (Dei Verbum 8-10). The infallibility of the Magisterium extends only to the preservation and faithful interpretation of the mystery of faith entrusted once and for all to the Church (depositum fidei [deposit of faith] or sound doctrine, the teaching of the Apostles). The Pope and the bishops do not receive a new revelation (Lumen Gentium 25, Dei Verbum 10.) emphasis added

Q-What would happen if, for example, the Synodal Assembly approved the blessing of homosexual couples, a change in sexual morality, the elimination of the obligatory nature of priestly celibacy or allowing the female diaconate? Would you accept it?

A-Priestly celibacy must be removed from this list, since the connection of the sacrament of Holy Orders with the charism of voluntary renunciation of marriage is not dogmatically necessary, although this ancient tradition of the Latin Church cannot be arbitrarily abolished with the stroke of a pen, as the Council Fathers expressly underlined at the Vatican Council (Presbyterorum Ordines 16). And the noisy agitators are rarely concerned with the salvation of priest-less communities, but rather with attacking this evangelical counsel, which they consider anachronistic or even inhumane in a sexually enlightened world. To bless the immoral behavior of persons of the same or opposite sex is a direct contradiction of God’s Word and will; it is a gravely sinful blasphemy. The sacrament of Holy Orders at the levels of episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate can provide divine power. Only a baptized man whose vocation has been verified by the Church as to its authenticity can receive this by right. Such demands that receive a majority vote would be irrelevant a priori. Nor could they be implemented in canon law by the whole college of bishops with the Pope or by the Pope alone because they contradict [divine] Revelation and the clear confession of the Church. (emphasis added) The formal authority of the Pope cannot be separated from the substantive connection with Holy Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and the dogmatic decisions of the Magisterium that preceded him. Otherwise, as Luther misunderstood the papacy, he would put himself in the place of God, who is the sole author of His revealed truth, instead of simply witnessing faithfully, in the authority of Christ, to the revealed faith in an unabridged and unadulterated manner and presenting it authentically to the Church. In such an extreme situation, from which God can save us, every ecclesiastical official would have lost his authority and no Catholic would be obliged any longer to religiously obey a heretical or schismatic bishop (Lumen Gentium 25; cf. the bishops’ reply to Bismarck’s misinterpretation of Vatican I, 1875).

Q-Do you think that enough is being done in the Church clearly to defend the truths that are under discussion today?

A. Unfortunately not. One’s sacred task is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel boldly inside and outside the Church. Even Paul once openly opposed Peter’s ambiguous behavior (Gal 2), without, of course, questioning his primacy established by Christ. We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated within the Church or seduced by the prospect of a race for good behavior desired from above. Bishops and priests are appointed directly by Christ, which the respective superiors in the hierarchy must consider. However, they are in community with each other, which includes religious obedience in matters of faith and canonical obedience in the governance of the Church. But this does not exempt anyone from his responsibility in conscience directly to Christ, the Shepherd and Teacher, whose authority sanctifies, teaches, and guides believers. A strict distinction must also be made between the Pope’s relationship with his nuncios and Vatican employees and the Pope’s collegial relationship with the bishops, who are not his subordinates but his brothers in the same apostolic office.

Q-What role should the Pope play at this time?

A-Throughout the Church’s history, whenever popes have felt or behaved like politicians, things have gone wrong. In politics it is about the power of the people over the people, in the Church of Christ it is about serving the eternal salvation of men, to which the Lord has called men to be his apostles. The Pope is seated on the Chair of Peter. And the way Simon Peter is presented in the New Testament, with all his ups and downs, should be a strengthening and a warning to every Pope. In the Upper Room, before his Passion, Jesus says to Peter: When you are converted, strengthen your brethren (Lk 22:32), that is, in the faith of Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:16). Only in this way is he the rock on which Jesus builds his Church, over which the gates of hell will not prevail. (emphasis added)