Monday, October 12, 2015
Crisis for Pope Francis as top-level cardinals tell him: your synod could lead to the collapse of the church
By Damian Thompson
Update, 3.20pm Monday: As I write this, various cardinals have said they didn’t sign the letter, some of them waiting several hours before distancing themselves from it. Now Erdö says he didn’t sign it. It’s extremely hard to get at the truth. ‘Not signing’ can mean a number of things, ranging from an outright false claim that a cardinal supported the letter to panicky backtracking by cardinals who did assent to it but are grasping at the technicality that they didn’t personally append their signature. But the damage to the synod is done.
(The Spectator) A group of cardinals – including some of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church – have written to Pope Francis telling him that his Synod on the Family, now meeting in Rome, has gone badly off the rails and could cause the church to collapse.
Their leaked letter, written as the synod started, presumably explains why a few days ago the Pope suddenly warned against ‘conspiracy’ and reminded the cardinals that he, and only he, will decide the outcome of the synod.
This is the gravest crisis he has faced, worse than anything that happened to Benedict XVI, and he knows it.
And, talking of the Pope Emeritus, I suspect that, had he been free to sign the letter, he would have done so.
The cardinals warn the Pope, in diplomatic language, that (a) the synod is being hijacked by liberals obsessed with the narrow issue of giving Communion to divorced and remarried people; (b) going down the route of ‘pastoral flexibility’ could lead to the Catholic Church falling apart in the same way as liberal Protestant denominations; and (c) the synod working papers prepared by the Pope’s allies Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Archbishop Bruno Forte are a mess and going down badly with the Synod Fathers.
The seniority of the signatories shows how close the church is to civil war. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith – the Church’s doctrinal watchdog – is on the list. So is Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s finances, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, in charge of the Church’s worship.
Sarah is the most prominent African cardinal in the church, along with Cardinal Wilfred Napier of Durban, who has also signed. Add to that the name of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, and it becomes clear that the loss of confidence in Pope Francis extends far beyond the Vatican... (continued)