Roman “How to survive Francis without saying he isn’t the Pope” Gathering…
Conservative Church Crisis Conference in Rome issues Lackluster Declaration
Saturday, April 7, 2018, saw yet another high-profile “Catholic” conference in Rome. It was, in essence, a crisis self-help conference by various conservative Novus Ordo personalities who are wondering what they can or should do in the current situation without having to deny that Francis is a true Pope. Similar events had taken place before, such as the conference in Rome on Christian marriage sponsored by the Lepanto Foundation in Dec. 2016.
Officially, the conference had the intriguing and yet smooth-sounding title, “Catholic Church, where are you going?” The line-up of speakers included some of the usual suspects as well as a few lesser-known names: “Cardinals” Walter Brandmuller and Raymond Burke of Dubia fame; the ubiquitous Kazakh auxiliary Athanasius Schneider; the atheist philosopher, politician, and Francis critic Marcello Pera; the canonist Valerio Gigliotti; and the bioethicist Renzo Puccetti. The outspoken “Cardinal” Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong participated virtually, and a video of the deceased “Cardinal” Carlo Caffarra was played at the beginning of the gathering. Roughly 400 people were in attendance.
Detailed information on the conference, including the content of some of the speeches given, can be found at the following links:
- “In a Church With No Leader, Two New Protests From Bishops and Faithful” (Sandro Magister)
- “Cardinal Brandmüller, Bishop Schneider Tackle Crisis of Confusion in the Church” (Edward Pentin)
- “Can summit derail ‘just don’t look’ strategy on ‘Amoris’ critics?” (John Allen)
- “Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller on Schism, Papal Authority, and the Sensus Fidei” (Maike Hickson)
- “Cardinal Burke: Papal Authority Derives From Obedience to Christ” (Edward Pentin)
- “Bishop Schneider: The Pope is not the ‘owner’ of truth but its ‘servant and vicar’ (FULL TEXT)” (Diane Montagna)
- “Cardinal Burke’s talk on the limits of papal power (FULL TEXT)” (Diane Montagna)
- Video: “Cardinal” Zen addresses Rome Conference (in Italian)
- “Conference on Confusion in the Church: Final Declaration” (Edward Pentin)
In its Apr. 12, 2018 edition, the German weekly Die Tagespost reports that while he was giving his presentation, “Cardinal” Burke was interrupted by a group of women voicing their disapproval of Francis:
When he [Burke] transitioned from the first step, that of his call addressed directly to the Roman Pontiff to correct the error [in Amoris Laetitia], to the second step, the public condemnation of the papal heresy, the clearly palpable dissatisfaction [with Francis] exploded in the windowless basement auditorium: A group of women — mostly young, some with Rosaries in their hands; not nuns but, due to their modest black-and-white clothing, apparently belonging to a religious community — started yelling: “Do it”, “We’re going to hell” [sic], “We’re with you”, “He’s a heretic.”
(Guido Horst, “Ernsthafte Gefahr”, Die Tagespost, Apr. 12, 2018, p. 10; our translation.)
Just ahead of the conference, “Cardinal” Burke had given an interview that has received a good amount of attention, and the Novus Ordo historian Roberto de Mattei also answered questions about the conference:
- “Cardinal Burke: Pope Francis is ‘increasing the confusion’” (Diane Montagna)
- “Roberto de Mattei on Today’s Rome Conference: ‘Catholic Church, Where Are You Going?'” (Catholic Family News)
In this post we will not comment on the content of the individual speeches given; rather, we will respond to them, as necessary, in future posts on this blog.
The conference ended with the publication of a declaration that reads as follows:
“Therefore we testify and confess…”
Final declaration of the conference “Catholic Church, where are you going?” Rome, April 7, 2018
Due to contradictory interpretations of the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia,” growing discontent and confusion are spreading among the faithful throughout the world.
The urgent request for a clarification submitted to the Holy Father by approximately one million faithful, more than 250 scholars and several cardinals, has received no response.
Amidst the grave danger to the faith and unity of the Church that has arisen, we baptized and confirmed members of the People of God are called to reaffirm our Catholic faith.
The Second Vatican Council authorizes us and encourages us to do so, stating in “Lumen Gentium,” n. 33: “Thus every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal’ (Eph. 4:7).”
Blessed John Henry Newman also encourages us to do so. In his prophetic essay “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine” (1859), he spoke of the importance of the laity bearing witness to the faith.
Therefore, in accordance with the authentic tradition of the Church, we testify and confess that:
1) A ratified and consummated marriage between two baptized persons can be dissolved only by death.
2) Therefore, Christians united by a valid marriage who join themselves to another person while their spouse is still alive commit the grave sin of adultery.
3) We are convinced that there exist absolute moral commandments which oblige always and without exception.
4) We are also convinced that no subjective judgment of conscience can make an intrinsically evil act good and licit.
5) We are convinced that judgment about the possibility of administering sacramental absolution is not based on the imputability of the sin committed, but on the penitent’s intention to abandon a way of life that is contrary to the divine commandments.
6) We are convinced that persons who are divorced and civilly remarried, and who are unwilling to live in continence, are living in a situation that is objectively contrary to the law of God, and therefore cannot receive Eucharistic Communion.
Our Lord Jesus Christ says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8: 31-32).
With this confidence we confess our faith before the supreme pastor and teacher of the Church and before the bishops, and we ask them to confirm us in the faith.
After all the hullabaloo that had been raised about Francis’ Amoris Laetitia and the chaos resulting therefrom, the Filial Correction and its aftermath, as well as the various pronouncements by Burke & Co. about courageously resisting and opposing the apostasy from the Faith, one must simply observe that this declaration is shockingly soft and lackluster. Anyone who was expecting fireworks at the closing of the conference was sorely disappointed.
The trouble begins with the alleged authorization for this declaration. The authors cite Vatican II and an essay by Fr. John Henry Newman (Newman wasn’t made a cardinal until 1879). Is this the best they could come up with to lend justification to what they call “bearing witness to their faith”?
Then they affirm six specific theses, four of which begin with the phrase, “We are convinced that…”, which gives what follows a decidedly subjective flavor, since what they are really testifying to in those theses is not the objective truth of the doctrinal content expressed therein but merely their conviction that these ideas are true. But of what use is that? Who cares what they are convinced of? Why could they not simply affirm, as they did in the first two theses, that these things are indeed true, quite independently of anyone’s personal conviction? After all, the objective truth of these ideas is what’s being denied by Francis and others, not the subjective conviction of Mr. Burke & Co.
For readers tempted to dismiss our criticism here as being awfully pedantic, please keep in mind that words have meaning, and declarations like this are worded very carefully and reviewed again and again before they are published. We must assume, therefore, that plenty of thought has been put into every single word. These aren’t off-the-cuff remarks — the text was published as the climax, so to speak, of a widely-publicized conference that was meant to shed light on and outline solutions to a tremendous ecclesiastical crisis.
Lastly, there is not even so much as a rebuke of Francis or any of his henchmen in this declaration. Instead, the authors renew their acknowledgment of Jorge Bergoglio as the “supreme pastor” and merely “ask” him and his buddies to “confirm us in the faith” — the very faith that they’re lamenting is being threatened and undermined by these very people. Brilliant!
On top of all that, as Vaticanist John Allen reports, this “declaration didn’t carry any specific signatories, but was issued in the name of the ‘People of God'” (source).
Sorry, but we’re not impressed.
If a group of Novus Ordo prelates were trying to pool all the anti-Francis forces in the Vatican II Church into one big movement they can control and keep from becoming a serious threat to Francis, what would they be doing differently?
Image source: istockphoto.com (TomasSereda)