A brief review and commentary
Tempest in a Beer Mug: 130 Novus Ordos and Semi-Trads protest the German “Synodal Way” in Munich
The German city of Munich, capital of the state of Bavaria, is known for its fine beer, the Hofbräuhaus, and its annual Oktoberfest. It is also home of the see of the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, a position currently under usurpation by the rotund apostate Mr. “Cardinal” Reinhard Marx.
On Saturday, Jan. 18, Munich became the place of a protest that had not been advertised beforehand. On Friday afternoon, Michael Matt of The Remnant had sent out a tweet with a first and rather cryptic announcement: “Please spread the word. We’re heading to Europe for a major demonstration against the Francis madness. Can’t reveal which city yet, but check remnantnewspaper.com early Saturday morning for details. Your prayers are appreciated.”
A communiqué was then posted Jan. 18 on The Remnant‘s web site, and Marco Tosatti’s Stilum Curiae blog also gave a preview of what was marketed as a major international demonstration. Our own post on the matter can be reviewed here:
Without trying to be overly critical, one must ask if this whole spectacle doesn’t perhaps fit well into the category of “over-promised and under-delivered”. “Fr.” John Zuhlsdorf called the event a “self-licking ice cream cone”, and he’s got a point.
Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register reports what happened:
Lay faithful from around the world stood for an hour in silent prayer in the center of the Bavarian city of Munich today to ask Pope Francis and Germany’s bishops for “clarity and coherence” and an end to “dissimulation and deception.”
The group of around 130 laity, including Germans, Italians, Americans, Austrians, Brazilians, Canadians and Chileans, made the appeal due to concerns about the German bishops’ two-year “synodal path” that fully gets underway with its first general assembly on Jan. 30.
(Edward Pentin, “Munich Protest Requests ‘Clarity and Coherence’ From Pope Francis, German Bishops”, National Catholic Register, Jan. 18, 2020)
Writing for Life Site, Maike Hickson also covered the event:
An international coalition of lay Catholics mobilized in Munich today to silently pray in “firm protest against the German Episcopal Conference and its President” Cardinal Marx on account of the prelates’ plan to embark on a “synodal path” that critics say would create a “new church” that departs from Catholic teaching on priestly celibacy, contraception, homosexuality, and fornication.
“The German Bishops,” the group explained in a press release, “after promoting the Synod on the Amazon ideologically and financially, today constitute the most advanced place of the Revolution in the Church.” Their “Synodal Path,” which is to start on January 30 in Germany, is seen here in direct connection with the recently concluded Amazon Synod and its agenda.
“We ask for clarity from Pope Francis. He is not ignorant of the positions of the German bishops nor of their objective, which is to extend the ‘binding’ decisions of their ‘permanent synod’ to the universal Church. If he holds the same doctrinal deviations as they do then he ought to have the courage to openly say so,” the group stated on its website.
(Maike Hickson, “Catholic laity protest Cdl Marx, call him to repent for leading German church down schismatic ‘synodal path’”, Life Site, Jan. 18, 2020)
It may be doubted whether the Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio (“Pope Francis”), whom even “Abp.” Carlo Maria Viganò’s various explosive testimonies have not been able to derail, will be terribly impressed by 130 people standing around in Germany, even if it was in front of Munich’s Theatine Church of St. Cajetan.
Granted, the precise location for their silent protest was the historically significant Odeonsplatz, “where Bavaria’s Catholic heroes were celebrated in the 19th century”, according to Pentin; but it’s not like that’s going to make a difference for the man who thinks nothing of cracking a joke about our Blessed Lord’s Crucifixion.
A first video report, by the way, was published by Life Site:
Among the protesters were the familiar faces of Michael Matt, John-Henry Westen, Roberto de Mattei, Jeanne Smits, and Alexander Tschugguel. Some photos can be viewed here. The event also included one unexpected high-profile guest: “Abp.” Viganò, who had been in hiding since August of 2018, showed up to participate.
After the silent standing exercise, there followed a press conference, where the following six speakers each gave a presentation about a particular topic:
- Michael J. Matt: “A Catastrophic Synodal Path”
- Alexander Tschugguel: “The Church as an NGO!”
- Jeanne Smits: “Why we do not accept the revolutionizing of the role of women in the Church”
- José Antonio Ureta: “The Five Pseudo-Synodal Impostures of the German ‘Path'”
- John-Henry Westen: “You have Blood on your Hands”
- Roberto de Mattei: “Appeal to German Catholics against the Kirchensteuer“
The full text of each of these statements can be found here. We won’t comment on all of them, but we’ll begin with Michael Matt‘s:
The German Bishops’ “synodal path” appears to be an effort to create a church according to the image and likeness of the German Bishops, who apparently believe they can define doctrine and establish their own national Church—a sort of elitist nationalism that flies in the face of the universal Catholic Church, with one faith, one sacramental system, and one discipline throughout the whole world.
Now this is interesting. For decades Matt has been defending the Society of St. Pius X in the pages of The Remnant, and they most certainly do not share in the “one faith, one sacramental system” or even the “one discipline” of the Vatican II Church, especially not between the years of 1988 and 2009.
A new church according to someone else’s image and likeness was created long time ago at Vatican II, and this is precisely what Matt and his associates have been resisting since the inception of the family newspaper in 1967. A few years back, Matt had no trouble remembering this when he pointed out in one of his videos with Christopher Ferrara that “this isn’t the Catholic Church anymore” (see 16:42 mark). What happened? The battle cry of the Munich protest has been for “clarity and coherence”, but Matt apparently didn’t get the memo.
When it was his turn to speak, the Pachamama Tiber tosser Alexander Tschugguel said that the institution he believes to be the Catholic Church must “renew itself by returning to the true teaching” — implying that the Bride of Christ can stray from the truth, when Pope Pius XI taught that the Church enjoys “perfect and perpetual immunity … from error and heresy” (Encyclical Quas Primas, n. 22). Talk about returning to true doctrine!
Chilean author José Ureta was the first at the press conference to use the word “schism”, saying: “The ‘synodal path’ undertaken by the German Bishops’ Conference departs radically from the traditional synod model, and if not stopped in time, will lead to a schism.”
Now “schism” is defined in the Church’s Law as the refusal of being subject to the Roman Pontiff or of being in communion with the other members of the Church, who are subject to the Roman Pontiff (see Canon 1325 §2). But if Francis is Pope, and if he agrees to what the German Novus Ordo bishops end up deciding in their “Synodal Path”, where is the danger of schism? Is Ureta really concerned that Marx and his henchmen are going to refuse to be properly subject to Bergoglio, or that they will refuse to be in communion with those who are properly subject to him?
Ureta concludes his speech with these words:
But Cardinal Marx and his cronies are completely mistaken: Even if Pope Francis approves the recommendations of the German “synodal path,” the living and dynamic elements of the Catholic Church in Germany and all true Catholics around the world will not be fooled by their moves and will manage to remain faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
Now that is a curious understanding of being faithful to the Catholic Church: by opposing the Pope and his teaching! What was the definition of schism again?
Pope Pius XI taught in Casti Connubii that “a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord” (n. 104). Likewise, he taught in Mortalium Animos that in the Catholic Church “no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors” (n. 11). And Pope Pius XII pointed out that those “walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth” (Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 41). Clearly, if Francis is Pope, Ureta is going to have to look for his schism elsewhere.
Using refreshingly strong words, John-Henry Westen denounced “Cardinal” Marx as a wolf, a heretic, the purveyor of a false gospel. The only puzzling thing is why Westen believes that Marx is nevertheless the legitimate Archbishop of Munich. Does he not know that public heretics are by that fact alone excluded from the Church, and that they cannot govern that of which they are not even a member? “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy” (Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, n. 23).
The grand finale, so to speak, came with Roberto de Mattei, the historian who continually twists theology and history in order to make the facts fit his false Gallican (recognize-and-resist) position. His was an appeal to all Novus Ordos in Germany to stop paying the so-called Kirchensteuer, the “church tax”, which every member of the Vatican II Church has automatically taken out of his paycheck.
De Mattei knows very well, and criticizes the fact, that the only way for a German Novus Ordo to be able to get out of paying that tax is to abandon what he believes to be the Catholic Church. Then, and only then, does he not have to pay this tax. Such an act “is automatically followed by a de facto excommunication”, de Mattei knows. That is why the German branch of the Vatican II Sect is always awash in cash, despite the steady and great decline in church attendance.
De Mattei essentially accuses the German church of simony: “…whoever subordinates the sacramental life to the payment of a tax falls into the sin of simony (Acts 8: 5-24), the selling of spiritual goods that has characterized all the ages of great crises in the Church.” He furthermore opines that “paying the Kirchensteuer means directly cooperating in the process of secularization of the Church in Germany and in the world that the German bishops promote on the ideological level and support on the financial level,” for which reason he exhorts all Novus Ordos in Germany: “stop paying the Kirchensteuer!”
The web site One Peter Five conducted an interview with de Mattei, where he demonstrates that he holds the same false understanding of schism as Jose Ureta, and where he nonchalantly dismisses the Novus Ordo excommunication for leaving the Vatican II Church in order to escape the burden of church tax: “In this situation, the excommunication would be invalid, because the act of formally leaving the Catholic Church (Kirchenaustritt), in order to have canonical relevance, must be a free and conscious choice, not an act one is forced into when someone, for whatever reason, wants to avoid paying the ecclesiastical tax.”
Here de Mattei forgets that no one is forced to avoid paying the church tax, and hence the act is certainly free. In addition, simply declaring on one’s own authority — aka “private judgment” — that an ecclesiastical excommunication is invalid, is risky business, as Pope Pius IX reminds us in the encyclical Quartus Supra: “The Jansenist heretics dared to teach such doctrines as that an excommunication pronounced by a lawful prelate could be ignored on a pretext of injustice” (n. 10). These Jansenist errors were condemned by Pope Clement XI in 1713:
CONDEMNED: The fear of an unjust excommunication should never hinder us from fulfilling our duty; never are we separated from the Church, even when by the wickedness of men we seem to be expelled from it, as long as we are attached to God, to Jesus Christ, and to the Church herself by charity.
CONDEMNED: To suffer in peace an excommunication and an unjust anathema rather than betray truth, is to imitate St. Paul; far be it from rebelling against authority or of destroying unity.
(Pope Clement XI, Apostolic Constitution Unigenitus, nn. 91-92; Denz. 1441-1442)
One would think that an academic who specializes in history and continually speaks and writes about ecclesiastical history in particular, would be informed about such details, but perhaps de Mattei decided that Pope Clement’s condemnations, too, are invalid.
Thus far the long and the short of the latest Acies Ordinata intervention. The last two such protests took place in 2019, one right before the Vatican sex abuse summit in February and the other just prior to the Amazon Synod in late September. They were as effective as all the countless declarations, documents, petitions, dubia, and conferences in the last few years.
So, what will happen after this Munich protest? One wouldn’t be going out on a limb to predict that exactly nothing will happen. Aside from keeping bloggers and journalists occupied, the combined total effect will be pretty close to zero. Again and again interventions like this give people hope, keep them busy, and convey the idea that someone is doing something.
Ultimately, however, all such events are necessarily doomed to failure because they are inherently self-contradictory: Since the organizers and participants recognize Francis as the legitimate Pope and his fellow-heretics as the legitimate Roman Catholic hierarchy, by protesting and resisting — and especially by condemning the recognized authorities as public heretics — they are necessarily opposing traditional Catholic doctrine on submission to the lawful ecclesiastical prelates, especially the Roman Pontiff, in all matters of Faith and morals — yes, even in those things that are outside of the protection of infallibility. They are thus fighting an impossible battle, for even were they to win, they would lose.
If the Jan. 18 spectacle in Munich was supposed to be some significant international intervention to seriously derail the Marxist-Bergoglian progam, it has failed. In fact, it looks more like it was really just a tempest in a beer mug.
As the Germans say: Prost!
Image source: aciesordinata.org (screenshot)
License: fair use