‘Circus Roncalli’ welcomes you!
The Synod goes Big Tent:
Vatican releases Working Document for next Synod Phase
(Disclaimer: NOT an official Synod image)
The earth was trembling yesterday as the Vatican held a press conference to introduce what the entire globe had been waiting for with bated breath: the 56-page Working Document for the Continental Stage of the ever-blessed Synod on Synodality.
The full document, which is adorned throughout with childishly silly crayon-style artwork, can be downloaded in five different languages from the Synod web site:
- Working Document for the Continental Stage (Synod.va)
(in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese)
The paper consists of 109 numbered paragraphs and is divided into various chapters and sub-chapters. Browsing through the pages, we find such exciting headings as “Listening that becomes welcoming”, “Communion, participation, and co-responsibility”, “Managing tensions: renewal and reconciliation”, and, not to forget, “A synodal style of celebrating.”
“Enlarge the space of your tent” is the scriptural motto at the top of the cover page. It is a quote from Isaias 54:2 and is presumably going to be used as the biblical pretext for including in all their “rich diversity” those hitherto “excluded” — and we can all guess who they are going to be. The traditional Catholic Haydock Bible explains that Chapter 54 of the Prophet Isaias is a prophecy of the Gentiles entering the Church of the future New Covenant, for which reason the “tent” needs to be enlarged: “The Gentiles, who were barren before, shall multiply in the church of Christ: from which God’s mercy shall never depart”, says the chapter summary. That is the kind of inclusion the prophet is talking about.
It’s interesting to see the Vatican always use Scripture very selectively, just those parts they can hijack to advance the Bergoglian agenda. For example, there is another Scripture passage that could have been a motto for the Synod, but we know why they didn’t pick that one: “Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see and ask for the old paths which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls…” (Jer 6:16).
The Vatican Press Conference
Before we look at some of the content of the Working Document, let us first talk about the press conference introducing the thing. The two most prominent individuals present were “Cardinal” Mario Grech of Malta, who is the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; and “Cardinal” Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., of Luxembourg, who is Relator General of the Synod on Synodality. Neither of them is a Catholic, of course.
At the meeting, Hollerich referred to the newly-released document as “the synthesis of the synthesis given by 112 bishops’ conferences (out of 114), of the all 15 Catholic Oriental Churches, 17 Roman Dicasteries, the superiors of the religious orders and congregations, different lay movements and associations.” In other words, it is a summary of all that synodal “listening” they had been doing around the globe. At this point, no doubt, it is an almost divinely inspired text in which “the Holy Spirit is at work” and the “voice of the People of God” is heard.
Don’t think it’s an exaggeration. Hollerich said: “This document is … not a writing emerging out of theological writings, it is the fruit of a lived synodality, a dimension of the life in the Church. We were able to notice that the Holy Spirit is at work.” It’s a pity he didn’t specify how they “were able to notice” that, but we can be sure it wasn’t based on Catholic criteria, and although there was surely some spirit at work, it definitely wasn’t holy. Given Hollerich’s own theological record, it’s obvious that discerning the Holy Ghost isn’t one of his more prominent skills.
Another participant in the press conference was one Prof. Anna Rowlands. She too gave an intervention and clarified: “The Synod remains in a listening phase. Our task in preparing this Document was to demonstrate that we have listened well and heard those who have spoken. The next phase is a further extension of that listening, now at Continental level.” (In the United States and Canada, by the way, that continental listening will be done virtually.)
Rowlands also pointed out that “the ultimate purpose of this process is not to produce documents but to open horizons of hope for the fulfilment of the Church’s mission.” Now if that isn’t a clearly defined goal! In 1962, Angelo Roncalli (“Pope” John XXIII) merely opened the windows at Vatican II; but now that ‘Circus Roncalli’ is going big-tent, they’re ready to open entire horizons!
Rowlands ended by noting that “we continue to have much to learn about how to create a Synod process guided by the Spirit of the Church at Pentecost.” Sounds like John XXIII’s “New Pentecost” of Vatican II isn’t new enough anymore, so get ready for another one — an “Even Newer Pentecost”!
The Contents of the Working Document
Regarding the contents of the document, of particular interest are paragraphs 39, 51, and 64:
39. Among those who ask for a more meaningful dialogue and a more welcoming space we also find those who, for various reasons, feel a tension between belonging to the Church and their own loving relationships, such as: remarried divorcees, single parents, people living in a polygamous marriage, LGBTQ people, etc. Reports show how this demand for welcome challenges many local Churches: “People ask that the Church be a refuge for the wounded and broken, not an institution for the perfect. They want the Church to meet people wherever they are, to walk with them rather than judge them, and to build real relationships through caring and authenticity, not a purpose of superiority” (EC USA). They also reveal uncertainties about how to respond and express the need for discernment on the part of the universal Church: “There is a new phenomenon in the Church that is absolutely new in Lesotho: same-sex relationships. […] This novelty is disturbing for Catholics and for those who consider it a sin. Surprisingly, there are Catholics in Lesotho who have started practising this behaviour and expect the Church to accept them and their way of behaving. […] This is a problematic challenge for the Church because these people feel excluded” (EC Lesotho). Those who left ordained ministry and married, too, ask for a more welcoming Church, with greater willingness to dialogue.
51. Many local Churches express concern about the impact of a lack of trust and credibility resulting from the abuse crises. Others point to individualism and consumerism as critical cultural factors: “Every day we can feel that even in our country the proclamation of the Gospel is challenged by growing secularization, individualism and indifference to the institutional forms of religion” (EC Hungary). Malta’s report, like many others, underscores how historical entanglements between Church and political power continue to have an effect on the mission context. Many Churches feel they face all these cultural challenges simultaneously, but wish to grow more and more confident in proclaiming the Gospel in “a consumerist society that has failed to ensure sustainability, equity or life satisfaction” (EC Ireland). Others experience a pluralism of positions within themselves: “Southern Africa is also impacted by the international trends of secularisation, individualisation, and relativism. Issues such as the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, ordination of women, married clergy, celibacy, divorce and remarriage, Holy Communion, homosexuality, LGBTQIA+ were raised up across the Dioceses both rural an urban. There were of course differing views on these and it is not possible to give a definitive community stance on any of these issues” (EC South Africa). Many reports express particular regret and concern for the pressures experienced by families and the resulting impact on intergenerational relationships and faith transmission. Many Asian reports ask for better accompaniment and formation for families, as they negotiate changing cultural conditions.
64. Almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women: “The growing recognition of the importance of women in the life of the Church opens up possibilities for greater, albeit limited, participation in Church structures and decision-making spheres” (EC Brazil). However, the reports do not agree on a single or complete response to the question of the vocation, inclusion and flourishing of women in Church and society. After careful listening, many reports ask that the Church continue its discernment in relation to a range of specific questions: the active role of women in the governing structures of Church bodies, the possibility for women with adequate training to preach in parish settings, and a female diaconate. Much greater diversity of opinion was expressed on the subject of priestly ordination for women, which some reports call for, while others consider a closed issue.
(Source; italics removed; underlining added.)
There is not much to be surprised about in these paragraphs. The following quotation from par. 39, however, demands a response: “People ask that the Church be a refuge for the wounded and broken, not an institution for the perfect. They want the Church to meet people wherever they are, to walk with them rather than judge them, and to build real relationships through caring and authenticity, not a purpose of superiority.”
The Church is a refuge for the wounded and broken, which is everybody. However, she is a refuge for the wounded and broken so that they may become perfect, so to speak (cf. Mt 5:48; 19:21; Lk 6:40). At the very least, the goal is to attain, and persevere until death in, the state of sanctifying grace, for that is the absolutely indispensable prerequisite to attain eternal salvation, which is the purpose of all human existence.
The very first requirement for anyone wishing to be a part of the Catholic Church, therefore, is to embrace the Roman Catholic Faith and be willing to live as a Catholic. That means, before anything else, to abandon a life of persistent public mortal sin. Such a requirement does not make the Church an “institution for the perfect” only, as the straw man is framed, it makes her an institution that merely requires a minimal amount of public decency by demanding a lack of public indecency, thus ensuring that one’s commitment to the Catholic Church is at least minimally genuine and not feigned.
To seek out the lost, of course the Church must “meet people wherever they are”, but she cannot leave them there. If the Church does not seek to lift the sinner from his sin to a life of grace, what purpose does she serve? “But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men” (Mt 5:13). In the Parable of the Wedding Feast, it is the man without the required wedding garment who is cast out. He is not included but excluded: “Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 22:13).
The Church exists for sinners to become holy, not “to walk with them rather than judge them”. All the “walking together” in the world will be of no use if the final destination of the journey is everlasting punishment in hell. These comments from the oh-so holy “People of God” go to show that they are not interested in being Catholic on God’s terms but on their own. They want a church of human creation, an earthly church, one that “accompanies” and cradles people in their vices and sins, dispensing mercy without repentance. This is perhaps somewhat similar to how the Jews at the time of our Lord wanted an earthly messiah to conform to their understanding of things. They wanted a messiah to confirm them in their preconceived ideas for a temporal kingdom rather than a Messiah who came to deliver them from their sins. The long-term result of that was prophesied by our Lord: “I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive” (Jn 5:43).
In short, the Catholic Church isn’t Burger King, where you can have it “your way.” Yet it is clear that Bergoglio’s “Big Tent” Synod is working hard to make the most filthy sins acceptable under the pretext of “mercy”, “tolerance”, and “accompaniment”. Using the specious argument that “we are all sinners”, public mortal sin is to become acceptable in the New Church, perhaps not in theory but certainly in practice, which is especially where it counts. Yes, we are all sinners, but if we desire to remain in public mortal sin, we are not fit to enter the Kingdom of God on earth. Then we are not merely “wounded”, but are continually and deliberately inflicting deadly wounds on ourselves, actively resisting, and spitting in the face of, any medic trying to come to our aid.
Yes, the Gospel of our Lord teaches us to exclude people who are notorious sinners unwilling to live by the truth they profess to believe: “But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat” (1 Cor 5:11).
Reactions to the Working Document
As far as reactions go, the chief Modernist in Germany has already praised the Working Document as an “encouragement” for the synodal farce they are pulling off in the Land of Luther.
Not surprisingly, the Bergoglio defenders at Where Peter Is are excited about this “Big Tent Catholicism”, at the same time warning that “plenty of people, especially those with ideologies and rigid agendas will walk away sad.”
Francis’ biographer and professional pseudo-Catholic Austen Ivereigh has confessed to being one of the authors of the Working Document.
The Pillar went through the trouble of parsing the Synod documents to look for what are the most common words in the various texts. Check out the results here if you dare.
The American Novus Ordo bishops have naturally welcomed the release of the text; and the perverted New Ways Ministry celebrates: “The document is a signal for LGBTQ+ Catholics and allies to keep participating in the synodal process”. The editors of the National Catholic Register, by contrast, are wondering if the “big tent” is perhaps a house built on sand.
Vatican News says that the synodal circus is meant “to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today”; and so The Pillar is rightly wondering: “Who is doing the discerning during the synod?”
Additional coverage of the Working Document for the Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality can be found in the following links:
- Synod on Synodality: Vatican Reveals Framework for Next Stage of Discussions (National Catholic Register)
- New synod doc highlights challenges, but offers few solutions (Crux)
- Vatican synodality text calls for structural reforms (The Pillar)
- New Vatican synod document mentions women’s ordination, LGBTQ relationships (National Catholic Reporter)
- Role of women must be tackled ‘urgently’ in Catholic Church (The Tablet)
- What Does the Synod Document Say About Ordination of Women, LGBTQ Issues, and the Liturgy? (National Catholic Register)
The Rorate Caeli blog, by the way, has published additional “highlights” found in the Working Document.
Since, of course, the doctrinal junkyard that is to be introduced into the Novus Ordo Church by means of the Synod on Synodality goes squarely against Divine Revelation as expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the synodal authorities must approve of some other (and false!) source of supernatural revelation, and to that end they keep harping on the so-called “lived experience” of the “People of God” as one of those famous “signs of the times”. This goes hand-in-hand with their “Even Newer Pentecost”, to which they must appeal in order to legitimize their new revelation as coming from the “Spirit”.
Thus we can see that while the artwork in the Working Document may be atrocious, it does accurately reflect the theology behind all this synodalism. They are giving birth to a church of “both/and” — at least as long as it’s not both the New Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass, since Francis effectively ended the coexistence of those two in 2021 with Traditionis Custodes.
The liturgy war, by the way, is mentioned in par. 92 of the Working Document, as one of the “knots of conflict which need to be addressed in a synodal manner….” That is ironic, considering how the “Pope” addressed the issue last year. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly synodal. But then, if Bergoglio didn’t have double standards, he’d have no standards at all.
The circus that is the Vatican II Church began with the usurpation
of the Papal Throne by Cardinal Angelo Roncalli (“Pope” John XXIII) in 1958
Calling the Synod on Synodality a “grand experiment”, Where Peter Is concludes: “Ultimately it will fall to the Successor of Peter to discern what God is asking of the Church when the circus [sic] finally ends.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the signs of the times couldn’t be more clear: ‘Circus Roncalli’ is going big-tent.
Image sources: composite with elements from Synod.va and Shutterstock (jordisalas.net) / Wikimedia Commons (Immanuel Giel)
Licenses: fair use and paid / CC BY-SA 3.0
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