Scandalous Synod: Money Motive?

Scandalous Synod: Money Motive?

The scandal of the Family on the Synod doesn’t seem to end: is it money that is unifying the German bishops in their new “pastoral approach”?

From the just-published DICI issue #309, we offer the editorial of Fr. Lorans followed by an insightful piece on the next Synod on the Family that is currently being prepared discreetly and what is a possible motive behind the unified German episcopacy.

This disturbing news comes on the heels of the report that Pope Francis approved the Synod’s scandalous Relatio prior to its publication.

IngreedwetrustMoney at the root of the Synod?

Why is Cardinal Walter Kasper, who wants to change Church doctrine about the indissolubility of marriage by giving Communion to the divorced-and-remarried, supported by the German episcopate in its entirety? Whence this rock-solid Germanic unanimity? George Weigel reports in the current issue of the American monthly magazine First Things the answer given to him by someone who knows the Church in Germany very well, and the answer can be summed up in one word: money.

Indeed, the German dioceses are very rich thanks to the church tax paid by the Catholic faithful; but they are leaving the Church in droves and no longer provide that manna. Hence the very simple calculation by the bishops: let us avoid the flight of the faithful (and of the funding), let us make doctrine more flexible and broaden our pastoral outreach.

Could it be, then, that these arguments in favor of mercy, as opposed to doctrinal rigidity, are in reality nice-sounding arrangements aimed at the bottom line? If so, the bishops would be abandoning a not very interesting doctrine for the sake of a not at all disinterested pastoral approach! In order to dispel the suspicion that weighs heavily on them, it would be enough for the German bishops to declare unanimously: “We prefer the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage to church tax revenues. We serve Jesus Christ, not Mammon.” It would suffice… but would it be sufficient for them? For the answer, stay tuned for the next Synod in October.

Fr. Alain Loran | DICI 1-30-2015

The next Synod on the Family is being prepared discreetly…

After the very lively reactions provoked by the first meeting of the Synod on the Family (October 5-19, 2014) (see DICI no. 303 dated October 24, 2014), preparations for the next assembly of the bishops (October 4-25, 2015) are being made discreetly, as though calm had returned after the storm and everything was normal again. Should we rejoice blissfully or worry seriously about it? In an interview granted to Le Figaro Magazine (December 18, 2014), Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, one of the chief opponents of the scandalous proposals of Cardinal Walter Kasper concerning communion for the divorced-and-remarried (see DICI no. 301 dated September 26, 2014), admitted:  Cardinal Burke2

I am very concerned, and I call on Catholics—laymen, priests and bishops—to get involved between now and the next Synod assembly, in order to bring to light the truth about marriage.”

A very slanted working document

On December 9 the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops published the lineamenta (the working document) for the Synod assembly in October 2015. Besides the final report from the October 2014 Synod, the secretariat proposes 46 questions addressing the challenges of pastoral ministry to families, so as to “draw near to families in extreme situations”.

The bishops’ conferences are supposed to fill out the questionnaire “while avoiding, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine” (sic). Taking up again the topics that shook the assembly of bishops, the Roman document asks, as though about a trivial matter, how the Christian community “can assist in discerning the positive and negative elements in the life of persons united in a civil marriage”; it even asks, with regard to divorced Catholics, “How can the procedure to determine cases of nullity be made more accessible, streamlined and possibly without expense?

The Roman questionnaire even assures the reader that “with regard to the divorced-and-remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied,” and it asks what advances are possible in light of the “second chance” (sic) proposed in certain cases in the Orthodox Church. This document likewise poses the question of pastoral care to homosexuals: “While avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can such persons receive pastoral care in these situations in light of the Gospel?” The answers to this questionnaire are supposed to arrive in Rome by April 15, 2015.

The uneasiness expressed by Cardinal Burke during the above-cited interview is understandable, therefore:

In an age filled with confusion, as we see with Gender Theory, we need the teaching of the Church on marriage. Yet, we are being pushed on the contrary towards admitting divorced-and-remarried persons to communion. Not to mention this obsession with streamlining the procedures of annulment of the marital bond. All this will lead de facto to a kind of ‘Catholic divorce’, and to the weakening of the indissolubility of marriage, even though the principle thereof is reaffirmed. However, the Church must defend marriage, and not weaken it. The indissolubility of marriage is not a penance, nor a suffering. It is something very beautiful for those who live it; it is a source of joy.”

Pope Francis intervened twice, along the lines of the lineamenta and of the accompanying questionnaire, on January 23 while addressing the members of the Apostolic Tribunal, and on January 24 during the conference organized by Gregorian University on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the instruction Dignitas Connubii (The Dignity of Marriage). To the first group he declared that the Church cannot ignore the suffering of many households that are disintegrating, leaving behind the debris of their emotional relationships, plans and shared expectations. The judge is called to determine whether there was a defect of form in the matrimonial consent, and so he must take into account the context in which that consent was formed. Thus the pope is saying that he wishes to see a pastoral conversion of ecclesiastical structures so as to come to the aid of those who turn to the Church to shed light on their marital situation.

During the conference at the Gregorian, Francis called for a streamlining of procedures, insisting that the appeals process should be simplified so as not to subject couples to painful, exhausting delays. And in order to avoid complicated, useless formalities, he does not rule out the possibility that new norms may be issued in the future. In his two recent interventions everything suggests that the experts are gradually moving toward an alignment (modestly presented as a “harmonization”) of the prescription of canon law with the concrete situations of contemporary society.

The forceful critique by Cardinal Velasio de Paolis

The reason for this alignment, theoretically, would be “pastoral mercy” as opposed to doctrinal intransigence and legal rigidity. But that is an artificial contrast, as Cardinal Valsio de Paolis, President Emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, explained during a conference given at the Canon Law Faculty of the University of San Damaso in Madrid (Spain) on November 26, 2014, during which he magisterially critiqued Proposition 52 of the final report of the October 2014 Synod.

Here is an important excerpt from it:

The issue of access to the sacraments, especially to the Eucharist, on the part of the divorced-and-remarried was the object of reflection at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops last October. This is referred to in proposition no. 52 of the final Relatio, which says: ‘The Synod Fathers also considered the possibility of giving the divorced-and-remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Various Synod Fathers insisted on maintaining the present discipline, because of the constitutive relationship between participation in the Eucharist and communion with the Church as well as her teaching on the indissoluble character of marriage. Others proposed a more individualized approach, permitting access in certain situations and with certain well-defined conditions, primarily in irreversible situations and those involving moral obligations towards children who would have to endure unjust suffering. Access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice, determined by the diocesan bishop. The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances, given that ‘imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1735).’”

And the high-ranking prelate asks: Is the question about communion for the divorced-and-remarriage a question of discipline, of doctrine or of Magisterial teaching?

We observe that the wording of the text of the proposition generates ambiguities. It speaks of the ‘current discipline’ and a possible modification of this, but this prompts a few doubts that require examination. In reality, the regulation in effect is not only a ‘current discipline’, as if this were a matter of a merely ecclesiastical norm and not of divine norms ratified by the Magisterium, with doctrinal and magisterial motivations that concern the very foundations of Christian life, of conjugal morality, of the meaning of and respect for the Eucharist, and of the validity of the Sacrament of Penance. We are looking at a discipline founded on divine law. It is not emphasized enough that the documents of the Church in this matter do not impose obligations originating from its authority, but rather affirm that the ecclesiastical authority cannot act otherwise, because this ‘discipline’ cannot be modified in its essential elements. The Church cannot act otherwise. It cannot modify the natural law or respect for the nature of the Eucharist, because this is a question of the divine will.

To the extent to which it provides for the possibility of admitting the divorced-and-remarried to Eucharistic communion, the proposal actually constitutes a change of doctrine. Notwithstanding the fact that its proponents say that they do not want to modify doctrine. Moreover, doctrine by its very nature is not changeable if it is the object of the authentic Magisterium of the Church. Before talking about and discussing any change in the discipline currently in force, it is necessary to reflect on the nature of this discipline. In studying this question one must, in the first place, reflect on this doctrine and on its level of certainty; there must be careful study of what can be modified and what cannot be. The doubt has been insinuated in the proposal itself when it calls for more in-depth study, which must be doctrinal and prior to any decision.

We can also ask ourselves whether it is the competency of a Synod of Bishops to deal with a question like this: the value of the doctrine and of the discipline currently in force in the Church, which have developed over the course of centuries and have been ratified by statements of the supreme Magisterium of the Church. Moreover, who is competent to modify the Magisterium of other popes? That would constitute a dangerous precedent. Furthermore, the innovations that would be introduced if the text of the proposal were approved would be of unprecedented gravity:

a) the possibility of admitting to Eucharistic communion, with the explicit approval of the Church, a person who is in a state of mortal sin, with the danger of sacrilege and profanation of the Eucharist;

b) in doing so the Church would call into question the general principle of the need to be in the state of sanctifying grace in order to be able to receive Eucharistic communion, especially now that a generalized practice has been introduced or is being introduced in the Church of receiving the Eucharist without previous sacramental confession, even if one is aware of being in a state of serious sin, with all of the harmful consequences that this practice involves;

c) the admission to Eucharistic communion of a Catholic who cohabits more uxorio (as though married) would also mean calling into question sexual morality, which is founded in particular on the sixth commandment;

d) moreover, in acting this way, the Church would also lend support to cohabitation or to other arrangements, which in fact would weaken the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.”

The very concrete motives of the German episcopate Cardinal Kasper2

Another enlightening commentary, less doctrinal and much more concrete, is provided by the American scholar George Weigel in an article that appeared in the January issue of First Things magazine. If you know that Cardinal Walter Kasper is supported by the German bishops as a whole, by the very admission of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of their Bishops’ Conference, you may wonder what drives those bishops—and them especially—to their militant advocacy of communion for the divorced-and-remarried. Here is the answer that Weigel got:

Ten months before the Synod met, I asked a knowledgeable observer of German Catholic affairs why the German Catholic leadership insisted on revisiting the issue of Holy Communion for those in civil second marriages, which most of the rest of the world Church thought had been sufficiently aired in the 1980 Synod on the Family, and which seemed to have been settled by the reaffirmation of the Church’s traditional teaching and practice in St. John Paul II’s 1981 Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (The Community of the Family) and in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. I got a one-word answer: ‘Money.’

The German Church is funded by the Kirchensteuer, the ‘church tax’ collected by the Federal Republic from every citizen who has not taken action to opt out of it. The funds involved are considerable; in 2011, the Kirchensteuer provided the Catholic Church in Germany with $6.3 billion. Recently, however, more and more German Catholics have been choosing to opt out. In a clumsy attempt to stanch the bleeding, the German bishops issued a decree in 2012, stating that anyone who opts out of the tax has ‘left the Church’ and that such de facto apostates are cut off from the Church’s sacramental life, except in danger of death. The decree was widely mocked and German canonists declared it a nonstarter, for it takes more to ‘leave the Church’ than signing a civil affidavit. In any event, payment of the Kirchensteuer has continued to drop.

Many German bishops seem to have concluded that this pattern of defection from payment of the Church tax can best be explained by the perception of the Catholic Church as a mean, narrow, and cruel exponent of propositions—such as the indissolubility of marriage—that no self-respecting 21st-century European can accept. That people have stopped paying the Kirchensteuer because they have stopped believing that Jesus is Lord and that the Catholic Church is his Body might seem the more straightforward explanation. But adopting that interpretation would require acknowledging that the meltdown of Catholic faith and practice in Germany has had something to do with the colossal failures of German theology and catechetics to transmit the Gospel effectively under the challenging conditions of late modernity and postmodernity. And that, to borrow an image from another battle, seems a bridge too far.”

[Editor’s note: The author alludes to the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far which tells the story of Operation Market Garden in September 1944, in which, after a crushing defeat, English General Browning admits: “We tried to go a bridge too far.”]

(Sources: Apic/Imedia/Figaro Magazine/ Things—DICI #309, January 30, 2015)

Comments invited… 

Comments (26)

  • steveesq

    You did a great and valuable job here pulling these sources together. Thanks. I am going to reblog and hope you don’t mind.

    February 4, 2015 at 10:05 pm
    • editor

      Don’t mind at all, Steve – delighted in fact. Thank you very much.

      February 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm
  • steveesq

    Reblogged this on EX MAGNA SILENTIUM or EX MAGNO SILENTIO and commented:
    Catholic Truth Blog has done a great job tying a few different sources about what has been happening and is being discussed about the Synod. It is well worth the time spent to read through it.

    February 4, 2015 at 10:07 pm
    • editor


      I just paid a quick visit to your blog and left a comment. Let’s hope that, between us, we can alert many Catholics to what is going on here in the name of “pastoral concern”.

      February 4, 2015 at 10:16 pm
      • steveesq

        That’s why I needed to reblog what you did! You, me and many others are doing it. Cardinal Burke, in the statement you have in your post, spoke to me and was a major impetus to start my blog. Thanks for what you’re doing.

        February 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    This is very shocking, indeed. I singled out this part of the blog report because I have a question:

    “The Roman questionnaire even assures the reader that “with regard to the divorced-and-remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied,” and it asks what advances are possible in light of the “second chance” (sic) proposed in certain cases in the Orthodox Church. This document likewise poses the question of pastoral care to homosexuals: “While avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can such persons receive pastoral care in these situations in light of the Gospel?” The answers to this questionnaire are supposed to arrive in Rome by April 15, 2015.”

    My question is, will this questionnaire be getting handed out in parishes all over the world, Scotland included?

    February 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm
  • Athanasius

    Everyone knows that the German Church has been teetering on the brink of formal schism for decades. It was principally the Rhineland theologians who hijacked Vatican II and turned it into a second Protestant Reformation, a counter-Trent.

    Now that they have largely succeeded universally in obscuring or suppressing Catholic theology in the name of “pastorality” by means of various false doctrines such as ecumenism, inter-religious initiatives, religious freedom, etc., they are moving in on the Church’s moral doctrines, again in the name of “pastorality”. They won’t be satisfied until the Catholic religion is fully Protestant, which of course Our Lord will never permit, though He may well permit as great a number to be deceived by this mercy ruse as was deceived by the ecumenical one!

    At any rate, Pope Francis, to the shock and scandal of many, appears to be encouraging these Rhineland revolutionaries just as Pope Paul VI did during the first wave of their attack upon the truths of the Catholic religion at Vatican II.

    It takes a truly demonic cunning to plan and implement a universal “pastoral” teaching and practice which is diametrically opposed to what the Church continues to teach formally and infallibly as necessary for salvation. This, I believe, is what Our Lady of Fatima meant when she spoke of a “diabolical disorientation” from the top down.

    February 4, 2015 at 11:16 pm
  • anonymous

    Vatican III?
    By 2018?

    Brother Alexis´s blog

    February 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm
    • editor


      “Vatican III”? Being proposed by Papa Francis? Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING would surprise me now, about this Pope. If true, there will be rabbis and imams all over the place in St Peter’s, not to mention Justin Welby, if only just in time… 😀

      February 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm
      • Petrus


        If there’s a Vatican III I will be heading to the Orthodox….see you there?? 😉

        February 5, 2015 at 6:33 pm
      • editor


        “Heading to the Orthodox?” I’ll be heading for the hills! And without waiting to pack!

        February 5, 2015 at 9:14 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      Even Fr Z says “God help us” if this rumour turns out to be true. Also, this comment from a blogger is really good IMHO:

      “I am glad Benedict is still with us, able to see first-hand all the many splendid fruits of his abdication. May his life be long, and may his sufferings in this world reduce those in the next.

      And – given the new canonization criteria (viz, ‘noteworthy evangelizers’):

      Sancte Marcel François Marie Joseph Lefebvre, ora pro nobis!”

      I do often wonder what Pope Benedict is thinking about what is going on. If he was as traditional as some people say, he would surely speak out.

      February 5, 2015 at 4:58 pm
      • Laura

        Margaret Mary,

        That’s what I often think – how can Pope Benedict not say something when he sees what is going on? Surely he will say something if the next part of the synod is as bad as the first.

        February 6, 2015 at 8:41 pm
    • Laura

      I think we will get a Vatican 3 but only to sort out the damage done by Vatican 2. If Pope Francis calls V3 to make things worse, I think that will be a step too far to tempt God.

      February 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    Nobody has answered my question above about the Roman questionnaires. Does anyone know if they will be or have been handed out in Scottish parishes? I’ve not seen them, that’s why I’m wondering if not all priests are giving them out.

    February 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Margaret Mary,

      I may be wrong, but my understanding is that the questionnaires are intended for the Bishops (not lay people) – to allow them to set out their stall in advance of the synod, which intends to pick up on the themes the questionnaire reveals.

      February 6, 2015 at 11:02 am
  • gabriel syme

    This article is spot-on – money is indeed the root of the issue and the sole motivation of those who masquerade as Bishops in Germany.

    They are a great example of how, instead of Spiritual Fathers or Leaders, many modern Bishops are simply “Middle Managers” or “Businessmen”.

    I hope and pray that these frauds will be defeated by Catholic Bishops at the synod. I am encouraged by the tub-thumping from the Polish Episcopate, as per:

    February 6, 2015 at 11:18 am
    • editor

      Gabriel Syme,

      Very interesting – but notice, the Polish bishop is concerned that the Synod betrayed Pope John Paul II ! All the way through, this is what he says, emphasising that he is a “saint pope” – what about Pope Saint Pius X ? No sign of being concerned at the betrayal of his warning against Modernism.

      So, yes, this is good new in so far as it goes. Still, though, we have yet to find a contemporary bishop (or priest) who quotes or cites any pontiff pre-Vatican II. That is very telling indeed.

      February 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm
      • gabriel syme


        Yes, I did think it was very predictable that ++Hoser referred to John Paul II. I am just glad to hear a bit of return fire at the maneuvres of Francis and the Kasperties!

        I agree that it would be a positive change if prelates could refer to Popes and teachings from before Vatican II, or “Year zero” (as some of them seem to regard it as).

        Re Pope St Pius X, its resoundingly clear that the Church has blundered in glossing over his teachings and examples and via abolishing the oath against modernism – but the prelates of today are never keen to admit their mistakes and always want to “dress things up” a bit.

        February 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm
      • Laura

        It’s the same with the priests – I don’t think they know anything at all about the popes before V2 and really they only know what the liberals have told them in seminary about the Church pre-V2. If they knew the truth, they’d be on this blog saying so, IMHO.

        February 6, 2015 at 8:43 pm
  • John

    I think what will eventually happen the church will rule to disregard Vatican 2 as if it never happened.(but sadly not in my lifetime)

    February 6, 2015 at 9:05 pm
    • editor


      I agree – but the way things are moving at such a record breaking speed, I wouldn’t be surprised if we all live to see it.

      February 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm
  • editor

    In an interview broadcast on French TV yesterday, Cardinal Burke has made clear that he will resist the Pope in the matter of giving Holy Communion to adulterers. Click here

    Note, there is a link to the actual TV interview at the end of the SSPX report.

    February 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm
    • Common Sense

      Is it rational for a Prince of The Church to publicly oppose something that has not happened, and offer the media a chance to attack The Pope.

      Unfortunately his new role is leaving Cardinal Burke with too much free time on his hands.

      February 9, 2015 at 2:31 pm
      • Jobstears


        I understand your concern about ‘washing dirty linen in public’, because many moons ago, I felt the same way. I got over it when bloggers here on CT in their inimitable style, helped me see that it was better to deal with an infection by draining /letting it out (no matter how painful it might be) than to spare the pain and allow the whole body to rot. Don’t you see, that in a time of crisis, only this ‘tough love’ will have any effect? There is no malice or spite. We love the Church.

        You say you love the Church, then please take a minute to stop and think and give the bloggers here a chance to reach you.

        February 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm
  • gabriel syme

    Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga has written an open letter pertaining to the crisis in the Church, one that should leave the Pollyannas with no place to hide.

    He says he has “gone public” as he felt any other means of communicating would be met with “a brick wall of silence and disregard” (very astute of him).

    It likely isn’t perfect, but I thought it a very worthwhile statement.

    He doesn’t reference the family synod specifically, but more broadly attacks the political correctness in the Vatican, the obsession with pandering to the media and others, the lack of Holy Bishops, the preoccupations of Bishops Conferences, and how good Bishops are often treated as outcasts by their so-called Brothers.

    He also mentions the work of freemasonary within the Church and says he finds it difficult to believe Benedict XVI resigned voluntarily.

    February 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm

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