Why no synod coverage?

From a reader:

“I am somewhat alarmed that you haven’t had any discussion or podcast on the Synod, or on Pope Francis in general. Why is your voice conspicuously absent?”

Even socially people ask me what I think about the synod. My answer: Nothing.

There is a reason for this. Firstly, why am I not covering the synod? Apart from the fact that I am too busy with work and my children, in general I am just not interested in what is little more than a media circus. In the first place, there are many groups with correspondents in Rome, or providing coverage from such people. There is precious little that I can add. You’ve seen Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and they have given scathing commentary on the instrumentum laboris for this Synod. What can I add to it? I’m not there, I don’t have access to sources who know what is going on, and others are doing a good job.

More importantly, I am resisting the trend in the blogosphere and traddom of becoming an “authentic commentator.” In all reality, I am just a guy with opinions, and largely so are others, no matter how correct they may be. I know of people who are losing the faith over this, or less importantly but no less destructively, sleep, increasing stress, becoming angry. There is simply no reason for this. In a just sense, I do get angry over what manifest heretics like Cardinal Kasper are trying to do to the Church. But I do not let it disturb my faith. St. Paul tells us: “Irascimini, et nolite peccare: sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram.” (Be angry and do not sin: Let not the sun set on your anger.) The first part is a quote from Psalm 4, which we sing every night in Compline in the Benedictine breviary. St. Paul is acknowledging that we can be angry, but we need to be in control of it, or we should not be disturbed. St. Thomas observes that anger is a perfection that helps you overcome difficult things, but is disordered after the fall so that it lashes out in all directions, rather than being directed at difficult things.

The fact is, there is nothing I can do to change the Synod but pray. More importantly, however, there is nothing the Synod can do to change the faith.

Firstly, a Synod does not have doctrinal authority, unless the Pope should elevate its status to that of a local Council and promulgate it as part of the ordinary magisterium. Even if Pope Francis were to do this, there is nothing he can do to eviscerate the tradition on marriage, namely what the Church has always and everywhere believed. This is documented in the Fathers, the Medievals, the Schoolmen, the Manuals, and ecumenical Councils (preeminently Trent). The Pope is not able to change these teachings, or abridge them.

Secondly, the Pope cannot affect the moral effect of Catholic teaching, whatever comes out of the Synod in the way of praxis, or the practical effects of his change to Canon law.

Thirdly, as has been revealed in other places, the outcome has already been decided. There has long been a plan to force the Kasperite thesis through. So while others are melting down over the goings on at present, I am already planning the response to the inevitable change in “praxis” that is somehow divorced from “teaching”, which itself is a novelty and frankly impossible state of things. That is to adhere to the Tradition, and treating novelty the same way the Church fathers treated it: as if it were heresy to be avoided. I will adhere to the Fathers, the Schoolmen and the Manuals, and work on translations of what is not already in English, time allowing. The fact is, the ramming through of what is being prepared will probably cause a schism, if not more widespread confusion. The task at hand, is not to let the sun set on our anger, but to prepare and advocate the course of real reform. This is the Traditional Catholic response. In the 15th century, reforming theologians and canonists advocated reforms that would not be realized until the mid-16th century. This means they died and others picked up their torch, and also died, until after the Council of Trent when reforms began to be realized. Will it take 150 more years? Salva nos Domine! Nevertheless, we need to be planting seeds with prayer, not merely reacting. We need to lay down the challenge with truth, and continue to do so while Christ works in His Church.

We can see this in St. John Fisher, who was himself a reforming bishop, and did his utmost to be a true shepherd of his flock. When refuting a Lutheran, Velenus, he made the following remarks:

Perhaps some may say, “Nowhere else is the life of Christians more contrary to Christ than in Rome, and that, too, even among the prelates of the Church, whose conversation is diametrically opposed to the life of Christ. Christ lived poverty; they fly from poverty so far that their only study is to keep up riches. Christ shunned the glory of this world; they will do and suffer everything for glory. Christ afflicted himself by frequent fasts and continual prayers; they neither fast nor pray, but give themselves up to luxury and lust.
They are the greatest scandal to all who live sincere Christian lives, since their morals are so contrary to the doctrine of Christ, that through them the name of Christ is blasphemed throughout the world.” This is perhaps what an adversary might object. But all this merely confirms what I am proving. For since the Sees of other Apostles are everywhere occupied by infidels, and this one only, which belonged to Peter, yet remains under Christian rule, though for so many crimes and such unspeakable wickedness, it has deserved like the rest to be destroyed, what must we conclude but that Christ is most faithful to his promises since he keeps them in favour of his greatest enemies, however grievous and many may be their insults to him?
Convulsio calumniarum Ulrichi Minhoniensis quibus petrum numquam Romae

Fisher was martyred by the tyrant Henry VIII, not knowing what reform would befall the Church. This is the path for the true reformer, to stay united to truth, passed on by Christ to His apostles, which they passed on to their successors, even to us. God’s providence cannot leave the Church without a remedy.

[The Quote was taken from “St. John Fisher: Humanist, Reformer, Martyr“, a reprint of EE Reynolds’ in depth historical treatment of the saint, now back in print from Mediatrix Press.

See also another helpful discussion in this vein from Boniface at Unam Sanctam.

9 thoughts on “Why no synod coverage?

  1. Pingback: Good intentions | Semiduplex

  2. kmo

    My life has been considerably more peaceful since tuning out of Micheal Voris. I stay away from him and generally skip any other news on the Synod that comes across my facebook feed.

    I’m currently working on finishing off one of your books on the life of St Philip Niri. In it the author describes how while he was piously building up his Oritory, all around the Church it was essentially chaos. Fisher, Moore and many others were martyred in England. The Battle of Lapento occurred, putting a halt to the Ottoman’s bloody advance.

    His life is an example to be followed in our times. It really is.

    1. Laramie Hirsch

      I can’t take Michael Voris seriously anymore. He only speaks half of the truth all of the time.

      Yes, it is obvious what the outcome of this synod will be. Heck, I even think it was foretold. I will do my utmost to guide me and mine in a more Catholic direction, even though high-ranking prelates will scoff at our lowly station and “silly” decisions to worship Christ as He always was meant to.

  3. Pingback: This Is One Way to Deal With Bad News | SunesisPress

  4. Benedict

    Hello Athanasius,

    I had a realisation that Kasper’s proposal doesn’t seem much different from what the 1983 Code decreed about non-Catholics receiving Communion. The 1917 Code says that they must first abjure their errors, but the new Code says that if they have faith in the Real Presence then there are some situations where they can receive Communion without abjuring their heresy and/or schism. It seems to me that the softening of language towards what were formerly called heretics for the sake of ecumenism, is not much different from the present softening of language towards what were once called adulterers, with the change in language being a means to the change in distributing Communion.

    Cardinal Kasper himself draws the parallel between how Vatican realised positive and sanctifying elements in non-Catholic churches, with the current Synod’s discovery of positive elements in second unions.

    So I decided not to worry too much, because we’re already there.

    Not sure if you’d agree or not, that’s just my two cents for what it’s worth 🙂

    God bless

    1. rubens7 Post author

      This is a fascinating comment that requires more thought in a response. I’m trying to put together another audio q & A. I think I’ll include this.

  5. Pingback: This Is One Way to Deal With Bad News | New South News

  6. redsaint78

    I found your site through Dom Noah. I, myself, am a novice with the CPMO. Reading your blog is a refreshing treat and emotionally calming. We definitely need to fight the good fight, but I see no need for hysterics i.e. Church Militant. St. Padre Pio pretty much sums it up with “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless.” I’m more the type of guy who drinks a beer and smokes a nice cigar before heading out to the battlefield. That’s where the Crusaders excelled over previous methods like berserkers; calm, focused rage. Takes a bit of practice, but quite achievable, and highly effective. There’s a problem with certain sites ALWAYS being at code RED-the-apocalypse-is-upon-us. Major emotional fatigue which is unsustainable. Anyhow, very intelligent discussions, here, which are quite edifying. God bless.


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