Synod Leaders are “Log Rolling” Say Cardinals

Synod Leaders are “Log Rolling” Say Cardinals October 12, 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aft4TheGlryOfGod

A group of Synod Fathers, including Cardinal Dolan, have written a letter to Pope Francis expressing concern about the way the Synod is progressing.

I wrote about that for National Catholic Register today.

Here is part of what I said:

“You cannot serve God and Mammon.”
—Jesus Christ

The German Catholic Church has a long and ignoble history of playing fool for its government. During the murderous reign of the Third Reich, there were isolated bishops who stood against Hitler. But many of them joined their Lutheran brothers in allowing themselves to be coopted by the pagan cult we call the Nazis.

The Nazis created an economic system in which the government and the economic powers coalesce into one unit working for their mutual benefit. We call that fascism. They also created a mythology or a quasi-religion to go along with it. This quasi-religion was mostly a deliberate return to Germany’s pagan past with a mix of astrology and other whatnots.

At the same time that they were privately voicing contempt for Christianity and implementing plans to destroy it, the Nazi leaders pandered to the churches in their public statements. They sought — and were able — to silence the prophetic and moral voice of the churches by means of coopting them.

Christian churches in much of the world, and certainly in Germany, were already following the false god of nationalism long before Hitler and the Nazis were born. They had given moral gravitas to the abuses of colonialism and the insanity of World War I.

This made them easy prey for the claims of extreme nationalism that came from the Nazis. However, I believe that the thing that pushed German churches down the rat hole to acquiescence with (and even support of) the Nazis was not primarily nationalism. I think they were following another master. It was the “master” that Jesus specifically singled out as one that Christians could not follow if they would follow Him. It was money.


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16 responses to “Synod Leaders are “Log Rolling” Say Cardinals”

  1. Spot on, for the most part. The only tweak is that it’s not the government that’s “ruling” the German cardinals, it’s Catholics themselves. They’re seeing a massive drop off in people willing to pay the church tax, and they seem to think the solution to this is to change church doctrine to appease parishoners and get them to agree to pay their tax. So — fine, but be honest about it and form your own splinter church if collecting church tax is what matters to you.

  2. In the US, Catholic hierarchy similarly carries water for far Right Wing politics because that’s the only place they see any support. Despite the terrible damage they do to the political system and to their own reputation and respect, they continue. Far Left, far Right, Germany, US, what’s the difference, really?

  3. Don’t you think associating what’s going on at the synod with what happened under Nazi Germany is a bit strong? It strikes me as a bit unfair. If this moment at the synod is ignoble for the German Church (I don’y know enough to say one way or the other) you’re claiming that there is a pattern because of the 1930s. I’m not an exert on the history, but could there be instances where the German Church was not a fool for their government? After all they produced Pope Benedict XVI. How bad could they have been over the years?

  4. I didn’t mean to say that the whole synod was parallel to what happened with Nazi Germany. But the German bishops have a history from that time of selling out Church teaching for the zeitgeist, and it appears they are doing it again. I think that the fact that they are state-financed pushes them in that direction.

  5. That’s not accurate. The American bishops get a lot of criticism from right wingers because of their positions on many issues. Anytime you follow Christ, you are going to be criticized by both the left and the right.

  6. I just read Fr. Longnecker’s run down of the German Church over the last 150 years or so and apparently you are right. They do have a history of going against Church teaching for the “zeitgeist.” Still I think the Nazi Germany example is a bit much. There are other examples to choose from.

  7. I think you’re right actually. I communicated more than I was thinking because of the freight of the symbolism associated with Nazis.

    I changed the photo. Maybe that will help.

  8. Until very recently the Catholic Church was “the Democratic Party at prayer.”
    Rebecca is right.
    And, sorry, there were a lot of Catholic collaborators in Germany and some who heroically defied the government.

  9. The one thing I’ve learned over the years about debate and discussion, especially on the internet, to reach for the Nazi analogy or association is fraught with danger. I’ve learned to curb my use of it, unless I really, really think it fits. And then i do a double check on it. Actually for two reasons. (1) It’s usually a stretch and a way to beat one’s opponent over the head. It’s a type of fallacy; can’t remember which one. (2) Having personally known a few Germans over the last ten years, I find it unfair to them. I can see their faces cringe when it comes up. It’s something they have worked so hard to put behind them that to bring it up sloppily is a jab in their side. Now we should not forget what happened and when the time is appropriate we should bring up that past, but we should do it care.

  10. To be absolutely fair, an immense part of the Church tax is sent into social services, which strikes me as a strange way to fund your social services. But bishops still make a bundle.

    I’m not worried too much about the log rolling. Pope Francis has pulled together an array of voices over the past year. He’s a smart, knowledgeable man; of he falls into heresy, it won’t be a matter of how this document is produced.

  11. Having said that, Godwin’s law is sometimes a fallacy in and of itself. The lesson of the Nazis should be “Never Again”, not “Never Thought Of”. If we ignore the signs when we start down the same road all over again, we will not achieve “Never Again”.

    I see signs of the start of fascism in the United States right now. It’s why Planned Parenthood can’t be defunded; it’s why the big banks got a nearly free pass on creating the Great Recession of 2007, and yes, it’s why we have gay marriage.

  12. Manny, I’ve been re-thinking this a bit. I both agree and don’t agree with your thinking on this. What I am referencing in this post is not an analogy. It is actual history that the Catholic bishops in Germany (not these bishops, but those of that era) participated in. Now, they are walking away from Christian teaching again. And they are aggressively trying to bamboozle bishops from other countries into following them. I think there is a real symmetry here, and that a big part of it has its basis in the church tax. If the German bishops got their $$ from the people in the pews by means of collection, I honestly believe that they would be better, more faithful bishops and Catholicism in Germany would be more vital. There are always reasons — usually unacknowledged reasons — when people keep doing the same, self-destructive things.

  13. Everybody does. In Austria, everybody pays the 1%(or is it 1.5?). If you don’t state faith or your church isn’t registered it goes to the government “charity” accounts.
    I hate the whole idea of Kirchensteuer.