Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. –Hebrews 13:17
March 13th marks the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election to the pontificate. As head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis watches over the souls of a billion and a half Catholics. The pope’s primary mission, as a bishop, is to shepherd the souls under his authority towards Jesus Christ and ultimately, heaven. Recently, the pope opened the Synod of Synodality to hear from those souls under his care. As one of those souls, I now offer my voice on the dire state of the Catholic Church and my appeal to Pope Francis to call all the faithful back to faithfulness and obedience to Christ within the Church.
Dear Holy Father,
Allow me to congratulate you on ten years as pope, or papa. Catholics throughout the world look to you for guidance in this ever-changing world. No pope in history has ever been challenged more, and on multiple fronts, than you. Of course, war, poverty, and the environment all take much of your bandwidth, especially with the war in Ukraine. But there exists a threat to the faithful, a threat from within the Church. This threat places the souls of the faithful in jeopardy, and most alarming, some within the episcopacy support and promote this threat borne of poor catechesis.
Unworthy Manner and the Eucharist
In short, some cardinals within the Church call for the redefinition of sin as it relates to sexual behavior and worthiness to partake of the Eucharist. By teaching so, those who follow their lead risk guilt “concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). While such an approach appears “pastoral” and “empathetic,” such unfettered empathy contracts holy compassion and may well lead souls under their (and your) care to destruction. For your reference, I recently wrote about the dangers of unfettered empathy here. Specifically, the cardinals in need of your correction are Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg and Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego.
Other Bishops Take the Lead
Furthermore, other bishops came forward to publicly correct your cardinals. The most outspoken (and effective) among these bishops is Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. A civil and canon lawyer, Bishop Paprocki offers a unique perspective on the issue of possible teaching that leads people astray, particularly heresy. Recently, citing canon 750, the bishop contends that these cardinals play with fire. The canon clearly states:
A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.
Furthermore, each and every thing set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Therefore, according to canon 750, these cardinals find themselves in opposition to the Church, as they seek to change Church teaching on faith and morals. Sadly, they set themselves against the teaching of the Church.
The Warping of the Sensus Fidelium
Moreover, they (and many who support them) falsely attribute such desired change to the Holy Spirit at work in the faithful. This sense of the faithful or sensus fidelium represents a movement of the “Spirit” among the faithful. And if the “Spirit” desires to move in such a way, who in the Church, regardless of authority, can stand in His way? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). This truth also applies to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself, as these cardinals seem to infer. All this you know full well.
Hijacking of the Synod of Synodality
In his last official written work, your friend, the late George Cardinal Pell, leveled severe criticisms towards those overseeing your Synod of Synodality. Calling the synodal document produced for the continental stage a toxic nightmare, your cardinal then proceeded to offer you his final thoughts (unbeknownst to him). In case Your Holiness missed it, below reflects a small sampling of Pell’s criticism.
The document does not urge even the Catholic participants to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), much less to preach the Saviour in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).
What is one to make of this potpourri, this outpouring of New Age goodwill? It is not a summary of Catholic faith or New Testament teaching. It is incomplete, hostile in significant ways to the apostolic tradition and nowhere acknowledges the New Testament as the Word of God, normative for all teaching on faith and morals. The Old Testament is ignored, patriarchy rejected and the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments, is not acknowledged.
And he also comments regarding the apparent pitting of Christ against the Holy Spirit:
So far the synodal way has neglected, indeed downgraded the Transcendent, covered up the centrality of Christ with appeals to the Holy Spirit and encouraged resentment, especially among participants.
Furthermore, he concludes with the obvious…
This working document needs radical changes. The bishops must realize that there is work to be done, in God’s name, sooner rather than later.
I implore you, in the name of the late cardinal, to please do the work Pell asks of you and your brother bishops. The Church looks to you for leadership.
We, the faithful, pray your 10th year turns out as your best! We seek your guidance in this ever-changing world. Please do not remain silent concerning the words of your errant cardinals. Those who follow them place their souls in jeopardy. They must receive correction, if not for their souls, for the souls of those within their sphere of influence. As cardinals, this sphere is large, therefore the damage they can cause is equally as large. We, the faithful, need your protection. We need the supreme pastor of the Church. Amen.
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Voices of the Faithful in the Synod on Synodality