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St. Peter's Basilica - RomeSteve Jalsevac/LifeSite

Update June 26, 12:13 PM EST: Professor Thomas Schüller says that he was not present at the meeting. This report has been updated to reflect this. 

Update June 25, 9:46 PM EST: It appears that while Mrs. Doris Wagner- Reisinger's name was on the invite list for the meeting, she did not attend the meeting. This report has been updated to reflect this. 

Update June 25, 12:20 PM EST: This report now includes a comment from Cardinal Schönborn's spokesman who confirmed that the meeting took place and that the cardinal was not able to attend due to cancer treatments. 

June 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of cardinals and bishops who are involved with the preparation of the Amazon synod and who back the abolishment of priestly celibacy and other progressivist positions contrary to perennial Catholic teaching are quietly meeting together near Rome in preparation for the upcoming synod, a well-placed source revealed to LifeSiteNews today.

Main participants invited to the meeting include cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri, Claudio Hummes, Walter Kasper, Christoph Schönborn, Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck, and Bishop Erwin Kräutler. Also present was Josef Sayer, a friend and counselor of Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga. Mrs. Doris Wagner- Reisinger – the former nun whose accusations against a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith official was recently rejected by a Vatican court – was also invited to attend the meeting. 

The Italian Vatican specialist, Marco Tosatti, just published his own report on this secret meeting, thus confirming our own independent source. Edward Pentin, Rome correspondent for National Catholic Register, also confirmed news of the meeting.

“A secretive meeting to discuss strategy for the upcoming #AmazonianSynod and involving mostly German-speaking prelates and intellectuals took place today at a monastery in Rome. Cdls Hummes, Baldisseri, Kasper, Schoenborn took part plus +Krautler, +Overbeck of Essen. More soon,” he tweeted today. 

The participants of the preparatory meeting stand for a progressive agenda within the Church.

  • Cardinal Baldisseri has been crucial in preparing the two family synods which led to Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia that opened up the idea of giving some “remarried” couples access to the Sacraments. Baldisseri told Dr. Frédéric Martel about the synod's methods: “our line was essentially Kasper's.”
  • Cardinal Claudio Hummes is in favor of married priests for the Amazon region, and that they should be indigenous. He stated in 2016: “There should be only indigenous clergy, priests and bishops – also without academic formation.”
  • Cardinal Walter Kasper is the man behind the idea to give Holy Communion to some “remarried” divorcees without them having to change their way of life.
  • Cardinal Schönborn once stated he could imagine female priests and bishops, and only a few days ago claimed that the cause of the sex abuse crisis is not the cultural revolution of the 1960s (as Pope Benedict XVI recently claimed), but the “Church's exaggerated fixation on the Sixth Commandment,” as well as “closed systems.”
  • Professor Thomas Schüller, in a recent interview, predicted that other regions in the world would ask for married priests soon after the Amazon Synod. He said: “This [Amazon Synod] will encourage the bishops’ conferences and the regions of the Universal Church — which are also affected by the lack of priests — to make a similar request while at the same time honoring a freely chosen celibacy.” Rome would “surely examine such a request with a benevolent attitude,” he explained.
  • Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck has recently stated that after the Amazon Synod, “nothing will be the same” in the Church. He hopes for a questioning of the Church's teaching on sexuality and on access to the priesthood. Overbeck is the German bishops' expert for Latin America and responsible for the donations going to this region, via the German bishops' charitable organization Adveniat.
  • Bishop Erwin Kräutler is in favor of married priests and women's ordination. He even goes so far as to claim that Pope Francis would be open to the possibility of ordaining women. 

LifeSiteNews has reached out to Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Schönborn, asking for comment.

Dr. Michael Prueller, the press speaker of Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, confirmed to LifeSitenews that the Austrian cardinal had been invited to this gathering, but added that he was unable to attend. He said: “As far as I know, there takes place a conference of experts – which is ending today – on the topic of the Amazon Synod. Cardinal Schoenborn had been invited, but had to decline, because he still has to recover from his cancer surgery.” Prueller added that the aim of the conference was simply a “theological discussion” and was “not part of the preparations of the Synod.” 

Other such secretive meetings have taken place in the past under the pontificate of Pope Francis. For example, Edward Pentin at the time revealed a so-called “Day of Study,” or “Shadow Council,” which took place in May of 2015 and which was meant to prepare for the second family synod in October of that year. At that gathering, the participants discussed matters such as the laxening of the Church's teaching on homosexuality, as well as on “remarriage.”

Additionally, another secret meeting was organized by Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J. that took place some months later, from 28 September to 2 October 2015, just ahead of the second family synod. Dedicated to the theme “The Reform and the Reforms of the Church and in the Church,” it featured as a speaker Professor Hermann Pottmeyer who is publicly in favor of the weakening of the Petrine Office. He had stated in 2010: “In other words, the bishop of Rome should normally make no decrees and no decisions affecting the universal church without [first] formally inviting the participation of the local churches and their bishops. Further, the local churches and their regional associations or bishops’ conferences should decide any regulations that do not threaten the unity of the whole church.” Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, one of Pope Francis' close advisors, was also present at that 2015 gathering.

As to the question of female priestly ordination, Pope John Paul II has clearly ruled against this idea when he published, in 1994, his document Ordinatio Sacramentalis. In it, he stated: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.