Some Catholic commentators are astonishingly trying to make light of the clearly massive negative impact of Monday’s public release of the relatio or interim report of the Vatican Synod on the Family. These Church establishment apologists are looking especially foolish this time given the volume of strong criticisms of the relatio from so many leading Church authorities and commentators. 

It makes one wonder, just how outrageous things have to become before the professional Catholic company men and women will finally admit that there are indeed very big problems within the Church in our time.

Michael Voris of Church Militant TV gives an excellent background to the circumstances and personalities that led up to the release of the document. He also takes viewers into the very strange press conference in which the cardinals present seemed incapable or unwilling to give any proper answers to questions about their shocking relatio. Many synod bishops, it later came out, were complaining vigorously that the document hardly reflected what had actually happened in the presentations. 

Cardinal Tagle of Manila was a huge disappointment. He was almost chuckling as he responded to questions and praised the document’s drafters as “heroes and heroines.” He did emphasize that it was “very provisionary,” but also that this terribly flawed document would be the “basis of future discussions.” Ouch. And this is the young cardinal of the nation that has been the strongest in the world for many years in resisting the moral culture destroying de-populationists. 

Voris presents another report published Tuesday noting that that day’s press conference revealed that the bishops in the synod were not even aware of the relatio contents and that it had already been released to the media. Imagine the consternation of the bishops with news media and others asking them questions about this document that very inaccurately reported what took place in the previous days of the synod.

One thing many of the secular press reported correctly was that Pope Francis had suddenly added six progressive prelates to the synod leadership to prepare the final document after the bishops of the synod had elected several especially orthodox cardinals such as Burke and Sarah for that task. Even the liberal media could not resist reporting the pope’s chutzpah in making this sudden move to ensure the bishops’ elected representatives would not be able to override his plans for the synod.

Canada’s National Post reported,

In an indication of the chasm that is apparently underway within the church leadership itself, Francis decided late Friday to add six progressives from four continents to the synod leadership to help prepare the final document after several conservatives were elected to leadership positions. None of Francis’ appointees were Africans, who are traditionally among the most conservative on family issues.

Then it was reported Tuesday that the only American Cardinal in the Pope’s Gang of Eight, Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley, says that he favors recognition for gay “married” couples, at least according to an explosive article on the Boston Catholic Insider website. Again, more church leadership moves to change the Church traditions on homosexuality to be more in tune with the modern world. 

There are increasing mentions being heard that the homosexual issue is the real issue driving this attempt to rapidly impose greater “mercy” and openness in how the church “pastorally” applies its moral teachings to fit the modern world. Regardless, the developments are leaving many of the most faithful Catholics reeling that statements in the relatio, as provisional as they are, would even be considered.

Probably the one report that I have read that especially brings home the shock of what has been allowed to happen at the synod has been a letter from a reader of the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli who is from East Africa. The reader describes the reaction of his bishop after reading the summary of one day of the synod before the relatio itself was even released. It is heart-breaking, but I suggest also indicative of what very many other faithful Catholics around the world have been experiencing as word of the developments during the synod have been reaching them. 

I re-publish it here for your consideration and with thanks to Rorate Caeli:

Letter from a Reader in East Africa: “My Bishop Wept When He Read the Synod Summary”

We got this letter some hours ago, and asked this reader in Africa for his permission to post it. He just asked to have any information that could identify him or the diocese removed. 

Dear friends of,

I live in the diocese of [omitted] in [a small country in East Africa], a diocese that's very full of life, marriages, baptisms, confirmations, vocations are so abundant that they would seem improbable elsewhere. Since I lived for many years in Belgium and in Ireland years ago, I know what I'm talking about. Our bishop, [name omitted], though not at all old, doesn't like to be online or read things on screen, he also hates smartphones even though they're everywhere here now, so I often print things I find online to show him. Now, our diocese isn't traditional at all, it was thanks to the web and pages as yours that I found out about the Old Mass, but Mass is usually very respectful, even when it's filled with our African joy, which is always very respectful. 

Anyway, the bishop asked me to bring him news from the Synod as often as possible, and since I live very near the cathedral I am trying to print things and take them to him daily. So, yesterday I printed this page and he was struck by this passage from Thursday's meeting.

“With regard to cohabitation in certain regions, it was shown that this is often due to economic and social factors and not a form of refusal of the teachings of the Church. Often, moreover, these and other types of de facto unions are lived while conserving the wish for a Christian life, and therefore require suitable pastoral care. Similarly, while emphasising the impossibility of recognising same sex marriage, the need for a respectful and non-discriminatory approach with regard to homosexuals was in any case underlined.”[*]

He was in the office with the Vicar-General, and he stood up and then fell down on his chair, took his hands to his head and started to weep silently. He was obviously very shaken. He said to the Vicar-General: “Oh my God, what are they doing? The people will soon get hold of declarations like these and they'll prefer to become evangelicals or even Muslims than remain Catholic! What are they doing in Rome? Oh my God, oh my God!”

He then looked at me, calmed down, and said, “I'm sorry you saw this, sorry.” It was shocking. They were both extremely nervous with what will come out, Muslims and Evangelical missionaries will make great inroads if the Church is seen as soft on morals, a situation Africans hate, and make very difficult the work of priests to stop couples from just living together, very often one man and several women, but actually getting married in church. I'm not sure they understand the impact that even small things like these have in how Africans at least here in [country] view the Church. The Vicar-General said something like, “What is this softness? Why 'impossibility of recognising' and not, this false marriage is a grave aberration and an abomination against God and against Creation? At least the Anglicans here can say decisions in Europe are not their responsibility, but how can we as Roman Catholics say that what happens in Rome has nothing to do with us?”

I thought you'd be interested. Thanks for the blog and keeping us informed here as well.

God and Mary bless you,

[Name omitted]

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Steve is the co-founder and managing director of