Featured Image
John-Henry Westen of LifeSiteNews asking question during one of the Vatican press conferencesLisa Bourne/LifeSite

October 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The following are excerpts from notable news media and blog posts that reveal the incredible confusion and contradictory evaluations of the Synod on the Family and its Final Report. This historically significant overview is presented to help readers better understand the difficulties involved in the research and writing of our many LifeSiteNews Synod reports. It will also leave its readers with a better understanding of why the Synod has generated such conflict and chaos.

As you may have become aware, and will discover even more from reading these excerpts, the Synod has been unlike any other Vatican-related development in the memory of most persons that have been following it. Many are still shaking their heads and trying to determine if they are in some kind of a bad dream because of the total weirdness of what has been going on around the two Synods. 

I am sure many will find these excerpts fascinating or at least very interesting. This is a lengthy report, in digestable bites, some of which are far blunter than those that LifeSite has published. Some might be seen to be entertaining. Few are dull reading. It will take time to get through this, but it is worth it, if not crucial to an understanding of the gravity of developments in this Synod. My notes are in italics:


The New York Times paid a surprising amount of attention to the Synod. The articles by Ross Douthat have been contrary to the Times’ usual anti-Catholicism. Many others have been commenting on and quoting from his articles. A movement has started among progressive Catholics to have Douthat disciplined by the NY Times – a good indication of the value of his reports.

Who Won the Synod?
Ross Douthat, New York Times October 26, 2015

…nobody won, because really everybody won.

…what actually happened is that conservatives won what was probably the closest thing to victory that they could have hoped for, given that 1) the pope was against them, and 2) the pope stacked the governing and writing committees and the voting ranks, and did I mention that 3) the pope was against them. (People who still argue that Pope Francis was studiously neutral, that he just wanted dialogue, or that his views are unknowable, need to sit down and read the tongue-lashing he gave to conservatives in his closing address — and contrast it with the much more evenhanded way he closed last fall’s synod, when conservative resistance to the synod’s intended direction was much more disorganized.)

So the journalists covering the synod document as a setback for the innovators (and, because he elevated them, the pontiff) are mostly correct, given their ambitions going in. But so, in a certain way, are the journalists covering it as a kind of cracked-door to innovation, because the conservatives didn’t have the votes or the power to keep every ambiguity at bay. 

Douthat has been receiving support even from clergy:

I back Ross Douthat: elites don’t own Catholicism
by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith Thursday, 29 Oct 2015

I sympathise with Ross Douthat, in two ways. Firstly, I sympathise, because I agree with what he writes. I think his reading of the situation is essentially correct. And I sympathise with him in another way. He has said something that some people do not like, and they have all jumped down his throat.

Bernadette, I seem to remember, was told to shut up by both Church and State. Thank the Lord, she didn’t. We are all better off for it. I hope Mr Douthat will take courage from her example, and not be put off. We need his voice. And there are lots of other voices like his, for which we should all be profoundly grateful.

Ross Douthat and the Catholic Academy 
by Bishop Robert Barron  October 29, 2015

Anyone even casually familiar with Douthat knows that he is exceptionally smart, articulate, careful in his expression, and a committed Catholic. So he has argued that divisions at least analogous to political factions have emerged at the Synod. From the Council of Jerusalem in the first century through Vatican II in the twentieth, the Church has been marked by conflict, rivalry, and faction.

…it is often the case that those outside of the official academy often have the freshest and most insightful perspectives, precisely because they aren’t sequestered in the echo-chamber of politically correct faculty lounge discourse.

Cardinal Ouellet and Cardinal Schonborn (right)

The letter to the Times is indicative indeed of a much wider problem in our intellectual culture, namely, the tendency to avoid real argument and to censor what makes us, for whatever reason, uncomfortable.

Prior to his article above, Ross Douthat wrote another article in the New York Times that has received much attention for its bluntness:

The Plot to Change Catholicism
Ross Douthat – New York Times – Oct. 17, 2015

…if anything, the pontiff’s ambitions have encouraged plotters and counterplotters to work with greater vigor.

And right now the chief plotter is the pope himself.

Francis’s purpose is simple: He favors the proposal, put forward by the church’s liberal cardinals, that would allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without having their first marriage declared null.

The church’s teaching that marriage is indissoluble has already been pushed close to the breaking point by this pope’s new expedited annulment process; going all the way to communion without annulment would just break it.

The documents guiding the synod have been written with that goal in mind. The pope has made appointments to the synod’s ranks with that goal in mind, not hesitating to add even aged cardinals tainted by the sex abuse scandal if they are allied to the cause of change. The Vatican press office has filtered the synod’s closed-door (per the pope’s directive) debates to the media with that goal in mind. The churchmen charged with writing the final synod report have been selected with that goal in mind. And Francis himself, in his daily homilies, has consistently criticized Catholicism’s “doctors of the law,” its modern legalists and Pharisees — a not-even-thinly-veiled signal of his views.

Aging progressives are seizing a moment they thought had slipped away, trying to outmaneuver younger conservatives who recently thought they owned the Catholic future. The African bishops are defending the faith of the European past against Germans and Italians weary of their own patrimony. A Jesuit pope is effectively at war with his own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the erstwhile Inquisition — a situation that would make 16th century heads spin.


Speaking as a Catholic, I expect the plot to ultimately fail; where the pope and the historic faith seem to be in tension, my bet is on the faith.

The response to Douthat has been intense from the progressives

The McCarthyism of Liberal Catholic Elites
By Rod Dreher • The American Conservative October 26, 2015

This letter was drafted by Massimo Faggioli and John O’Malley, SJ, and is now being signed by a bunch of liberal Catholic academics. Here’s how it stands as I post this; names are being added to the signatory list constantly:

To the editor of the New York Times

On Sunday, October 18, the Times published Ross Douthat’s piece “The Plot to Change Catholicism.” Aside from the fact that Mr. Douthat has no professional qualifications for writing on the subject, the problem with his article and other recent statements is his view of Catholicism as unapologetically subject to a politically partisan narrative that has very little to do with what Catholicism really is. Moreover, accusing other members of the Catholic church of heresy, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly, is serious business that can have serious consequences for those so accused. This is not what we expect of the New York Times.


What a remarkable document. Really remarkable — and damning to the writers, who ought to be ashamed of themselves.

The Catholic layman Ross Douthat, according to these liberal Catholic academics, is too stupid to have an opinion about Catholicism, because he has not been trained in theology. And his opinions are invalid because they reach offer a conclusion offensive to the letter-writers  follow a “politically partisan narrative that has very little to do with what Catholicism really is.” You will look at the October 18 column in question, and anything else Ross Douthat has written about Catholicism, and I very much doubt you will find anything contrary to the faith and morals magisterially proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. You will unquestionably find much contrary to the faith and morals magisterially proclaimed by the Faggioli-O’Malley crew.

They have revealed themselves. These liberal ultramontanists and the progressive Pope lost in the Synod, and now its gloves off. They’re not even going to keep up pretenses anymore. This is useful information to have, if you think about it. At least now conservative Catholics can know what they’re going to face, and prepare.


Amid Splits, Catholic Bishops Crack Open Door on Divorce
By Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo – The New York Times – Oct. 24

The church doors opened just a crack for Catholics who divorced and remarried without receiving an annulment of their first marriages, and for those living together without being married. They remained firmly shut to same-sex marriage, even as the document said gay people should be treated with respect.

The document…was so carefully worded that it was immediately open to competing interpretations and allowed both the conservative and liberal flanks in the church to claim victory.

Church liberals exulted that Francis had gotten the church’s hierarchy to take up issues that were long considered taboo, and that the bishops’ final report did not include anything that would block him outright from making change.

The next steps are now with Francis…

Sandro Magister, a conservative Italian journalist who covers the Vatican, said the synod was a resounding defeat for liberals because “there are no innovations.”

Asking priests to practice “discernment” on a case-by-case basis in situations of divorce, Mr. Magister said, simply repeats instructions that Pope John Paul II gave in 1981 in his apostolic exhortation, “Familiaris Consortio.”

LifeSite journalists Patrick Craine (end of row) and Andrew Guernsey sitting next to hem.

Mr. Magister praised the bishops from Africa for leading the fight against any doctrinal change. “The winner is Africa, no doubt,” he said.

But liberal Catholics were convinced that Francis had played the synod smartly and were cheering its finale.

“The document gives the pope a free hand to move forward,” Gerard O’Connell, Vatican correspondent for America, a (liberal Catholic) Jesuit magazine based in New York.


Bishops back call for merciful church

By Nicole Winfield and Daniela Petroff – The Associated Press – October 25

Catholic bishops called Saturday for a more welcoming church for cohabiting couples, gays and Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried, endorsing Pope Francis' call for a more merciful and less judgmental church.

The synod's endorsement, by a single vote, of Francis' call for a more merciful, less judgmental church was a clear victory for Francis and the progressive prelates who have been seeking wiggle room in church teaching to allow remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Conservatives had objected, citing church doctrine, but they couldn't muster the votes needed to block passage of the final document


The Text and the Context
Robert Royal – The Catholic Thing – October 26, 2015 (Robert Royal was a major commentator on the Synod for EWTN)

…the result was, as it often is under this pope, more muddled.

The bishops chose not to vote yes or no on the document as a whole, but only on the individual paragraphs so that it is, in essence, a series of reflections presented to the pope for his consideration, not a global statement formally approved by the Synod Fathers. We’ll have to wait for Francis himself to tell us what he considers to be the next step. He may have made it harder for himself both by the way the Synod was run and (see below) by his angry reaction to criticisms and traditional believers.

Despite what may be often said in the days and weeks to come, it’s worth repeating: The Final Report of the Synod does not speak of Communion for the Divorced and Remarried. (CDR) If that is what the pope wants, he will have to decide to put it there.

Archbishop Chaput and others leaving Synod hall.

Some reporters have cast this as strong backing of Church teaching, a too optimistic characterization. But neither is it a hall pass for Catholic liberals.

But also consider this: the votes for the Synod Council, the governing group for synods going forward.

…show basically a two-thirds majority for traditional Catholic teachings. Sandro Magister has reported over the weekend that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia received the largest number of votes of any single person elected, worldwide – though Cardinals George Pell and Robert Sarah also had large numbers. This is very good news.

From the Americas, we also have Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet (a solid citizen), and Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga (a close confident of the pope). From Asia, Cardinals Pell, Oswald Gracias (Bombay), and Luis Antonio Tagle (Manila). From Africa, Cardinals Sarah, Wilfred Napier, Gabon Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan.

Only in Europe is there a rather weak slate: Schönborn, English Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and Archbishop Bruno Forte (strong Italian cardinals such as Scola, Caffara, Bagnasco had large numbers of votes individually… In any event, in so far as the Synod Council will guide future events, there is a preponderance of serious figures – and their selection shows the general mood of the Synod Fathers.



Pope Francis's status suffers setback with diluted family document
The Globe and Mail – Eric Reguly – Oct. 18, 2014

Pope Francis status as the Vatican’s great reformer and modernizer suffered a setback on Saturday, when proposals for wider acceptance of gays and divorced Catholics who remarry were diluted in the final draft document on the church’s relationships with families.


If the good guys win at the Synod
Joseph Shaw – Latin Mass Society
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I would strongly suggest to all Catholics that, if the conservatives at the Synod declare victory, we should congratulate them heartily, and then start digging an air-raid shelter in the garden.

One thing we have to understand is the way liberals read documents.

With the Synod on the Family the liberals' ability to snatch victory from the jaws of stalemate is undiminished. The very fact that the issues are being debated is a huge gain for the liberal side of the argument. The very fact that certain frankly disedifying statements from the bishops' interventions are being quoted in the press – accurately or not – moves the debate immeasurably in their favour.

I don't believe in an inevitable victory for the liberal side of the debate in the long term – quite the contrary – but the Synod, like Vatican II, has brought together a balance of forces which is clearly not going to conclude with a triumphant reassertion of the traditional view. Things are going to get worse, a lot worse, before they get better.

Steve Skojec is also known for not beating around the bush on his increasingly popular blog, One Peter 5. Very bluntly and briefly he gives his readers the full lay of the land as he sees it, with no apologies.

No, The “Conservatives” Did Not “Win”
By Steve Skojec – October 27, 2015

After three weeks of trench warfare, it represents — in the most optimistic interpretation — a stalemate. At worst, it’s a significant loss of ground, inasmuch as it fails to address the rampant speculation that has infested the Church for the past 20 months that the pastoral practice on the reception of communion by the divorced and remarried will be changed

This relatio is about as secure a barrier against communion for the divorced and remarried as a front door left open and unlocked in a bad neighborhood. Sure, it has some of the right features, but so what? This thing is primed and ready for exploitation. It has professionally-designed time bombs baked right in. Just like Vatican II. Which, of course, is never fully implemented – even after half a century.

I reached out to Bishop Schneider this week to share something I had written about the Synod. This morning, I received a response:

“We have to not be naive, because of the apparently orthodox text. In reality, there are dangerous traps and back doors masked in a very cunning manner, which open the way for the Kasper agenda.”

Cardinal Napier of South Africa

Wake. Up.

This is not over. We didn’t get the cure to this fatal disease, we got an obvious placebo. Stop celebrating, because the next wave is already coming, and no matter how exhausted we are, the fight goes on.

The heretics in the Church are not cowed. They are more empowered than ever. Those who advanced heterodoxy at the Synod were not disciplined – nor were they, as so many wishful-thinkers speciously tried to convince us, brought to Rome by Pope Francis to be “smoked out.” They are his friends. They helped get him elected.

Do you know who did get “smoked out”? The Catholic bishops.

And that brings us right back to the real heart of the problem: when two diametrically opposing sides both claim victory, one of them is wrong.

Pope Francis is the guardian of the Church. He has allowed these rough men to attempt to violate Christ’s sweet spouse, and has raised his voice in protest not against those seeking to have their way with her, but against us – the very ones who would protect our mother from such an outrage.


Cardinal Nichols on pathway for divorced and remarried: ‘It’s their decision
October 26, 2015 – Austen Ivereigh (a progressive Catholic commentator who writes for the Guardian and other publications)

Vatican press secretary Fr. Lombardi

The Archbishop of Westminster has defended the freedom of the divorced and remarried to reach a decision in conscience on the Eucharist after following the ‘pathway’ described in the final synod document.

Cardinal Nichols suggested that the studied ambiguity of the report was a deliberate decision to prevent prospect of sacraments affecting the freedom of the discernment.

He said the pathway was open-ended.

“You don’t where it goes. I know people who have done this and have come to the conclusion themselves — to their mature conscience decision — that they should not receive the Eucharist, because they want to give a witness to the stability of marriage. But it’s their decision. That is not pre-judged or pre-empted. If anyone wants to walk this way, come, and we will walk with you.”


It is no wonder that Fr. Thomas Rosica sent around Cardinal Wuerl's statement that was critical of the 13 cardinals for the letter they sent to the Pope. Both Rosica and Wuerl have been shamelessly spinning the synod to favour their personal agendas in contradiction to what other Synod fathers have emphatically stated actually happened in the Synod. I almost choked on my tea reading the last paragraph below, considering the large number of both secular and religious commentators who have all reported that Francis was obviously anything but serene during his closing address and that he severely chastised the more faithful bishops' opposition to the Kasper proposal.

Wuerl: “There’s huge support among the bishops for what the Pope is trying to do.”
Gerard O'connell – Inside the Vatican – 10/27/2015

Pope Francis has introduced “a far more open approach to addressing pastoral issues in the Church” and “there is huge support among the bishops for what the Pope is trying to do”, Cardinal Donald Wuerl told me in this interview for ‘America’.

Cardinal Marx of Germany

I think the big take-away from this synod is not so much the discussion about this or that paragraph, this or that point, but Pope’s Francis’ introduction of a whole wider, far more open approach to addressing pastoral issues in the Church.  We will not be able to go back to a closed version of this after these two synods.

The synod’s final document says people who are divorced and remarried are still members of the family, they are still our brothers and sisters and so we want to make sure that they don’t feel excluded from the Church, but it doesn’t say therefore this and this and this must happen.  It’s the “therefore” that we will be talking about going into the future.

His closing talk, I thought, spoke to his sanctity. He gave this beautifully serene, compassionate talk, pointing out facts and being open, even referring to conspiracy theories, but at no time condemning anybody, just saying let’s move on now and keep moving forward.


Making Gay Okay at the Vatican Synod
Dr. Anne Hendershott – Huffington Post 10/26/2015

…the ongoing debate at the Synod–between those who view the Synod sociologically as a way to reconstruct Catholic teachings on homosexuality, and those who want to begin with the Gospel and the official teachings of the Church

The same sociology that surrounded the gay lobbying of the APA in the early '70s is now driving the debate on the goodness of homosexual acts at the Synod. The teachings may not change this year–but the gay community has learned to be patient. They are well funded and highly motivated and will return again next year–and the year after–and they will continue to draw upon sociology rather than theology to make their claims. The advocates for change have powerful Church leaders–like Cardinal Kasper and a number of Vatican insiders on their side. But, no one should underestimate the power of what faithful Catholics believe to be the truth of Catholic teachings.


“The backstory to the 13 Cardinals' Explosive Letter and what it means 
Rorate Caeli – October 14, 2015

…as was explained by an eminent Cardinal at the 2014 Synod, the topics up for debate today – having been already solemnly defined by the Church, on the basis of Holy Scripture – cannot and must not even be questioned. As the Pope can’t do what he wants – contrary to what many believe. Just as Benedict the XVI affirmed at the Mass of Investiture to the Roman Cathedra on May 7th 2005:

“The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope's ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.[…]



Pope Francis is now effectively at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the Catholic Church could fall apart
Damian Thompson – The Spectator – 18 October 2015

Pope Francis yesterday gave an address to the profoundly divided Synod on the Family in which he confirmed his plans to decentralise the Catholic Church – giving local bishops’ conferences more freedom to work out their own solutions to the problems of divorce and homosexuality.

This is the nightmare of conservative Catholic cardinals, including – unsurprisingly – those in the Vatican. They thought they had a sufficient majority in the synod to stop the lifting of the ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion, or any softening on the Church’s attitude to gay couples.

But in yesterday’s keynote speech, delivered as the synod enters its last week, Francis told them that the decentralisation will be imposed from above.

…he invoked the power of the Supreme Pontiff to overrule mere cardinals. ‘The synod journey culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, called to speak authoritatively as the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians,’ he said. This is more authoritarian language than I can remember Benedict XVI using as pope. It means: I call the shots. In the end, you listen to me, not the other way around.

Pope Francis is no longer trusted by many conservative Catholics, and the number who don’t trust him has grown enormously since the synod process – which I think he has gravely mismanaged – began last October.

Crisis for Pope Francis as top-level cardinals tell him: your synod could lead to the collapse of the church
Damian Thompson The Spectator – 12 October 2015

A group of cardinals – including some of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church – have written to Pope Francis telling him that his Synod on the Family, now meeting in Rome, has gone badly off the rails and could cause the church to collapse.

Their leaked letter, written as the synod started, presumably explains why a few days ago the Pope suddenly warned against ‘conspiracy’ and reminded the cardinals that he, and only he, will decide the outcome of the synod.


This is the gravest crisis he has faced, worse than anything that happened to Benedict XVI, and he knows it.

And, talking of the Pope Emeritus, I suspect that, had he been free to sign the letter, he would have done so.

I’m one of countless commentators who has warned that holding this synod could split the church. Now.


The Cardinals' Manifesto – Amidst the Chaos of the Past Week, its Immense Historic Significance Cannot Get Lost
Rorate Caeli – October 18

The exact wording of the historic “Cardinals' Manifesto”, or “The Pell-Müller Intervention” (after the names of its main authors), which became known as simply the “Letter of the Thirteen Cardinals”, the most profound challenge faced by a Pontiff in recent history, may be in dispute. But the general terms of the missive are not. And, in particular, the huge historic significance of a document that promises to be foundational in the 21st-Century papacy cannot be lost. 

And what a magnificent document it is!

This is astonishing. First, it contains a warning, a warning that is “urgent“. In it the Vicar of Christ himself is warned by some of his most important assistants (his Secretary of the Economy, the guardian of the Doctrine of the Faith, the guardian of Divine Worship — consider all that), and even of the not always consistent Cardinal Dolan (giving an idea of the wide spectrum covered by those concerned) on how this chaotic process created by the Pope himself is “rais[ing] even more fundamental issues about how the Church, going forward, should interpret and apply the Word of God, her doctrines and her disciplines to changes in culture.

The warning goes much further than that because, as several have highlighted, it uses an apocalyptic term, “collapse“, strictly related to how the ideas espoused by Kasper on communion for remarried divorcees and related concepts, ideas that are protected by the Pope, have caused the collapse of liberal Protestant communities.

The 13 Cardinals' Letter is the most powerful accusation made by Cardinals against this, and certainly against any other pontificate in the recent history of the Church.

After the synod, can Catholics put Humpty Dumpty together again?
By John L. Allen Jr. Associate editor, Crux  October 24, 2015

Vatican press office English translation provider and CEO of Salt & Light Television, Fr. Thomas Rosica who some Synod fathers complained greatly exaggerated support for change in Church attitude to homosexuality in Synod.

While all sections of the final document received a two-thirds majority, the sections on divorce and homosexuality also drew significant clusters of “no” votes, providing a clear x-ray of a divided body.

…at the end, seemingly intentional ambiguity on the most contested points


Note one of the sources of “helpful” information among the list of lib/left/dissident ones that New Ways Ministries recommends to its readers

Challenges of Reporting from the Synod: Homophobic Statements, Leaked Documents, the Rumor Mill, and How to Keep Up With It All
New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo – October 16

(Cardinal) Sarah provided ammunition (and, yes, the weaponry metaphor is correct here) to other homophobic people to physically and psychologically harm LGBT people.  His statements are irresponsible and un-Christian.

Here are a few sources that I have found helpful. I offer these to those of you whose appetite for synod news just can’t seem to be sated. 

National Catholic Reporter‘s Joshua McElwee and Father Thomas Reese, SJ are providing news, interviews, and analysis

Religion News Service‘s David Gibson and Rosie Scammell are offering succinct and incisive news coverage of the synod.


Crux‘s Michael O’LoughlinJohn Allen, and Ines San Martin have been reporting news, analysis, and background information.

Salt and Light TV, (headed by Vatican News Service’s progressive English press officer Fr. Thomas Rosica) a Canadian Catholic outfit, is offering expanded synod coverage on their website and also on their blog.

Grant GallichoCommonweal’s associate editor, has been providing illuminating commentary on the magazine’s blog. 

Dispatches, a blog of America magazine, has synod reports from Gerald O’Connell

Robert Mickens, a seasoned Vatican observer, offers synod commentary in his “Letter from Rome” column on Global Pulse magazine.

For a British take on the synod, check out the blog reports by Christopher Lamb on The Tablet’s website.

Terence Weldon’s posts at Queering The Church always offer intelligent commentary on Catholic LGBT issues, and his posts about the synod are no exception.

Pope Francis’s First Crisis
Alexander Stille  – The New Yorker – October 16, 2015

The honeymoon for Pope Francis is over—at least in Rome. The first two weeks of the Synod on the Family have been characterized by open rebellion, corridor intrigue, leaked documents, accusations of lack of transparency, and sharp divisions among the bishops and cardinals. In the first real crisis of his papacy, Francis finds himself in the position of enjoying a rare degree of popularity among the public but facing an unusual degree of dissent within an institution generally so respectful of hierarchy.

There was some inkling of this during the Pope’s triumphant visit to the U.S. “If a conclave were to be held today, Francis would be lucky to get ten votes,” a Vatican source told me at the time. “He gets an A-plus on public relations, but an F on all the rest.” This statement was certainly an exaggeration, but it reflected genuine unease within the Roman curia

The official Vatican line is that there is fundamental unity among the bishops, with sincere differences animated only by a common love of the Church. The divisions among “conservatives” and “progressives” are, the Vatican claims, an invention of the secular press. This is patently untrue. “There are very strong disagreements within the Synod,” the American cardinal Raymond Burke said in a press interview.


Chaos at the Vatican
Jonathan v. Last – The Weekly Standard – Oct. 17, 2015

At every turn, this synod has been a train wreck. Even the question of which bishops would be chosen to participate has been steeped in controversy. For instance, Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of America’s foremost theologians and experts in canon law, was excluded, at the pope’s discretion. Instead, Francis chose to invite the retired Belgian Archbishop Godfried Daneels.

Daneels is notable for many reasons. Like Monsignor Charamsa, he takes a more progressive view of homosexuality, saying that the Church “has never opposed the fact that there should exist a sort of ‘marriage’ between homosexuals.”

One day Vatican leaks suggest that instead of redefining marriage for the universal Church, the pope will simply punt these questions down to the local levels, letting different councils of bishops come up with their own rules. The next day, the Vatican suggests that perhaps Francis will simply bury whatever document the synod produces and do nothing. 

It will probably all work out in the end. The chances of the synod inflicting real damage on the Church are small, in the same way that the chances of catastrophe are always small. Most cars don’t drive off the road. Most asteroids don’t hit Earth.
But even so, the chances of catastrophe are non-zero—and a good deal higher than they were twelve months ago.

What is amazing, and instructive, is that Pope Francis views this chaos around him—chaos he helped create—and does nothing to step away from the storm. Francis has chosen to put the Church at risk—small, but real, risk. And he has either chosen to do so for a reason. Or for no reason.

Neither answer is very comforting.


Is the Pope Toying with Heresy?
By Patrick J. Buchanan (conservative Catholic, former Republican presidential nominee and advisor to Ronald Reagan)October 26, 2015

Had the pope followed his friend Cardinal Kasper and ordered Catholic teaching and diocesan practice changed, he could have provoked a schism inside the Church.

Such a change in doctrine would have called into question papal infallibility.

But if Catholic truths about the indissolubility of marriage and intrinsic immorality of homosexual unions can be changed, then, either the Church has been in grave error in the past, or the Church is toying with heresy today.

Saturday, The Washington Post described the synod as a “brawl over Francis’ vision of inclusion.”

Reporter Anthony Faiola compared the synod deliberations to a Tea Party rebellion in John Boehner’s House caucus, and the pope to a change agent like Barack Obama who finds himself blocked and frustrated by conservatives.

… in Sunday’s sermon the pope seemed angered by both the defiance of the resisting bishops and the conclusions the synod reached. To Pope Francis, the traditionalists appear to be placing the strictures of moral law above the Gospel command of mercy.

The pope seems to be saying that the dissenting bishops, no matter their command of moral law, are lacking in charity, the greatest of the three theological virtues.

If he permits the bishops to follow their consciences in their dioceses, he will advance the disintegration of the Church.

See all the LifeSiteNews reports on the Synod here.

Featured Image

Steve is the co-founder and managing director of