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Swiss bishop: Amazon Synod could ‘contaminate whole Mystical Body of Church…gravely damage it’

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PETITION: Support Cardinal who is condemning Amazon synod working doc as ‘apostasy’. Sign the petition here.

June 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Marian Eleganti, the auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland has come out in support of Cardinal Walter Brandmüller’s June 27 critique of the Vatican’s working document for the upcoming Pan-Amazon Synod, saying that, if adopted, such ideas “will contaminate the whole Mystical Body of the Church – and gravely damage it.”

The prelate explained in comments to LifeSiteNews (see full comments below) why he supports Brandmüller’s criticism of the document, which the Cardinal called “heretical” and an “apostasy” from Divine Revelation.

Bishop Eleganti said that the Church must have the “Face of Christ,” not “an Amazonian face.”

The Amazon synod, Eleganti added, should not be used as a tool in order to change either the priesthood or the “sacramental-hierarchical structure of the Church.” 

“I agree with Cardinal Brandmüller,” he stated, “when he criticizes that we should not speak of the Amazon region when we in reality mean and target the Universal Church.” The Bishop opposed the idea of establishing for the Amazon region a sort of “priestly ordination lite,” adding that since the Council of Trent, there is no possibility to separate the different characteristics of the power of ordination, that is to say to separate Holy Orders from the governing power in the Church. 

“The sacramental priesthood is not a matter that can be decided upon – or re-defined – in the Amazon region. The last councils since Trent have clearly linked jurisdiction, ruling authority, and sacramental ordination. They may not be separated if we wish to remain loyal to the will of these councils," he said. 

"The question of women may not be abused as leverage in order to depart from it and to create new offices for women. The hierarchical-sacramental structure of the Church is not up for consideration. It is not possible that, already fifty years later, council statements should not be any more normative, in order to start a laboratory experiment in the Amazon region, which in turn then will contaminate the whole Mystical Body of the Church – and gravely damage it,” he added. 

The Swiss prelate explained that the Amazon region should convert to Jesus Christ and thus adapt its rites and culture to Him, not the other way around. He called for an evangelization of the Amazon region. Eleganti used the image of Christ's “dough” which “permeates and changes” every culture in the world.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller issued on June 27 a critique of the recently published working document for the Amazon synod. In it, he distances himself from this text and says that he even detects in it heresy and apostasy. He firmly rejected the idea of ordaining married men to the priesthood or of ordaining female deacons.

LifeSiteNews has started a petition in support of the German cardinal's statement, also out of gratitude for his strength in the Faith. So far, more than 8,700 people signed the petition. Bishop Eleganti told LifeSiteNews that he has signed the petition. He is the first prelate of the Catholic Church to publicly support Cardinal Brandmüller's critique of the Amazon Synod’s working document.  

LifeSiteNews reported today that a pre-synod meeting organized by the secretariat of the Amazon Synod under Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri called for the ordination of female deacons.

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Full statement by Bishop Marian Eleganti to LifeSiteNews

As the face of the Church, I wish that we have the Face of Christ as presented to us in the Gospels. In this sense, there exists for me not a Church “with an Amazonian face.” And it is also not desirable that a certain region in the world imposes its own face upon the Universal Church. Rather, the Face of Christ should become visible in all cultures of the world. But for this, they first have to convert to Him. The Gospel is the salt of the earth and the light of the world: in this sense, there is also always cultural criticism.

This is valid also for the Amazon region, which direly needs such criticism based on Revelation, in order to be able to reflect the Face of Christ and so that it does not in reality distort it with the help of their own cultural ideas and rites. The Gospel changed and humanized the culture of antiquity in the Mediterranean region at the time. This was so then and is not much different today. This applies to all cultures in the world. Jesus understood His Gospel as dough, which permeates and changes the heart of man – and with it, the culture.

Let us, therefore, not turn upside down the situation and the spiritual order of truth, as if in the culture of the Amazon region, the Holy Ghost precedes the Gospel, and as if it (the Gospel) frees itself with the help of the indigenous culture, and not the other way around!

I agree with Cardinal Brandmüller when he criticizes that we should not speak of the Amazon region when we in reality mean and target the Universal Church. The sacramental priesthood is not a matter that can be decided upon – or re-defined – in the Amazon region. The last councils since Trent have clearly linked jurisdiction, ruling authority, and sacramental ordination. They may not be separated if we wish to remain loyal to the will of these councils.  The question of women may not be abused as leverage in order to depart from it and to create new offices for women. The hierarchical-sacramental structure of the Church is not up for consideration. It is not possible that, already fifty years later, council statements should not be any more normative, in order to start a laboratory experiment in the Amazon region, which in turn then will contaminate the whole Mystical Body of the Church – and gravely damage it.

The power of ordination (priesthood: munus sanctificandi; magisterium: munus docendi; governing office: munus regendi) is indivisible and cannot be limited to certain tasks or sacramental actions. There cannot be – in theological terms – a sort of “priestly ordination lite” sui generis for “married Elders” as some people already have started to consider.

Also celibacy has an interior (exclusivity of the bond with God and Christ respectively) and an exterior characteristic (unrestricted availability for the Kingdom of God) for the sake of which Jesus Himself remained unwed. 

How can one put this at risk so carelessly and depart from Jesus's way of living, from His example? Especially the priest should first and foremost full-heartedly follow the example of Jesus, without any hesitation or objection, and be His likeness. Who else?

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Maike Hickson

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, Catholicism.org, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana, Katholisches.info, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.