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Abp. Viganò & Bp. StricklandScreenshot/Diocese of Tyler

TYLER, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — The former Papal Nuncio to the U.S. has given his backing to Bishop Joseph Strickland’s recent pastoral message in which Strickland warned of the dangers to the Catholic faith stemming from the “Synod on Synodality.”

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò gave public praise to Strickland, stating that “that is the way a Successor of the Apostles speaks.”

The archbishop’s comment came in light of Strickland’s recent pastoral message, released August 22 to his Diocese of Tyler, Texas. 

READ: Bishop Strickland: Catholics are not ‘schismatic’ for rejecting changes that contradict Church teaching  

As quoted and highlighted by Viganò, Strickland warned that Catholic desirous of adhering to Tradition may find themselves accused of being “schismatic.” 

“Regrettably,” wrote Strickland, “it may be that some will label as schismatics those who disagree with the changes being proposed. Be assured, however, that no one who remains firmly upon the plumb line of our Catholic faith is a schismatic.”

“We must be aware also that it is not leaving the Church to stand firm against these proposed changes,” Strickland added. “As St. Peter said, ‘Lord to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.’ (Jn 6:68)”

He also encouraged Catholics to remain firmly attached to the truths of the faith, stating how “standing firm does not mean we are seeking to leave the Church.” 

Instead, Strickland described proponents of change and innovation as the true “schismatics,” stating that “those who would propose changes to that which cannot be changed seek to commandeer Christ’s Church, and they are indeed the true schismatics.”

Strickland outlined seven truths taught by the Catholic Church adding that “many of these truths will be examined as part of the Synod on Synodality.” They consisted of:

  • The nature of the Catholic Church as the only true Church.
  • The necessity to be in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist.
  • The divine nature of the sacrament of Marriage, which man cannot alter or “redefine.”
  • Man is created in the image and likeness of God, which does not permit for a rejection of biological reality.
  • The complete immorality of sexual activity outside of marriage, which cannot be blessed or condoned by the Church at all.
  • The “belief that all men and women will be saved regardless of how they live their lives” is “false and dangerous.”
  • The necessity to bear sufferings in order to follow Christ and unite suffering to His redemptive death. 

Notably, proponents of the synod hit back at Strickland after he published his letter, with one of the lay synod non-voting members Austen Ivereigh writing: “I have followed the synod docs from its launch in 2021 to the working doc for the assembly this October. *Not one* of these [seven truths] has *ever* been discussed.”

Despite Ivereigh’s claims, a number of Strickland’s list of truths have appeared in the Synod process under various forms. The first – on the nature of the Church – has been called into question by the synod from the very start.

READ: Vatican’s Synod on Synodality will consult non-Catholics, lapsed Catholics  

Pope Francis’ texts which have guided the synod since its 2021 inception note that the synod’s “act of discerning” entails listening to “people who have left the practice of the faith, people of other faith traditions, people of no religious belief, etc.” [sic] They also highlight the “temptation not to look beyond the visible confines of the Church” as a problem to be avoided.

The second on Strickland’s list – receiving the Holy Eucharist in a state of grace – has also been called into question by the synod. The latest working document for the October meeting of the synod appears to present the widely accepted, and papally approved, interpretation of Amoris Laetitiae allowing the divorced and “re-married” to receive Holy Communion as an already finalized issue.

READ: Major Synod on Synodality document highlights need to ‘welcome’ polygamists, ‘LGBTQ+ people’ 

The document states:

Some of the questions that emerged from the consultation of the People of God concern issues on which there is already magisterial and theological teaching to be considered. To give just two examples, we can note the acceptance of remarried divorcees, dealt with in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, or the inculturation of the liturgy, the subject of the Instruction Varietates legitimae (1994) of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Furthermore, Strickland’s list identifies the dangers of accepting or tolerating gender ideology or sexual relations outside of marriage, both of which are aspects promoted by the synod. The question of LGBT issues has been repeatedly identified in the synod, with the current working document stating that those in need of receiving a “genuine welcome” include a number of groups such as “the divorced and remarried, people in polygamous marriages, or LGBTQ+ Catholics.”

While Strickland’s pastoral letter may not have won him support from proponents of the synod, its reception amongst faithful Catholics continues to be a favorable one.