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Cdl. Burke speaking the evening before the Synod’s October 2023 meetingHaynes/LifeSiteNews

ROME (LifeSiteNews) –– On the eve of the Synod on Synodality, Cardinal Raymond Burke noted the Synod is built on arguments that “depart strikingly and gravely” from the Catholic faith, and he also responded to criticisms of his recent dubia.

“The Holy Spirit is very often invoked in the perspective of the synod … but there is not a single word about the obedience due to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit that are always consistent with the truth of the perennial doctrine and the goodness of the perennial discipline that He has inspired throughout the centuries,” Burke said at an event organized by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana and entitled “The Synodal Babel.” (A transcript of the cardinal’s speech can be found here.)

Burke’s comments came as he headlined a conference held October 3 in Rome on the eve of the Synod and one day after the dubia on the Synod was published. Cardinal Burke joined Fr. Gerald Murray, a canonist, and Professor Stefano Fontana, a philosopher, in outlining the theological, canonical and philosophical errors and dangers of the Synod on Synodality.

“It is unfortunately very clear that the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the side of some has for its purpose the advancement of an agenda that is more political and human than ecclesial and divine,” Burke warned. 

The Church’s agenda and only one, that is, the pursuit of the common good of the Church, that is, the salvation of souls, the salus animarum which ‘in Ecclesia suprema semper lex esse debet.’ The Church’s agenda is the Church’s common good.

The former prefect of Apostolic Signatura pointed to a misuse of language that he said was contributing to a widespread confusion of theology. “Confusion about theology, morality and even elementary philosophy in which we live is fueled by a great lack of clarity in the vocabulary used … sometimes new words are introduced or exaggerated without a clear definition, as in the case of the word synodality.” 

In this case of the confusion over the essential features of the Church, there is a risk of losing the identity of the Church, our identity as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, as branches in the ‘true vine’ that is Christ and of which the eternal Father is the farmer.

He also linked his concerns about the Synod on Synodality to concerns about Pope Francis’ 2022 restructuring of the Roman Curia, as effected in Praedicate Evangelium. The Pope’s 2022 changes introduced more lay governance in the Curia and removed aspects of theological significance, such as the terming of the Curial bodies as Dicasteries rather than Congregations.

READ: Pope Francis reforms Roman Curia, says any layperson can hold ‘governance’ positions in Vatican

Burke highlighted the themes of “missionary” and “synodality” in both Praedicate and the Synod, saying how “their elevation to essential traits of the Church and, therefore, fundamental criteria of the restructuring of the Roman Curia – and now with this synod to the whole Universal Church – lends itself [sic] to ambiguities and misunderstandings that must be recognized and dispelled.”

Outlining an understanding of mission and synod from the Church’s Tradition, Burke stated:

It does not seem to me necessary to go into detail to understand that the synod opening tomorrow is nothing more than a direct extension of what has already been pointed out by the Apostolic Constitution Predicate Evangelium. 

It is therefore at least singular to say that we do not know in what direction the synod will go, when it is so clear that the will is to profoundly change the hierarchical constitution of the Church. A similar process has been employed in the Church in Germany to achieve the same much harmful purpose.

Riccardo Cascioli introduces the speakers at the conference

Responding to criticism of the dubia

Burke also made a break from the initial draft of his speech to discuss briefly news of the dubia that he and four other cardinals published October 2 concerning issues of Catholic doctrine and the Synod. 

READ: Five cardinals write Dubia to Pope Francis on concerns about Synod, Catholic doctrine

Citing an article on the dubia in the Italian press, the cardinal noted how “two synod fathers” declared that “the times of the Church are not those of these confreres,” meaning the dubia cardinals.

The Synod fathers reportedly continued: “They cannot dictate the agenda to the Pope, however causing injuries and undermining unity in the Church. But now we are used to it: they just want to hit Francis.”

READ: Vatican and Cardinal Fernández fire back at cardinals’ new dubia about the Synod on Synodality

Responding to this, Burke stated:

These comments reveal the state of confusion, error, and division that permeates the session of the Synod of Bishops that will begin tomorrow. The five dubia deal exclusively with the perennial doctrine and discipline of the Church, not an agenda of the Pope. They do not deal with past “times.” 

“The language is very revealing of the worldliness of the vision,” he commented. “Then, they do not deal with the person of the Holy Father. In fact, by their nature they are an expression of due veneration for the Petrine office and the successor of St. Peter.”

Burke added how such attacks on the dubia “seem to reflect a fundamental error recently expressed” by the new CDF prefect, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, who argued that the Pope’s “unique charism” is equal to the “deposit of faith.”

“The Church has never taught that the Roman Pontiff has a special gift to constitute his own doctrine,” Cardinal Burke noted. 

“One must reflect on the gravity of the ecclesial situation when the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith accuses of heresy and schism those who ask the Holy Father to exercise the Petrine Office to safeguard and promote the depositum fidei,” Burke said. 

Appeal to fellow prelates

Cardinal Burke, who was joined at the conference by his fellow dubia signatory Cardinal Robert Sarah, noted a stark contrast between the Synod, its working document and the Catholic faith:

We are told that the Church we profess, in communion with our ancestors in the faith since the time of the Apostles, to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, must now be defined by synodality, a term that has no history in Church doctrine and for which there is no reasonable definition. It is obviously an artificial construction, more like a human construction than the Church built on the rock that is Christ.

The Instrumentum laboris of the upcoming session of the Synod of Bishops certainly contains statements that depart strikingly and gravely from the perennial teaching of the Church. 

In light of this, he urged his fellow bishops and cardinals to publicly “reaffirm our faith,” calling on bishops to “to confirm their brothers.” 

READ: Pope Francis signs text affirming Amoris Laetitia allows Communion for divorced and ‘remarried’

“Today’s bishops and cardinals need a great deal of courage to confront the grave errors coming from within the Church itself,” he said. “The sheep depend on the courage of the shepherds who must protect them from the poison of confusion, error and division.”

Synod is not an imitation of the Eastern Synods

Vatican proponents of the Synod on Synodality have often argued in defense of the event, saying that is simply an extension to the Western Church of the synods that take place in the Eastern Church.

This argument has already been rejected as baseless by the Greek Byzantine Rite Catholic Bishop Manuel Nin, and Cardinal Burke echoed Nin’s comments. “I have regular contact with Eastern bishops and priests, both Catholic and Orthodox, all of whom have told me that the way the synod is organized has nothing to do with Eastern synods,” he said. 

READ: Greek Catholic bishop: Rome’s definition of ‘synodality’ does not exist in Eastern churches

“This applies not only to the place of the laity in these assemblies, but also more generally to the way they operate and even the issues they address. There is confusion around the term synodality, which people artificially try to link to an Eastern practice but which in reality has all the characteristics of a recent invention, especially with regard to the laity.”

He added how a “change in the Church’s self-understanding has as a further consequence a weakening of teaching on morals as well as discipline in the Church.”

“I do not linger long on these points, dramatically known by all: moral theology has lost all its points of reference,” he added. “It is urgent to consider the moral act in its totality, and not only in its subjective aspect.”