ROME, March 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – It’s confirmed. On April 7, 2018 — the Saturday after Easter — a very special conference will be held in Rome whose aim is to indicate the path forward for the Catholic Church, after the uncertain journey of the first five years of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
The assessment of the past five years has been rather critical, judging from the title of the conference: “Catholic Church, where are you going?” Even more so looking at the subtitle: “Only a blind man can deny that there is great confusion in the Church.”
The phrase has been borrowed from Cardinal Carlo Caffarra (1938-2017), the unforgettable endorser of the ‘dubia’ — a set of five questions submitted with other cardinals to Pope Francis in 2016. The aim of the ‘dubia’ was to bring clarity to the most controversial points of his magisterium, but he left them unanswered.
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The conference organizers are a group of Italian Catholics known as the “Friends of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra.”
In a Church seemingly in disarray, the key issue the conference will seek to address is the redefinition of leadership roles for the “people of God,” the character and limits of papal and episcopal authority, and forms of consulting the faithful on matters of doctrine.
These questions were already thoroughly explored, in his own time, by a great cardinal often quoted both by the progressives and by the conservatives in support of their respective theses: Blessed John Henry Newman.
Other cardinals and bishops will revisit these issues at the April conference. Their names have not been released, but the signatories of the ‘dubia’ are expected to be present, along with others who share their perspective.
Yet two interventions have been confirmed — via “ad hoc” video message — from two prominent cardinals: Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, and Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, former archbishop of Onitsha and prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, a position now held by Cardinal Robert Sarah.
A video-interview with Cardinal Caffarra on Paul VI’s controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, conducted before the cardinal’s death, will also be featured.
But there will also be presentations by lay scholars. Professor Valerio Gigliotti, a professor of history and medieval and modern law at the university of Turin, will focus on the exercise of the “plenitudo potestatis” of the pope in the history of the Church. And Professor Renzo Puccetti, a physician and professor of bioethics at the John Paul II PontificalTheological Institute, will analyze the evolution of bioethics as taught at that institute, from its founding with Caffarra as president, to its current phase under the aegis of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.
The culminating moment of the conference will be the reading of a “declaratio,” a concise profession of faith on the points of doctrine and morality that are most controversial today.
Unlike the ‘dubia,’ the declaration will not bear any specific signature. Rather, the conference participants will propose it for the entire Church and for the world, as the voice of “baptized and confirmed members of the People of God.”
Of course, this ‘declaratio’ will be the polar opposite of the Kölner Erklärung — the declaration signed in Cologne in 1989 by German theologians who are now in Francis’ good graces. Reacting to the principles reaffirmed by John Paul II in the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, the Kölner Erklärung “virulently attacked the magisterial authority of the pope especially on issues of moral theology,” as Benedict XVI wrote in the letter to Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò that caused such an uproar last week.
The conference is free of charge. It will be held on Saturday, April 7, at 3:00 pm, at “The Church Village” conference center, located at 94 Via di Torre Rossa, just a couple of miles west of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Editor's note: This article first appeared in Italian on Sandro Magister's blog. It is translated by LifeSiteNews' Diane Montagna.