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Cardinal Jean-Claude HollerichScreenshot/Vatican News

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The leaders of the Synod on Synodality have doubled down on the process with Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich stating that those who oppose it “know that they will not be able to stop it.”

As noted by Vatican journalist Ed Pentin, the Belgium cardinal, who serves as relator general of the Synod as well as head of the European Bishops’ Conference, made the statement in an interview with Italian news outlet Quotidiano Nazionale. 

Responding to a question about an unspecified number of people, including “bishops and cardinals,” who are “just waiting for him [Francis] to step back,” Hollerich suggested that opposition to Francis was tied to opposition to the Synod. “It is the same people and the same circles that are afraid of the Synod and of a Church on the move, no longer stuck in the past,” he stated. 

“In truth they know that they will not be able to stop it,” Hollerich added.

The cardinal’s comments are not without precedent. He has consistently been an ardent promoter of the Synod on Synodality’s key themes, which look set to run contrary to Catholic teaching on a number of issues, such as female diaconate, homosexuality, and “radical inclusion.”

READ: Vatican’s new synodal document calls for ‘female diaconate’ and ‘radical inclusion’

Hollerich echoed this theme of “inclusion” in October when he spoke about same-sex “discrimination,” saying that the Church needed to “change” the culture surrounding its approach towards homosexuals.    

Making the Church more open to homosexuals, said Hollerich, “is not a problem of canon law, norms or structures. This is what the Pope said to the German Church.”

The influential prelate is well known for his promotion of homosexual ideology within the Church. He has also described as “false” the Church’s denouncement of homosexual acts as sinful, which comes on top of his openness to ordaining women to the sacred priesthood and opening Holy Orders to married men.

Synod leaders reject idea of planned agenda

A few days later, Hollerich co-signed a letter with Cardinal Mario Grech, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, in which they denied the suggestion that the Synod had a preconceived agenda.  

Released January 30, the letter appeared to rebuff criticisms of the Synod process, reiterating the oft-repeated phrase that the Synod is about listening “to the Spirit.”

“There are in fact some who presume to already know what the conclusions of the Synodal Assembly will be,” the two cardinals write. “Others would like to impose an agenda on the Synod, with the intention of steering the discussion and determining its outcome.”

They cited Pope Francis’ theme for the multi-year process, which is “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, mission.”  

Such a focus is “the sole theme that we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process,” Hollerich and Grech argued. “The expectations for Synod 2021-2024 are many and varied, but it is not the task of the Assembly to address all the issues being debated in the Church.”

The two leading synodal prelates – both of whom have proposed further acts of inclusion for LGBT individuals in the Church – delivered a statement condemning those who sought to “impose any one theme on the Synod.” They stated:

Those who claim to impose any one theme on the Synod forget the logic that governs the synod process: we are called to chart a “common course” beginning with the contribution of all. It is perhaps superfluous to recall that the apostolic constitution Episcopalis communio transformed the Synod from an event into a process, articulated in stages.

But a number of Catholics have raised concerns that it is in fact leading figures such as Grech and Hollerich who are  imposing anti-Catholic themes on the Synod. 

READ: Dutch bishop leaves ‘vile’ Synod on Synodality: ‘The Holy Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with it’ 

This number includes lay faithful as well as leading prelates. Shortly before he died, the late Cardinal George Pell wrote that the Synod had “developed into a toxic nightmare despite the bishops’ professed good intentions.”

READ: Cdl. Pell called Synod on Synodality a ‘toxic nightmare’ just before he died

The Australian cardinal also accused Hollerich of open heterodoxy, saying that “as the Relator (chief writer and manager) [of the latest Synod working document] Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich has publicly rejected the basic teachings of the Church on sexuality, on the grounds that they contradict modern science.”

The document which Pell criticized is currently guiding the next few months of the Synod process, in the lead up to the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican this October. 

READ: Vatican’s new synodal document calls for ‘female diaconate’ and ‘radical inclusion’ 

It contains calls for more inclusion of the divorced and “remarried” and LGBT groups, and proposes a “female diaconate.” Compiled by a group of “experts,” it was described by the Synod team in October as “a theological document in the sense that it is oriented to the service of the Church’s mission: to proclaim Christ dead and risen for the salvation of the world.”

In their recent letter, Grech and Hollerich stated that the current study of this document by bishops’ conferences around the world “truly manifests that the only rule we have given ourselves is to constantly listen to the Spirit.”

The two prelates added the caveat that the working document does not “constitute the agenda of the next Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” but rather would highlight for the bishops “a glimpse of the face of a Church that is learning to listen to the Spirit through listening to one another.”

Doubling down on comments which have been issued from the Vatican in recent months, Grech and Hollerich warned that synodality would not be a singular event, but would transform the entire Church. 

“We must continue along this path, not mistaking synodality for a mere method, but taking it on as a form of the Church and a style for fulfilling the common mission of evangelisation,” they wrote.

But Bishop Athanasius Schneider has raised concerns about the concept of synodality previously, saying in a 2018 interview that the term is being used by some to “promote their own agenda” within the Church with the intention to “transform the life of the Church into a worldly and Protestant parliament style with continuous discussions and voting processes on matters that cannot be put to a vote.”