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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis fielded a number of questions on his return flight from Mongolia, downplaying ideas of the Synod’s meetings being open, and responding to a recently published book warning of the Synod’s dangers. 

Flying back to Rome September 4, after his trip to Mongolia and the nation’s 1,500 Catholics, Pope Francis spoke about the upcoming Synod on Synodality and the Vatican’s relationship with China, which has come under scrutiny in recent days. (The Pope’s comments on the Vatican’s relationship with China are the topic of a separate, forthcoming LifeSite report.)

With the Synod on Synodality set to take place in Rome for nearly the whole month of October, journalists raised questions about a recently published book with a foreword by Cardinal Raymond Burke – “The Synodal Process Is A Pandora’s Box” – which warned the Synod is an attempt to “change radically the Church’s self-understanding, in accord with a contemporary ideology which denies much of what the Church has always taught and practiced.”

“Could (this view) influence the Synod?” asked Vida Nueva about the warnings posed by the book.

READ: Cardinal Burke warns Synod is part of ‘revolution’ to ‘radically’ change the Catholic Church

Pope Francis did not appear to answer the question directly, but first recounted a telephone conversation he had with a Carmelite nun, who told him of her community’s fear that the Synod would change Church doctrine.

He made light of this “idea,” saying that “if you go forward to the root of these ideas you will find ideologies.” 

“Always, when you want to detach the path of communion in the Church, what always detaches is ideology,” he stated. 

Continuing, he appeared to reject the criticisms and warnings raised by Burke and the book’s co-authors – José Antonio Ureta and Julio Loredo de Izcue – arguing that:

“And they accuse the Church of this or that, but they never accuse it of what is true: sinful. Never do they say sinful…”

The Pope continued, suggesting that the doctrine defended by critics of the Synod – the Synod which has called into question Catholic teaching on LGBT issues, married priests and female deacons – was not in fact authentic Catholic doctrine: 

They defend a doctrine in quotation marks, which is a doctrine like distilled water, tastes like nothing and is not the true Catholic doctrine that is in the Creed. And that so many times scandalizes; how it scandalizes the idea that God became flesh, that God became Man, that Our Lady preserved her virginity. That scandalizes.

It is not entirely clear whether the Pope was under the impression that the Incarnation or the Virgin-birth were examples of positive scandalization, by which the truth is presented to the world in line with Scripture (1 Peter 2:8), or negative scandal whereby immoral teaching or example is presented (Matt 18:7).

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

But while Francis appeared to reject Cardinal Burke’s criticism of the Synod, the book’s authors warn of an agenda to “distort doctrine, subvert tradition, and dismantle the hierarchical nature of the Church.”

Indeed, contrary to Francis’ attempts to ease concerns about the month-long event, the Synod’s October meeting is already being prepared on the basis of heterodox concepts. The text which will form the foundation for participants’ discussion next month is notable for its inclusion and promotion of a number of topics which run in contradiction to Catholic teaching. 

The working document (Instrumentum laboris) proposes discussion of women’s diaconal “ordination,” married priests, and a need to “welcome” the “remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people.”

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

It also presents the widely accepted, and papally approved, interpretation of Amoris Laetitia allowing the divorced and “re-married” to receive Holy Communion as an already finalized issue – a matter which directly contradicts Catholic teaching on the reception of Holy Communion.

Synod’s meeting: Open or not?

Since its inception, the Synod on Synodality has been billed as an event focussed on “listening” and “dialogue,” particularly to those “who have left the practice of the faith, people of other faith traditions, people of no religious belief, etc.”

However, Pope Francis informed reporters on the plane that while openness to non-Catholics had been practiced up till this point, the Synod’s October meetings would not be so open to the observation of the wider Catholic world. 

Journalists are not currently set to be allowed inside the daily meetings of the Synod, meaning that any updates from the event will come from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications and the Holy See Press Office. 

When questioned as to why reporters could not see the events unfold, Francis responded: “But [it is] very open, dear; it is very open!”

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

He referenced the Dicastery for Communications, saying it would “give the news every day, but more open, I don’t know, more open, I don’t know…”

The Pontiff stated that the Dicastery would seek to be “very respectful of everyone’s speeches and will try not to chitter-chatter, but to say the things precisely on the synodal progress, which are constructive for the Church.”

He decried the possibility of news outlets reporting “political gossip” about the Synod, arguing that the Dicastery would instead seek “to convey the ecclesial spirit, not the political one.” 

“A parliament is different from a synod,” he stated. “Do not forget that the protagonist of the Synod is the Holy Spirit. And how can this be transmitted? This is why the ecclesial progress must be conveyed.”

Pope Francis has regularly referenced the “Spirit” when talking about the direction of the Synod, yet neither he, nor any of the leading prelates behind the Synod, have explained how the Holy Spirit would be guiding a process which has so far presented discussion points which undermine or contradict Church teaching. 

In light of such an element, Bishop Athanasius Schneider told LifeSiteNews earlier this year that the Synod is permitting “poison, spiritual poisons” to spread.