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(LifeSiteNews) — Editor’s note: This essay by Father Frank Unterhalt was originally published in German on October 4, 2023, on the website of the clerical group “Communio veritatis.” It was translated and reprinted by LifeSiteNews with the permission of Fr. Unterhalt. 

 The Fraud of the World Synod 

“Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.” [1] 

With these words, the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the great apostasy clearly foretold by Sacred Scripture, especially in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians (cf. 2 Thess 2:3-12). 

Shortly before his death in 2017, Carlo Cardinal Caffarra, the founding president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family, referred to a letter from Sister Lucia of Fatima in which she had written the following: “Father, a time will come when the decisive battle between the Kingdom of Christ and Satan will be fought over marriage and the family. And those who will work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation. But fear not, for Our Lady has already crushed his head.”[2] 

Carlo Cardinal Caffarra exercised his responsibility before God and for the salvation of souls by standing with the dubia in 2016 against the heresy of the pamphlet Amoris Laetitia. 

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

At present, however, an even greater dimension of the controversy is opening up. In the same place where the pagan “goddess” Pachamama was venerated in the presence of Bergoglio, as he calls himself in the Vatican Yearbook,[3] in sacrilegious and blasphemous acts,[4] the first session of the World Synod begins exactly four years later, on today’s October 4, 2023. Scripture’s judgment on the idolatry of 2019 echoes, “Omnes dii gentium dæmonia (All the gods of the peoples are demons).”[5] 

St. Francis of Assisi, whose name and day of commemoration were misused for this neopagan activity, calls with his heroic life the true servants of the Lord to witness that they “stand firm in the Catholic faith, […] observing the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we have firmly promised.”[6] Accordingly, five cardinals have published new dubia in view of the current grave events. 

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

Obviously, a “Synodal Church” is now being implemented, which has already been unmistakably described by the Argentine: “Synodality expresses the essence of the Church, its form, its style, its mission.”[7] Thus, it is a “constitutive dimension of the Church.”[8]

The Catechism, however, teaches the opposite: “Christ instituted an ecclesiastical hierarchy with the mission of feeding the people of God in his name and for this purpose gave it authority. The hierarchy is formed of sacred ministers, bishops, priests, and deacons. Thanks to the sacrament of Orders, bishops and priests act in the exercise of their ministry in the name and person of Christ the Head.” [9] As Cardinal Grech, the secretary of the Synod, tellingly admitted, Bergoglio “provided a vivid and inspiring model of the image of hierarchical authority as an ‘inverted pyramid’.”[10] 

In this blatant ecclesiological distortion, the implicit direction of movement is expressed. Up for negotiation is a fundamental constitutional change and a complete paradigm shift. The very structure of the Church and her whole being are up for debate. The synodal preparatory document formulates as its goal: “The path of synodality is directed toward making pastoral decisions based on the living voice of God’s people that best correspond to God’s will.”[11] Behind this euphemism lies nothing less than the intention to comprehensively turn the ecclesial constitution, and with it the Faith, on its head. “Cardinal Grech says that the bishop’s discernment does not consist in checking whether what the people of God say is in accord with what divine revelation teaches, but just the opposite: it consists in taking up what the people say and seeing in it the word of the Holy Spirit.”[12] 

The betrayal involved has been emphatically exposed by Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “They want to abuse this process in order to shift the Catholic Church – and not only in another direction but to the point of destroying the Catholic Church.”[13] In such a procedure, the revealed faith is ultimately replaced by a pseudo-religious ideology that has detached itself from the truth in order to commit itself to the new creed of an endless horizontal “listening” and to create its own doctrine. 

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, twice a signatory of dubia, has aptly classified that process: “We are told that the Church to which we profess to belong, in communion with our predecessors in the faith since the time of the Apostles, as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, is now to be defined by synodality, a term which has no history in Church teaching and for which there is no meaningful, reasoned definition. ‘Synodality’ and the associated adjective ‘synodal’ have become slogans behind which a revolution is underway to radically change the Church’s self-understanding in accord with a contemporary ideology that denies much of what the Church has always taught and practiced.”[14] 

Of course, the synodal process is not really about popular opinion. Just a glance at the numbers proves that. The popular vote is de facto unrepresented in the survey on “Reflection on Synod 2023 on Synodality.” Only tiny minorities took part, whose share in the individual countries is in the vanishingly small range in relation to the respective totality of the Catholics there. In Italy, for example, the figure is less than one percent – in other regions of the world, the proportions were similar.[15] 

The preparatory document gives a special touch to the synodal guidance by explicitly wanting to listen to people of other faiths and even [those] without religion.[16] 

[The late] George Cardinal Pell, who – innocently accused – had bravely endured the persecution and imprisonment unleashed against him, firmly rejected the working document for the continental stage, which the General Secretariat of the Synod published in October 2022. [He said at that time that] it was “significantly hostile to apostolic tradition and nowhere recognizes the New Testament as the Word of God, a normative for any teaching on faith and morals.” Pell denounced the Synod on Synodality as a “toxic nightmare.”[17] 

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

In fact, the synodal preparatory document, with its inflationary mention of “listening,” aims at a “process” until a “unanimous consensus”[18] is reached. Applying Hegel’s dialectic, “it seems to be proposed that the hierarchy should not use its magisterial authority to decide in a controversy but should allow the tension between thesis and antithesis to grow until finally a unanimously decided synthesis is reached.”[19] Moreover, this approach is influenced by the fact that about 25 percent of the synod participants are non-bishops – in addition to priests, deacons, and religious, also laywomen and laymen with equal voting rights.[20] 

As an ideological empty formula, the synodal agitators use the term “inclusion” for their dazzling work, which is not further defined. In a complete distortion of Christ’s missionary mandate, they push the demand that the Church must welcome all people unconditionally without bringing them the true faith or even calling them to conversion. The working document for the continental stage invoked the vision of the Church as an open space of communion, participation, and mission. “Listening,” it said, must be understood as “being open to accepting, starting from the desire for radical inclusion. No one is excluded!”[21] 

A disastrous example of this vision was provided in July 2023 by the coordinator of World Youth Day, then-Auxiliary Bishop Aguiar of Lisbon. He ranted that the intention was “not to convert young people to Christ or to the Catholic Church or anything like that.”[22] 

In this way, he obviously fulfills an essential requirement of the new Synodal Church, for three days after this statement, he was appointed Cardinal. His statement is entirely in line with the Abu Dhabi document, which Bergoglio sealed with his signature after an intense embrace with the Grand Imam from Cairo. It contains the sum of heresies with the perfidious assertion that the pluralistic diversity of religions is in accordance with the will of God.[23] 

In view of the World Synod, a “radical inclusion” is now postulated in all areas of the Church. The offended groups and those who feel excluded are to be included. With suggestive and tendentious “questions” of the Instrumentum laboris, the synodal process is steered in the intended direction. As was to be expected, an important theme here is the de facto abolition of all sexual morality. “Remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+”[24] must feel accepted and free, it says. The corresponding “question” asks with which concrete steps one wishes to approach them in light of Amoris Laetitia. 

With reference to the plea of the Continental Assemblies, one underlines the call to “tackle the issue of women’s participation in leadership, decision-making, mission, and ministries at all levels of the Church with the support of appropriate structures.” The approach asks explicitly how “women could be involved in each of these areas in greater numbers and in new ways.” Hardly surpassable in repugnant insincerity is the promised result of using women to “promote a greater sense of responsibility and transparency and to consolidate trust in the Church.”[25] 

In light of this proposed doctrine, the Synodal Church will be concerned with the installation of laymen as leaders of the congregation and with the eradication of celibacy. The evil of an alleged “clericalism” is to be overcome. As a smokescreen for the corresponding process, one once again uses the model of supposed individual cases, which then, of course, opens the door to the factual general situation: “Is it possible, as suggested by some continents, to open a reflection on whether the rules for access to the priesthood for married men can be revised, at least in some areas?”[26] 

The renowned American canon lawyer Fr. Gerald E. Murray pulled the mask off the “radical inclusion” described above with an unequivocal analysis. There will be “serious discussion about the abolition of doctrines that conflict with the beliefs and desires of the following: those who live in adulterous second ‘marriages’; men who have two or three or more wives; homosexuals and bisexuals; people who believe they do not have the sex they were born with; women who want to be ordained deacons and priests; lay people who want to have the authority given by God to bishops and priests. […] There is clearly an open revolution taking place in the Church today, an attempt to convince us that accepting heresy and immorality is not sinful, but rather a response to the voice of the Holy Spirit.”[27] 

Naturally, Bergoglio has long since shown which answers he wants … to the “questions” of the Instrumentum laboris. He himself had already spoken in favor of promoting civil unions of homosexual partners.[28] The nominations of system-conforming functionaries at the interfaces of the World Synod are clear, marking the agenda and virtually anticipating the outcome. For example, Cardinal Grech, installed as secretary general, “suggested that the Synod could initiate radical changes in Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, saying that ‘complicated issues’ such as Communion for the divorced and remarried and the ‘blessing’ of homosexual relationships ‘cannot be understood simply in terms of doctrine.'”[29] 

Cardinal Hollerich, commissioned as general rector, replied in an interview when asked how he dealt with the Church’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality, “I think it’s wrong. But I also believe that we are thinking ahead in doctrine here.”[30] Regarding the ordination of women, he was asked if Bergoglio could decide something that contradicted the infallible teaching of St. Pope John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Again, the response was brash: “In the course of time, yes.”[31] 

Fr. James Martin, an activist for homosexuality and a Vatican counselor, “said he intends to use his appointment as representative to the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome as an opportunity to bring more attention to LGBTQ experiences.”[32] Moreover, his statement that Bergoglio has done “everything possible to appoint ‘gay-friendly’ bishops and cardinals in the Catholic Church is revealing.”[33] 

The appointment of Archbishop Fernández of La Plata as the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has attracted particular attention. Now elevated to cardinal, this Argentinean had come to prominence as a priest in the mid-1990s with his book Heal Me with Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing, which he said he had written as a “catechesis for young people.”[34] The writing is characterized by disgusting perversity and can hardly be quoted in numerous places. For example, it says: “So do not ask what happens to my mouth. Kill me on the spot with the next kiss, let me bleed to death completely, she-wolf, give me back peace, without mercy (tucho).”[35] 

Fernández has been Bergoglio’s ghostwriter for many years, [and Francis] has always promoted his “foster son.” In 2016, he made him a consultant to the Vatican’s Congregation for Education.[36] 

Deeply revealing is the open secret that the kissing expert and new guardian of the faith of the Synodal Church is also the shadow author of the pamphlet Amoris laetitia.[37] Unmasking was his admission at the time that Bergoglio had thereby “changed the discipline of the Church, and irreversibly so.”[38] The pamphlet was published in the Vatican. As a result, Fernández recently described the goal of his current mission: “There is a mission, and it is that I have to make sure (!) that the things that are said are consistent with what Francis taught us. He gave us an insight, a fuller understanding.”[39] One could hardly express the hard rupture more drastically. Accordingly, the standard for the synodal system is no longer the truth revealed in Jesus Christ and entrusted to the constant Magisterium of the Catholic Church but Bergoglio’s teaching. 

The whole dimension of the manipulated play on the stage of the past decade is abundantly clear. 

In the epilogue of the drama of the usurpatory decade, the top of the Vatican structure now ostentatiously manifests the agenda of destruction with the staging of the extended World Synod. A separate pseudo-ecclesial structure is installed, which is put in the place of the true Church of God and presents us as a “new gospel,” a religious delusion of lies, against whose pernicious deception the Catechism has urgently warned in the passage quoted at the beginning. 

In the face of this ecclesiastical October Revolution, how could one forget the famous word that Mario Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, the theologian of the papal household for decades and a proven expert on the Message of Fatima, left behind in 1995? In a letter, he confessed, “In the Third Secret, among other things, it is predicted that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.”[40] 

October 4, 2023 

St. Francis of Assisi 

Fr. Frank Unterhalt 


[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675. 

[2] Diane Montagna, “Timeline of events reveals plot to destroy legacy of JPII Institute,” in LifeSiteNews, August 20, 2019. 

[3] Cf. Guido Horst, “Es war einmal ein ‚Stellvertreter Christi‘,'” in Die Tagespost, April 2, 2020; cf. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, “‘Du sagst es,'” in Katholisches.info, April 4, 2020. 

[4] Cf. Contra Recentia Sacrilegia, November 9, 2019, in Rorate Cæli, https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2019/11/contra-recentia-sacrilegia.html. 

[5] Vulgate, Psalm 95(96),5. 

[6] Francis of Assisi, Bullierte Regel, 12th chap., 4, in: Franziskus-Quellen, Kevelaer 2009, p. 102. 

[7] Address to the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, September 18, 2021. 

[8] Address for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops, October 17, 2015. 

[9] Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 179. 

[10] Cardinal Grech, Address to the Bishops of Ireland on Synodality, February 3, 2021, in Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, “Address of Cardinal Mario Grech to the Bishops of Ireland on Synodality,” March 4, 2021. 

[11] Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops (ed.), For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission. Vademecum for the Synod on Synodality, September 2021, p. 8. 

[12] Julio Loredo, José Antonio Ureta, Eine Büchse der Pandora, Frankfurt 2023, p. 33. 

[13] Raymond Arroyo, “Cardinal Müller on Synod on Synodality: ‘A Hostile Takeover of the Church of Jesus Christ … We Must Resist,'” in National Catholic Register, October 7, 2022. 

[14] Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Preface, June 16, 2023, in Julio Loredo, José Antonio Ureta, op. cit. p. 7. 

[15] Cf. Benedikt Heider, “Weltsynode: So sortiert das Synodenteam die Rückmeldungen,” in katholisch.de, August 29, 2022; cf. Luke Coppen, “How Many People Took Part in the Synod’s Diocesan Phase?” in The Pillar, July 29, 2022. 

[16] Cf. Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, op. cit. p. 12-13. 

[17] Damian Thompson, “The Catholic Church must free itself from this ‘toxic nightmare,'” in The Spectator, January 11, 2023. 

[18] Cf. Preparatory Document For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission, p. 11, n. 14. 

[19] Julio Loredo, José Antonio Ureta, p. 61. 

[20] See Christine Seuss, “Synode zur Synodalität: Erstmals Frauenquote im Vatikan,” in Vatican News, April 26, 2023. 

[21] Secretaria Generalis Synodi, working document for the continental stage “‘Make wide the room of your tent’ (Is 54:2),” 24 October 2022, p. 6, n. 11. 

[22] Jonathan Liedl, “A First for World Youth Day: Interreligious Dialogue a Focal Point in Lisbon,” in National Catholic Register, July 17, 2023. 

[23] See Dr. Maike Hickson, “Pope asks universities to disseminate his claim ‘diversity of religions’ is ‘willed by God,'” in LifeSiteNews, March 25, 2019. 

[24] XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Instrumentum laboris for the First Session, B 1.2, pp. 32-33. 

[25] Ibid, B 2.3, p. 49. 

[26] Ibid, B 2.4, p. 53. 

[27] Fr. Gerald E. Murray, “A Self-Destructive Synod,” in The Catholic Thing, October 31, 2022. 

[28] Cf. Giuseppe Nardi, “Papst-Vertrauter Fernández: ‚Homo-Ehe? Papst Franziskus hatte immer diese Meinung‘” in Katholisches.info, October 24, 2020. 

[29] Raymond Wolfe, “Cardinal Müller says Pope Francis’ Synod is a ‘hostile takeover of the Church’ in explosive interview,” in LifeSiteNews, October 7, 2022. 

[30] Ludwig Ring-Eifel, “Kardinal Hollerich spricht über Reformen und Woelki,” in Domradio.de, February 2, 2022. 

[31] Luka Tripalo, “Generalni Relator Biskupske Sinode Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich Duh Sveti ponekad uzrokuje veliku pomutnju kako bi donio nov sklad,” in Glas Koncila, March 27, 2023. 

[32] Claire Giangravé, “Father James Martin hopes to bring LGBTQ voices to the synod,” in America. The Jesuit Review, July 11, 2023. 

[33] Dorothy Cummings McLean, “Fr. James Martin: Pope appoints ‘gay-friendly’ bishops, cardinals to change Church on LGBT,” in LifeSiteNews, November 7, 2018. 

[34] Hannah Brockhaus, “Erzbischof Fernández verteidigt umstrittenes Buch über das Küssen als Jugendkatechese,” in CNA Deutsch, July 5, 2023. 

[35] Víctor Manuel Fernández, “Sáname con tu boca. El arte de besar,” Buenos Aires 1995, p. 44: “Por eso, no preguntes qué le pasa a mi boca. Matáme de una vez con el próximo beso, desangráme del todo, loba, devolvéme la paz sin piedad (Tucho).” 

[36] Cf. Giuseppe Nardi, op. cit. 

[37] Cf. Settimo Cielo/Giuseppe Nardi, “‚Amoris laetitia‘ und sein Schattenautor Victor Manuel Fernández,” in Katholisches.info, May 25, 2016. 

[38] Giuseppe Nardi, “Papst-Vertrauter Fernández: ‚Homo-Ehe? Papst Franziskus hatte immer diese Meinung‘” op. cit. 

[39] Hubert Hecker, “Msgr. Fernández im Widerspruch zur Wahrheit und Lehrtradition der Kirche,” in Katholisches.info, August 31, 2023. 

[40] Fr. Brian W. Harrison, “Alice von Hildebrand Sheds New Light on Fatima,” Introductory commentary, in OnePeterFive, May 12, 2016.