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Julia Meloni

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St. Gallen Mafia’s long war to change priesthood will have decisive moment at Amazon Synod

Julia Meloni

"The shortage of priests is only an obvious pretext to abolish practically (not theoretically) celibacy in the Latin Church. This has been the aim since Luther." —Bishop Athanasius Schneider 

July 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Forty-four years before he successfully led the crusade to elect Pope Francis, then-Fr. Cormac Murphy-O’Connor—a future member of the St. Gallen mafia—attended a 1969 synod under Pope Paul VI.  Listening to all the radical speeches challenging clerical celibacy, he suddenly felt “a rush of blood to the head,” as he recalls in An English Spring.  In “execrable Latin,” Murphy-O’Connor made an impromptu speech announcing that “perhaps the ordination of married men should be considered.”

“Everything seemed to be up for grabs” in that heady post-conciliar moment.  One priest even told Murphy-O’Connor: “I was quite sure there would be a change in the celibacy rule, and I took my vows with that in mind.”  In the lead-up to a 1971 synod on the priesthood that Murphy-O’Connor helped plan, the future mafia member wrote an article arguing that “ultimately the preaching of the word and administration of the sacraments are of much greater importance than an ecclesiastical law of an unmarried priesthood.”

Eventually, both he and his mafia predecessor, Basil Hume, received letters from Rome for saying what Murphy-O’Connor describes as “vaguely provocative things” about ordaining married men.  “I’ll tell you what, Cormac,” Hume said, “why don’t we go to Rome and we’ll confront them?  We’ll go together and sort this out.”   

Meanwhile, their future mafia comrades Walter Kasper and Karl Lehmann signed a 1970 document demanding a “serious investigation” of the law of celibacy and the possibility of ordaining married men.  But at the turbulent 1971 synod on the priesthood, a narrow majority of bishops voted against ordaining married men even in “particular cases.”  As one cardinal argued, introducing any type of change would make it “impossible to confine the ordination of married men even within the limits suggested.”  

“One could not allow it for one European country and exclude it from the rest of Europe.  One could not exclude it from Europe altogether and allow it in some countries elsewhere in the world,” the cardinal said.  According to The New York Times, his argument “hit home” with many “because, with one or two exceptions, even those who favored ordaining married men under some circumstances have warned against the more radical change of permitting those who are already priests to marry.”

“A fitting moment, a kairos, was missed,” Lehmann later lamented in his memoirs.

Decades after the synod, however, multiple mafia members started making strangely confident, prescient remarks about the ordination of married men.  At a press conference shortly before the 2013 conclave, Murphy-O’Connor announced that the issue “very well might come up,” though it wouldn’t be “first on the agenda” (21:38).  Then, a year after he successfully led the effort to elect Pope Francis, Murphy-O’Connor declared that he’d ask Rome “to ordain suitable married men” if he were a bishop with a small number of priests.  Cardinal Kasper, meanwhile, proclaimed that the new pope favored the proposal.

Today, we face an Amazon synod that, as Cardinal Walter Brandmüller puts it, “intends, above all, to help implement two most cherished projects that heretofore have never been implemented: namely, the abolition of priestly celibacy and the introduction of a female priesthood—beginning with female deacons.”  In the lead-up to the synod, Pope Francis has forebodingly praised the radical work of Bishop Fritz Lobinger, who seeks to ordain married “elders” for the “whole Church.”  By vastly outnumbering regular priests with these married elders, Lobinger hopes to proliferate “group-conducted” Masses celebrated by “the bank manager, the bus driver, the carpenter.”  Lobinger openly admits that some existing priests will ultimately be granted exceptions to marry, and he has repeatedly suggested that his “community-based” model of the priesthood will pave the way for women’s ordination.          

Pope Francis has thus chosen a synodal muse who embodies the aspirations of the “ante-pope” and leader of the St. Gallen mafia, Cardinal Carlo Martini.  At a 1999 synod, Martini announced his “dream” of using “synodality” to solve, among other things, the “shortage of ordained ministers,” the “role of women” in the Church, and the “need to revive ecumenical hopes.”  In Night Conversations, his later blueprint for the Francis pontificate, Martini praised the ordination of married men, the idea of “deaconesses,” and other churches’ agenda to ordain women. 

As he explained:

In Canterbury during the nineties, I visited Archbishop Dr. George Leonard Carey, then Primate of the Church of England.  His church was suffering tensions because of the ordination of women.  I tried to give him courage to take a risk that could also help us treat women more fairly and understand how things might develop further.  We should not be unhappy that the Protestant and Anglican churches ordain women and are thereby introducing something important into the arena of wider ecumenism.

In Edward Pentin’s 2015 book The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?, Cardinal Brandmüller prophetically outlined the revolution’s arc and its connection to radical ecumenism.  As he put it:

Communion for the divorced and ‘remarried’ [comes] first.  Then abolition of priestly celibacy, second.  Priesthood for women is the ultimate aim, and lastly unification with the Protestants.  Then we will have a national German church, independent from Rome.  Finally, together with all the Protestants.

That same goal is found in Kasper’s glowing book on Martin Luther, which finds ecumenical hope in Luther’s “statement that he would…kiss the feet of a pope who allows and acknowledges his gospel.”  That pope who allows Luther’s gospel, Kasper’s book openly suggests, is Francis himself.  Hence this pontificate’s Luther-inspired agenda to de-Catholicize the Church, weakening markers such as clerical celibacy for the sake of radical ecumenism.

Just recently, Kasper attended a secretive pre-synodal meeting encouraging both the ordination of married men and a reconsideration of the female diaconate.  No fellow mafia members were there; nearly all have died too soon to see the revolution’s late fruits.  But through Kasper a very long war—a war reaching back to Luther himself—rages on.  

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