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Pope Francis addressing Portuguese leaders during his August 2023 visitTwitter screenshot

Editor’s note: This text by Bishop Marian Eleganti was written in German and translated by LifeSiteNews with permission from the bishop.

(LifeSiteNews) — It is becoming increasingly clear (cf. Cardinal Fernández’s latest statements on Facebook and his response to Cardinal Duka’s dubia) what the newly propagated concept of “synodality” is really about: the dissolution of independent, hierarchical, ecclesiastical authority in terms of doctrine and governance. The ecclesiastical hierarchy is to be leveled in its exercise into democratic – that is, synodal (cf. Anglicanism) – processes.

Authority then exists only in the form of democratic, majority decision-making, which, as far as a doctrinal position is concerned, is to be rubber-stamped by the ecclesiastical authority according to a majority vote (forum externum) or in the form of a sacramental absolution, which may not be denied by the confessors according to the decision of conscience of the penitent (forum internum) but not of the priest as the authoritative judge in concrete, moral questions.

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The final decision is then no longer the authoritative and autonomous decision of the bishop or priest (notwithstanding possible and advised consultation) but the majority vote (participation) on the one hand and the decision of conscience of the penitent seeking absolution on the other. The binding and redeeming power of the ecclesiastical authority would then essentially consist only in the execution of such decisions – not made by itself, at most tolerated by it – which are made by the majority or the individual (but not its own [the Church’s]) conscience. All this is justified with the postulate to avoid abuse of power (clericalism), which of course, is seen only on the side of the ecclesiastical authority! This is also a blind spot.

The actions of the current Pope alone stand out starkly in his unprecedented autocratic exercise, which stops at nothing and departs from this new, synodal style in all areas (teaching, governance, personnel management, jurisdiction). Yes, it fundamentally contradicts him, without any of those noticing, who constantly mouth “synodality” as a new magic formula and promote it at every opportunity in reference to the so-called “new magisterium (but not the example) of Francis.”

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Jesus, however, entrusted the power of binding and loosening (sacramental authority, governing, and teaching authority) exclusively to the apostles, who in turn entrusted it to their successors, the bishops. The Second Vatican Council, therefore, maintained the hierarchical structure of the People of God established by Jesus and placed the episcopate in the appropriate middle ground (sub Petro et cum Petro) between papal absolutism (cf. Vatican I) and the participation of the laity (Vatican II).

However, it did not abolish the essential, non-gradual difference between the ministerial priesthood (ordination) and the common priesthood (baptism) but rather emphasized it. And it is precisely this difference that the new synodality of the current design does not want to respect, which is why the Christian East does not see any comparability of such synodality (like the current one in Rome) with its own tradition and practice going back to the apostolic times (synods there are an exclusive assembly of bishops who exercise their authority in a binding way).

Now, however, the pyramid (hierarchy) is not only to be turned upside down, which the Pope desires but does not actually do, but it is being pulverized in an outright democratic way. Exempt from this is the papal, absolute authority, which in the end can make out of synodal votes anyhow (authoritatively and autonomously) what it has wanted from the beginning (together with others who could not enforce it without it). The surveys then serve primarily to achieve the desired, broader acceptance. In my estimation, these are the facts. It is about the latter: the practice is, after all, above the idea, according to the so-called “Magisterium of Francis” (I know only that of the Church).

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The processes are irreversible, but only if one does not take into account the Lord. They are meant to free the Church from its old errors (rigidity, dogmatism, and clericalism). In other words: finally, under this pontificate, the spaces can be taken on which one has been covetously squinting for a long time (at least since the 1960s, if not longer) in contrast to one’s own assertion that one has never aspired to this (to trigger processes, not to want to take spaces). Whoever objects or is against it speaks too little with the spirit. And because one will still not achieve this in 2023 in a new attempt, another one is necessary in 2024.