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Is the Tide Turning Against Bergoglianism?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
September 14, 2015

With every liberalizing move he makes, Francis shakes more Catholics off the fence and into the camp of the loyal opposition. That opposition is spreading far beyond traditionalist circles into the Catholic “mainstream.”  Nowhere is this more apparent than in a bombshell report in National Catholic Register (the EWTN-owned newspaper) by the respected Catholic journalist Edward Pentin regarding Francis’ shock motu proprio radically reforming the procedure for determining the nullity of a marriage.

Pentin reports on the emergence of a “seven-page dossier, obtained by the German newspaper Die Zeit,” in which “senior Vatican officials have voiced discontent” and are “beside themselves” over the Pope’s “reforms” which, they say, have “introduced de facto ‘Catholic divorce.’” 

Under those reforms, as the world now knows, a couple in agreement can obtain a “quickie” annulment according to a “fast-track process” in which the local bishop would take the place of the traditional three-judge marriage tribunal and the bishop would be authorized to delegate even a single priest to decide a petition for nullity, which the bishop would then rubber-stamp. The abbreviated process allows an absurdly brief 30 days’ notice to those who must participate once the grounds for requesting annulment are reduced to a written “formulation of doubt,” and an even more absurdly brief 15 days for the defender of the marriage bond to present his observations and defenses in support of the marriage.  (Cann. 1685-1686)

The “reforms” also abolish the traditional second judgment to confirm the initial decision, reducing the process to a single judgment in which the bishop (or his delegate or delegates) would serve as the sole judge, even if he lacks any training in canon law. Worse still, the “reforms” appear to invent new criteria for annulment, including a nebulous “lack of faith” at the time of the marriage ceremony, even though the Church has never required more of the couple than that they intend to do what the Church intends: i.e. be bound until death in holy matrimony.

Pentin notes that the dossier reveals that “no dicasteries, including apparently the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as well as bishops conferences, were consulted about the decision­ — a claim the Register has had confirmed by numerous sources.” The dossier further complains: “none of the planned steps of a legislative procedure have been followed.” In other words, the Pope has imposed these reforms on the entire Church as a direct act of his personal will, and in a manner designed to prevent any objections before the fait accompli.

According to Pentin, the dossier alleges that “the papal commission that drafted the motu proprio had been ordered to keep silent throughout the drafting process, probably to avoid the reforms being thwarted by the CDF and others in the curia” and “even the commission did not see the final draft…” Further, “an Italian cardinal along with two others ‘fiercely’ tried to prevent the motu proprio being published before the synod but without success.”

These “reforms” of the annulment process were thus conceived in secrecy and imposed by brute force, like the disgraceful midterm report of the Synod of Doom, which even Catholic World Report (citing Pentin’s new book on the subject) is now reporting was “rigged.” As Antonio Socci rightly observes, what Francis has done by his fiat will open the floodgates to millions of annulments.  This is but another sign of a papacy out of control, a papacy so alarming that even National Catholic Register is sounding the alarm.  May Our Lady of Fatima intervene to obtain the grace of the Church’s deliverance from the progressivist tyranny of a pontificate like no other in the Church’s history.