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Letters from the Synodal Precipice
Letter #1

About that Thirteen Cardinals Letter

by Christopher A. Ferrara
October 15, 2015

First revealed by Sandro Magister, the letter to Pope Francis signed by thirteen prelates, including no less than Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, delivers a series of politely worded hammer blows to the Synod on “the Family” being stage-managed by Francis’ handpicked controllers:

  • “the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’… has sections that would benefit from substantial reflection and reworking.”
  • “the new procedures guiding the synod seem to guarantee it’s [the ‘Instrumentum’] excessive influence on the synod’s deliberations and on the final synodal document.”
  • “the ‘Instrumentum’ cannot adequately serve as a guiding text or the foundation of a final document.”
  • “the new synodal procedures will be seen in some quarters as lacking openness and genuine collegiality.”
  • “absence of propositions and their related discussions and voting seems to discourage open debate and to confine discussion to small groups…”
  • “the crafting of propositions to be voted on by the entire synod should be restored…”
  • “Voting on a final document comes too late in the process for a full review and serious adjustment of the text.”
  • the lack of input by the synod fathers in the composition of the drafting committee has created considerable unease.”
  •  “Members have been appointed, not elected, without consultation.”
  • “these things have created a concern that the new procedures are not true to the traditional spirit and purpose of a synod.”
  • “A number of fathers feel the new process seems designed to facilitate predetermined results…”
  • “a synod designed to address a vital pastoral matter – reinforcing the dignity of marriage and family – may become dominated by the theological/doctrinal issue of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.”
  • The collapse of liberal Protestant churches in the modern era… warrants great caution in our own synodal discussions.”

Despite confusion over the signatories of the letter and its precise contents (there were apparently some minor edits as the document was being circulated), even America magazine, a veritable mouthpiece for the Jesuit pope, now confirms that “13 cardinals did indeed sign the letter, including four not named on Magister’s list…” America provided the following full list as well as quotations from the letter corresponding exactly to those cited above:

  • Gerhard L. Müller [Cardinal], Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
  • Robert Sarah [Cardinal], Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  • George Pell [Cardinal], Prefect of the Secretariat for the economy;
  • Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, Italy;
  • Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna;
  • Thomas C. Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Canada;
  • Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, United States;
  • Willem J. Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, Holland;
  • Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa;
  • Jorge L. Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela.
  •  John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, Mexico;
  • Elio Sgreccia [Cardinal],  President-emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Vatican City.

Astoundingly, the signatories­ — all of them Synod participants — include the doctrinal (Müller), liturgical (Sarah), and financial (Pell) heads of the Vatican dicasteries. Even more astounding is the signature of Cardinal Dolan, the relentlessly jovial “moderate” superstar of the American hierarchy.

The historical importance of this document is immense.  It amounts essentially to a complaint that the Synod, including its final Relatio (report) is a total sham that threatens to reduce the Church to the morally decrepit condition of the Protestant sects. Antonio Socci rightly calls the letter “explosive,” noting that it evinces the signatories’ awareness of what amounts to a blatant attempt by Francis to use the Synod to give the appearance of legitimacy to his own wish to see the “ideas of Kasper, albeit in camouflaged form” introduced into the Church.

Socci also notes the Vatican two-step that followed publication of the missive:  First, Francis put in doubt that there would be a final document at all, even though its preparation (by Francis’ unelected, progressive-dominated committee of ten), abbreviated review by the Synod Fathers on October 22, and voting thereon by the fathers on October 24 were all part of the official published synodal schedule. Then it was made known that there would be a final document after all, but that Francis would decide at some unknown point what to do with it.

So, all signs point to the last week of the Synod as a turning point in what Cardinal Caffarra, one of the signatories of the protest letter, citing Sister Lucia of Fatima, called “the final battle between the Church and Satan” over “marriage and family.”

And John Vennari and I will be here to witness, at Ground Zero, these historic days in the history of the Church.