The spirit of the Council

It appears that the Holy Father has intervened at the Synod, largely to address (see edit below), not especially favorably, Cardinal Erdo’s superb relatio ante disceptationem. It is, of course, the Holy Father’s right to do just that. It is, after all, his party.

However, the Holy Father’s criticism of a “hermeneutic of conspiracy” is, perhaps, a little unnecessary. Edward Pentin’s reporting shows, fairly convincingly, we think, that figures in the Synod secretariat are carrying a brief for certain changes in Church doctrine. One suspects that they may even be supported by figures in the Curia outside the secretariat. It is beyond doubt that there are quite a few bishops and priests who, for whatever reason, support these doctrinal changes. (Though they are, to a man, careful to avoid calling them doctrinal changes. We would be, too.)

These bishops and priests are well organized—as the convenient confab at the Gregorian a while back shows—and well prepared to make doctrinal changes that will help the Church become every bit as vibrant as, say, the Anglicans or the liberal Lutherans or any other mainstream protestant church, all of which are characterized, apparently, by pews full of young families who never stop paying the Kirchensteuer. One needn’t adopt—we don’t think, at any rate—a hermeneutic of conspiracy to come to this conclusion.

Of course, there are antecedents for all of this, and within living memory.

Edited to add: Out of charity, we should note that John Paul Shimek, writing at the National Catholic Register, adds a little more to what we will call the “three official texts” statement. One, he states that Cardinal Baldisseri made a similar statement at the third general congregation. (The Catholic Herald piece suggests that Father Lombardi reported on the Holy Father’s intervention. The two possibilities are not, to our mind, mutually exclusive.) Two, he notes that, under the “three official texts” position, the calamitous Relatio post disceptationem is, therefore, not an “official text” of the Synod. We suppose, carrying the reasoning forward a piece, that the problematic Instrumentum Laboris is likewise not an “official text,” except to the extent that it reproduces the Relatio Synodi. The problem with a hermeneutic of conspiracy—or, for that matter, a real conspiracy—is that it is only supported by confusion.