As mentioned yesterday I have some fears ahead of the family synod in Rome. I am probably fearful due to experiences as an Anglican when I lived through the tragic and confusing liberalisation that ate away at the soul of that ecclesial body until it what was unrecognisable from what went before. The via media giving way to the uber liberal modernism we witness today.
My fears are also heightened at this time because it is a matter of public fact that a powerful group of modernist Cardinals have acted against the spirit of the synod by plotting behind closed doors to push a relativist agenda. These skilled manipulators seem to have abandoned their duty in guarding the faith wanting to innovate it instead. The protestantisation of the Catholic church continues with those who glory in an erroneous “Spirit of Vatican II” which contradicts the actual teaching of that council.
So as we approach the Synod pray for the faithful prelates who must beware the damage caused if modernism gets its way. Having lived through the political manipulation within Anglicanism I can share three tricks the orthodox must watch out for.
Separation of doctrine and practice. A favoured trick of modernists, especially when they acknowledge a weakness in terms of their coherent theological argument, is to leave “official teaching” alone whilst changing practice under the guise of a “pastoral solution”. Then, further down the line, one can point to the dislocation; shifting doctrine to reflect practice is easier than shifting doctrine on sound argument alone!
We saw this in the Church of England when it avoided the thorny issue of changing doctrine to allow women priests by opening a “period of reception” during which women were ordained but nobody was forced to officially accept it!? People were assured that nothing was set in stone and that the theological debate had yet to be settled…but of course, in reality, nobody was ever going to un-ordain the women or throw them out of jobs. It was a dishonest statement then but it worked a treat. In this way the ordination of women was achieved, with much heated debate in a warring synod chamber maybe but no official working through of the theology set forth in the Rochester Report.
We also saw it playing out in the last half century as modernist Catholic clergy ignored the actual teaching of the Second Vatican Council and went their own way. Catholic statues were thrown away, altar rails discarded and protestant choruses adopted in place of Catholic sacred music. Thus, in many places today, practice no longer reflects official Catholic teaching. The result being something akin to a papal methodism.
So beware sugar coated arguments that leave official teaching untouched- providing a smokescreen impression of victory for tradition- whilst creating a “pastoral approaches” that bring change via the back door.
What is good for the goose is not for the gander. Theological modernists do not believe in truth as a fixed reality. They are relativists who imagine that what is true for me may not be for you. So watch out for suggestions that the church should adopt local practices in which bishops decide what pastoral solutions should prevail within their own location.
We saw this during the last Synod in the racist comments made by Cardinal Kaspar. He tried to suggest that African views on morality should have little impact on the West because of the difference in cultures. He was trying to suggest that what is right for Africans may not be right for Europeans. As if we are not all children of God called to live by his teaching.
It is chilling to note that these words mirror the argument of Katherine Jefferts Schori, uber liberal leader of the American Episcopal Church. Words that turn the notion of truth from rock to jelly. St Paul wrote that truth is the same today, yesterday and forever. So whatever is decided in Rome must be applicable to all people in all places else it is a cause for alarm.
And whilst we focus on truth let us remember that it is not something forged by popular opinion! Else Barrabas not Christ would be Lord! Truth remains true even if everyone rejects it. So appeals to widespread practice should not sway the synod in its theological deliberations.
Appeals to false mercy and use of emotive language. It suits modernists to suggest mercy is a concept recently discovered. They probably believe this too for they often hold a ludicrous belief that the world is naturally moving forward and getting better. They therefore love to paint a picture of a cruel church that only began to love people when they arrived on the scene with a language of change and permissiveness. It is clap trap but the danger is that media control means the message is widely believed and begins to influence voting.
Beware then the use of highly emotive language that casts liberals as progressive ‘good guys’ and traditionalists as repressive ‘bad guys’. This trick is used to gain popularity whilst applying guilt to manipulate weaker voices. But it is deeply unfair -a tactic of divide and conquer. Let us never forget that Catholicism is not about modernist v traditionalist or left v right but simply truth and error. We must avoid letting political agendas dictate the tone.
Those then are my fears. Do you share them? Am I being overly anxious or do we stand at a moment of crisis , akin to the Arian heresy, in which the truth of the ages is under assault and the Church in danger of schism?