What do you think? Can you “decentralize” catholicity? Really? Now that they have demolished the mark of the Church, “Holy”, why not demolish another, that is, “Catholic”?
On October 17, 2015, at the two-thirds mark of the proceedings of the second Synod on the Family, Pope Francis presided at a ceremony commemorating the institution of the Synod of Bishops by Paul VI. In his speech he mentioned the need to revise the Petrine ministry, hoping to further synodality and episcopal collegiality, and even calling for a “sound decentralization” of the Church for benefit of the local episcopates. “The pope is not alone above the Church, but in it as a baptized person among the baptized, and within the episcopal college as a bishop among bishops. He is called at the same time, as the successor of the Apostle Peter, to guide the Church of Rome that presides in love over all the Churches,” he said.
The Pope was thereby merely repeating his wish, expressed already in 2013 in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, for a “conversion of the papacy”. In that document the man who presents himself at first as the Bishop of Rome deplored “excessive centralization” which, “rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach”. He asked for a more in-depth study of the status of episcopal conferences so as to offer them “specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority”. The reform of Church structures, Francis also wrote, demands that everyone be “bold and creative”.
The October 17 issue of La Croix notes, in an op-ed piece penned by Sébastien Maillard: “This speech shows first that the current Synod is going beyond its specific topic—the family—to become in itself an example for the future of the Church’s progress.” This is exactly what Abp. Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau (Canada) emphasizes: “I think that the Pope has adopted the great insights of Vatican II on the Church and ecclesiology and with them has set up a more concrete picture with this keyword: ‘synodality’.” Quoting Francis words: “Synodality may be the way of the third millennium of the Church,” the prelate opines that the Holy Father has described a path for the future of the Church and not “an exercise for next week”.
Three days previously, on October 14, at the invitation of Fr. Federico Lombardi, spokeman of the Holy See, the German monk Jeremias Schröder, Superior of the Benedictine Congregation of Saint Odile, gave journalists a report of the discussions held during the Synod. He spoke as follows:
“ … For each problem we do not need a uniform solution established in Rome for the whole Church. The Church should perhaps reach an agreement concerning the fact that a different approach to the complex subject of the family is permissible in different societies and regions of the world. …”
Such remarks recall those of another German, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who in February of this year declared that the Church in Germany was not “a subsidiary of Rome” (see DICI no. 312 dated March 13, 2015)
On October 17, the international website Voice of the Family succinctly criticized these heterodox statements:
“What is morally and spiritually right or wrong, in practice, must now depend upon which episcopal conference we are talking about. Truth be told, this tacit condoning of relativism by Synod fathers and Cardinal Marx was foreshadowed by no less than Pope Francis himself who wrote, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, that ‘a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.’ … This seems to indicate that Pope Francis would be open to the possibility of devolving some of the doctrinal power of the papacy to the individual episcopal conferences. If this means anything, it means giving the episcopal conferences the power to adopt disciplines and even doctrines that are different from those of other conferences….
“Anticipating the debacle that would surely follow, should episcopal conferences be endowed with doctrinal and disciplinary power, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, condemned the whole idea as ‘an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the catholicity of the Church’. Indeed, Catholic literally means universal, as in a universal moral and spiritual code that applies equally to everyone, everywhere, for all time; it is the antithesis of relativism, which states that moral and spiritual truths are true only for some or for a specific time…. Devolving power from the papacy to the episcopal conferences therefore compromises both the catholicity (universality) and unicity (one-ness) of the Church, making it a hodge-podge of ‘churches’, each operating under its own rules and beliefs, and, ultimately, in thrall to the caprices of the individual egos that populate them.”
(Sources: la croix/voice of the family/blog jeanne smits – DICI no. 323 dated October 23, 2015)
COMMENT: The whole article is good, and it was especially heartening to read: “In that document the man who presents himself at first as the Bishop of Rome deplored ‘excessive centralization’. ” Savor that a moment: “The man who calls himself the Bishop of Rome”. A nice bit of encouragement from SSPX!
For a good analysis of the error of “decentralization”, see Voice of the Family.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, intercede for us!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
Pray the Rosary for our priests, our prelates and the Pope.