Pope Francis is now effectively at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the Catholic Church could fall apart

Written by Damian Thompson for The Spectator:

Pope Francis yesterday gave an address to the profoundly divided Synod on the Family in which he confirmed his plans to decentralise the Catholic Church – giving local bishops’ conferences more freedom to work out their own solutions to the problems of divorce and homosexuality.

This is the nightmare of conservative Catholic cardinals, including – unsurprisingly – those in the Vatican. They thought they had a sufficient majority in the synod to stop the lifting of the ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion, or any softening on the Church’s attitude to gay couples.

But in yesterday’s keynote speech, delivered as the synod enters its last week, Francis told them that the decentralisation will be imposed from above.

While deliberately referring to himself as ‘Bishop of Rome’, to underline his solidarity with local bishops everywhere (as opposed to the Roman Curia – i.e., ‘the Vatican’), he invoked the power of the Supreme Pontiff to overrule mere cardinals. ‘The synod journey culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, called to speak authoritatively as the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians,’ he said. This is more authoritarian language than I can remember Benedict XVI using as pope. It means: I call the shots. In the end, you listen to me, not the other way around.

One statement in particular horrified the conservatives. Francis told them that ‘the sense of faith impedes the rigid separation between the Teaching Church and the Learning Church, because the flock possesses its own “sense” to discern the new roads that the Lord reveals to the church…’ Meaning? We shall have to wait until the Pope delivers a final response to the synod next year.

This is such a startling development that it deserves fuller analysis once the synod is over. I was going to say ‘once the dust has settled’, but I don’t expect any dust-settling in the foreseeable future – at least until after the next conclave, which lots of conservative Catholics want to happen as soon as possible.

Here’s why I think Francis’s decentralisation won’t work:

Read on here

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11 Responses to Pope Francis is now effectively at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the Catholic Church could fall apart

  1. tiva82 says:

    What’s that mean


  2. Plain old Toad says:

    If you would care for an agnostic’s view on this (and why the devil should you?) – there are facets to this.
    If you, a faithful Catholic man, marry a subsequently “unsuitable” woman in a Catholic church, and then she runs off, through no real fault of yours (perhaps she just gets bored, or can’t stand the click of the rosary beads) and you then meet a suitable, co-faithful, Catholic woman who wants to settle down with you and have seventeen children – what are you to do?
    I know the dogmatic answer.
    It ain’t fair, in my book. But then – neither are a lot of things. Moreover, where is it written they should be?
    …I also think God’s much bigger than all this petty nit-picking. But what do I know? etc.


  3. Robert says:

    The issue isn’t about the sacrament of Marriage. Its about Faith in an Apostate secular world. This secular world has legal Divorce and this clashes head on with the Faith.
    That this relates directly to Fatima can be seen when we look at Portugal between 1910 and 1926.
    Portugal at the time of Fatima was secular and
    “.. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the moral and religious situation in Portugal was abysmal. In 1911, the separation of Church and State became official. The years from 1910 to 1913 were years of terror: priests and bishops were imprisoned or exiled; religious orders were suppressed; almost all the seminaries were closed and confiscated; missions languished or were abandoned. Freemasonry was in control. From 1910 to 1926 Portugal experienced sixteen revolutions with forty changes of government officials. ..”
    So if masonry was entrenched in 1960’s in Rome and wasn’t dislodged what are the consequences that we can see? Separation of Church and State? Pope recognising UN. Divorce hence this Synod.


  4. ginnyfree says:

    Might be smarter if you got your news from Zenit. Then at least you’d have a clear copy of what exactly the Holy Father said instead of the twisted snippets and misquotes from the liberal rag America along with their very own spin-doctored interpretation of all things synodal about Francis, our Holy Father. God bless. Ginnyfree.


  5. Plain old Toad says:

    “This secular world has legal Divorce and this clashes head on with the Faith.”
    True enough, Rogert, Catholics are a minority in today’s world, and minorities are often at odds with various and sundry contemporary “conventions,” for want of a better word – such as divorce legal abortion, and the death penalty for homosexuality in some countries.
    You’ll get used to it
    “In 1911, the separation of Church and State (in Portugal) became official. “
    Always an excellent idea. If you’d lived in Soviet Russia, where the state religion was Atheism, or Saudi Arabia under Islam, you would want those religions to separate from the State as soon as possible.
    Well, wouldn’t you?


  6. Plain old Toad says:

    I think you might be barking up the wrong “Spectator,” Ginfree – but maybe not. I’m very much with tiva82 (above) on this one.
    I also find, when terms like “spin-doctoring,” and “liberal rags,” get bandied about, it generally means blackguarding organs of communication whose prejudices fail to conform with our own.
    (Though not always, of course.)


  7. Michael says:

    If you, a faithful Catholic man, marry a subsequently “unsuitable” woman in a Catholic church…

    If the hypothetical groom in this situation really is a faithful Catholic man, then why would he be marrying someone ‘unsuitable’ (and who can’t stand the clicking of Rosary beads)? Unless you mean that he became a faithful Catholic later on…

    One of the things that is being looked at, due to the number of cases in which a couple got married with very little understanding of what they were getting in to (perhaps they just decided that it would be nice to state the affection they felt for one another at the time in public, but weren’t really thinking about the ramifications of pledging a life-long commitment, etc), is whether the intention (or lack thereof) of the two ministers of the Sacrament (bride and groom in this case) can be a factor in assessing its validity.

    Now, there are lots of problems with making such an assessment, which is one of the reasons why the Holy Father’s recent canon law reforms received so much criticism, but it is not the case that the nature of the present situation, in which lots of people don’t really know what marriage is about before getting involved in it, is not being looked at carefully. The thing is though, that any solution to this problem cannot involve a denial of the permanence of the Sacrament itself. This is a non-negotiable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael says:

    Ginny @ 02:30:

    Who’s been quoting from America, snippets or otherwise?


  9. Plain old Toad says:

    Gin-free is, I suspect conflating “Spectators.” As you know, there are two. At least. (There may be a Peoples Republic Of The Congo Spectator, for all I know.)

    When people are young, they do mad things, even Catholics, occasionally. Let us posit a nice young man named Francis Xavier, or Damian, or Benedict, who – in a fit of sexual lunacy greatly inspired by Tequila Sunrises or, more likely in his case, Green Chartreuse – impulsively marries a girl named Chelsee, or Ashlee, or “Moon-Child.”
    The result will not be long in doubt.
    Utter folly on his part, to be sure, but his intentions were sincere. At the time, he meant it to be for life. Should he be forced into celibacy for the rest of his natural span*, after he comes to his senses days later, only to be told she has run off with a bearded Scientologist bongo-player named Dwayne?

    *…and denied the opportunity to get into a child-bearing race with the dreaded Muslims?
    All very hypothetical to be sure. But not beyond credulity. I think we should be told.


  10. Michael says:

    Toad @ 14:43:

    That’s interesting – the only other Spectator I know of is the American Spectator, which is also a conservative publication. Nevertheless, that some conflation has gone on here seems without little doubt.

    As for your hypothetical young man, I am not 100% sure, but I think that this is exactly the sort of case where it would be justified to be sceptical of the validity of the marriage. If someone was under the influence of several Tequila Sunrises at the time, then whether they meant the marriage to be for life or not, one could reasonably assume that the intentions were unduly influenced by the alcohol. As I say, I don’t know for sure what the result of an annulment procedure in this case would be, but it would certainly be worth investigating.

    Nevertheless, this is an extreme case, and a great deal of cases of divorce and remarriage instead involve someone basically just getting fed up with the other person and/or deciding they’d rather shack up with someone else, leaving the other partner in the lurch. This is what is really unfair, and changing the Church’s position on marriage would just make it easier for people to abandon their spouses, leading to more of these tragic situations than less.


  11. dfxc says:

    The tequila introduces a defect of consent but, in the hypothetical presented, it wouldn’t matter. If the groom was baptized in a Catholic church and ‘married’ a non-Catholic in a civil ceremony, then there’s an invalidity of form and no annulment is necessary to say there’s no marriage.
    If on the other hand neither bride nor groom were baptized Catholic, then a natural marriage is presumed and the tequila would be admissible testimony in the annulment process.
    If they were both Catholic and got married in a Catholic church, then the tequila would be less important than the raging alcoholism that would’ve kept you drunk for the 6-12 month wait to get married in a Catholic church.


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