What Happened at the 2015 Synod Part II by Fr. Fred Scinto, C.R.

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Father Fred Scinto

November 18, 2016

Fr. Fred Scinto, C.R.




            As soon as I finished doing last week’s section on the theme of opposition to the Pope (and Amoris Laetitia), I ran across an article that illustrates very well what was described there.  This article shows well the kind of opposition there is to Pope Francis and what he is trying to do.  And so I share it with you so that you can see it for yourself.


            The article comes from the Church Militant group and website in the United States.  See the preceding material (Part HH) for more on this group-website.  The article is titled “The Download – Implementing ‘Amoris Laetitia’” by Christine Niles at http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/author/christine-niles-m.st.-oxon.-j.d) and is dated July 11, 2016.  Christine is an executive producer at ChurchMilitant.com.  She has a Doctorate in Law and a Master’s Degree in theology from Oxford University.


            Here is quite a thorough exposition of the article.

            “Heads of various dioceses around the world are implementing different visions of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation published as his final reflection of the 2014 and 2015 Synod on the Family.  Cardinal Raymond Burke, former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, clarified … back in April [2016] soon after the Holy Father issued the exhortation that it should not be understood as part of the infallible magisterium, but rather as the Pope’s personal reflections.


            “‘Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium,’ His Eminence [Burke] says.  ‘The very form of the document confirms the same.  It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops.  In other words, the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for His Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls “a more rigorous pastoral care.”’


            “The cardinal goes on to explain that a document that is the result of the Synod of Bishops can only be understood in light of traditional Church teaching and practice.  ‘In other words, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline.’


            “But Cardinal Christoph Schönbron of Vienna … said, ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is an act of the magisterium that makes the teaching of the Church present and relevant today.’  He went on, ‘Just as we read the Council of Nicaea [325 A.D./C.E.] in light of the Council of Constantinople [381], and Vatican I [1869-1870] in the light of Vatican II [1962-1965], so now we must read the previous statements of the magisterium about the family in the light of the contribution made by ‘Amoris Laetitia.’  And this implicitly entails,’ he concludes, ‘a homogeneous evolution in the understanding and in the expression of the doctrine.’


            “This not only directly contradicts, once again, the words of Cardinal Burke – it also runs contrary to the way Church documents in general must be read: always in the light of Tradition and not the other way around.  His Eminence [Schönborn’s] agenda, however, becomes clear when we look at his past statements, which show an attempt not only to relax Church discipline on Holy Communion, but also an attempt to liberalize Church teaching on sexual morality.  He once praised an actively gay couple and their relationship as ‘marvelous’ …


            “ ‘We can and must respect the decision to form a union with a person of the same sex,’ he insisted then, ‘to seek means under civil law to protect their living together with laws to ensure such protection.’  His statement runs directly against the Church’s official position on same-sex unions.” (Here is where the article ends.) (Niles)


            A few comments on the above now.

  • Remember that Cardinal Schönborn is Pope Francis’ right-hand man and the one chosen by the Pope to be his promoter and interpreter of Amoris Laetitia.

  • Note the following: the Vatican and Pope Francis have stated that Amoris Laetitia is authoritative Church teaching.There is no indication of this event in the article.The least Church Militant could and should have done would have been to eliminate the article from the website and no longer make it available to people.

  • The title of the article is misleading because it implies that the article will tell you something of how Amoris Laetitia is being implemented (even variously) by dioceses and archdioceses; instead it comments on what the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is (and what an incorrect interpretation is).

  • Church Militant is advertising a panel discussion that discusses the contrasting way dioceses are dealing with the matter: see video excerpt at http://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/download-implementing-amoris).

  • It also advertises the following “recommended” shows:

    • Pillars of the Church

    • Tyranny of Relativism

    • The Pope Defied.

      The titles here tell you clearly who or what Church Militant is!


                  The website tells us that 56 comments were made in response to the above story.  These are very interesting and also revelatory; so I have chosen a small sample for your perusal.  Here they are below.

  • Regarding Cardinal Schönbron’s comments, one person (“Bruceph”) stated: “Wow. Will someone please enlighten me? When was the last time the magisterium of the church, the tradition of the church or [cough] a pope taught homogeneity or evolution in the salvation of souls? … The guy might be wearing a suit, but it is definitely empty.”

  • “Conscience, sincerity, feelings and the acts that follow, do not trump objective truth, and never have” (Bruceph again).

  • “Cardinal Schönborn has spoken again.He makes a distinction between the ‘evolution’ of dogma and of understanding.The hole just keeps getting wider and deeper.” (Richard C. Amo)

  • “What a great time to be Catholic.Our Lord is nearer to us than we can even imagine.Hold on! I mean this sincerely … God will give us what we need.” (CS to Richard C. Amo) (The last sentence is Richard C. Amo to CS.)

  • “Not much has changed since the time of Adam.Satan disrupted the perfect unity of the first marriage by twisting the plain meaning of God’s commands.The devil never gives up: this time, he is doing it through men like Schönborn.Now it is being called the “organic development of doctrine.” (Will Branson → Zacchaeus)

  • “Modernism is a heresy which holds that there are no fixed truths in the objective order whose meaning and force cannot be watered-down by the passage of time.I am afraid that Cardinal Schoenbron comes dangerously to embracing this idea.” (JUST THE FACTS, PLEASE to Zacchaeus)

  • “For me the important thing to remember is that Amoris Laetitia does not change one thing of Church dogma.It is heretical Bishops and Priests interpretation for their own ends who are trying to change the teaching observed by Catholics for 2000 years.It is most unfortunate that the Pope has written a document that can be viewed any way one wishes.However while wishing Pope Francis a long and holy life, Popes do not live forever and perhaps the next Pope will be clearer in his writings and comments and lead the faithful to true holiness.” (MP)

  • “It sounds more and more to me that another schism is immanent.One will follow the directives of Schönborn, Nichols [English Cardinal], Cupich [Archbishop of Philadelphia], Kasper [German theologian], the other will follow the directives of Burke and Sarah [African Cardinal].Pope Francis will, no doubt, align with the former.” (The Good Deacon)

  • “Possession is 9/10s of the law, so it is said.The one group seems to have and/or taken hold of the Vatican.With cardinals now on both sides of the magisterial arguments contradicting each other, schism is a real possibility.I wonder with whom Pope Benedict will align?” (Richard C. Amo to The Good Deacon)

  • “I think we will see a more glorified Church and priesthood.Perhaps Pope Francis gave the Church some rope to bring more into the love of Christ, I really do not know, but for the sake of the Church, I must believe and trust that Pope Francis will lead the defenders of the faith.” (CS to The Good Deacon)

  • “To me, I like better to think of this as a rebirth of our glorious Church, not a schism.Keep the faith!God will lead us to God’s faithful, and unite us with each other.But, there will be a strong discipline involved from our Master along the way.” (CS to The Good Deacon)

  • “No disrespect but I think Burke and other trads [traditionalists] will not stand Francis much longer.You cannot oppose your boss and go without consequences.Church or no Church they won’t go into schism.Libs [liberals] will not agree with Francis but will play it cool whereas traditionalists, a small part of the Church, will keep on detecting flaws and mistakes and so on and so forth in the pope’s speeches and statements.It will come from traditionalists bit; numerically it will be insignificant.” (Marcelus to Festus)

  • “No disrespect is a good opening but you needed in your opening line to respect Cardinal Burke and the other conservative Cardinals.It is disrespectful to second guess their position with the Pope, as the trads tend to do.I guess what we need now are a couple of websites to detect and publish the flaws and mistakes coming from the trad quarters.Oh, I forgot, the trads are perfect in every way and never put a foot wrong.” (Festus to Marcelus)

  • “Church teaching was clear before Amoris Laetitia and Amoris Laetitia does not change anything; so why the struggle … There are only really two classes of Catholics who are having issues with Amoris Laetitia – those who want changes and cannot square the ambiguity with their wants, and those who want to take pot-shots at the Pope and will use any ambiguity from any source to do so.They are also struggling because that chapter needs to be read as a pastoral guide for the clergy and not an open instruction to the laity … As the Pope said, these are his reflections and reflections are not binding.” (Festus to SOS save our souls!)

  • “Well, I can only answer to your comment that I did read the whole document and even made a summary of it.Iam not only worried about the footnote or two ambiguous sentences in the document, the whole atmosphere in this document is about changing the way to look and handle at irregular situations and adjustments because of cultural differences.Did you read the whole document?I cannot believe that someone can say, after reading the whole text, that Amoris Laetitia does not change anything.And, Pope Francis himself said on the 16th of June [2016] that all in Amoris Laetitia is ‘sound doctrine.’ What about this?And even when he did only tell people how he feels about some things, he is the Pope … An exhortation is not just some notepad, it is a writing by the hand of the Pontifex.” (SOS save our souls! to Festus)

  • “No one is bound to act according to ambiguity.As I have asked before, where is the clear and explicit change to doctrine in Amoris Laetitia?” (Festus to Farmer J)

  • “It is not an opportunity to go on a rant against Pope Francis after saying, ‘Well, this defense is poor and you know’” (ohca­_mod to SOS save our souls!”).

  • “We have guidelines for how the Pope is discussed here.Read them.Read them until you understand them.You do not have to agree with them but to continue to post here you do have to abide by them.” (http://www.churchmilitant.com/ ) …

  • “ ‘No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!’ Again the Bible and Pope Francis are correct.” (Carol Ann to SOS save our souls!)

  • “The pope makes it sound (not only in these numbered paragraphs of the exhortation but through the whole document) that the demands of the commandments of God are impossible to fulfill and that is just so untrue!” (SOS save our souls! to Carol Ann).

  • “Prelates have stated that there is no deviation from Magisterium, Holy Scripture, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church in Amoris Laetitia.People are attempting – through subjective interpretation – to read their own bias into the text.Pertinent Holy Scripture – as cited by the Holy Father – and reference material, including the Catechism, need to be considered.The document is an Exhortation with reflection on two Synods and its text presupposes basic knowledge of Catechetical and Scriptural foundation.” (Carol Ann to SOS save our souls!)

    Etc., etc., etc.


    This is a good place to end our quotation of the responses to the article and we now have a good idea of how different people have variously responsed to Amoris LaetitiaSome are for it and some are against it and some are very strong in their contentions!  Not surprising!


    Father Fred Scinto, C.R.,

    Resurrection Ministries,

    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


    (519-885-4370 and 1-877-242-7935)