Bishops at Vatican Synod Are Being ‘Instrumentalized,’ Cardinal Warns

Bishops and a Cardinal (2ndL) leave for a lunch break after attending the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region on October 7, 2019 in the Vatican. - Pope Francis is gathering Catholic bishops at the Vatican to champion the isolated and poverty-struck …
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — A prominent Vatican cardinal declared Saturday that the promoters of the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon are “obviously being instrumentalized in order to push an agenda.”

The synod has been badly organized from the outset, said Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, because it has intentionally ignored “the doctrinal tradition of the Church,” leaving the meeting rootless.

The working document that is guiding Synod discussions contains “no reference whatsoever to Councils and the Papal Magisterium,” the cardinal notes, and “particularly spectacular is the total absence of Vatican II (apart from two rather marginal references).”

The fact that key documents on the Church’s mission activity — a central topic to the synod — are at no point quoted, “is simply incomprehensible,” he adds.

This sidelining of the doctrinal tradition of the Church “can only be understood as a spectacular break with previous history,” he concludes.

Moreover, Christian belief excludes “a concept of religion which has some kind of geographical or temporary limits,” he writes, which means that “an Amazonian Church is theologically unthinkable.”

The synodal text delves deeply into the politics of mission countries, the cardinal notes, which stands in “open contradiction” to the Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, Ad Gentes, which forbids such direct meddling in worldly affairs.

In this way, the authors of the synod’s working document “break with the dogmatically binding tradition” as well as “with the universality of the Church.”

“The fact that this break is, so to speak, being put into action in an ‘underhanded’ fashion, i.e., in a hidden and secretive manner, is all the more disturbing,” he adds.

With this in mind, he writes, it becomes clear that the disputes over the Amazon Synod “are only very superficially about the indigenous population of the Amazon.”

“Rather, the frightening question arises whether the protagonists of this synod are not more concerned with the attempt secretly to replace religion as man’s answer to the call of its Creator by a pantheistic natural religion of man,” Brandmüller suggests.

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