Two prominent conservative cardinals have blasted the working document of the Vatican’s upcoming pan-Amazon synod of bishops, saying the text contains elements that undermine the Catholic faith.
In separate but coordinated letters, both dated August 28, Cardinals Raymond Burke and Walter Brandmüller warned fellow cardinals that the synod poses serious challenges to perennial Church teaching, Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported.
“Some points of the synod’s Instrumentum laboris (working document) seem not only in dissonance with respect to the authentic teaching of the Church, but even contrary to it,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller said in his letter.
The cardinal criticized the document’s “nebulous formulations” as well as the “proposed creation of new ecclesial ministries for women” and, above all, the proposal of ordaining married men to the priesthood in certain circumstances.
Cardinal Brandmüller’s concerns for the upcoming synod, scheduled to take place in the Vatican October 6-27, go beyond problems with the text and extend to the choice of certain liberal prelates to oversee the synod’s proceedings.
“The sole fact that Cardinal (Claudio) Hummes is the president of the synod and thus will exercise a grave influence in a negative sense, suffices to have a well-founded and realistic concern, as much as in the case of bishops (Erwin) Kräutler, (Franz-Josef) Overbeck, etc.,” Brandmüller said.
“We must face serious challenges to the integrity of the Deposit of the Faith, the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church and its Apostolic Tradition,” said Brandmüller, a Church historian. “With all this has been created a situation never before seen in the Church’s history, not even during the Arian crisis of the fourth and fifth century.”
In his letter, Brandmüller urges his brother cardinals to “seize this opportunity to correct, according to the teachings of the Church, certain positions expressed in the Instrumentum laboris of the pan-Amazonian synod.”
For his part, Cardinal Raymond Burke, a canon lawyer and the former head of the Vatican’s highest court, also wrote the other cardinals, expressing concerns similar to those Cardinal Brandmüller outlined.
The synod’s working document is “marked by language which is not clear in its meaning,” Burke states, noting that it “contradicts the constant teaching of the Church on the relationship between the created world and God, the uncreated Creator, and man, created in the image and likeness of God to cooperate with him as guardian of the created world.”
The text undermines Church teaching regarding “the unicity and universality of the salvation brought by Christ,” he declares, as an example of what they call a “petrified doctrine” that is the product of a particular culture.
The working document also obscures — or even denies — “the truth that God has revealed Himself fully and perfectly through the mystery of the Incarnation of the Redeemer, the Son of God,” Burke insists.
The “disturbing propositions of the Instrumentum laboris,” Burke writes, “portend an apostasy from the Catholic faith.”
This is not the first time Cardinal Burke has expressed his grave misgivings regarding the upcoming synod and the text that will serve as a guide for its deliberations.
Asked last August 13 if the working document could become definitive for the Catholic Church, the cardinal replied, “It cannot be. The document is an apostasy. This cannot become the teaching of the Church, and God willing, the whole business will be stopped.”