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By Rev. Michael X., J.C.L.
Pope Francis has promulgated a new apostolic constitution on the Synod of Bishops that, for all intents and purposes, is a perfect Trojan Horse for injecting heresy on a global scale into the Church. If left unchecked, revolutionaries will be able to turn all Synod-approved "heteropraxes," or novel disciplinary rules that run counter to the Deposit of Faith, into the new and official belief system of the Catholic Church. It is a brilliantly conceived device for engineering substantial and overnight change to all facets of the life of the Church as we know her.
Called Episcopalis Communio ("Episcopal Communion"), the document is an act of papal legislation that, according to the official presentation of the text given by Cdl. Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, is a "true and proper 'refoundation' of the synodal organism."
Abrogating Blessed Paul VI's motu proprio Apostolica Sollicitudo, Benedict XVI's Ordo Synodi Episcoporum and any canons of the Code of Canon Law that are contrary to the new norms, publication in the Sept. 18 edition of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano effectuated promulgation, bypassing the normal channel of promulgation in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis in order for new legislation to obtain immediate legal effect. In other words, the constitution was "rammed through" for the benefit of steering the outcome of the upcoming Synod on Youth.
Although enacted almost immediately, it cannot be said to be a poorly constructed text: It is very carefully crafted. The text is divided into two major sections, one doctrinal, the other disciplinary.
The doctrinal portion aims to ground and justify the new concept of the Synod as based upon the ecclesiological doctrine of the Second Vatican Council's dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium. However, the real novelty lies in the article 18 of the text. It critically states:
§1. Having received the approval of the Members, the final Document of the Assembly is offered to the Roman Pontiff, who decides on its publication. If expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, the final Document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter.
§2. If then the Roman Pontiff has granted deliberative power to the Assembly of the Synod, according to can. 343 of the Code of Canon Law, the final Document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter once it has been ratified and promulgated. In this case the final Document is to be published with the signature of the Roman Pontiff together with those of the Members.
In short, this means that the body that, for centuries, has, on a day-to-day basis, protected the Deposit of Faith and sacred canons from being too easily altered — the Roman Curia — is now officially emasculated in its ability to safeguard the Church from the innovations of revolutionaries. Not only has the Roman Curia been sidelined, but even worse, the normal body that has historically been called to discern, discuss and decide upon substantive change to the Church's doctrinal texts and disciplinary norms — the ecumenical council made up of the Pope together with all of the world's bishops — will be dramatically undercut in its prerogatives and unique voice as successors to the Apostles by far smaller and select groups of bishops and papal appointees.
The singular novelty ofEpiscopalis Communio is its ability to effectuate substantive and lasting change almost overnight to the ordinary life of the Church. It does so in three ways.
First, the legislation enshrines the tactics that were deployed and field-tested by Francis during the last Synod of the Family held in two assemblies between 2014 and 2015. As National Catholic Register's Edward Pentin has aptly described, the direct appointment of specific officials and consultors who advanced heterodox views gave the appearance of the process being a "stacking of the deck." Episcopalis Communio standardizes future potential stackings by making the Synod "a permanent central body, outside the dicasteries of the Roman Curia" (cfr. N. 2 EC).
Second, Francis gives prominence to the until-now theoretical provision of the Code of Canon Law providing that bishop-members of the Synod can be granted "deliberative power" by the Pope to enact legislative norms during a synod. In doing so, Francis has announced his clear intent to engage in striking acts of devolution of papal power. While cleverly leaving unanswered the question as to whether less than a two-thirds majority vote of the members is required for synod fathers to legislate new discipline, he effectively sets up the bases for laity and other agents of change to influence dramatically the topics of debate and outcome of deliberations by the synod fathers to be presented in the "final Document."
Finally, as was tested recently on Sept. 5, 2016 by Francis' at first merely private approval of the Criterios Básicos para la Aplicación del Capitulo VIII de Amoris Laetitia drafted by the bishops of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region, then subsequent raising on June 5, 2017 of the Criterios to the level of "authentic Magisterium" by means of papal rescript, a stealth modification of disciplinary norms was able to modify official Church doctrine without any effective opposition by any cardinals having been able to stop it.
The same trial balloon was flown regarding the change in the Church's position on the death penalty when the Pope, at first addressing only a particular group of addressees on Oct. 11, 2017, subsequently raised his change to the level of authentic Magisterium on Aug. 3, 2018, also by means of papal rescript, once again without any effective opposition on the part of any cardinals having been able to thwart the substantive change to Church doctrine. After those two trial balloons were able to be flown and not shot down, Francis has decided to proceed to set up a permanent, far more efficient and practically automatic means of change by refounding the Synod of Bishops.
No longer will there be need for any private trial balloons and stealth papal rescripts: the injection of heresy into the lifeblood of the Church is now able to be achieved by heteropraxes approved by the Synod and then the Pope that upon his fiat will form part of the "ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter." No longer is one dealing with change in disciplinary norms being raised to the level of "authentic" Magisterium, which technically can mean only non-infallible teaching. Now, the ante terrifyingly has been upped so that changes to discipline being approved by a mere synod of select papal appointees will become part and parcel of the "ordinary magisterium of the Successor of Peter" — constituting officially and potentially infallible teaching.
Episcopalis Communio, rather than increasing communion among the bishops in the one true Faith, may well lead to a most efficient and almost overnight outlawing of any bishop or lay faithful who would dare to question the propriety of disciplinary norms issued by a future synod as a dissenter if not heretic and schismatic — a perfect Trojan Horse.