Anonymous Group Condemns Errors in Synod’s Working Document

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 1, 2019   

'International Group of Fathers' denounces four 'unacceptable' teachings

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - An anonymous group of clerics and laity is denouncing "unacceptable" teachings put forth in the Amazon Synod's Instrumentum Laboris (working document).

Calling itself the Coetus Internationalis Patrum Working Group (the "International Group of Fathers," a reference to an influential traditionalist faction during Vatican II), the collection of "bishops, priests, and Catholic faithful from all over the world" explains that its members have chosen to conceal their identities owing to a "growing climate of intimidation and purges present in the Roman Curia and in the Church in general."

Addressing Pope Francis and the synod fathers, the group begins by affirming that the Instrumentum Laboris "raises serious questions and very grave reservations, because of its contradiction of individual points of Catholic doctrine which have always been taught by the Church, as well as its contradiction of faith in Jesus Christ, the One Savior of all mankind."

It goes on to summarize and refute four key "theses," or errors, contained in the working document, declaring: "In conscience and with great frankness, we affirm that the teaching of these theses is unacceptable."


First, drawing from paragraphs 30, 39 and 138 of the Instrumentum Laboris, Coetus Internationalis Patrum explains that according to synod architects, the religious diversity of Amazonian peoples "evokes a new Pentecost."

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Pope Francis in Bolivia, 2015 (AP/Rodrigo Abd)

Additionally, the group observes that according to the synod fathers, "respect for this diversity means to recognize that there are other paths to salvation, without reserving salvation exclusively to the Catholic faith," and that the Catholic Church must integrate "other modalities of being Church, without censures, without dogmatism, without ritual and ecclesial forms."

In its rebuttal, the group references the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 2000 declaration Dominus Iesus (On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ):

It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. Hence, those solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ would be contrary to Christian and Catholic faith.

Second, Coetus Internationalis Patrum notes that according to the Instrumentum Laboris, "The teaching of Pan-Amazonian theology, which takes special account of myths, rituals, and celebrations of indigenous cultures, is required in all educational institutions" and that Catholics are asked to "adapt the Eucharistic rite" to these cultures. 

The group answers these contentions by again referencing Dominus Iesus:

It would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God. One cannot attribute to [prayers and rituals of other religions] a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors, constitute an obstacle to salvation.

Third, Coetus Internationalis Patrum notes that Instrumentum Laboris characterizes "the territory" of the Amazon and "the cry of its peoples" as a source of revealed religion, alongside theological sources such as Sacred Scripture, Church Councils and the Fathers of the Church.

There is thus proposed a new vision of Holy Orders which does not come from Revelation, but from the cultural usages of the Amazonian people.

The group responds by quoting from the Vatican's 1965 document Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation):

Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.

Finally, Coetus Internationalis Patrum spotlights the Instrumentum Laboris' attack on the priesthood: "It is suggested that ordination be conferred on older persons who have families and to confer 'official ministries' on women. There is thus proposed a new vision of Holy Orders which does not come from Revelation, but from the cultural usages of the Amazonian people."

In its refutation, the group points to half a dozen Vatican documents, including Presbyterorum Ordinis, the Second Vatican Council's 1965 decree on the ministry and life of priests; Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope John Paul II's 1992 apostolic exhortation on the formation of priests; Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, Pope Paul VI's 1967 encyclical on priestly celibacy; and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II's 1994 apostolic letter on reserving priestly ordination to men alone.

In denouncing multiple errors in the Instrumentum Laboris, Coetus Internationalis Patrum joins a growing chorus of critics, including Cdl. Raymond Burke, Cdl. Gerhard Müller, Cdl. Walter BrandmüllerCdl. Jorge Urosa and Bp. Athanasius Schneider.

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