Cdl. Burke, Bp. Schneider Call for Prayer, Fasting Ahead of Amazon Synod

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 12, 2019   

Crusade to fight 'theological errors and heresies' begins Sept. 17

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bp. Athanasius Schneider are calling Catholics to combat ahead of the Amazon Synod.

On Wednesday, the prelates issued a joint declaration condemning six "serious theological errors and heresies" contained in the synod's Instrumentum Laboris (working document) and asking faithful to help thwart these falsehoods through prayer and fasting.

"We propose a forty-day crusade of prayer and fasting to begin on September 17 and end on October 26, 2019, the day before the conclusion of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the PanAmazon," they write, adding: "Anyone who first learns about the Crusade after the date of its beginning can naturally join the Crusade at any point."


Burke and Schneider are asking Catholics to pray at least one decade of the Rosary daily and to fast once a week for the defeat of heresy at the upcoming gathering in Rome. 

"According to the tradition of the Church, fasting consists in eating only one full meal during the day, and additionally, one may eat up to two smaller meals," they remind readers. "Fasting on bread and water is also recommended to those who are able to do so."

Expounding upon the six heresies — implicit and explicit — of the Instrumentum Laboris, the bishops detail how each error builds upon another.

As part of the campaign, Burke and Schneider urged Catholics "to implore our Lord and Savior, through the intercession of His Virgin Mother," to grant two specific intentions:

that the theological errors and heresies inserted in the Instrumentum Laboris may not be approved during the synodal assembly;

that particularly Pope Francis, in the exercise of the Petrine ministry, may confirm his brethren in the faith by an unambiguous rejection of the errors of the Instrumentum Laboris and that he may not consent to the abolition of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church by introducing the praxis of the ordination of married men, the so-called "viri probati," to the Holy Priesthood.

Expounding upon the six heresies — implicit and explicit — of the Instrumentum Laboris, the bishops detail how each error builds upon another.

Foremost among these falsehoods, they observe, is an "implicit pantheism" promoting "a pagan socialization of 'Mother Earth,' based on a cosmology of the Amazonian tribes."

The working document paints indigenous peoples as models of "good living" who enjoy a "harmony of relationships" between "the whole cosmos — nature, men, the supreme being" and "various spiritual forces."

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Amazon Synod logo

But, the bishops warn, the Magisterium "rejects such an implicit pantheism as incompatible with the Catholic Faith."

Quoting Pope John Paul II's 1993 "Address to the United States Bishops of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska on their 'Ad Limina' Visit," Burke and Schneider remind readers that pantheism and relativism "tend to relativize religious doctrine, in favor of a vague worldview expressed as a system of myths and symbols dressed in religious language."

"Moreover, they often propose a pantheistic concept of God which is incompatible with Sacred Scripture and Christian Tradition," they write. "They replace personal responsibility to God for our actions with a sense of duty to the cosmos, thus overturning the true concept of sin and the need for redemption through Christ."

The Instrumentum Laboris also characterizes "pagan superstitions" as "sources of Divine Revelation and alternative pathways for salvation."

The bishops note that the working document "draws from its implicit pantheistic conception an erroneous concept of Divine Revelation, stating basically that God continues to self-communicate in history through the conscience of the peoples and the cries of nature."

They explain that according to this view, the Church owes indigenous paganism "an attitude of dialogue and acceptance."

Through inculturation the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community.

Flowing from this relativistic approach, Burke and Schneider write, the working document promotes intercultural dialogue in place of evangelization: "The Instrumentum Laboris contains the erroneous theory that aboriginal people have already received Divine Revelation, and that the Catholic Church in the Amazon should undergo a 'missionary and pastoral conversion,' instead of introducing doctrine and practice of universal truth and goodness."

Quoting Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Missio, the bishops affirm that such notions are rejected by the Magisterium:

Through inculturation the Church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community. She transmits to them her own values, at the same time taking the good elements that already exist in them and renewing them from within. Through inculturation the Church, for her part, becomes a more intelligible sign of what she is, and a more efficient instrument of mission.

By substituting intercultural dialogue for evangelization, Burke and Schneider observe, the working document constructs a false understanding of sacramental ordination:  

In the name of inculturation of the faith, and on the pretext of the lack of priests to celebrate frequently the Eucharist, the Instrumentum Laboris supports tailoring Catholic ordained ministries to the ancestral customs of the aboriginal people, granting official ministries to women and ordaining married leaders of the community as second-class priests, deprived of part of their ministerial powers but able to perform shamanic rituals.

Drawing from the catechism, the prelates reiterate that the ministerial priesthood "differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful." 

They underscore that for the Latin Church, celibacy is a fundamental aspect of the ministerial priesthood: "The will of the Church finds its ultimate motivation in the link been celibacy and sacred ordination, which configures the priest to Jesus Christ, the head and spouse of the Church." 

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Shaman 'blessing' nun in Colombia, 2019 (CNS/Manuel Rueda)

Again quoting Pope John Paul II, Burke and Schneider also reinforce the teaching that the priesthood is strictly a male domain: "The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women ... this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." 

The Instrumentum Laboris also errs in its promotion of an "integral ecology" that ultimately "downgrades human dignity." 

Whereas Catholicism "recognizes the human person as made in the image of God and therefore the pinnacle of material creation," the bishops write, the working document "considers the human a mere link in nature's ecological chain, viewing socioeconomic development as an act of aggression to 'Mother Earth.'"

"The Magisterium rejects ... that humans do not possess a unique dignity above the rest of material creation, and that technological progress is bound up with sin," they affirm, pointing to the catechism:

To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of "subduing" the earth and having dominion over it. God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors.

Finally, Burke and Schneider point out that implicit in the working document's concept of "integral ecology" is a collectivist vision for man that "undermines personal uniqueness and freedom."

Countering this error, the bishops draw from the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church":

The human person must always be understood in his unrepeatable and inviolable uniqueness. ... Man rightly appreciates freedom and strives for it passionately: rightly does he desire and must form and guide, by his own free initiative, his personal and social life, accepting personal responsibility for it. ... In this way man generates himself, he is father of his own being, he constructs the social order.

Summarizing the "theological errors and heresies" inherent in the Instrumentum Laboris, Burke and Schneider characterize them as "an alarming manifestation of the confusion, error and division which beset the Church in our day."

"No one can excuse himself from being informed about the gravity of the situation and from taking appropriate action for love of Christ and of His life with us in the Church," they warn, adding that as such, "all the members of Christ's Mystical Body, before such a threat to her integrity, must pray and fast for the eternal good of her members who risk being scandalized, that is, led into confusion, error and division by this text."

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