Walter Mayr, the Rome correspondent of the German magazine Der Spiegel, reports the following at the conclusion of his 23rd December article on Pope Franics and the crisis over the dubia:
In a very small circle, Pope Francis is said to have self-critically further explained himself as follows: 'It is not to be excluded that I will enter history as the one who split the Catholic Church'. [Im kleinsten Kreis soll Franziskus sich selbstkritisch schon so erklärt haben: "Nicht ausgeschlossen, dass ich als derjenige in die Geschichte eingehen werde, der die katholische Kirchegespalten hat."]
Walter Mayr has written for Der Spiegel since 1990, as their Russian correspondent and now their Italian correspondent. He is the co-author of "Minenfeld Balkan: Der unruhige Hinterhof Europas" [The Balkan Minefield: Europe's tormented backyard] (2009).
Walter Mayr describes a pope who is isolated, "boiling with rage" at the resistance to his reforms, and running out of time, writing that the Holy Father is increasingly lonely, weakened by resistance in the Curia and demoralised by the lack of courage to change. Mayr describes the opposition to Pope Francis at first impression to be a "few stubborn, aged cardinals".
Mayr paints a picture of the isolation of Pope Francis, estranged from the cardinals:
It is Saturday morning last week, shortly after eight, in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican. A group of fifty cardinals now living in Rome — purple elegant robes and purple caps as far as the eye can see — has appeared in order to honor Pope Francis with a common concelebrated Mass, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. As they sit there under the fresco of Michelangelo depicting the crucifixion of Peter, the dignitaries have their eyes on the powerful man to the left of the altar — and the estrangement can nearly be palpably grasped with one’s hands. “Be assured that we are close to you," says the cardinal deacon [Cardinal Angelo Sodano] to Francis — but this reassurance sounds strangely hollow.
Walter Mayr situates Pope Francis's isolation and estrangement in the context of the dubia submitted to the Hoy Father by Cardinals Brandmüller, Meisner, Burke and Caffara. Mayr concludes that Pope Francis has responded with the "maximum penalty/punishment" ["Höchststrafe"] to the dubia — by choosing to ignore it and not responding. However, Mayr sees Pope Francis' reference to "malevolent resistance" during his Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia as his reaction to the dubia. He sees this as expressing what Edward Pentin calls Pope Francis's "boiling rage" over the dubia.
Mayr interviews Cardinal Brandmüller, one of the signatories of the dubia, who gives his assessment of what is at stake with the dubia and Amoris Laetitia:
Speaking in his apartment next to St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller said in truth "it is about all or nothing" ["es geht um die Wurst"], to speak in colloquial terms; that is to say, it is about the kernel of the whole, about the teaching of doctrine.
"Whoever thinks that persistent adultery and the reception of Holy Communion are compatible is a heretic and promotes schism." Holy Scripture, according to Brandmüller, is not a place where everybody can pick what he likes: "We are, according to the Apostle St. Paul, administrators of the mysteries of God, but not holders of the right of disposal."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II's "Unitatis redintegratio," describes splits or rifts in the Church as "damnable," "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable" (UR 3 §1; cf. 1 Cor. 1, 11). The cause of splits in the Church is human sin: "Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers (Origen, Hom. in Ezech. 9, 1: PG 13,732)."
Ludwig Ott describes schismatics as those who fundamentally reject the authority of the Church or those who dissociate themselves from the commonwealth of the faithful subject to the Church ("Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma," p. 311).
Please pray for Pope Francis, the cardinals and for the unity of the Church
Originally published at EWTN-Great Britain.