Newark's Cdl. Joseph Tobin discussed the pope's agenda May 4 during a webinar for Loyola University Chicago's Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage annual Cardinal Bernardin Common Cause lecture.
Tobin highlighted "synodality" as the "long game" of Francis' pontificate. "The Vatican is not the only part of the Body of Christ," the cardinal explained. "Francis has been clear he sees this role."
The latest example of the Vatican's unwillingness to allow local bishops the freedom to openly discuss regional problems comes from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
In a letter to the U.S. bishops last week, Cdl. Luis Ladaria stepped in to tell the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to broaden its language on denying the Eucharist to pro-abortion Catholics, like Joe Biden, in public life.
"Any statement of the conference regarding Catholic political leaders would best be framed within the broad context of worthiness for the reception of Holy Communion on the part of all the faithful, rather than only one category of Catholics," advised Ladaria.
Moreover, the prefect also instructed the USCCB to keep under wraps a 2004 letter from then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) while he was the prefect of the CDF.
Ratzinger's 2004 letter, reiterating canon 915, sent a conclusive message to U.S. bishops:
Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
That instruction runs counter to the Vatican's current permissiveness with pro-sin politicians.
In Germany, meanwhile, Monday's public defiance of the CDF's ban on homosexual unions had been planned for several weeks. The German Church's autonomy to debate the allowance of this and other heretical views from women priests to masturbation have been respected for years by the Vatican.
But the alleged pontificate of synodality also foiled U.S. bishops' 2018 attempts to tackle the homosexual network following revelations regarding the misdeeds of disgraced homopredator and former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. At the start of the bishops' November meeting that year, the Vatican directed them to abandon all action items regarding the outing of clerical sex abuse that had been slated for that meeting.
The cardinal, ironically, is a homosexualist himself. The August before the 2018 bishop's meeting, he denied all knowledge of the homosexual subculture that existed in Newark's archdiocese. Tobin said this despite being close to McCarrick — who allegedly had sexually abused seminarians at two of his beach houses, one of which was in the archdiocese of Newark.
Pope Francis has largely remained quiet on these issues in recent months, having little to say about Tobin's hypocrisy, German clerics' disobedience or the USCCB's wish to affirm Church teaching on human life. The Holy Father's pontificate, however, has been vocal in speaking a double standard into power, one that so often confuses faithful Catholics.