The 2021-2023 Synod on Synodality is in full swing and faithful Catholics are rightly very concerned about what it portends. In his recent article at 1 Peter 5, Matt Gaspers summarized much of the problem of this particular synod’s structure:
“Unlike previous synods, each of which has been devoted either to a specific doctrinal/pastoral subject or to the situation of the Church in a particular region of the world, the focus of the current synod is much broader and bears upon the very nature of the Church herself (the object of ecclesiology, a particular branch of theology) to the point of seeking to fundamentally and permanently change the Church (or at least the traditional understanding of her divine constitution) and how she functions.”
Francis Maier over at the Catholic Thing wondered if it would even be wise to hold a synod, positing that there is a great deal of potential for manipulation of the outcome. Given that evidence strongly suggests that the outcome of the Synod on the Family and Youth had already been written, even before the Synod’s conclusion, and the rise in pagan attitudes coming out of the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazon Region, there is much justification for worry that the agenda of those planning, coordinating, and working the Synod have already established a path for a predetermined outcome.
But how would it happen? Are there any indications of a mechanism by which a manipulated outcome could be predetermined?
Consider for a moment how bad actors break into a secured system. Hackers often gain access to computers and systems by using something known as a “backdoor.” A backdoor is a weakness in a system that allows someone to bypass normal authentication procedures (such as passwords), granting access to exploit and subvert that system. Backdoors are either design flaws in a system or are injected into a system from the outside. Sometimes a system is designed with a backdoor placed intentionally.
We’re about to illustrate that there is just such a backdoor that has been left open for heretics and hedonists to exploit as they attempt to rebuild the Church in the image and likeness of the world.
The purported goal of the Synod on Synodality is to tap into the entire “sensus fidelium,” which is the sense of the faithful that includes every faithful member of the Church. The idea is to discern the current and future path of the Church’s synodal process. But the approach utilized by the Synod to the sensus fidelium seems to apply a false notion of what this actually is. The sensus fidelium, properly understood as the discernment of the entire body of the Catholic faithful, under the guidance of the magisterium, cannot err. Lumen Gentium clearly states:
The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.
This is important, because sensus fidelium cannot be understood as merely an opinion survey of the baptized. It is the Holy Spirit leading those fully participating in the life of the church to recognize truth, with the guidance of the sacred teaching authority of the bishops united with the Pope. As Pope Benedict XVI stated in a 2012 speech to the International Theological Commission:
Today, however, it is particularly important to explain the criteria that make it possible to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeit. It is certainly not a kind of public ecclesial opinion and invoking it in order to contest the teachings of the Magisterium would be unthinkable, since the sensus fidei cannot be authentically developed in believers, except to the extent in which they fully participate in the life of the Church, and this demands responsible adherence to the Magisterium, to the deposit of faith.
Pope Benedict, in a general audience from 2010, goes on to show how the sensus fidelium was instrumental in the proclamation of both the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption:
Thus faith both in the Immaculate Conception and in the bodily Assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpreting it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. The People of God therefore precede theologians and this is all thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit that qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith with humility of heart and mind. In this sense, the People of God is the “teacher that goes first” and must then be more deeply examined and intellectually accepted by theology.
Contrast this clear teaching on the nature of the sensus fidelium with the Vademecum, the official handbook for the Synod. While the Vademecum rightly states that synodality cannot exist without the pastoral authority of each diocesan bishop as “authentic guardians, interpreters, and witnesses to the faith of the Church,” it establishes an unprecedented backdoor mechanism to give voice to those who are specifically NOT part of the sensus fidelium:
2.1 Who can participate?
For this reason, while all the baptized are specifically called to take part in the Synodal Process, no one – no matter their religious affiliation – should be excluded from sharing their perspective and experiences, insofar as they want to help the Church on her synodal journey of seeking what is good and true. This is especially true of those who are most vulnerable or marginalized.
The process is that the baptized will hold sessions under the direction of their diocesan bishops who will then synthesize these sessions and submit this to the Vatican which will then prepare a document for the bishops to discuss in 2023. Heretics, schismatics, apostates, non-Catholics, and even atheists are allowed to participate, and though they are not counted as part of the sensus fidelium, their presence not only poses a threat to poorly formed members of the Faith, but actually affords an open door for radical and unprecedented changes.
This is the clear and obvious problem with the whole thing that is open for all to see. But there is another, less obvious aspect of the Synod that poses an even greater threat.
While the front doors are open for enemies of the Church to participate in the Synod out in the open, examination of the Preparatory Document of the Synod and the Vademecum reveal an obscure backdoor that opens the way for participants to bypass the bishops altogether.
Both the Preparatory Document and the Vademecum state that individuals “that cannot participate on a local level” can directly submit contributions to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
Religious communities, lay movements, associations of the faithful, and other ecclesial groups are encouraged to participate in the Synodal Process in the context of the local Churches. However, it is also possible for them, and for any group or individual that does not have an opportunity to do so at the local level, to contribute directly to the General Secretariat as stated in Episcopalis Communio (art. 6 on the Consultation of the People of God)
In context, this provision appears to be intended for members of religious orders. However, applying a broad interpretation to “any group or individual” unable to participate on a local level, Thierry Bonaventura, Communication manager of the General Secretariat, extended that invitation to heretical organizations when he apologized to New Ways Ministry for removing a resource posted to the Synod’s official resource website. Bonaventura re-instated New Ways Ministry and said:
Certainly, LGBTQ groups and those groups who feel they live on the ‘margins’ of the Church can director [sic] their contributions, resources, or what they want to share with the whole people of God to firstname.lastname@example.org
A number of heretical organizations have since posted submissions to the Synod resource website including the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) and the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP). One thing in common with these groups is the emphasis on directly submitting responses to the General Secretariat rather than going through the established diocesan process.
The WOC directly states in its Synod Toolkit that the reason for “independent submissions” is expressly to avoid “interference” from the bishops:
We know that the consultation process outlined by the synod documents leaves open the strong possibility that feminist voices, or voices that challenge current Church teaching, will be left out of the documents that are produced by each diocese. Ultimately, bishops have the final say on what moves forward to the next stages of the synodal process. Therefore, we are creating an independent mechanism for you to share your honest input, with the promise that we will share, without censorship, the views that are expressed. (We will not attach anyone’s name to a particular sentiment.) Whether you attend a local listening session or not, we encourage you to use the form to share your thoughts. We believe it is vital to have an independent record of what Catholics are thinking, without interference from the bishops. [emphasis added]
The AUSCP is joining together with an organization claiming to be the Catholic Committee of the South (we were unable to find any record that this organization is a true entity since it went defunct many years ago) to run a synodal program for “marginalized” Catholics called “The Gathering: Toward a Synodal Church.” In a “joint” press release, project coordinator Cathy Harmon-Christian stated, “We’ll share what we receive with the local bishops if they want to hear us, and we will take them to the Dicastery in Rome.”
The AUSCP also published a video (also available on the Synod resource page) outlining its synodal process, asking “If you are facilitating as part of the CCS-AUSCP Project, please send your notes to me at email@example.com.” Those notes are to be compiled and sent on to General Secretariat, as indicated in the AUSCP press release.
Likewise, New Ways Ministry is hosting a series of “LGBTQ Spiritual Conversations for the Synod” where “the fruits of these conversations are captured by a note-taker and sent to the Synod Office to be included in the larger Synod process.”
Another heretical organization that regularly promotes women’s ordination and homosexuality is FutureChurch. Like the preceding organizations, FutureChurch is also exploiting the open-invitation to circumvent the bishops in the Synodal process by submitting their information directly to Rome. On FutureChurch’s web page devoted to the 2023 Synod, FutureChurch specifically identifies “new innovations” in the Synodal process, which would allow them to hope that their agenda for radical changes in the Church could finally be realized. FutureChurch says:
And because of new innovations in the process, Pope Francis has made it clear that he wants to hear from all Catholics who enter into the process in good faith. Thus, even in cases where bishops are ignoring or diminishing the potential for the synodal journey, Catholics are encouraged to gather in other ways and let our leaders know what we see, hear, experience, and hope for as Catholics. The goal is to discern the future of the Church with lay and ordained Catholics, no matter what their relationship to a parish.
As we discuss and discern together, we will ask each participant to complete a survey that allows each person to convey their most cogent ideas for our final report. After the sessions are completed, we will compile the final report between Easter and Pentecost and send that report off to Rome (copying our bishops and the papal nuncio) in the Spirit of Pentecost.
This particular synod is fraught with problems, but the greatest opportunity for manipulation comes in the form of the backdoor we just uncovered. The opportunity for heretical organizations to bypass the bishops by sending surveys and concerns directly to the General Secretariat of the Synod is already being exploited by the organizations we just mentioned. The clear and present danger is the creation of a parallel synod of heretics that enshrines wicked ideologies under a perverted notion of the sensus fidelium.
Whether the outcome is predetermined, the open backdoor to heretics is exploited, or hijackers implement reforms based upon a “Spirit of the Synod,” this is not a time for faithful Catholics to panic or be fearful. This is certainly a time of prayer and fasting as Holy Mother Church is undergoing a dreadful chastisement. She is being maligned by vicious men who speak in Her name while mocking demoniacs dance around those remaining true to Her unchanging and universal teachings. As Lent approaches, let us all consider the gravity of the situation and the prayers and sacrifices that are required for the resurgence of the Church’s true glory. The wicked have grown bold because they see that their hour is nigh … and let us give thanks to Almighty God that they will be given ONLY an hour.