What to Expect from the “Dreaded” Amazon Synod
The Amazon Synod is scheduled to begin in just a couple weeks, and it’s been the talk of much consternation among conservative and traditionally-minded Catholics for almost two years now. I completely empathize with the concerns of my conservative and traditionally-minded Catholic brethren. I think their concerns are valid and should be taken seriously. On the flip-side, the Catholic Church in the Amazon is facing some real and legitimate problems that must be taken seriously as well. That is the purpose of this Synod, and I do sincerely hope it really works toward accomplishing the goal of helping Catholics re-evangelize this region of the world, and is not hijacked by Leftists seeking to push their own selfish agenda, as we saw in previous synods under this pontificate.
In the past, I’ve criticized Pope Francis as a “bad pope.” I would like to retract that statement now. Upon further consideration, I don’t believe Pope Francis is a “bad pope.” Rather, I think he’s a weak pope. He’s not weak in areas of centralizing his power within the Vatican. He’s not weak when it comes to dealing with his opponents within the Church — especially his conservative and traditional opponents. So I have been told, by a couple of people in the know, that he’s not weak in silencing a room with his loud and robust verbiage. This pope does know how to command an audience and strike fear into those around him. No. That’s not the kind of weakness I’m talking about. His weakness, rather, comes in failing to recognize who is real enemies are, and in his constant failure to confront them. Modernists are the real enemy of the Francis pontificate, just as they have been the enemy of all previous popes. But rather than confronting them, and keeping them in check, Pope Francis coddles them, enables them, and gives them free reign to reinterpret his papacy according to their own selfish agenda. Only one thing can destroy the Francis pontificate, and that is the one thing Pope Francis has brought close into his bosom without firmly confronting its errors. That one thing is Left-wing Modernism. I am NOT calling Pope Francis a Modernist. No! Rather, I am saying that Pope Francis is being used by Left-wing Modernists (or Leftists). He’s become a tool for others with their own selfish agenda. Because he will not confront them, this makes him a weak pope.
The weakness of Pope Francis has a ripple affect on the synod process, as we have seen in previous synods, and as we will likely see in this upcoming Amazon Synod. His weakness allows others, Left-wing Modernists with a selfish agenda, to take control of the synod direction. They have effectively hijacked the two family synods and the youth synod. They didn’t get everything they wanted, but they got enough to wreak some havoc, and set the Church on what many deem to be a dangerous trajectory. Who can forget their colossal overreach at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, wherein they actually proposed that homosexuality has some “value” which can be appreciated by the Church? They were called out on that overreach. So as a result, they’ve scaled back their approach since then, but it’s too late. They’ve already shown their cards. Now we all know what their end-game is.
The instrumentum laboris, released on June 17 of this year, appears to confirm these fears. We can expect another Leftist overreach to be made at the Amazon Synod. Cardinal Walter Brandmüller qualified the document as “heretical” and Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), said the working document contained “false teaching” on God’s revelation. Even a long-time missionary bishop to the Amazon region, Bishop José Luis Azcona, said the instrumentum laboris does not address the actual problems faced by the Church in the region, which include a growing Pentecostal majority, child labor, child abuse, human trafficking, and a spiritual crisis. He followed by calling upon the Synod to address the sobering reality: “the Amazon, at least the Brazilian Amazon, is no longer Catholic.”
Yes, the Amazon has some real needs. We should have no problem with addressing issues related to dealing with the real obstacles to evangelization as noted by Bishop Azcona above, and this would certainly include methods of authentic inculturation as I have discussed in detail in a previous blog. The Church successfully used this method of inculturation in Northern Europe, and she can do so again in the Amazon, provided it’s done authentically as I previously noted here. However, the Leftist idea of inculturation is not the same as the historical and Catholic method of inculturation. The Leftists use the term loosely and wildly, to mean just about anything. Perhaps they should take the words of the great mythical swordsman Inigo Montoya to heart: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Again, I’ve explained what real and authentic inculturation is here. Please feel free to take a look.
For all the fear and frustration about the “dreaded” Amazon Synod, we need to keep in mind that what it can produce, versus what some will claim it’s produced, are likely two completely different things. While the pope can vest any synod with as much power as he wants, it’s still limited. Synods cannot change established Church doctrine. Nor can they impose on the Faithful anything that is contrary to established Church doctrine. So what will likely come of the Amazon Synod are two categories or classes of results. The first category will be “Likely Material Developments.” These are things the synod actually can do, if the pope allows it, and if they manage to agree enough to make it happen. The second category will be “Symbolic Posturing.” This is the virtue signalling and symbolism over substance that those pushing a Leftist agenda will likely use to make it look like the Church has changed her teaching, but has no real binding authority on any Catholic anywhere. It’s the latter that will probably get the most press in the mainstream media, and that’s exactly what the Leftists want. They realize that changing Church doctrine on paper is impossible, but if they can change Church doctrine in practice, meaning in the minds of most lay Catholics, then the effect is the same. These Leftists have learned that just as there were two Vatican II councils (the authentic one versus the Council of the Media), so there are also parallel magisteriums (the authentic one versus the Magisterium of the Media). The latter of which consists of Leftist priests and bishops who are media whores, seeking after the nearest press camera they can find, so they can promote their ideology to the masses who will accept it without question. The Church doesn’t officially have to teach anything heretical, but if these Leftists media whores can get the average Catholic to believe something heretical, it really doesn’t matter what the Church teaches on paper. The minds of the masses will be firmly in the hands of these Leftists, and that’s what they really want anyway.
For those of us who want to maintain sanity, we’ll have to keep in mind what the Synod can do, versus what some may say it’s doing, which may not always be the same thing…
Likely Material Developments (or things the Synod can do)…
- Relaxation of the celibacy mandate in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, centered around ordination of the viri probati, or older “proven men,” leaving this decision in the hands of the local bishop. The result will not be a mirror of the practice of ordaining married men in the Eastern Catholic churches, but rather a conservative and tentative nudge in a similar direction. NOTE: Whether or not the Catholic Church can ordain married men is NOT in question here. She already does that, both in the Eastern Catholic Churches, and in the Pastoral Provision of the Western Catholic Church. What is in question in this synod is whether she should do it more often in the Western Church.
- A call for a lay (not ordained) order for women. It will be some kind of lay-diaconate, “lay-deacon” or “lady-con” (pun intended) that is a strictly lay position, designed to placate feminists into believing they’re making progress toward actual ordination, while we all know that’s not possible (read more here). This office, if created, will be strictly related to Church governance, but not sacramental in any way. This, in effect, will signal a rupture in the tradition of limiting Church government to ordained clergy. TRANSLATION: The “Susan from the Parish Council” type of women might finally get some real authority codified into canon law. They may even get to wear some vestments of some kind and participate in processions, in addition to their lectionary readings and such, etc. But the liturgical role is purely symbolic. The “Susans” may hold an administrative role in the Church office, manage schedules, and tell Father Sissy where he needs to be and when, but they won’t be able to perform any sacraments. If such a position is created, it will be a con-job on feminists, or a “lady-con” (lay-deacon).
- A continual decentralization of Church governance will vest real canonical powers into national bishops’ conferences, while the Vatican itself becomes more centralized into the person of the Pope. TRANSLATION: The Vatican will become a tighter ship, with the pope firmly at the helm and all decisions resting with him alone for better or worse (read more here). But to prevent governance from becoming unwieldy, national bishops conferences will get more power to settle their own local affairs. Thus, presumably, less issues will ever reach the Vatican and will be settled locally by national bishops’ conferences.
- As part of the Pope’s decentralization plan, local bishops conferences will gain more control over liturgical translations, rites and inculturation of indigenous customs. TRANSLATION: We can expect to see more native dancing, drums and feathers during Mass in places like the Amazon, and Native American reservations throughout North America, etc. Also, we can expect to see Leftist Catholics use it as cover to incorporate all kinds of weirdness into regular Catholic parishes in the United States, Canada and Europe, such as liturgical dance, strange vestments, weird music, puppets, clowns, etc. In other words, we’ll get more of the same liturgical abuse, only this time, words like “inculturation” and the “Amazon Synod” will be used for canonical cover. To make matters worse, we may even see a stronger push toward altering the Novus Ordo liturgy itself, in various regions like the United States, where Leftists have always preferred the English mistranslation of “And also with you” for the Latin Et cum spiritu tuo, which is more literally and accurately translated as “And with your spirit” (current Novus Ordo Mass), or “And with thy spirit” (Divine Worship Mass). We wouldn’t see this right away. Rather, it might follow in the wake of the Amazon Synod, assuming the synod further develops the decentralization of canonical powers as is expected.
- We can also expect a greater call toward environmental conservation as part of the Catholic teaching on stewardship, which is not objectionable on the surface. Everyone knows that good stewardship of God’s creation includes not wasting materials or polluting the environment in careless and irresponsible ways. What is debatable is what that actually means in terms of global economies. Obviously, there is room for improvement, but not at the expense of authentic Catholic teaching on morality and economics, both of which have historically opposed socialism (which happens to be the worst polluter of the environment as we see in China and the former Soviet Union). The synod can call upon capitalists for greater conservation of resources and less pollution. What it cannot do, and won’t do, is mandate socialism.
I believe this represents the most the Amazon Synod can possibly accomplish on a real and material level. Perhaps it will do less, and hopefully so, but I doubt it can accomplish any more — materially speaking. Beyond that, we can expect a lot of symbolic fluff, or virtue signaling, by Synod officials. These are designed to pacify the Leftists in the Church whom Pope Francis refuses to confront. They’re also designed to distract, confuse, confound, aggravate, and otherwise troll conservative Catholics into reacting in a stupid and self-destructive way. (HINT: Don’t fall for it. It’s a trap. Just bite your tongue and stay cool. See my previous post on this here.)
Symbolic Posturing (or things the Synod can’t do, but Leftists might say it’s doing)…
- The ecology will become center stage, a new eco-theology will be promulgated, totally non-binding and absolutely a farce. Catholics will likely be free to ignore most, if not all, of this. But don’t expect the synod fathers to tell you that.
- The myth of man-made global warming will be touted as fact. Man-made climate change deniers (like me) will be shunned as great sinners, if not complete ignoramuses.
- Western people will be called to learn from the natives who “live closer to nature.”
- Capitalism will be condemned.
- Socialism will be coddled, maybe not explicitly promoted, but definitely coddled. It appears that this will be tied to some kind of eco-socialism, thus breathing new life into the Latin American Liberation Theology, which was roundly condemned as Marxism by Pope St. John Paul II during his pontificate.
- Distributism will be ignored — as usual — which is unfortunate, since it offers the most reasonable way to temper the destructive components of capitalism while promoting more freedom not less.
- Nationalism will be condemned outright, with no distinction between civic nationalism versus racist fascism.
- Globalism (the Pope’s own unrealistic brand of it) will be promoted as the solution to everything.
- Open borders will be promoted, calling for mass migration that obliterates traditional European civilization.
- Feminists will call for ordination of women to the diaconate and priesthood, so Church leaders will pledge “accompaniment” and “further study” fearing to confront them on this issue. (It’s unrealistic to expect Father Sissy and Bishop Cover-Up to ever confront Susan from the Parish Council. She has bigger gonads than they do, don’t you know?)
- The plurality of religions will be promoted on a pastoral level, with hints that Pope Francis believes this doctrinally, whether he really does or not.
- There will most certainly be another push to include the “value” of homosexuality in the Church, but it’s not likely to get far, though uncontested proponents will announce that they’re making progress and that “full inclusion” is not far away.
- There may even be an attempt to brand Faithful Catholics as “dangerous” and “uncharitable,” questioning our fidelity to the teachings of Christ on charity, and maybe even calling for some kind of Church censure against Catholic media outlets (and blogs like this one) that dare to question Left-leaning Church leaders.
It’s important to remember that these latter things are fluff, posturing, or mere pomp and circumstance, with no real binding authority on Catholics anywhere. As I said above, they’re designed to pacify Leftists and troll Faithful Catholics, especially the most traditional and orthodox among us. They’re designed to trigger us, and send us off the deep end, in the hope that we’ll do something stupid, such as “go off the rails” and declare ourselves in schism, or sedevacantist, or something akin to that. The whole point is to get us to discredit ourselves publicly, and remove ourselves as obstacles to the Leftist agenda.
As much as I respect the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) for their liturgical and doctrinal fidelity, I cannot deny that their irregular status with Rome basically neuters their influence in the Church. It allows Leftists to declare them “schismatics” even though they are technically not. That’s not the point. The point is that their irregular status gives Leftists the ammunition they need to fire that false accusation with a hint of credibility, and that effectively discredits everything the SSPX says in the minds of the average lay Catholic. Therein lies the brilliance of the Leftist strategy that worked so well in 1988. Leading up to that fateful year, Archbishop Lefebvre was trolled by Leftists in Rome, to the point of desperation, wherein he acted in what he legitimately believed to be an emergency situation, an artificial emergency created by Leftists in the Vatican. They trolled him by ignoring his requests to ordain successors for his priestly fraternity well into his eighties! The man was literally dying of natural causes, while Leftists in Rome tossed his request to the side, tied it down in red tape, and said “we’ll get back to you.” They did this for years! They trolled him, making him think there was no hope, and in desperation he acted in a way that got him, and his episcopal successors, excommunicated. So unjust was his treatment that Cardinal Ratzinger opposed their excommunications, and when he became Pope Benedict XVI he had them rescinded. But it serves the Leftists in Rome well to keep the SSPX in an irregular state, and that is probably a big reason why this continues to be the case. As long as they remain in an irregular canonical state, they have no voice in the Church — no voice whatsoever! They are mute. That’s exactly where the Leftists want them, and that’s were they would like many of us too. Don’t be stupid. Don’t play into their game. They’re tolling us with all this Synod hysteria for the purpose of getting us to do what the SSPX did in 1988.
The lesson here is don’t get stupid. Don’t lose your head. Don’t allow the Leftists to create (in our minds) the artificial crisis they need to make us act in reckless ways. They’re playing the long-game here, and they would love to create another 1988. If they can get ten-thousand of us to “jump of the ledge” so to speak, that’s ten-thousand less Faithful Catholics standing in their way. See how it works? It’s a strategy. Don’t play into it. In 1988, they effectively got the SSPX to cut out their own vocal chords. Prior to 1988 they had a voice in the Church. It was a marginalized voice, but it was a voice nonetheless. After 1988, the SSPX went mute, not because they stopped talking, but because of their excommunications the average Catholic would no longer listen to them. Don’t let that happen to you!
Remember, there are certain things the Synod can do, and there are certain things it can’t do. The big one is that the Synod is incapable of changing Catholic doctrine, in spite of whatever weird document it puts out. Even if the document the Synod puts out isn’t that weird at all, it will be twisted and perverted by Leftists to further promote their selfish agenda. We also need to remember this. Whatever changes the Synod makes, such changes will have little to no effect on Traditional Catholic communities. Expect no changes to occur in Latin Mass communities (see here) or churches that belong to the Ordinariates of English Patrimony (see here). Becoming a member of such a church or community should help you feel less triggered by Synods like this. That’s because you’ll have a safe refuge of Catholic Tradition to return to on a weekly basis. If the Leftists in the Church are getting to you, it’s time to get yourself into a Traditionally-minded Catholic community or church, such as the Latin Mass or English Patrimony. That’s where you’ll find refuge, and that’s where you’ll be able to cool your jets.
There are only two things we have to remember about the Amazon Synod. One, we cannot stop it. Two, it cannot change Church doctrine or impose something on us that contradicts Church doctrine. The Amazon Synod only has as much power over us as we give to it. So if you’re worried, don’t give it anything. Get yourself to a traditionally-minded parish of some kind, and just be Catholic.