Skip to comments.The Synod of the German Church Under the Analyst's Lens. A Revolution That Self-destructs
Posted on 05/19/2020 4:50:53 PM PDT by ebb tide
Theres been a stir over the anthology published on Settimo Cielo of the working documents of the synodal way unfolding in the German Church, on the three central issues of powers in the Church, women's roles, and sexual morality.
The first of the three documents represents a genuine revolution, a democratization of the Church with elective access to the leading roles and with the subseqent duty of the elected to respond not only to other democratically chosen bodies but also to an independent jurisdiction.
But isn't this a subversion of the foundational structure of the Catholic Church?
This question is answered by Professor Pietro De Marco, a philosopher and historian by training, former professor of the sociology of religion at the University of Florence and in the Theological Faculty of Central Italy.
The full text of the document on "Power and division of powers in the Church" is available in German on the official website synodalerweg.de and in Italian in the magazine "Il Regno" of March 1 2020.
And these are the two previous Settimo Cielo posts that frame the issue:
> Francis and the Schism of Germany. History of a Nightmare
> Sex, Women, Power. The Three Challenges Germany Is Issuing To the Church
The Synodale Weg and the Slippery Slope of the German Church
by Pietro De Marco
The German bishops seem not to be aware of it, but the course of the Synodale Weg, the synodal way they have initiated, aimed at deciding the Church from below, is also the road of the immersion and disappearance of the Church, as an institution and as sovereignty, in democratic citizenship and its melting pot of values.
I should mention at once how unfortunate it is that such mediocre texts should accompany such a serious decision. And I am not talking about theology, often invoked but not by chance absent. The preparatory documents are political in the ordinary sense: tools for action. And their rhetorical resources are those that accompany every push for the democratization of an institution that in itself is not democratic, as the Church is de iure divino. Of this subversive thrust the organization of the synod, its composition, representatives, and regulations are the true face. The Synodale Weg is a war machine and at the same time a prefiguration of its results: a new division and new subjects - active and passive - of powers.
We read in the beginning of the preliminary reflections on Power and the division of powers in the Church, approved in September of 2019 and then updated on January 20, 2020:
The question that must serve as a guide is this: how can the Church in today's world credibly proclaim the Gospel in words and works?
Therefore one should decide on a how of faith on the basis of an external canon. But when has the Christian faith ever been preached in conditions of worldly credibility? What about the scandal of the cross, with which theological nihilism fills its mouth today? Was it credible in itself? Or in what sense, and how, did the great apostles and the apostles of the perennial faith made it credible? Did they adapt themselves to the order of plausibility of the utterances and customs of the time?
That the Synodale Weg has nothing to do with the order of the faith and the Christian tradition is revealed by the working method it calls for, or rather imposes:
The process of dialogue and decision needs an atmosphere of openness. There must be no taboo, no fear of the alternatives, no sanction.
Reform scenarios must be developed that can be carried out in procedural form.
So a good brainstorming on the Church, and concrete proposals for the good of the company. We are in the time of the startup. Of course, for the sake of customer loyalty - it is admitted in the document - it will also be necessary to breathe in a perceptible way a theological spirit, which inserts the respective considerations into the ensemble of a reflective faith. But the theological breath has this tenor:
The criticism concerns a concept of the Church very widespread in Germany, characterized by an excessive overloading of the ordained ministry as sacra potestas, linked to a hierarchy in which the faithful are unilaterally considered as dependent on the priests. But this institutional order is due not so much to a Catholic necessity as to an anti-modern mental [Affekt, a sentiment] prejudice.
Where, apart from the curious idea that the sacra potestas is a German excess, it is difficult to distinguish historical and theological ignorance from the falsification of facts and doctrines. The priestly ministry has been neither weighed down nor overburdened by the sacra potestas, which belongs to it in essence, unless the priesthood is nothing, as for the Protestants. The lay faithful is not a dependent of the priest, but is ecclesia discens, distinct and dependent as such on the ecclesia docens, in terms governed by the law and spirituality of the Church. This order, in its highest form descending from the caelestis hierarchia, constitutes the great Eastern and Western Church. It has nothing to do with anti-modern cultures. Even Max Weber grasped its uniqueness, its brilliant dialectic, as a charismatic institution.
Symptomatic of the confusion of the Synodale Weg is this thesis, presented as essential:
The crisis was not brought from outside into the Church, but has arisen within it. It is the result of powerful tensions between the doctrine and practice of the Church, but also between the way in which power is exercised in the Church and the standards of a plural society in a democratic rule of law, which many Catholics expect to be taken into account in their Church as well.
It is obvious that certain expectations of the Catholic faithful are induced by a projection of forms and ends of contemporary Western society onto the structures and essence of the Church. But to ensure justice and rights in the Church there is the law of the Church. The fact that in cases of pedophilia the exclusive use of the internal law has produced perverse effects, meaning the opposite of expectations, is a real problem for canonists. Not having foreseen civil action for compensation is what is called a legal gap. But this does not justify the lynching, within the Church, of priests and bishops, nor the anti-institutional proclamations. It instead demands, in addition to the courage to analyze the theological and moral degradation of Christian formation in recent decades, a great deal of legal work in the institution and for the institution.
The document also states that the synodal process must be characterized by participation, transparency, and equality of rights. Where equality does not concern some specific right, as in canonical constitutional law, but the demand to participate in final decisions - from theological to organizational - with the weight of the vote. What is undoubtedly put on the agenda here is both the elective character of the Churchs powers and the active and passive electorate of the so-called marginal classes.
Now these ecclesiastical pseudo-classes, women and the laity, are in fact already powerful, indeed decisive, in the Synodale Weg, as can be seen in the composition of the assembly. They therefore propose themselves, from a position of strength, as subjects to be emancipated for the purpose of taking power, treacherously striking, with the weapon of pedophilia, the priestly and hierarchical institution as a whole.
Not everyone knows, in fact, that at the basis of the current increase in power and capacity for pressure of the critical laity is the MHG effect, or the impact of the research on sexual abuse entrusted by the German episcopal conference to the universities of Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Giessen.
This is a vast interdisciplinary investigation led by Harald Dressing, a forensic psychiatrist, and conducted from July 1 2014 to September 24 2018 on the basis of data from 27 German dioceses. The result, in its diagnostic and prognostic part, attributes sexual scandals to the Catholic clerical institution as such. But it must be said that the German bishops could have saved themselves the enormous expense, much more than a billion euros, if the result had to be - predictably - the pretentious confirmation of things already known to the Church, as well as prejudices and commonplaces.
The laity and the dominant theological class have, however, found in the MHG a perfect Trojan horse that allows the institution of divine law to be attacked in the Church, setting aside every theological datum and every vision of supernatural faith still seriously founded.
Few today have the courage to see that the link between power, the celibacy of the clergy, and sexual morality, under fire in the German synod, has been truly corrupted systemically ever since the episcopal authority has ceased to teach and sanction, celibacy has been discredited in the training given to clerics in the faculties and seminaries, and sexual morality has been mocked precisely by those who - clerics and lay people - were supposed to be chaste. But this is just what happened between the immediate post-conciliar period and the seventies, in the bleed out of the clergy and religious orders. The hundreds of people, I suppose believers, who make up the Synodale Weg at its various levels may not realize that they are treacherously burdening an institution whose majesty and depth they do not even know with the conduct for which they themselves are responsible no less than past generations .
This series of statements, belonging to the perennial anti-clerical and heretical vulgate, integrated by the pathos of anti-power, should suffice to characterize the quality of the culture of the German synod:
The agenda of reforms requires a clear analysis of the phenomena of power in the Catholic Church [...]:
- The aesthetics of power [Macht] is manifested in the liturgy, but also, far beyond, in the physiognomy of the Catholic Church.
- The rhetoric of power is manifested in proclamation and catechesis, in public statements, but, far beyond, in the language of the Church and of the faith.
- The pragmatics of power manifests itself in organizational and communicative forms, in personnel structures and in decision-making processes, but, far beyond, in the social, cultural and political form of the Church.
Behind this extreme but cleverly calculated and organized assault on the Catholic institution by clergy and laity turned into intelligencija is a history of intellectual and sociological metamorphosis, of the composition of the teaching body, of the theological faculties. An intelligencija nourished by religious pragmatism, by democratic public ethics, in short, by opinion group ideology that wants itself to be the governing party of the universal Church. Hence also the loss of identity and the disappearance of such a Church in the ensemble of formations of pluralistic democracy, which I mentioned at the beginning.
A careful reading of the contributions and documents of the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken - a powerful lay representative apparatus already influential in the synod of Würzburg in the seventies but which now has a presence equal to that of the bishops in the Synodale Weg - would clarify the role of this opinion group in the collapse of the episcopal hierarchy. But it is unfortunately a theorem of political science that the deprecation of power always conceals, in critical groups, the deliberate search for power. It should be added that in the German-speaking world this pressure goes back decades to the organization Wir sind Kirche. Duly held at bay during previous pontificates, with the Synodale Weg it has managed to effectively transform itself into an electoral body and assembly faction.
The Synodale Weg appears to me uncertain in terms of legality, as constituted. But its intentions are certainly illegitimate, in the ultimate perspective of dogma, since they are clearly schismati faventes et in errorem inducentes, such as to favor schism and lead to error. The ideological and organizational framework that is taking shape is much more serious for the Church than others condemned in the past.
This is the case when the document peremptorily states:
The fair treatment of the genders [Geschlechtergerechtigkeit] is an indispensable prerequisite and a transversal task that must be carried out at all levels. The question of the conditions for access to pastoral services, including the diaconal, presbyteral and episcopal ministry, cannot be excluded, but must be examined.
Nobody is fooled by the apparent final caution: must be examined. The intention is to produce irreversible decisions. A naive utopia of the future Church cancels the being of the Church, in Christ and in every baptized person. It must be said forcefully that, insofar as the German Church is saturated with a suicidal anti-power, anti-priesthood rhetoric, and is prey to elites no longer Catholic, it is already as Church - mystical body of Christ and sacrament in Him and for/through Him - an empty chrysalis.
Does the supreme pontiff Francis remember that he is bound to "confirmare fratres suos? And that confirmare means to strengthen, restore if necessary, the Church in the one faith? Will he provide, or shall we look for another?
These movements were gaining ground long before Francis, sad to say.
And Francis is waving them in to the finish line with his checkered flag, sad to say.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.