ROME — Australian Cardinal George Pell slammed the Catholic Church’s synodal way as “hostile” to apostolic tradition in a posthumous essay published Wednesday in the Spectator.
In what has become his final public statement, Cardinal Pell, who died suddenly of cardiac arrest on Tuesday evening, offers a scathing critique of the 45-page working document intended to guide the “continental scene” of the “synod on synodality.” going on in the Church.
The Catholic Synod of Bishops produced “one of the most incoherent documents ever sent from Rome,” writes Pell, and what was intended to express “God’s dream” of synodality “turned into a toxic nightmare “.
The synod document, titled “Expand the space of your tent,” focuses primarily on radical inclusion, listening, participation and co-responsibility with believers and non-believers, while ignoring central themes of the teaching and practice, observes Pell.
“The document does not even urge the Catholic participants to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), much less to preach the Savior in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2),” notes- he, calling the text a “recent update of the good news”.
In the text, the Christian message of salvation has been emptied of all content and “the distinction between believers and unbelievers is rejected”, he writes.
Additionally, the synod document proposes that no definitive position on abortion, contraception, the ordination of women to the priesthood, homosexual activity, polygamy, divorce and remarriage “can be established or proposed.” , notes the cardinal.
Pell goes on to ask rhetorically what one can think of “this outpouring of New Age goodwill”, which far from being a summary of the Catholic faith or the teaching of the New Testament, is “significantly hostile to apostolic tradition and nowhere recognizes the New Testament as the Word of God, normative for all teaching on faith and morals.
For its part, the Old Testament “is ignored, the patriarchy rejected and the Mosaic law, including the ten commandments, is not recognized”, he adds.
In his essay, Pell also tackles the thorny subject of who is chosen to lead the final two synods in Rome in 2023 and 2024, namely the heterodox Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich.
Hollerich, observes Pell, “has publicly rejected the fundamental teachings of the Church on sexuality, on the ground that they contradict modern science”, which in ordinary times would have prevented him from continuing as a “Relator”. of the synod.
Synods will have to decide whether they are “servants and defenders of the apostolic tradition on faith and morals” or sovereign teachers tasked with reinventing Catholic teaching, Pell proposes.
In a call to action to his fellow bishops, Pell recalls that the bishop is “the guarantor of continued fidelity to the teaching of Christ, the apostolic tradition”, which means that they are “governors and sometimes judges , as well as teachers and sacramental celebrants, and are not just wall flowers or rubber stamps.
Therefore, bishops have real authority and “are not there simply to validate due process and offer a ‘nihil obstat’ to what they observed,” he states.
“By a huge margin, regularly worshiping Catholics everywhere do not agree with the conclusions of this synod,” says Pell. “There is also not much enthusiasm at the higher levels of the Church.”
Many Catholics are rightly concerned about “the deepening of confusion, the attack on traditional morality and the insertion into dialogue of neo-Marxist jargon about exclusion, alienation, identity, marginalization, the voiceless, LGBTQ” in a synodal way, as well as “the displacement of Christian notions of forgiveness, sin, sacrifice, healing, redemption”, he observes.
Moreover, the synodal path “neglected or even downgraded the Transcendent, covered up the centrality of Christ with appeals to the Holy Spirit, and fostered resentment, especially among participants,” he writes.
This working document needs “radical changes,” Pell concludes, and a lot of work needs to be done, in God’s name, “as soon as possible.”