Bird’s Eye View of the News
So, news reports about Bergoglio inundate the media sources. This inflation of news diverts the attention of the faithful from discerning what is really important. For this reason, a very relevant speech he delivered on October 17, 2015, did not receive the attention it should from the Catholic public.
Trying to fill this lacuna I will analyze that short speech. It was delivered on the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod in the Paul VI Hall and attended by those Prelates who were participating in the 2015 Synod, also taking place at the Vatican.
Francis delivering his speech to the Bishops
who attended the Synod 2015
“The world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission. It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.” (original here)
Synodality like collegiality, in progressivist parlance means democracy. So, in the quoted excerpt Francis affirmed:
- The Catholic Church is called to serve the world;
- This new lord now demands that she increase her cooperation with it in all areas;
- Such a cooperation translates into installing democracy in the Church;
- God now speaks to the Church by means of the world.
The infallibility of the faithful
Next, he quoted Vatican II on how rank-and-file Catholics have a sense of the faith that is always correct and concluded that they are infallible. It is good doctrine to sustain that the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) or the sensus fidei (sense of the faith) is always correct because the faithful, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have the habit of obeying the Hierarchy. Thus, through the centuries the faithful acquired enough experience to discern error when some heterodox novelty is preached by the Prelates. This is basically the good doctrine on the sensus fidelium. (1)
However, it is a sophism to say that the people of the Church are infallible and must orient the Church just because they are on her lowest stratum. This is the wrong doctrine of the Enlightenment, which laid the foundation for modern democracies. This sophism was adopted by Francis throughout his whole speech.
Francis: ‘The Church is an inverted pyramid’
Thus, Bergoglio confirmed that the consultation made previous to the two Synods (2014, 2015) had a democratic hue, as we have stated before (here and here).
Then, after some digressions on how the Church listens to the people, he went to the central part of his message:
“Jesus founded the Church by setting at her head the Apostolic College, in which the Apostle Peter is the “rock” (cf. Mt 16:18), the one who must confirm his brethren in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). But in this Church, as in an inverted pyramid, the top is located beneath the base. Consequently, those who exercise authority are called ‘ministers’ because, in the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all. It is in serving the people of God that each bishop becomes, for that portion of the flock entrusted to him, vicarius Christi, the vicar of that Jesus who at the Last Supper bent down to wash the feet of the Apostles (cf. Jn 13:1-15). And in a similar perspective, the Successor of Peter is nothing else if not the servus servorum Dei.
“Let us never forget this! For the disciples of Jesus, yesterday, today and always, the only authority is the authority of service, the only power is the power of the cross.”
The sound Catholic doctrine
There are several things that offend the sensus fidelium in this excerpt:
1. The head of the Church is the Pope, not the Apostolic College. This is taught by Pius IX, in union with Vatican Council I. Indeed, they defined the nature and purpose of the Pope’s primacy in the Constitution De Ecclesia Christi of June 18, 1870:
Pope Pius IX presiding over the sessions of First Vatican Council: ‘Only Peter has primacy, not the Apostles’
2. The Church is a monarchy, not an inverted pyramid. This is taught by St. Pius X in his Letter Ex quo of December 26, 1910. Indeed, he warned:
“Regarding the constitution of the Church … once again we are facing the error, already condemned by Our predecessor Innocence X, that St. Paul was considered as a brother completely equal to St. Peter; from this they accept the no less false opinion that the Catholic Church was not, from the first centuries, the principate of only one person, that is, a monarchy; or that the Primacy of the Roman Church is not supported by valid arguments … Let such opinions be qualified as grave errors.” (DR 2147a)
3. The Prelates should not serve the people, but the opposite is true. Indeed, St. Pius X in the Encyclical Vehementer nos explains that the people must obey the Prelates, who are above them:
Pope St. Pius X: ‘The Church is a monarchy; the faithful must obey the Hierarchy’
“So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members toward that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the pastors.” (AAS, 1906, vol. 39, pp. 8-9)
Therefore, we see that Pope Francis is in total opposition to the previous Magisterium of the Catholic Church and that his “inverted pyramid” Church is completely subversive. It looks more like the Church of Satan, revolted against any authority, than the Church of Christ.
Three levels of democracy
Then, Francis addresses the three levels of democracy – or synodality – to be established in the Church:
- The synodality of the organizations linked to the people;
- The synodality of the bishops at the level of Episcopal Conferences and, finally,
- That of the Synod of Bishops meeting at the Vatican representing the whole Church. He includes himself in this third level, as Bishop of Rome.
“I am persuaded that in a synodal Church, greater light can be shed on the exercise of the Petrine primacy. The Pope is not, by himself, above the Church; but within it as one of the baptized, and within the College of Bishops as a Bishop among Bishops.”
What can this pope equal to all the baptized be except the president of a republic?
Here we have from the mouth of Pope Francis himself the future Church that is being prepared at a fast pace by Progressivism. It seems that we will see it, if Our Lady does not intervene first.
- For more on sensus fidelium see my In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, General Introduction to the Collection Lamma Sabacthani?, note 1.