NEWS:  November 29, 2017
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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães
YOUTH ARE APATHETIC ABOUT THEIR COMING SYNOD  –   Tomorrow, November 30, 2017, will be the deadline for the Dioceses around the world to deliver to the Vatican their answers to the Synod on Youth to be held in Rome in October 2018. It was also the last day for young people to answer the questionnaire the Vatican posted online on a website dedicated to the preparation for this Synod, but at the last moment the deadline was extended to December 31.

Pope Francis, Cardinal Baldissseri, Archbishop Bruno Forte

Pope Francis, Card. Baldisseri & Arch. Forte make up the trio that controls the Synods

For those who are not accustomed to the procedures of Pope Francis’ synods – the two family synods (2014-2015), the coming youth synod (2018) and the next Amazonia synod (2019) – here is how they work:
  • After a group of Bishops make a request to deal with a certain topic, the Pope determines that a synod of Bishops should gather at the Vatican to discuss that subject and sets a date;

  • The Secretariat of the Synod elaborates a plan and sends the Bishops a Preparatory Document (PD) giving the general guidelines and instructions;

  • A questionnaire is sent to the Dioceses and simultaneously posted online soliciting responses from those whom the synod addresses (families, youth or the people of Amazonia);

  • The answers of both the Dioceses and the people are sent to the Vatican, which elaborates an Instrumentum laboris (IL) – a working document. This document is sent to the Bishops as the base for discussions in the coming synod;

  • The Bishops chosen by the Vatican gather in Rome to discuss the IL. Each Bishop is given a short time (5 minutes) to express his opinion in the general assembly; the Bishops meet in groups set by language and discuss the topics; a report of the conclusions of each group is sent to the Secretariat of the Synod;

  • The Secretariat proposes to the general assembly a final project, which is debated. Each Bishop who wants to suggest a change has a limited time (5 minutes) to explain his position.

  • The changes are studied by the Secretariat and, after some months, a final document is written: An apostolic exhortation, which is approved and signed by the Pope.
Such are the habitual phases of a 'Francis synod.' They are meant to give the impression of a “democratic process” (aka synodal process) that is being introduced in the Catholic Church.

To have a democratic Church is an old progressivist dream, which Paul VI tried to put into practice when he established the synods. During John Paul II’s long pontificate, however, the synods became snoozing-bureaucratic meetings that no one – neither the Bishops nor the faithful – took too seriously. JPII’s multiple apostolic exhortations were almost lost among the exorbitant inflation of papal documents that characterized his term. This tendency did not change during the eight years of Benedict XVI.

Francis is now giving a new momentum to this comatose institution. He is using two methods of impact:
  • By establishing a “direct participation of the people” through his questionnaires to families, youth, Indians etc.;

  • by addressing hot moral topics and, then, changing the previous moral doctrine of the Church on these topics.
This is what we witnessed in the two family synods, which generated the controversial Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia (analysis here and here).

Another point to keep in mind is that this “new look” of the synods has been controlled by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Secretariat of the Synod, and its secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte. They are in perfect attunement with Pope Bergoglio, who pushes the most radical agenda possible .

In the Synods of the Family, the radical agenda was attributed to the presence of Card. Walter Kasper, who previously had manifested his opinion that divorced-and-remarried Catholics should receive Communion. Now, Kasper is in full retirement and out of the picture, but the Bergoglio-Baldisseri-Forte trio remains quite energetic, making sure that the “democratic process” of the synods will move exactly where they want it to go.

The Preparatory Document

In the Preparatory Document – PD – dated January 13, 2017, by the Synod Secretariat but actually released in March, there are already points that seem to indicate the agenda to be followed to the end. The main moral points that draw attention are:
  • The PD affirms, “The Church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love.” (Introduction § 3) When the Church assumes as her main goal the promotion of the fullness of life and joy, she is hardly preparing to preach the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The consequence is that she is effectively renouncing the preaching of any asceticism to repress the passions, which are notably more virulent in young people.

  • Let me observe that no frontal attack is made in the PD against the avalanche of immorality that bombards modern youth everywhere, causing as inevitable consequences unacceptable lifestyles that include free love, adopting multiple contraception methods, pre-marital cohabitation, abortion and homosexuality. The omission of addressing these points and the emphasis put on enjoying life and love emphatically encourages the practice of these bad lifestyles.

photos of immorality at World Youth Days

Now the Church calls the youth "to the fullness of life and love." From the top. World Youth Days in Cologne-2005; Spain-20111, Rio-2013 & Krakow-2016

  • Instead of setting any restrictions on bad moral behavior, the PD seems to stimulate such conduct among young people when it affirms: “They need opportunities for free interaction among themselves to be able to express their feelings and emotions, to learn in an informal manner, and to experiment with their roles and talents without stress and anxiety." (I, 2 § 9)

  • Instead of asking the youth to change their lifestyle, it is the Catholic Church that is supposed to modify her Morals. Indeed, the PD states: “The Church is called upon to evaluate her pastoral activity, which needs to develop an appropriate culture." (I, 2, § 12)

  • The Catholic Morals of the past is considered obsolete by the PD: “Young people refuse to continue on a personal journey of life if it means giving up taking different paths in the future: 'Today I choose this, tomorrow we'll see.' In affective relationships as in the world of work, the horizon consists of options that can always be reversed rather than definitive choices. In this context, the old approaches no longer work and the experience passed on by previous generations quickly becomes obsolete.” (I. 3 §§ 1, 2)

  • Instead of advocating the preaching of Catholic Morals to correct the youth, the PD believes that everything will resolve itself by the simple power of freedom. It states: “Human freedom, despite the fact that it always needs to be purified and perfected, never loses the fundamental capacity to recognize the good and carry it out.” (I. 1 § 7)

  • The PD then goes on to define what the Church must do: “Promoting truly free and responsible choices, completely removed from practices of the past, remains the goal of every serious pastoral vocational program.” (II, 2, § 12, cf. II, 4 § 5; III, 1, § 1)

  • Regarding gender, the PD does not address the contemporary discussion about so-called transgenderism. It adopts the classical distinction of masculine and feminine genres and affirms: “Not to be forgotten are the differences that arise with regard to gender, masculine and feminine. On the one hand, gender determines different perceptions of reality, on the other, gender is the basis of various forms of domination, exclusion and discrimination, which all societies need to overcome.” (I § 2)

    That is, the PD takes a feminist approach, encouraging women to rebel against the superiority of man, which has been a constant teaching of the Church since the apostolic times (cf. Eph 5: 22-24). In parallel, the PD tells young men to constrain their psychological male characteristics, so that they do not abuse women by dominating them, excluding them or discriminating against them.
The conclusion of this analysis of the PD is that the Synod Secretariat is preparing for a complete surrender of Catholic Morals to the contemporary immoral lifestyle of modern youth. Judging by the PD, the synod will set the blame on Capitalism for all the social, psychological and moral problems of today's youth – I refrain from bringing forth a plethora of texts supporting this last point.

Apathy of the youth regarding the Synod

No matter how concessive the PD is or how biased the questionnaire that the Synod Secretariat posted to attract youth and allow them to share their opinions with the Bishops who will legislate guidelines, the final results of the statistics revealed themselves to be quite poor.

Indeed, during the more than four months the survey was on online until the end of October, only 148, 247 persons visited the website and only a few more than 65,000 answered the questions. Out of this number only some 3,000 left their e-mail address to be informed of the outcome of the survey.

Let me make a comparison. Our Tradition in Action website, whose rank is between small to medium, had during the same period of time 986,036 visits. Our movement is the size of a wasp when compared to the Vatican might. Nonetheless, we had more than six times the number of visits than the Vatican special website for youth.

If this does not reflect a great disinterest of the youth in the openness of the Conciliar Church, then numbers have lost their meaning…