(Matt Gaspers, Catholic Family News – november 15, 2018) See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16
Last month (Oct. 4-15), I had the honor of traveling to Rome with members of the Fatima Center to cover the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment (Oct. 3-28). As my dearly departed predecessor, John Vennari (requiescat in pace), and Christopher Ferrara did in 2015, I went to the Eternal City not only to report on daily synod news, but more importantly to place what I saw and heard within the broader context of the Church’s ongoing crisis – one that began long before Pope Francis but has accelerated at break-neck speed during his disastrous pontificate.
This spiritual context is essential for those who wish to go beyond the bare facts and understand their grave significance, especially as they concern the war being waged by “principalities and power…the rulers of the world of this darkness…the spirits of wickedness in the high places” (Eph. 6:12) against the relatively few who still “hold the Catholic Faith whole and undefiled” (Athanasian Creed). With that in mind and heart, my colleagues and I did our best to make the most of our time, for indeed, as St. Paul says, “the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
Expectations and First Impressions
I was aware beforehand that the youth synod would most likely replicate the 2014 and 2015 family synods, as far as manipulation is concerned. Last March, for example, I provided a brief history of the “Amoris-Dubia Drama,” as I call it, in the first installment of my “Fatima Centennial: Know the Signs of the Times” series, recalling how there was a clear agenda in 2014 and 2015 to reach a pre-determined outcome – namely, the so-called “Kasper Proposal” of admission to the sacraments for divorced and “remarried” Catholics – which has since been accomplished vis-à-vis Amoris Laetitia.
Christopher Ferrara also wrote an excellent two-part series for CFN earlier this year regarding the youth synod (“Phony Synod III”, published in the July and August issues), so I was prepared and even expecting to encounter the same sort of manipulation at work during the previous synods – only this time, so it seemed, for the purpose of “normalizing” homosexuality in the Church.
One of the primary reasons for this suspicion is found towards the end of the youth synod’s mammoth Instrumentum Laboris (IL) or working document:
“Some LGBT youths, through various contributions that were received by the General Secretariat of the Synod, wish to ‘benefit from greater closeness’ and experience greater care by the Church, while some BC [bishops’ conferences] ask themselves what to suggest ‘to young people who decide to create homosexual instead of heterosexual couples and, above all, would like to be close to the Church.’” (IL, n. 197, emphasis added)
On the day of my arrival in Rome (Oct. 4), Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia presented an intervention (brief address) in the synod hall challenging the use of “LGBT” in any Church document:
“There is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are; as if these designations described discrete communities of differing but equal integrity within the real ecclesial community, the Body of Jesus Christ. This has never been true in the life of the Church, and is not true now. It follows that ‘LGBTQ’ and similar language should not be used in Church documents, because using it suggests that these are real, autonomous groups, and the Church simply doesn’t categorize people that way.”
Earlier that same week (Oct. 1), LifeSiteNews Rome correspondent Diane Montagna pointed out to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops and manipulator-in-chief of the two family synods) after a press briefing that “LGBT” did not appear in the final document from the Pre-Synodal Meeting (Mar. 19-24), contrary to Baldisseri’s prior claim that the IL simply quoted the pre-synodal document on the matter. She went on to ask if the controversial acronym might be removed from the working document as a means of preventing its inclusion in the final text. His response? “Look, I am not removing anything. The Synod Fathers will discuss it article by article. All the texts, even the loftiest in the world, will be discussed.”
Thus, despite these praiseworthy acts of resistance, “LGBT” remained and the agenda pressed forward. Interestingly, however, now that the synod is over and the contents of the final document (produced only in Italian) are beginning to emerge as we go to press, the dominant theme appears to be “synodality” (more on this later on).
Need for Beauty, Order, and Permanence
Although much of my time and energy was spent keeping tabs on the sinister agenda at work, my days in the Eternal City were not without their positive moments. I had never before been to Rome, so unlike my Fatima Center colleagues and most other reporters on the scene, it was my first time encountering St. Peter’s Basilica in person and the experience had a profound impact. I believe it was a special moment of grace by which Our Lord prepared me for the work ahead.
Upon entering the square and gazing at the most iconic church in Christendom, I found myself captivated by the beauty, order, and permanence of Holy Mother Church, which the glorious basilica, built over the tomb of St. Peter himself, embodies so well. No matter how corrupt the human element of the Church becomes, I thought, Our Lord will never allow the beauty, order, and permanence of His Mystical Body to be completely destroyed. In short, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
At the same time, I was struck by how much young people, in particular, desperately need beauty, order, and permanence in their lives, especially at this time in history when so many of them are immersed in ugliness, chaos, and instability. While some among them may say they want “freedom” (license) and “compassion” (indifference to sin) from their elders, what they really need is sound catechesis and a holy example, first from their own parents (who are nowhere identified in the IL as the primary educators), and then from the Church’s hierarchy.
The IL includes a section on “Nourishing Faith through Catechesis” (nn. 190-193), but not surprisingly it fails to emphasize the importance of teaching the basic truths of the Faith (e.g. creation, Original Sin and its consequences, our need for salvation, the Person and mission of Our Lord, extra Ecclesiam nulla salus). Instead, it says, “Catechesis does not always enjoy a good reputation among young people, because it reminds many of them of ‘a compulsory and unchosen path in their childhood’” (n. 190), while claiming that “successful experiences of catechesis” are based on “experiential journeys of living encounter with Christ” (n. 192). Seriously, what does that even mean?
During one of my video reports (available here), I quoted from an excellent critique of the working document that brilliantly articulates its deep flaws. Among other valuable insights, the critique explains:
“There is much discussion about what young people want; little about how these wants must be transformed by grace in a life that conforms to God’s will for their lives. After pages of analysis of their material conditions, the IL offers no guidance on how these material concerns might be elevated and oriented toward their supernatural end. Though the IL does offer some criticism of exclusively materialistic/utilitarian goals (§147), the majority of the document painstakingly catalogues the varied socio-economic and cultural realities of young adults while offering no meaningful reflection on spiritual, existential, or moral concerns. The reader may easily conclude that the latter are of no importance to the Church.” [Emphasis added]
“It is common knowledge that adolescents from permissive households typically yearn for parents to care enough to set limits and give direction, even if they rebel against this direction. Similarly, the Church as mother and teacher cannot through negligence or cowardice forfeit this necessary role of setting limits and directing (Cf. §178). In this regard §171, which points to the motherhood of the Church, does not go far enough. It offers only a listening and accompanying role while eliminating that of teaching.” [Emphasis added]
Simply put, there are far too many “permissive parents” among the Church’s hierarchy and not nearly enough true fathers whose primary concern is the salvation and sanctification of souls.
Thankfully, there are some young people who do want to receive sound doctrine and a radical call to holiness from the Church. Take, for example, the international group of Catholic youth who drafted an alternative document following the Pre-Synodal Meeting this past spring because their calls for orthodox catechesis, reverent liturgy (including the Traditional Latin Mass), and bold public witness were summarily ignored. And more recently, during the synod itself, a group of over 200 college students and young professionals from Australia submitted an open letter to the Synod Fathers in which they state, “Without the Church and everything she offers – divine revelation, tradition, community, and reason itself – conscience has no substance. We need a reliable moral compass. For this, the young need to be well-formed in the truth.”
The problem is that the men in control of the synod do not share this desire for truth. They are much more interested in perpetuating the “profane novelties” (1 Tim. 6:20) of the Second Vatican Council, in opposition to “the appeal of traditionalist or fundamentalist proposals” (IL, n. 63), as we shall see.
Modernist Control of the Synod
Being a Vatican-accredited journalist during my time in Rome allowed me to witness firsthand the obvious manipulation of the synod and the Church, in general, by the Modernists who occupy key positions in the hierarchy. As one writer summed it up back in July, “October’s youth synod is about finishing the old business of the St. Gallen mafia,” the Modernist cadre who managed to get Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected to the Chair of Peter in 2013 after a narrow defeat in 2005. (The former leader of this group was Cardinal Carlo Martini, d. 2012, a strong proponent of “synodality.”)
The synod press briefings are a prime example. After attending several of them, I noticed a clear pattern emerge: the majority of the prelates who sat on the daily panel were either a) “Members of Pontifical Nomination” – that is, appointed directly by Pope Francis to the youth synod (papal delegate), rather than having been elected by their respective episcopal conferences – or b) ex officio delegates – those who were automatically appointed due to their position within the overall framework of the Synod of Bishops (the one exception being my first “presser” on Oct. 5, at which both bishops happened to be elected delegates).