Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops was strongly accused by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in a recent interview, of wanting to change the Church. The same accusation can be made against Cardinal Hollerich, general rapporteur of the synod on synodality.
Msgr. Jean-Claude Hollerich, Cardinal Archbishop of Luxembourg, is President of the Commission of the Episcopates of the European Community (COMECE) and Vice-President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), and finally General Rapporteur of the Synod on Synodality .
He recently gave an interview to L'Osservatore Romano, reproduced on Vatican news. He is asked about the synod and what he thinks should be reformed in the Church.
Spreading the Gospel
He begins with an observation: “I believe that in Europe today we suffer from a pathology, namely that we are unable to see clearly what the mission of the Church is.” That is probably true, but not for the reasons the Cardinal gives.
For the porporato, the current discourse talks too much about structures, but, he adds, “we do not talk enough about the mission of the Church, which is to proclaim the Gospel.” We still have to understand what he means by that. He explains it right after:
“To announce, and above all to bear witness, to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A testimony that the Christian must interpret mainly through his commitment in the world for the protection of creation, for justice, for peace.” In other words, a purely terrestrial, horizontal mission, from which grace is absent. A naturalist mission.
As an example of the fulfillment of this mission, he gives Pope Francis' two encyclicals, Laudato si' and Fratelli tutti, which are well understood by the world. His proof of this is that the European Parliament politicians, with whom he rubs shoulders, have all read these two encyclicals and “recognize Pope Francis as the father of a new humanism.”
Tragic confession: the popes are not asked to be humanists, but to preach Jesus Christ, His Revelation, the Church and eternal salvation by grace, repentance of sin and penance.
And to conclude this passage with another confession: “it is up to us to be able to explain that the Francis’ humanism is not only a political proposal, but is an announcement of the Gospel.” But which Gospel does he speak? Of an earthly Gospel, which believes men can be saved by remaining at a purely human level?
A Change in the Priesthood
Cardinal Hollerich sees synodality as a requirement of collegiality between bishops, and as a rediscovery of the universal priesthood of the faithful: “we must be aware that the baptismal priesthood takes nothing away from the ministerial priesthood.…There is no ministerial priesthood without the universal priesthood of Christians, because it derives from it.”
On the contrary, the “ministerial” priesthood is primary, and the “universal priesthood” founded on baptism derives from it. This priesthood in a derived, secondary sense, can only be exercised under the impulse of the priestly action of the priest. If there were no longer any priests or bishops on earth, the Church would only have to disappear, because she would no longer be able to perform the supreme act of religion: the holy sacrifice of the Mass. And without this sacrifice, the Church would have lost her principal reason for being.
Cardinal Hollerich pronounced a new error shortly afterwards by denying an “ontological diversity” between the priesthood of the priest and that of the faithful. He opposes all of Tradition, and even the Second Vatican Council which said this subject: “they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree…” (Lumen Gentium, 10, ¶2). So there is indeed “ontological diversity.”
Authority in the Church
As for the place of the laity, the Archbishop of Luxembourg claims: “I think that, both because of the results of this Synod and because of the decrease in vocations, the balance between the laity and the clergy will be very different in the future from what it is today.” He does not describe this new balance, but he deplores that the current confrontation is in terms of “power.”
On this subject, he criticizes the Synodal Path which focuses on this problem. He explains his thinking on this subject: “Synodalism goes well beyond the discourse on power. If people perceive the authority of the bishop or parish priest as a ‘power,’ then we have a problem. Because we are ordained for a ministry, for a service. Authority is not power.”
The reader can plunge into an abyss of perplexity, or even think that the cardinal is playing on words. There is concern that this is not the case. To say that “authority is not power” can only have meaning if the word “power” is reduced to denoting a diversion, an abuse. Because it is quite obvious to everyone, and even to the dictionary, that authority is power.
Thus, the Dictionary of the French Academy defines authority, in its first sense: “Power or right to command, to constrain.” And the National Center for Textual and Lexical Resources says: “Power to act on others.” In a Catholic sense, authority is precisely the power given to those who have the competence, to help subordinates achieve their end.
An Anthropological Change?
Cardinal Hollerich having spoken of “pastoralism unsuited to our time,” seeks to explain himself. He observes that “everything is changing at a speed unheard of only a few decades ago.” And he adds: “Today, we cannot even imagine it, but there will be very, very big anthropological transformations.”
And to make himself understood, he adds: “we are not talking about cultural anthropology, but about changes that also concern the biological, natural sphere.” Well, that’s peculiar. The Archbishop of Luxembourg announces an evolution in the human species. Towards what? What does he mean? He goes on to specify somewhat: “our pastoral work speaks to a man who no longer exists.”
After noting the uprooting of current generations, the general rapporteur of the synod explains the need for pastoral adaptation to anthropological changes. He finds that “constantly young people stop considering the Gospel, if they feel that we are discriminating.”
The reason is that “for young people today, the most important value is non-discrimination. Not only that of gender, but also that of ethnicity, origin, social class. They are very angry about discrimination!” And if we follow his thought well, the Church must buy into this contemporary fact, otherwise her message will not be received.
There are elements in this logic that are deeply opposed to Catholic doctrine. Because it involves saying that “everyone is called. No one is excluded: even remarried divorcees, even homosexuals, everyone.” This is forgetting that it cannot be as remarried divorcees or as homosexuals, but as men who want to do penance for their sins and seek to avoid falling into sin.
God Blesses Same-Sex Love
This is undoubtedly one of the parts of this interview most seriously opposed to the doctrine of the Church. Commenting on the decision of the Flemish-speaking Belgian bishops to bless unions between persons of the same sex, the Cardinal claims: “If we stick to the etymology [of blessing] of 'speaking good,’ do you think that God can ever ‘speak ill’ of two people who love each other?”
Really, this is astonishing. Has Cardinal Hollerich read the Gospel he wants to proclaim? Or St. Paul? Because there is no ambiguity. As for remarried divorcees, Our Lord firmly condemns them: we must quote the passage:
“And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female? And he said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.”
“Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt. 19:3-6). – And further : “And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery” (Mt. 19:9). Isn't that “saying the wrong thing”?
As for St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans (1:26), he severely condemns “shameful affections” and he concludes: “For we know that the judgment of God is, according to truth, against them that do such things” (Rom. 2:2). Isn't that also “bad to say”?
A Serious Philosophical Error
Behind the elements of non-discrimination, even of what is wrong, and of approval of all “love,” whatever it may be, stands a serious philosophical error which allows them: the automatic justification of a human love, in itself. But such love is only good if it respects the divine law, because only God makes an object be good by His love.
And to show it, let us ask the cardinal the question: “What will you say when it comes to an incestuous love? Like the one between a brother and a sister, or a son and his mother-in-law, for example. According to his reasoning, since they love each other, God cannot “speak evil.” But, again, St. Paul has already settled the issue in the matter of the incestuous man from Corinth (1 Cor 5:1-13).
Would the synod rapporteur want to contradict St. Paul? Or does he want to stop before this last consequence? And for what reason then?
We are indeed faced with a desire to transform the Church of Jesus Christ into something else. It is being turned into a kind of NGO, tinged with spirituality, engaged in the societal struggles of the moment, and in integral ecology. Immersed in today's world, it must take on all its colors and accept its codes and deviations, even if certain limits are posed.
With such a general secretary and such a general rapporteur at work, the synod, which already promised to be very gloomy, now appears only as a machine of war against the Church. But, even if evil can sometimes seem to triumph, it is Christ who leads His Church, and He will not allow His bride to be disfigured.