Pope Francis was to have received the members of the Sauvé Commission on Thursday, December 9, 2021, but the meeting was postponed sine die. This interview, scheduled for October, had been postponed for “busy schedule” reasons.
The report, already known for several weeks, had caused some talk. Especially since it coincided more or less with the sending of the Critical Analysis of eight members of the Catholic Academy of France to Msgr. Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, and also to the nunciature to be communicated subsequently to Rome.
Faced with this announcement, some speculated that the Pope and the Curia wanted to stand back and take time to examine the work of the Sauvé Commission. The president of the bishops' conference of France was responsible for explaining the postponement of the meeting for the aforementioned reason: an overly busy schedule.
But the case is bouncing back. During the flight that brought him back from Athens on Monday, December 6, Francis answered a question on this subject, in which he kept a certain distance from the Sauvé report: “When you carry out a study over such a long period, you risk confusing the way of seeing the problem 70 years ago with the way of seeing now,” he explained.
And then he drove home the point: “You have to be careful with the interpretations that are given over time.” These words overlap with what Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, said in private. In particular, he insisted on the fact that such a report could not justify “profoundly reforming the institution.”
It seems that it was the analysis of the Sauvé report by the members of the Catholic Academy of France that was decisive in delaying the interview with the members of CIASE.
According to the newspaper La Croix, citing “several Vatican sources,” in Roman circles accuse the Commission “of having exceeded its prerogatives, by making recommendations in areas of competence which are not its own.”
FSSPX.News has strongly denounced this aspect, noting in particular certain proposals, including the ones which more or less seriously attack the Catholic faith itself. The French bishops, for their part, have not formulated any criticism of the recommendations.
The Curia was also surprised at the method used to obtain the now well known estimate, and proclaimed by Mr. Sauvé when presenting the report.
Msgr. de Moulins-Beaufort had announced that he would ask the Pope for help with the follow-up to the report and the measures that should be taken. He is now due to meet Francis on Monday, December 13, following the fall Plenary Assembly. On this occasion, Le Figaro sums up the situation with the following headline: “Sauvé Report: the Pope Calls the Bishops of France to Account.”
The situation may be complicated for the French episcopate, which will undoubtedly endeavor to defend a report which it has commissioned and fully approved, while Rome - Pope and Curie included - has clear reservations.
What if the help requested were made concrete by opening the eyes of the episcopate of France on this delicate and painful affair? A case which can in no way be the occasion for an attack on the institutions of the Church, nor give rise to serious criticism of her methodology, at the risk of making these wounds even more painful.
This awareness of the abnormality of the CIASE report should perhaps lead to a review of the MHG report of the German bishops, already commented on several times in FSSPX.News. This document has already accused the Church using the term “institutional,” equivalent to “systemic.” But the reactions were few, and did not prevent the establishment of the Synodal Path.
This synod has issued proposals which are largely equivalent to the recommendations of the CIASE Report. They have already passed several stages, and are in the process of being voted on and promoted to the rank of laws in the Church in Germany, it being up to each bishop to make them concrete in his diocese.
But it seems it's easier wag a finger at the French episcopate than at the German bishops. And Msgr. de Moulins-Beaufort does not have the stature of Cardinal Reinhard Marx or Msgr. Georg Bätzing, the current president of the German Bishops' Conference.
If this episode could open Rome’s eyes to the urgent need to slow down or stop the Synodal Path, all would not be lost. But it is undoubtedly too late for some of the German faithful.