On August 28, 2019, Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Burke individually addressed a letter to all the cardinals to alert them about the danger for the faith constituted in the Instrumentum laboris, the working document of the Synod for the Amazon. These two prelates were already signatories, with the two deceased cardinals Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner, of the Dubia of September 16, 2016 on the post-synodal exhortation Amoris laetitia, dated March 19, 2016. The Dubia was addressed to the pope and still remains without a response.
Catholic News Agency (CNA) publicized the content of these two letters. In his letter, Cardinal Brandmüller does not hesitate to make reference to the way in which the recent synods on the family and youth have already been occasions for subversive maneuvers: “As the experience of these last synods have shown, I am afraid that they will attempt not only to manipulate the session but also to exert strong pressure on it.”
“The nebulous formulations of the Instrumentum, as well as the proposed creation of new ecclesial ministries for women and, especially, the proposed priestly ordination of the so-called viri probati arouse strong suspicion that even priestly celibacy will be called into question,” the German cardinal wrote.
Cardinal Brandmüller, Church historian, then added, “We must face serious challenges to the integrity of the Deposit of the Faith, the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church and its Apostolic Tradition. With all this has been created a situation never before seen in the Church’s history, not even during the Arian crisis of the fourth and fifth century.” He then called for his confreres to take up their responsibilities, in saying to them, “the grave question arises of knowing if we cardinals, in this unprecedented historical situation, will rise to the height of our solemn promise as cardinals, and how we will react to the eventual declarations or decisions of the synod.” And to bring up the final document of the synod fathers, and the post-synodal exhortation of the Pope.
Cardinal Brandmüller stated that, all of the cardinals must already consider in what manner they will react “to any heretical declaration or decision from the synod,” specifying to each of his recipients, “I am certain, that being a cardinal, you have already reflected on the situation and even on measures that could be taken in common. That is why I would hope, therefore, that Your Eminence, for your part, will seize this opportunity to correct, according to the teachings of the Church, certain positions expressed in the Instrumentum laboris of the pan-Amazonian synod.”
On his part, Cardinal Burke made known that he, “shares completely the deep concerns of Cardinal Brandmüller on the upcoming Synod on the Amazon, based upon its Instrumentum laboris.” More precisely, he denounced the manner in which this preparatory document envisions relations with the world and nature, in directly adopting the environmental and indigenous speech.
The Danger of Apostasy
The Instrumentum “contradicts the constant teaching of the Church on the relationship between the created world and God, the uncreated Creator, and man, created in the image and likeness of God to cooperate with him as guardian of the created world,” wrote the American prelate.
He emphasized that in the working document for the synod, “the truth that God has revealed Himself fully and perfectly through the mystery of the Incarnation of the Redeemer, the Son of God, is obscured, if not denied.” And he then deduced, “the logical consequence of that is that the Church’s mission, her mission of evangelization, is denied in favor of a ‘mutual enrichment of cultures in dialogue,’” as affirmed in paragraph 122 of the document. In this way, “the just role of inculturation in the evangelization of the mission is being contradicted to point that the culture is determining revealed truth, instead of revealed truth purifying and elevating all culture.”
Further, Cardinal Burke resumes, certain points raised by Cardinal Brandmüller “portend an apostasy from the Catholic faith.” This is why he ends his letter with a prayer, “May our teaching, by the grace of God, be effective in the fight against the great threat currently hanging over the Church. May the Virgin Mother of God, St. Joseph, protector of the universal Church, Saints Peter and Paul and all the great cardinal saints strongly intercede for the College of Cardinals in these restless and troubling times.”
We do not know if any cardinals have responded to these letters.
Weak Points in the Criticism
On September 4, 2019, the historian Roberto de Mattei gave an interview to the German newspaper Die Freie Welt. He shows the weakness of the criticisms of the Instrumentum laboris which fail to point out the personal responsibility of the pope in the Synod on the Amazon.
“Pope Francis, in an interview with Vatican Insider on August 9th (with the journalist Domenico Agasso Jr., who is responsible for La Stampa's Vatican Insider page), said that the synod of next October “is the son of Laudato si’. Those who have not read it will never understand the Synod on the Amazon.” With these words and other declarations, the Pope claims responsibility not only for the convocation of the next synod, but also the ideological choice that links this synod to his magisterium. The weak point of the criticisms from ecclesiastical circles with regard to the next synod is precisely there. They criticize the preparatory document (very much out loud, not very openly), but without designating Pope Francis as the person mainly responsible for this event, which will be not only doctrinal, but political and media-oriented. We will witness the launch of the new environmental religion of which Greta Thunberg is the prophetess. In his August 9th interview, Pope Francis said he was putting his hopes for the future on young people like her. If the cardinals and the bishops do not have the courage to openly resist Pope Francis, with all due respect, as pope, the fight, on the human level, is lost. I say on the human level, because the Church belongs to Jesus Christ, who visibly assists her every day and who will prevent the suicide of the Church from happening.”
On August 10th the Nuova Italia site, Roberto Pecchioli describes Pope Francis’ interview in La Stampa as “an interview without God.” He takes Francis’ complete answer on the synod and Laudato si’: “[the synod] is son of Laudato si'. Those who have not read it will never understand the Synod on the Amazon. Laudato si’ is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical, which is based on a ‘green’ reality, the protection of Creation.” The Italian journalist comments, “No reference to the Catholic collapse in South America, where evangelicals win over millions of the faithful every year... Therefore, no place for God and Jesus. Absolute silence on ‘hot’ themes— the family, the downward spiral of bioethics, the challenges of transhumanism, the violation of the natural law, the defense of life, homosexuality, abortion. They were called ‘non-negotiable principles’; they have been set aside to secure a fourth-ranked place at the grand ball of post-modernism globalism. Doctrine is forgotten, it seems to be only for the benefit of the “prophecy,” a pompous name that novelists give to their human ideas, only human. As for the Novissimi, in other words, the eschatological destiny of man, what a bore!, what a nuisance to speak again of hell and paradise, of salvation and damnation, especially on behalf of pastors in a grave crisis of faith!”