The End Of The Beginning
There can be no doubt that the Synod ended, in a way, in a completely different way from the one the Unholy Father had forecast. The New Gospel is, for the moment at least, in tatters. Thursday might well turn up to be what journalists love to call the “defining moment” of this pontificate. I prefer to call it, with J.R.R. Tolkien, (possibly) “the turning of the tide”.
On the other hand this is merely, to say it with Churchill, the end of the beginning. Francis “Operation Sea Lion” has failed, but the war now continues in the dioceses. Dissenters will be allowed to “discuss” what should be simply taboo. At least in the Western world, there will be no lack of conflict.
I have read concerns that it will be very easy for Francis to steer things in the right way: he would only need to invite different bishops next time, people already intentioned to push his agenda, and Bob's your uncle.
I can't imagine it would work, for the following reasons:
1. The most vocal opposition came from Cardinals. They based their main criticism (the doctrinal one) not on the fact that they were there, but on the fact that the Relatio was wrong. We live in a global village: being there is not so relevant.
2. The Church is more than the Vatican. The Polish bishops had, by way of their representative, refused to accept the document even before it was decided to remake it. There is no way in hell Francis can silence opposition just by ignoring it. You drive to the wall, you smash yourself into it.
3. Francis is, in fact, the proof of this reasoning. Bully as he is, if he had thought the voting of the wrong document would have silenced opposition in two days, or two weeks, or two months, he would have gone on with Operation Sea Lion, instructing Baldisseri to stay the course, not publishing the reports of the small groups, and concluding the Synod with another document issued under his supervision, without even informing the bishops. He did not do it, because he recognised that his credibility as Pope was on the line, and would not have survived such a provocation.
A Pope is not a Satrap. 2000 years of Church History and Deposit of Faith look at him continuously. He can muddle the message, downplay the more uncomfortable parts, even try to cover it under a mountain of fluffy nonsense; but to transform it in its opposite is a completely different cup of tea.
The next synod will be watched much more closely than this, because at this point not even his cat trusts Francis. Entire Continents will very obviously stay the course no matter what Francis machinations. He cannot silence thousands of bishops more than he could have silenced the 130 or 140 Synod Fathers. He is now swimming against a mighty current, and even some among the Liberal/Dissenting Press Acknowledge this uncomfortable reality.
Also reflect on this: that at this synod, modern-times taboos were broken. For the first time, a V II Pope was if not explicitly, certainly evidently questioned in his very doctrinal integrity or at least competence by many sources, his Cardinals not excluded. The floodgates are open. The age of the V II Pope who is believed to be remote-controlled by the Holy Spirit has ended. Countless Pollyannas have seen the Pope attacked not for his orthodoxy – this is an old sport by now – but for his lack of it, by his very people; by people, in fact, he has himself just made Cardinals, or called in the circle of his closest ally.
Is it all gone, then? Is the battle already won? By no means. Francis will now try to change the “global climate” in the matter. He will punish some bishops, appoint horrible ones, continue with his heresies and blasphemies. He will try to change the entire atmosphere around Catholic issues, thinking that he can still convert the Church to the New Gospel. But he has by now understood that he cannot force it on her and if he tries, he will be crushed. Not, of course, in its very role as Pope, but in the effectiveness of his action and his prestige and credibility as a person.
The more I think of it, the more I think the task before Francis is a very difficult one, perhaps even a desperate one. But he and his minions will go at it will all the populism, the arrogance,the hypocrisy and the hatred for Catholicism we have clearly seen at work since that stupid appearance on the balcony.
Operation Sea Lion has failed spectacularly thIs year. It is difficult for me to see how it can succeed next year. But crucially, the Wehrmacht is still there: admittedly stopped, battered in places, and with the Fuehrer's reputation damaged; but in the end with all the tanks and cannons in place. To be complacent in front of such a formidable army would be the worst of mistakes.
I do not think our Argentinian Hitler will win this war. I actually think this Synod marks the end of his triumphal march, and his papacy is now fairly near to becoming damaged goods. But this Hitler here is not the one to stop the fight and content himself with wearing red noses and embracing wheelchairs. He has hated Catholicism all his life. Those who have stopped him last week are exactly the people he has been insulting since the start of his Pontificate. He will continue the fight in the only way he knows: shameless hypocrisy on one side, reckless bullying on the other.
We must be more vigilant than ever. We must (finally) become more aggressive in our criticism of the Pope. We must raise loud calls of Heresy – Homoheresy, or any other heresy – whenever the man and his minions try to steer the discussion in the wrong direction. We must denounce him by every wrong appointment. We must follow every word he says, dissect it for heresy and blasphemy, and denounce it very loud.
We must call a heretic a heretic, and a clown a clown.
As we reach the End of the Beginning, it is very telling that Cardinals very near to the Pope dared to say what most blogs of laymen and priest did not have the courage to say.
The continuation of this war also goes through a review of our troops.