CV NEWS FEED // In a September 21 letter to bishops slated to participate in the Synod on Synodality, Cardinal Joseph Zen warned that organizers plan to “manipulate” the gathering into endorsing sexual immorality.
Before delving into “problems of procedure of the Synod,” Zen’s letter cited the ongoing crises in the Catholic Church in Germany and in the Anglican Communion, where Christians are approaching schism over the introduction of sexual progressivism into their teachings. He noted that Pope Francis has never definitively shut down the “Synodal Way” in Germany, despite numerous warnings from cardinals throughout the world.
“I think that I need not say anything more on the reasons why you should face your Synod work with deep worry,” Zen wrote.
“The Synod Secretariat is very efficient at the art of manipulation,” he warned. “Because of what I am going to say, I can be easily accused of ‘conspiracy theory’, but I see clearly a whole plan of manipulation,” he explained:
They begin by saying that we must listen to all. Little by little they make us understand that among these “all” there are especially those whom we have “excluded.” Finally, we understand that what they mean are people who opt for a sexual morality different from that of Catholic tradition.
Zen wrote that in the “continental phase” of the Synod, organizers often insisted that “we must leave empty a chair” for those who have been marginalized by the Church. “They also say: ‘The Synod must conclude with a universal inclusion, must enlarge the tent, all welcome, without judging them, without inviting them to conversion.’”
Zen argued that, while “they claim not to have any agenda,” that suggestion is “truly an offense to our intelligence. Anybody can see which conclusions they are aiming at.”
The Synod Secretariat refers to the deliberations at the Synod as a “conversation in the Holy Spirit.” Zen criticized the idea, stating that the Secretariat treats the conversation “as if it were a magical formula.”
“And they invite all to expect ‘surprises’ from the Spirit (evidently they are already informed which surprises to expect),” he added:
“Conversation, no discussion! Discussions create divisions!” Does this mean that consensus and unanimity happen miraculously? It seems to me that at Vatican II, before reaching an almost unanimous conclusion, they devoted a lot of time to spirited discussions. It was there that the Holy Spirit worked.
“To avoid discussions is to avoid the truth,” Zen wrote:
You must not obey them, when they tell you to go and pray, interrupting the sessions of the Synod. Tell them that it is ridiculous to think that the Holy Spirit is waiting for these your prayers offered at the last moment. Before the Synod, you and your faithful must already have accumulated a mountain of prayers, as Pope John XXIII did before Vatican II, making pilgrimages to various churches, praying for the Council.
The Synod begins with “small groups,” Zen noted. “This way of proceeding is clearly wrong. What is needed is, first, to let all speak and to let all hear in the Assembly. In this way, the most controversial problems emerge, problems in need of an adequate discussion.”
Following that kind of open discussion, it would be possible “to deeply probe into the problems at ease, concluding with the formulation of concise deliberations,” Zen argued:
We should insist on the procedure followed in so many Synods, not because “it has always been like that,” but because it is the reasonable thing to do (to want to proceed differently justifies the suspicion that what is wanted is to avoid the discovery of the true inspiration of the Holy Spirit).
Zen also touched on conversations he has seen online about whether there will be voting. “But if no vote is taken, how can one know the fruit of so much dialogue?” he wrote. “To avoid voting is also to avoid truth.”
He went on to complain that Pope Francis, without “any consultation,” has added “a number of lay members with right of voting.”
“If I were one of the members of the Synod,” Zen wrote,
I would place a strong protest, because this decision radically changes the nature of the Synod, which Pope Paul VI had intended as an instrument of episcopal collegiality, even if, in the spirit of synodality, lay observers were admitted with the possibility to speak out. To you I do not suggest a protest, but at least a sweet lament with a request: that at least the votes of the Bishops and the votes of the lay people be counted separately (this has been granted to the bishops even by the “synodal path” of Germany).
Allowing lay people to vote “could appear to mean that respect is shown for the sensus fidelium,” Zen quipped, “but are they sure that these lay people who have been invited are fideles? That these lay people at least still go to church? As a matter of fact, these lay people have not been elected by the Christian people.”
Zen also complained that officials have scheduled an additional synodal session for next year with “no explanation.” “My malicious suspicion is that the organizers, not sure to be able to reach during this session their goals, are opting for more time to maneuver,” he wrote. “But, if what the Holy Spirit has wanted to say is clarified through the voting of the bishops, what is the need of another session?”
“….Old as I am, I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I will be happy to have done what I feel is my duty to do,” Zen wrote near the end of the letter:
I am aware that in the Synod on the Family, the Holy Father rejected suggestions presented by several Cardinals and Bishops precisely regarding the procedure. If you, however, respectfully present a petition supported by numerous signatories, perhaps this will be accepted. In any case, you will have done your duty. To accept an unreasonable procedure is to condemn the Synod to failure.
“I wish you a fruitful and, if necessary, courageous participation to this Synod that, in any case, will be without precedents,” he concluded.
CatholicVote has obtained and published Cardinal Joseph Zen’s full letter, which readers can find here.