Dialoguing with the most incoherent document ever sent out from Rome

The Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) of the 2023 Synod on Synodality claims to be rooted in the ecclesiology of Vatican II. The evidence says otherwise.

Synod on Synodality logo / Courtesy USCCB

Shortly before his death two weeks ago, Cardinal George Pell wrote an essay lambasting what he described as “one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome.”

Noted researcher and professor of sociology Mark Regnerus recently shredded the methodology used in creating the document in question, saying it “reads like a wish list of frustrated reformists who have shifted the preferential option away from the poor and toward ‘the young’ and the culturally alienated…”

And in a November 2022 piece analyzing the same document, Fr. Raymond de Souza pointed out numerous concerns with both its content and its creators, highlighting “laziness,” the “conflating” of reports by supposed “experts,” and the “idiosyncratic use of Scripture.”

The Synodal context (and process) for a Synod on Synodality

The document is the Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) of the 2023 Synod on Synodality. The 45-page, 15,000+ word text, published October 28 of last year, is ostensibly a synthesis and/or summary of discussions with Catholics (laity, clergy, religious) who took part in first stage—named “listening and discernment”—of the Synod on Synodality, which will stretch into 2024. The DCS is the focal point of the second and current “continental” stage, which runs until the end of March 2023. In June 2023, the Synod’s “Instrumentum laboris” will be released; it is official working document (‘instrument’) for the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will meet for nearly all of October 2023 (Oct 4-29), and then meet again in October 2024.

The DCS, in short, provides the content for the next two years of “synodal process.” It is difficult to overestimate the importance of “process” in the entire synodal, well, process. For example, the shorter 2021 Preparatory Document, which essentially established the guidelines for the DCS, explains:

The ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received, depends largely on the decision to initiate processes of listening, dialogue, and community discernment, in which each and every person can participate and contribute.

And the DCS states:

The vision of a Church capable of radical inclusion, shared belonging, and deep hospitality according to the teachings of Jesus is at the heart of the synodal process…

Together, the two documents refer to process(es) over 60 times, with the DCS using it 44 times. It’s hardly surprising, then, that when papal biographer Austen Ivereigh wrote a rather giddy piece—“I helped write the first global synod document. Here’s what we heard from Catholics around the world.”—for America magazine, published concurrently with the DCS release, that the word “process(es)” appears sixteen times. The significance of the term, according to Ivereigh, one of 26 “experts” who worked for two weeks in creating the DCS, is the following:

Some will be surprised that the document does not go more deeply into the issues that the synod raised but leaves them hanging, noting the disagreements where they exist and inviting them to be wrestled with. Most of the document is given over not to the issues but to “process.” Process, after all, is the point of a synod on synodality, and it is where the document breaks important new ground by harvesting and giving expression to the desire in the reports for a synodal way of proceeding. Hence the dream in the report from religious superiors of “a global and synodal church that lives unity in diversity” and that adds, “God is preparing something new, and we must collaborate.”

Process, after all, is the point of a synod on synodality.

What, exactly, does that mean? And what does it have to do with evangelization, witness, holiness, the role of the laity, the sacramental work of clergy, the relationship of all Catholics to divine revelation and authentic ecclesial authority?

Competing understandings of the Church?

Some valuable headway into that and related questions can be found in an essay written in late 2021—that is, a year before the release of DCS—by Dr. Nicholas J. Healy, Jr.

The essay, titled “Communion, Sacramental Authority, and the Limits of Synodality”, is part of a Communio issue (Winter 2021) focused on synodality. One of Healy’s central concerns is the contrast between the “ecclesiology of communion,” so strongly and consistently presented in the documents of the Second Vatican Council (and emphasized again in the 1985 Synod of Bishops, under St. John Paul II) and the recent shift and strong emphasis on a “synodal ecclesiology,” which dominated the second half of the Final Report for the Synod of Bishops on youth, released in October 2018. (That Report drew upon the March 2018 International Theological Commission text “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church”, which in turn was apparently inspired to some degree by earlier remarks made by Pope Francis about the need for a “Synodal Church”.)

One problem, as Healy explains, is that “synodality” and related terms have been used in so many ways in recent years that it’s becoming difficult to see the forest for the synodalities. As Healy observes, “the recent history of the concept of synodality begins with a concern to implement the teaching of Lumen gentium on collegiality…” but now “the new idea is that the whole Church is constitutively and essentially synodal.”

So, for instance, the ITC document strongly emphasized throughout the vital place and role of the hierarchy in synodality, insisting “The synodal process must take place at the heart of a hierarchically structured community” (par 69). The DCS, in contrast, only mentions “hierarchy” three times, and in two of those instances there is an overtly negative cast, as when an example of “the persistence of structural obstacles” is identified as “hierarchical structures that foster autocratic tendencies…” The proper authority of the hierarchy, rooted in apostolic authority and (in Healy’s words) “the sacramental grace of apostolic office”, is hardly noted (if at all) in the DCS.

The impression given, in fact, is that the Church is continually evolving and horizontal society—the “people of God”, of course—animated by endless dialogue, continual complaining, and an eclectic variety of victimhoods. (Or, as Regnerus writes: “Empirically, the vagueness in the DCS is symptomatic of the use of participatory action research, a ‘method’ of sorts that is light on rigor and heavy on fostering social change.”)

The “various documents on synodality or the synodal process,” notes Healy, “are surprisingly silent on the specific vocation of the laity.” Further,

the synodal process, as described in the relevant documents, seems liable to a subtle “clericalization” of the laity, in the sense that their contribution to the life and mission of the Church is measured by the extent of their involvement with tasks that are specific to the hierarchical ministry of the Church.

This continues apace in the DCS. When “laity” are mentioned, it is almost always in the service of complaint: the laity are passive and distant from the clergy (#19), victims of clericalism #58), overburdened (#66), not allowed to do more in the parish (#68, 91), and being kept from opportunities to do more (#100). (This topic is of specific interest to me, as I’ve written about the role of the laity as articulated in both Vatican II documents and John Paul II’s 1988 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Christifideles Laici” and was the author of the Study Guide for Bishop Robert Barron’s excellent “Priest Prophet King” video series.)

Some synodally-inspired questions

Much more context could be given, but I want to present a series of questions about the DCS, drawn from my several readings of it.

First, let’s quickly note that the DCS refers to “the precious legacy of the Second Vatican Council to which we are called to look as we celebrate its 60th anniversary” (#101). Also keep in mind that the ICL document states, “Although synodality is not explicitly found as a term or as a concept in the teaching of Vatican II, it is fair to say that synodality is at the heart of the work of renewal the Council was encouraging” (#6).

Yet there is very little in the dozens of pages of the DCS that refers directly or even indirectly to the documents of the Council. One would think that Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) and Gaudium et spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) might warrant mention. Not so. At all.

The overarching “icon” (to use Ivereigh’s term) for the Church is that of “tent”, drawing upon Isaiah 54:2. Why this curious choice, as the New Testament does not refer to the Church as a tent, nor does Vatican II? Ivereigh says the idea “arose” among the august group at the end of their first week, and “struck us as a perfect metaphor” for what the people of God were calling for…” How, I wonder, does that square with St. Jerome’s commentary on the verse: “Anyone who is in a tent does have a secure and everlasting dwelling but is always changing places and hurrying on to the next…”? Or is that precisely the point? (Fr. de Souza notes the irony of the fact that “the enlarged tent of Isaiah 54 is an image of Israel subduing the enemies on her borders; enlarging the tent is more an image of conquering, not walking together.”)

Actually, isn’t this use of an obscure Old Testament verse more than a bit like “The Prayer of Jabez” being touted as the Greatest Prayer in the Bible, when Jesus left the Apostles and the Church a prayer?

Furthermore, throughout the DCS the Church is described almost exclusively as “the people of God” (or as a “tent”). Why so? Is it because “the people of God”, while quite biblical and a rich description when used and understood correctly, the preferred term for those prefer to see the Church in political and horizontal terms, as Cardinal Ratzinger noted years ago?

So, why is “people of God” used 26 times to refer to the Church, but “Mystical Body of Christ” or “Body of Christ” never used? Especially when that term is used more often in the Vatican II documents than “people of God”? And used throughout the New Testament? Why the huge disparity? And why is the Church never described as “the household of God”? Or the “temple of the Holy Spirit”? (See Lumen Gentium, 6, for some Church Names/Descriptives 101.)

Why is “experience” such a heavily repeated theme of the document, appearing over 60 times? And why do the terms “holiness” and “virtue” appear a combined total of zero times? The “journey” is referred to 37 times, but the words “heaven,” “glory,” and “beatific” appear exactly zero times. What is the journey to? For what purpose? Why is there virtually no sense of an eschatological dimension to synodality as the DCS presents it?

Is there a good reason that “listen” and “listening” appear over fifty times, while “repent”, and “repentance” never appear? Not even once? “Conversion” does appear over a dozen times, as in “a journey of conversion,” “missionary synodal conversion,” “the path of conversion toward a synodal Church,” “a broader and deeper conversion of attitudes and structures,” and so forth. What, exactly, is this conversion? To what? For what?

We read that “the message of the Gospel that the Church is charged to proclaim must also convert the structures of sin that hold humanity and creation captive.” The word “structure(s)” is used over thirty times. Are walls included in these structures? Are bridges? Both are structures, so clarification is appreciated.

Also, that is the only time “sin” appears. How do “structures” confess sin? How do structures “convert”? And since the word/idea of “confession” never appears, should we assume that while structures can “convert,” they are unable to confess?

Back to sin: the document also never refers to “evil” or “transgressions” or “iniquity” or anything similar. Why not?

And if sin is apparently such a small matter, to what should we attribute the multitude of ills, gripes, whines, complaints, and assorted grievances mentioned or alluded to throughout the document? For example, how to account for the calls to “change” Church teaching, for “cultural change,” “change of mindset”, and “climate change”? Oops, that last one appears twice, which is exactly two times more than “penance” and “mortification” and related words combined.

And then there is talk of “more meaningful dialogue” and “a more welcoming space” for those who “feel a tension between belonging to the Church and their own loving relationships, such as: remarried divorcees, single parents, people living in a polygamous marriage, LGBTQ people, etc.” Is there an expectation that the Church can and will change her teachings about sexuality, chastity, and marriage? Is there an assumption that the Church’s teachings on these matters is too hard? Impossible? Old-fashioned? Not engaged with enough “processes”?

Perhaps I’m making too much of numbers and words and not enough about processes and structures. But in a document of some 15,000 words that is about the Church, churchiness, the laity, evangelization, and living as a Catholic, it’s striking that the terms “process” (44) and “dialogue” (31) appear quite a few more times than does “worship” (0), “praise” (0), and “thanksgiving” (0).

Yes, liturgy is mentioned, as it “brings the community together”, there is a “deep link between synodality and liturgy” (somehow shown forth in “the purpose of belonging”), and it noted that since women attend liturgy more than men, they should be allowed to do more at liturgy (par 61). Do any Catholics quoted in the DCS think liturgy might have something to with their eschatological end? Eternal communion with the Triune God? Now that I’ve mentioned it: there is no mention of God as Trinitarian or Triune, nor any reference to “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

To be fair, the document is not a theological treatise. It acknowledges that it “is not a document of the Church’s Magisterium, nor is it the report of a sociological survey; it does not offer the formulation of operational indications, goals and objectives, nor a full elaboration of a theological vision.” However, it then states that “it is theological in the sense that it is loaded with the exquisitely theological treasure contained in the experience of listening to the voice of the Spirit enacted by the People of God, allowing its sensus fidei to emerge” (#8).

That’s debatable, to put it kindly. I respectfully suggest that the late Cardinal Pell was wrong: this is not “one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome.” It is the most incoherent document to come out of Rome.

He was absolutely correct, however, in stating: “This working document needs radical changes. The bishops must realise that there is work to be done, in God’s name, sooner rather than later.”

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About Carl E. Olson 1227 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.


  1. Lost souls of the church
    who can’t bring themselves
    to walk through the door on a Sunday
    because of a form of cultural alienation,
    yet spend their lives in pursuit of an ideal
    that is their response to what it means to follow Jesus.
    And it’s not pretty and it’s not tidy.
    In fact it gets fairly messy quite often because in one way or another they are close to the edge.
    A certain unintentional non conformity places them there because that is where they are free.

    c hallam

    • A resounding No to “cultural alienation,” because a deeper affirmation to walk away from “the edge”…
      “Free?” Truly free as in “[t]hen you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). And a step further, “…freedom of conscience is never freedom ‘from’ the truth but always and only freedom ‘in’ the truth…;” and then “…freedom itself needs to be set free” (Veritatis Splendor, nn. 64, 86)?

      • Is it possible Peter that I mean what you say when I refer to freedom? Freedom in the knowledge and truth of Jesus? Is it possible we have this in common. My post is about the reality I have encountered since my mid 20’s in my response to the great commission:
        “ 6 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

        There is no shortage of people who are seeking and are thirsty for the truth and for whom the Catholic church no longer speaks a language they understand. They are generations removed from an understanding of the sacraments. What is a priestly function of the believer? To be a mediator between God and people, to build bridges and break down walls of misunderstanding and false assumption. It is my experience the seeds have peen planted in most people who I encounter on a serious level who are seeking the truth. The Holy Spirit has been romancing them in one way or another and I am to discern where they are at and lead them to the next stage of the journey to faith. Many if not most times I will not see the conclusion of the process. I leave it in Gods hands. Dare I say I do not always point them to the Nearest Catholic Church if I am aware it will destroy their fledgling faith. This necessitates me being way out of the comfort zone of merely going to mass on a Sunday. This may sound heresy to many but I know the path I walk and I can’t wait for the Catholic Church to wake up from its slumber.
        As Gamaliel cautioned the Sanhedrin against killing Jesus, I would caution all here against throwing the baby out with the bath water with respect to what the Holy Spirit might be attempting to work within our church at this time and with this Set of documents for a Synodal Church that Carl has taken exception to.

        • Mr. Hallam says: “…people… are seeking and are thirsty for the truth and for whom the Catholic church no longer speaks a language they understand.”

          Exactly what language do such people understand? The Catechism has been published and papal documents are translated and issued in many different languages.

          • Paul waited for them in Athens and there his whole soul was revolted at the sight of a city given over to idolatry.

            17 In the synagogue he debated with the Jews and the godfearing, and in the market place he debated every day with anyone whom he met.

            18 Even a few Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some said, ‘What can this parrot mean?’ And, because he was preaching about Jesus and Resurrection, others said, ‘He seems to be a propagandist for some outlandish gods.’
            19 They got him to accompany them to the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘Can we know what this new doctrine is that you are teaching?

            20 Some of the things you say seemed startling to us and we would like to find out what they mean.’
            21 The one amusement the Athenians and the foreigners living there seem to have is to discuss and listen to the latest ideas.

            22 So Paul stood before the whole council of the Areopagus and made this speech: ‘Men of Athens, I have seen for myself how extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters,

            23 because, as I strolled round looking at your sacred monuments, I noticed among other things an altar inscribed: To An Unknown God. In fact, the unknown God you revere is the one I proclaim to you.

            24 ‘Since the God who made the world and everything in it is himself Lord of heaven and earth, he does not make his home in shrines made by human hands.

            25 Nor is he in need of anything, that he should be served by human hands; on the contrary, it is he who gives everything — including life and breath — to everyone.

            26 From one single principle he not only created the whole human race so that they could occupy the entire earth, but he decreed the times and limits of their habitation.

            27 And he did this so that they might seek the deity and, by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him; and indeed he is not far from any of us,

            28 since it is in him that we live, and move, and exist, as indeed some of your own writers have said: We are all his children.

            29 ‘Since we are the children of God, we have no excuse for thinking that the deity looks like anything in gold, silver or stone that has been carved and designed by a man.

            30 ‘But now, overlooking the times of ignorance, God is telling everyone everywhere that they must repent,

            31 because he has fixed a day when the whole world will be judged in uprightness by a man he has appointed. And God has publicly proved this by raising him from the dead.’

            32 At this mention of rising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing; others said, ‘We would like to hear you talk about this another time.’

            33 After that Paul left them,

            34 but there were some who attached themselves to him and became believers, among them Dionysius the Aeropagite and a woman called Damaris, and others besides.

          • So Merion I’not speaking of french, latin or Hindi, rather The application of St Pauls example applied to todays conversations outside the church.
            I was born a bit late for the bloom of the hippie countercultural movement but caught the immediate aftermath. A somewhat simplistic personal example of this language for the sake of explanation is; often with friends the conversation would include thoughts on reincarnation or similar. The opportunity to find common ground was obvious. Being one with God was the end point of the Hindu spiritual quest, earning higher purity through spiritual quest etc etc. In non judgemental making known the same end goal as being one with God however God has effectively through Jesus taken the bad karma upon himself in a demonstration of the incredible nature of Gods love for us all so we can be one with him in spirit and truth now. The freedom and power of this love gives us the motivation to change the way we live from a life of indulging the self to a life firstly of getting to know what Jesus was on about and being thoroughly immersed in his teaching from the New Testament then listening and responding to the Holy Spirit etc seeking accountability and fellowship within the community of saints.
            I feel clumsy at getting my point across when life is so much more intimate in its unfolding discourse. I hope you get the notion of what i’m attempting to convey. Mine is not a new age eclectic spirituality although the conversations of same are familiar territory for good reason.

          • So now your second post comes into view but I am still puzzled by what you mean by language. If we are strong believers, in our conversations with acquaintances and friends who lack faith, do we trust in the power of God to fill us with the words He will give us in those moments? Do we believe in Scripture where Jesus tells his disciples He will give them the words they should say? We do our best and let God. Some (many or most) will turn away. But we continue to stay because He is Love, we love Him, and we love those who do not know Love. The language of Love (and lowercase love) is a clear and decisive mystery.

        • Same page, after all!
          Here’s a supportive response to: “There is no shortage of people who are seeking and are thirsty for the truth and for whom the Catholic church no longer speaks a LANGUAGE they understand.” The missing language is neither (a) that of a restoration of past Christendom, nor is it (b) a facile appeal to a decapitated Future.

          Rather, we are now in an APOSTOLIC AGE as in the first century. To post- and anti-Christians the language of Redemption is incomprehensible (likewise to 1.5 billion 7th-century camel-caravan Muslims thrust into the 21st century, now equipped with oil dollars and atomic weapons).

          The very remedial step of synodally “listening” is needed, BUT falls flat as a strategy for the needed regathering and New Evangelization. A disaster and worse—easily infiltrated by secular culture and insipid cardinals easily identified…

          A Church led by clowns not even trained to “manage” routine things well, like bedrooms and budgets. Management class is over, but this message might be what–on his better days–Pope Francis means by “clericalism.” So, why has he surrounded himself with clowns, yes-men, and Jesuit clericalists? Why not “dialogue” with those who do not already agree with himself?

          Fraternity, by itself is that enough? What is needed is WITNESSES, both ordained and laity. Sounds a bit like the Benedict Option, surely fitted to then leaven a world putrid with ideologies of corruption and total indifference…

          The EVENT of the incarnate Christ comes at the center of all fallen human history–described as “astonishing” in the Scriptures, by Benedict as the “alarming convergence” of God with Man, and by Balthasar as nothing less than a “collision!” Worthy of a sacrificial/communal Mass or two! To say and live this Truth without ambiguity–that is, without suppressing the Magisterium as our acquired immune system!–is too-much discarded at all levels.

          Again, this is an Apostolic Age. Not a time for a synodally inverted-pyramid of post-Catholic discussion groups all under the thumb of “experts” and Anglicans in red hats. “A fish rots from the head down.” Any organization that insists on strangling in its own vomit deserves to be rejected.

          So, a question for the “hierarchical communion” (Lumen Gentium), what about 2023? Poor managers or witnesses to Jesus Christ?

  2. Those associated with this “Synod on Synodality” ought to return to the true Catholic faith. This entire movement can best be understood as another Arian episode in the Church’s 2,000+ year history. We need a thorough housecleaning and prophetic voices that will articulate well where the Church needs to reform. Let’s get back to being followers of Christ instead of followers of mere mortals who fashion themselves as presumptive gods.

    • Well said, Deacon Edward.

      Carl has assiduously worked-over Rome’s so-called ‘Working Document’ on so-called ‘Synodality’. Thee’s no space for another nail to be hammered into this coffin.

      Yet, the elephant in their room still needs to be returned to the jungle! This monstrous beast is the deep-rooted, intransigent, even insouciant, ecclesial disobedience to One who cannot be disobeyed without disastrous consequences. We can’t be in hotter water than by carelessly disobeying the Lord of all lords, Jesus Christ.

      Could it be that the synodal plague is simply part of divine, just punishment on the entrenched disobedience of Rome’s numerous portly, pompous, prelates? So often, they seem never to have read Jesus’ job-description for their work, in Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7; and His warnings to them in Matthew 23.

      In Rome, may there be a general meditation on Ezekiel 22:23-31. A putting away of the sinful, opulent lifestyles, luxuries, ermine, purple, crimson, gold, jewels, expensive foods and wines; followed by a trembling repentance in fasting, sackcloth and ashes. Accompanied by sincere prayer vigils for forgiveness by our King, asking that they may be returned to His favor and wisdom to shepherd His sheep, as humble servants whose faith rests not in material things but in God’s power to forgive and transform.

      Even as I type this, it seems satan is laughing: “Fat chance!”
      Yet my faith, as with many other ordinary Catholics, is that Jesus Christ is stronger.
      Jesus is well able to return the Church to its Apostolic authenticity.

      Could we hear some: “Amens!”, please.

      Always in the victory of The Lamb; love & blessings from marty

  3. This whole Synodality “Caper” thing is a total “Crock”! Another attempt to infiltrate
    the church with denizens from the Devils Workshop.The worst part is the men lifting or cutting the “barbed wire”to let them in.

  4. The Little Corporal was popularly elected. The box populi ain’t no way to run a Church. It seems our suffering Church is staggering along the Via Dolorosa and its Cross is materialistic atheism; it’s persecutors the high priests; its prosecutors the secular governments who deny the Christ.
    How many words does it take to call BS on obvious cant?

    • Perhaps he meant the voting box. A clever and apt expression given our American over emphasis on elections as a resolution to a every issue. The late Benedict XVI often said that the Holy Ghost rarely elected Popes. Men do and often the laity mourn the results. The Church is a spiritual and supernatural reality, not a synodal process. In my limited reading of Cardinal Ratzinger, he rarely strayed from that truth in his theological writings. He believed.

  5. The faithful expect their leader to proclaim Christ in all matters. It is not as if the Prince of Peace leaves us adrift while our questions go unanswered!

    Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

    2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

    1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

    1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    Prayers for Papa.

    • Ah, yes, Brian. But don’t forget:

      Acts 20:29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…

      • Dear Brineyman:

        Yes, and don’t we witness this in our day as we are reminded of it in the past! Allow me to add to your well chosen Acts 20:29:

        Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. …

        Revelation 20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

        God bless you,


        • Well said dear ‘Brineyman’ and well said dear Brian.

          What could be more serious? Christ created this enormous, incredibly structured, and very ancient universe to provide the venue for our Earth and our human participation in God’s eternal separation of right and wrong.

          “For this reason was the Son of God made manifest: to destroy the works of the devil”. 1 John 3:8 b.

          The Church only exists to faithfully teach this and other Gospel truths.

          Sure: the human struggles for all forms of equity and justice are important but they could never replace our prime calling to obey the commands of God.

          What does Rome not understand about: “If you love Me, obey My commands.”

          Take care everyone. Always in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

        • revelation is preterism and hyper preterism there false prophet and beast is nero and john sending a coded message out of patmos you are not explaining scripture in teh sacred tradition of the exegesis and you are sola scripture

  6. Thank you for mercifully taking apart vaguerie bargaining to be squeezed into the seat of the Church’s mercy.

    Does the Synod understand the idea of the Divine Will? The true, cosmic intentions of the Creator? The order, the place and the purpose for which all and human creature have been created? Do birds and squirrels and oak trees re-negotiate with the Supernal Architect?

    The creature cannot leverage the Divine Mercy to make provision for an alternate god. The attempt is human will trying to direct Divine Will, in the misled belief that people wounded voluntarily and involuntarily by sin, can no longer transform on earth, permanently without hope for what holy Church calls (eventual perfect) conversion.

    Divine Will Be Done on earth as it is in Heaven. I doubt the words enemy, adversary, demon, Savior or salvation appear in the synod texts either. If you have nothing from which to be cured or saved then you don’t need the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ.

    If you know that what is in your heart is disordered, and see that you have not the strength to conform to the Divine wisdom that perfectly guides human fulfillment; and you oppose your restless condition seeking grace, a power outside human misery, to overcome the wound and its child Misconfiguration, welcome indeed to the Holy Catholic Church.

    The synod is trying to make a path for every affliction to be left unopposed and welcomed into a convenient “gallery of diversity”. In fallen times, it is harder, nay, even harder, to seek the righteousness from above, forbidden to be authored by human weakness.

    A pope seems to want to greet everyone where they are; that’s fine, deep hospitality and the rest. But do the greeted see the primordial wound and oppose its unfortunate descendent disfigurements of heart? Are you not a sinner as such? John: If you say no, you lie to yourself.

  7. I have one very minor quibble with the estimable Cardinal Pell.

    He describes the synodolatry document as “incoherent.”

    Which it is, if you’re measuring it against the standard of Catholicism.

    But when you look at it as an effort of the left to sow discord and subvert the Catholic faith — which it so clearly is — the synodolatry text makes *perfect* sense.

  8. Well done! More coherence in this article than apparently was achieved by the 26 “experts”. What, pray tell, is Mr. Iverleigh’s “expertise”?

  9. Do we, or can we separate what’s occurring within the Synod on Synodality from what’s occurring within the whole Church?
    Olson zero’s in on the DCS tenet that the Church requires a continued process of listening and discernment, in effect, that identifies the paradigmatic change of a definitively pedagogical Church from a process Church of self discovery. That the permanence of the revealed Word is either subject to continued revision of its substance, or of its message. Can the two be separate?
    The proposition that a presumed permanent truth requires constant revaluation for transmission means that the substance of the message is not permanent due to its constant requirement for reevaluation. It would not require a body within the Church permanently listening for a new revelation. Permanence ironically is reduced to a changing process. That concisely contradicts the revelation of the eternal Word.
    Faithful Christians who call themselves Catholic are obliged to hold fast to the revealed Word Jesus Christ because the findings of this Synod are not definitively pronounced as binding, nor can they. That is why the perpetrators of a perennial search for the truth of the Gospels resort to a process of ground up revelation rather than what’s revealed from above.

    • For corrective clarity, “a continued process of listening and discernment, in effect, that identifies the paradigmatic change of a definitively pedagogical Church [into] a process Church of self discovery”.

  10. Veni Creator Spiritus

    Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
    and lighten with celestial fire.
    Thou the anointing Spirit art,
    who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

    Creator Spirit, by whose aid
    The world’s foundations first were laid,
    Come, visit every pious mind;
    Come, pour thy joys on humankind;
    From sin and sorrow set us free,
    And make thy temples worthy thee.

  11. This is the best article I have read yet on the Working Document for the Continental Stage of the 2023 Synod on Synodality. Carl Olson obviously read and annotated the document carefully in order to present the detailed yet succinct and readable lexical analysis he presents. I do not have the fortitude to do more than skim the awful thing, but I do have the prudence to avoid it lest it make me desperately demoralized. I also appreciated Olson’s summary of the important contributions of Dr. Healy, Fr. de Souza, and Cardinal Pell (RIP). Unlike the DCS, Olson’s article here is very coherent indeed.

    • Dear Philip:

      Indeed we are blessed to have Carl O and the CWR team. Let us keep them in our prayers. That we are mindful to pray for Papa as well!

      1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

      Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.



  12. When Jesus was enduring the road to Calvary, was he thinking, “Boy, I really hope my future disciples will put a lot of time and effort into that DCS document!”?

  13. I suggest that the intent of the Synod can be discerned from the Aparecida Document, which distills the Ascension and Acts into “missionary discipleship”. All the language is contained in or developed from there, “journeying”, etc.

    These are put forward as the authentic outflow from VATICAN II.

    One of the stumbling blocks and/or justifications for Aparecida seems to have been the worry that the Church would get reduced to “moralism” and “ethics”.

    Benedict XVI offered some critique of Aparecida; see for example para. 100 (b) in the CELAM lnk, Benedict XVI’s letter to CELAM/Aparecida.

    The Synod likely wants to “form out” what “missionary discipleship” is in the new ecclesial settings (dicasteries, Praedicate, synodism, etc.) and the not-doctrines of “accompaniment”, so as to bring about “the whole man” and “the true Church”.

    What the heirs of the St. Gallen Mafia intend to do with all this, would appear to remain part of the future.




  14. Thank you very much, Carl, for this article. You have certainly made the case, and Cardinal Pell’s, for the undeniable incoherence of this entire synodal “process” (to use its own favorite term).
    Reminds me of the old Flip Wilson comedy skit in which he was the minister of “the church of what’s happening now”—an apt description, it seems to me, of what the advocates of this synodal process are aiming for. A church that is woke, politically correct and inclusive—not calling all of us sinners to repentance and transformation but to endless process of inclusion without conversion. Ultimately, therefore, to a meaningless church whose gospel can be just as easily obtained from godless politicians.
    St. Paul and St JP II pray for us.

  15. “Do any Catholics quoted in the DCS think liturgy might have something to with their eschatological end?”

    I think this is the most important question you ask in the entire essay, Carl. To the extent that they do, I think nearly all have in mind an entirely immanentized eschaton.

  16. “The ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received, depends largely on the decision to initiate processes of listening, dialogue, and community discernment, in which each and every person can participate and contribute.”

    “From that time Jesus began to teach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17

    Don’t heed the world’s siren song of inclusion into a lost eternity. We don’t need to accompany anyone or anything, we need to repent. Let’s get to it.

  17. Sharing the bit gathered by looking into sources that support the process – apologies if same is redundant since rather certain that many of the readers might have done same already .
    Good to hear about the expectant trust being for the Holy Spiri to break through as the foundational reason for the Synod – the Holy Father , discerning the ‘signs of the times ‘ in the issues faced in our times , yet having been well prepared to meet same from the good fruits of the Synodal process in Latin America , thus desiring same to be a source of good for the rest of The Church .

    The last 10 mins of the talk below a good summary –

    The remedy for crisis in the German Church and help for The Church in China and places that need much missionary outreach ,the hope and trust to be offered to many in The Spirit being in charge of leading The Church – in the midst of criticism, gossip and falsehoods that undermine same – may The Synod and its ( messy 🙂 ) labor pains bring forth a tremendous surprise of victory for The Church – as what many look forward to as the time of the ( prophesied ) Reign of The Divine Will . FIAT !

  18. I am just so sad, it seems like everything is coming apart; The Progressive Cultural Revolution is so relentless. Can no one at the Vatican see that the old Church is built on solid bedrock and trying to build a new improved one on fat clay is pure foolishness?

    • Dear ‘Justa Tourista’, you are so right.

      The single option for The Church to ‘progress’, ‘improve’, ‘adapt to current needs’, etc. is to return to the will of God expressed so clearly by Jesus Christ that, under the guidance of The Holy Spirit, has been so wonderfully made available to all in the 27 texts by 9 authors of The New Testament.

      The very best of human ideas pale into insignificance in comparison.

      Yes, by all means let’s always improve: by pertinaciously becoming more faithful to who we’ve been called out of this world to be in Christ Jesus.

      “My yoke is easy & My burden is light.” Why do the ‘experts’ make it so difficult?

      Let’s never give up from following Jesus. Blessings from marty

  19. We read: “Now that I’ve mentioned it: there is no mention of God as Trinitarian or Triune, nor any reference to ‘Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’”

    OF COURSE, there is no mention of the Trinity!

    Synodality is a detached and bogus Holy Spirit alone sort of thingy. Reminiscent of the 12th-century Joachim of Fiore’s successive three ages–with the Age of the Father (Old Testament) displaced by the Age of Christ (up until A.D. 1260), and this epoch then displaced again by the Age of the Holy Spirit (not in Joachim’s A.D. 1260, but in Grech’s and Hollerich’s A.D. 2023!).

    A dismembering ideology condemned as heretical at the Synod of Arles in A.D. 1263. (A real synod of the Apostolic Church!) The Synod on Synodality is nothing new, but very old hat, a disinterred “tradition” propped up by theological ghouls in red hats.

    Which is to say, with Orwell, that all Traditions are equally “backward,” but some are less equally backward than others.

  20. Given the intentional use of ambiguity and a lack of clarity that characterizes a frequently employed modus operandi of the current papacy, is anybody really surprised at the ambiguity and lack of clarity permeating the DCI? After all, the more ambiguous and unclear the document, the more that favored interpretations which completely change or significantly alter Church Teaching and various practices can be foisted onto the Church while arrogantly pretending to be simply greater insights into traditional teaching and practices blah blah blah.

    Indeed, Jesuitical language manipulation game playing is simply in action once again, with papal spin meisters on deck ready to spring into action when the inevitable pushback by enough faithful Catholics not duped by the gamesmanship reaches a critical point regarding various levels of nonsense that ultimately comes out of the dubious synod.

  21. Showing the pattern of his utter serial typical extremist conservative loathing for the papacy of and anything related to Pope Francis, Olson here has given a misplaced jeremiad and wasted a lot of ink. His surgical assessment of the working document of the ongoing synod is reflective of the far right gospel of grievance – rather than of grace and gratitude. It is not a magisterial or teaching document, it is only a working document, it is not the final report of the synod or the consequent papal exhortation.

    • And yet my ink-free editorial doesn’t even mention Pope Francis (save for a reference to a 2015 address/document).

      “Extremist…loathing…misplaced jeremiad…far right…grievance…”

      Well, I appreciate your calm insights. I’m sure they’re in there somewhere.

      “it is only a working document…”

      Reminds me of something I heard three years ago: “It’s only two weeks!”

      I think I mention (yep, checked) that it’s a working document. And it’s a key text in a four(!)-year long process involving lots of time, money, resources, focus, etc. And anybody who reads these documents or, say, the America magazine essay by Ivereigh recognizes the importance of this document in shaping the narrative and focus when the bishops meet. But, hey, if you are against dialogue and reasonable arguments, feel free to keep up the emotive, content-free attacks.

    • Grace and gratitude originate from Jesus the Christ. This synodal document imbues none of that. The document fails to shed any grace, and we have no cause for gratitude. Those taking grievous umbrage at our response should consider taking their case to the Wise Judge.

    • Michael, I fear your working document is almost incoherent as the one in question. You need to work on it some more before launching unfounded attacks.

    • Dear Mr Owen:

      Would you consider an alternative perspective? It has been experience that Mr Olson has a protective outlook regarding the papacy. Yes, he is prepared to criticize as deemed necessary, yet not unduly.

      Those grounded in the faith, loving Christ and the church want to preserve and conserve the best of the church. One doesn’t have to be conservative to see the various missteps of Papa. Do we all not have a duty to pray for him and rebuke him as needed?

      Yours in Christ,

      Brian Young

  22. A “role” is proposed for “the People of God”. This is not VATICAN II, not the Gospel, not the Ascension, not Pentecost and not Acts.

    Or should I say, since it is a working document: “Is that VATICAN II, the Gospel, the Ascension, Pentecost and Acts?”; and, “Where is all this coming from please?”

    According to the proposal, “the People of God” are to “enact the experience of listening to the Spirit to produce the sensus fidei with exquisite theological treasures”.

    Also it is offering that “the People of God” will produce its own “Magisterium”.

    The idea that this is veritable/venerable because it avoids “moralism” and going too much to “ethics” is not redeeming it.

    I think it is understandable that on reading such things it is necessary to practice the virtue of charity, the same one that demands that we never mislay the truth.

    As I see it Carl Olson has comprehended it nicely and explained it in a good ordering, bringing it to light quickly.

    ‘ To be fair, the document is not a theological treatise. It acknowledges that it “is not a document of the Church’s Magisterium, nor is it the report of a sociological survey; it does not offer the formulation of operational indications, goals and objectives, nor a full elaboration of a theological vision.” However, it then states that “it is theological in the sense that it is loaded with the exquisitely theological treasure contained in the experience of listening to the voice of the Spirit enacted by the People of God, allowing its sensus fidei to emerge” (#8). ‘

  23. “…surgical assessment…” Ironic. The true surgery is the Synodal scalpel which seeks to do to the Body of Christ what the current rage for “gender-reassignment” is doing to the bodies and souls of the children of the world, creating an inhuman “truth” and “freedom” out of what the Lord, Himself, created and gave.

  24. Dear Michael Owen,

    Please repent of your accusations of bias against Carl Olson. His article is of the highest academic quality, providing dispassionate insights that we all benefit from.

    I’m a middle-of-the-road thinker BUT who among us would not be a conservative in regard to the Sodom & Gomorrah where so-called liberals are trying to drag us.

    “The inquiry comes amid reports of gay sex parties at the cathedral house during lockdown which were said to be attended by a local drag queen. There is no evidence to suggest that Bishop Byrne was present at the parties or knew of them. Concerns were also raised, however, over attempts by Bishop Byrne to move Timothy Gardner into cathedral house even though the former Dominican priest was convicted in 2014 of making 5,005 images of child pornography. Many of the pictures were graded at level four and five – considered to be the most extreme – and one depicted bestiality.

    The Catholic Herald has now learned that Bishop Byrne was himself reported to the police in December after an allegation of abuse was made against him by a priest from another diocese to his bishop.” From an article by Simon Caldwell, in ‘America Media’ of January 23rd, 2023.

    Dear Michael, please get real about today’s MAJOR assault against the Church and the diabolical treachery of so many of our clergy and hierarchs.

    Ever in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

  25. The true heart and goal of the Holy Father ,as expressed on the important celebration of the role given to The Word of God he implemented inviting everyone to live by The Word of God ..and the seemingly far out opinions expressed by those who are part of The Synod – ? meant as a ? bait to those who stay out in fear that they have already been excluded to instead expect that there are voices that seem to echo their views …that bit of openness may be all that The Spirit needs for the
    ‘breakthrough ‘ that The Holy Father expects and asks of The Mother , that the hardness that afflicts hearts as sequels of the carnal evils of our times be broken to let the Light of holiness enter in .


    May the above be read and reread as the antidote , the goal and the expected outcome when fears and questiosn arise , to trust that the bark is being directed by The Spirit who desires The Church to go to the hyways and higways and bring in all , to be clothed in the Light and dignity of the Divine Will in The Word of God . FIAT !


    The Simon Caldwell article about Bishop Byrne was published in ‘The Catholic Herald’ of January 24th, 2003, not in ‘America Media’.

    Apologies from Marty

  27. Everywhere the Holy Spirit is drawing people towards life in all its fullness yet there is a void. What is the void? That’s a question worth seeking the answer to. Yes there are teal tensions with where some people want to take the this process. There are many other areas and aspects where the church desperately needs to go as it’s Holy Spirit led response to the signs of the time we are in two millennia after Jesus spent time teaching us who he is that we may follow him.
    There are many who have no spiritual home and no supportive fellowship. From what I read in the comments section here my jaw drops at the huge gap of awareness and the absence of compassion and ability to identify with the position those outside the community of saints. There are a myriad of expressions from outside the walls of the Catholic Church that the people of God need to respond to but the walls seem too high and the bridges are in disrepair.
    Especially listen to the voice of youth. What are these young men asking for in their prayer that takes the form of a song:


    • Dear Chris,

      I’ll just ignore the amazingly ill-informed presumptions in your simplistic summary of the spiritual realities of today’s world; viz. “From what I read in the comments section here my jaw drops at the huge gap of awareness and the absence of compassion and ability to identify with the position those outside the community of saints. There is a myriad of expressions from outside the walls of the Catholic Church that the people of God need to respond to . .”

      According to your universalist, unitarian statement, Our LORD, Jesus Christ and His Apostles must have had: ‘an awareness gap’ and ‘an absence of compassion’ and an inability to identify with the ‘position’ of myriads of others, whose faith was quite contrary to theirs, as so clearly set out in Matthew 7:13,14.

      Chris: do you actually have a New Testament; do you daily live in Christ’s words?

      See: Luke 13:34; Mark 4:13-20; Matthew 13:37-42; John 1:10-12; and indeed, all the 27 texts of The New Testament, given us by The Holy Spirit-inspired 9 Apostolic authors.

      Dear Chris Hallam, hoping that you may read God’s instructions and accept: “Offences must come.” There is much in this world we cannot win; yet there’s no situation where we cannot witness.

      It’s our witness (even at great personal cost) that brings amenable souls to the feast of God. Please learn this: It is also our faithful witness that identifies the many souls at enmity to The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; or, very often, who simply couldn’t care less (I’m writing as one who has been blessed to witness by word and action in many venues in many different countries).

      Like our omnibenevolent and omnicompetent God, we deeply desire for every human soul to be saved, that is to admit their sinfulness, ask for the forgiveness and cleansing of Baptism by water & The Holy Spirit, and to submit their lives in loving community with us to the rules God has made plain in the Holy Scriptures, as faithfully taught by the Catholic Church.

      Yes, sadly, that will be a barrier to many. Sorry, Chris, we can’t change that.

      Always in the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

      • Dr Martin, firstly an apology for my clumsy and ambiguous wording you referenced. It could mean many things. Therefore I feel the need to reassure you that I do not hold a Unitarian belief, the rejection of the divinity of Jesus is at the core of many new age and occult teaching, indeed the opening page of copies of the book of tarot have a statement negating the divinity of Jesus. I know something of what we are up against as Followers of Jesus: For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens.

        That is why you must take up all God’s armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full.
        14 So stand your ground, with truth a belt round your waist, and uprightness a breastplate,
        15 wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace
        16 and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One.
        17 And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God.
        18 In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God’s holy people.
        I have a copy of the New Testament on my iPhone, the Jerusalem translation is always available on line and I have my old 1980’s copy at home. I would be a fool if I was making the statements I make in these comments pages online without a comprehensive overview of the books of the New Testament. So without a clear indication that in my mid 20’s as the saying goes, I lived and breathed the writings of the New Testament and I can say unequivocally in the companionship of the Holy Spirit.
        I took the time over my morning coffee to read the Bible verses you suggested. Thanks, always a good read. One thing I feel strongly about and this is no reference to you, is the need to read holy scripture from the many angles offered by a wide variety of statements that enable one to have a well rounded understanding of the overall message and character of Jesus. I have encountered many followers of an autocratic preacher in the out there Protestant factions who seek controll and manipulation over their followers and who create division and differentiation via. Singular interpretation of a specific biblical text.
        With that in Ming I have often and still do ponder upon the weight of these words of Jesus as a juxtaposition to the verses you put forward.

        Matthew 7:21-27
        21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

        24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

    • The voice of youth is generally more orthodox these days than the voice of the aged.
      I think the march of time will bring an ending to some of this foolishness. One confused elderly cleric at a time.

  28. There is an explanation of the Synod on Synodality logo here:


    The mush (present on the website of other parishes as well) begins:

    “The logo for the Synod is a powerful one, which sums up the inter-related dimensions of a meaningful process:

    A large, majestic tree, full of wisdom and light, reaches for the sky. A sign of deep vitality and hope which expresses the cross of Christ. It carries the Eucharist, which shines like the sun.”

    The designer(s) should offer prayers of thanksgiving that graphic design for which no successful company would pay a dime is neither a criminal nor a civil offense. So far. At least no Ents were harmed in the making of this logo.

  29. I think I need a bunker somewhere. It must surely be the worst calamity that can befall the Church, and the world, that those called to hand on the faith at the very height of the Church’s authority appear intent on destroying Christ’s work. None of this bodes well.

  30. Of sharp relevance to all participants in this very significant discussion stimulated by Carl Olson’s insightful analysis: –

    “Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich announced Monday that the October 2023 session of the Synod of Bishops on synodality will begin with a three-day retreat led by a Dominican preacher whose statements on homosexuality have previously sparked controversy.

    Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe will lead the Catholic bishops and participants in the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in a retreat near Rome from Oct. 1–3 at the invitation of Pope Francis, according to the cardinal.

    In the Anglican Pilling Report in 2013, Radcliffe wrote that when considering same-sex relationships, “we cannot begin with the question of whether it is permitted or forbidden! We must ask what it means and how far it is eucharistic. Certainly it can be generous, vulnerable, tender, mutual, and nonviolent. So in many ways, I think it can be expressive of Christ’s self-gift.”

    Reported by Courtney Mares Vatican City, Jan 23, 2023 / 09:21 am

    We must conclude Fr Radcliffe’s profane conclusion draws on unrepented personal sexual engagements that flouted his vow of celibacy and scorned the Apostolic abjuring of homosexual acts (e.g. Romans 1:26,27).

    WHAT a choice of a lead speaker to prime our bishops!

    Cardinal Hollerich, as with all the synodal apparatchiks, makes much of: “listening to the spirit” and being guided by the Spirit. As with others eager to make a name for themselves as innovators, the cardinal is deaf to our Lord Jesus Christ’s precise instructions, recorded at John 14:26 – “The Advocate, The Holy Spirit, whom The Father will send in My Name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have taught you.” Then John 15:26 – “The Spirit of Truth who issues from The Father will be My witness.” Again John 16:13-15 – “When The Spirit of Truth comes, He will lead you to the complete truth . . . He will glorify Me, since all He tells you will be taken from what is Mine.”

    The Holy Spirit of God does NOT foster novelty. The Holy Spirit of God reminds us of all that our King, Jesus Christ, has already taught us, as is available to everyone on Earth in the 27 texts by 9 Apostolic authors of The New Testament.

    For goodness’ sake: wherever a Catholic, clergy or lay, thinks the spirit has led them to a new truth, beyond The New Testament, they are being deceived by an evil spirit, NOT led by The Holy Spirit.

    The gift of the discerning between spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10) is dangerously quenched among the eager synodalista who hope to make a name for themselves as radical reconstructors of Christ’s Church.

    Hollerich and Radcliffe are advocates of sin. Can they escape from the logic of 1 John 3:8 – “Those who do what is sinful are of the devil . . . ”

    Our polluted Earth in climate turmoil, global plagues, insane wars, immense suffering everywhere, and now many in Church leadership spitting in the face of our glorious Master.

    Revelation 13:10 – “This calls for patient endurance & faithfulness on behalf of the saints.”

    Come soon Lord Jesus Christ; don’t be long; we need You SO much.

    Love and blessings to all who love & obey The Lamb; from marty

  31. As incoherent as The Working Document for the Continental Stage is, it is clear that our pontificate is intent on reform into a radically inclusive Church, drawing in all who wish, regardless of willingness to repent, to enter and receive the sacraments. Perceived as a realistic openness presumed justified by science, the incompatibility of permanent moral premises.
    For the faithful who are intent on adherence to Christ’s commandments our response requires clear, stern rebuttal, transmitted as recommended in Dawn Beutner’s article ‘On St. Francis de Sales and handling the news like a Saint’, that is, with tact, respect [in particular of the Chair of Peter] and appeal to atone.

  32. Dear Chris,

    Thanks for your courtesy in responding in detail to my humble feedback.

    Am much encouraged by your reliance on Matthew 7:21-27. OBEDIENCE to the commands of God the Father, as given us and shown us by King Jesus Christ, and as reminded to the Apostolic authors by The Holy Spirit of God, is a non-negotiable for a Catholic and for any other authentic Christian, desiring to build their lives on unshakeable rock.

    Is obedience something we can decide for ourselves, Chris? No: God has not provided that option. Off the rock, so graciously given us, we will fall.

    One way our catechists can communicate the security of the rock, i.e. obedience to our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, is outlined here:-

    The Semitic Ten Commandments reflected cleanness of the right hand (the first five commands) and uncleanness of the left hand (the second five commands).

    Today, we could be true to the original and yet collate these commandments with a positive, personal, ecumenical, and egalitarian hermeneutics, informed by the New Testament and accessible to 21st Century people. For example:

    HAND ONE, Thumb: With all my heart, mind, body and soul I will worship the one God revealed by Jesus Christ: Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

    Index Finger: I will have no other god nor any idol; I will not swear oaths, for my ‘yes’ is yes and my ‘no’ is no.

    Middle Finger: I will not use God’s name profanely.

    Ring Finger: I will keep the Sabbath Day holy, in the way Jesus taught us.

    Little Finger: I will honour my mum and dad.

    HAND TWO, Thumb: I will love every person and not hurt or kill anyone, nor think evil of them, nor hate or take revenge.

    Index Finger: I will maintain sexual purity and faithfulness in thought, word and deed.

    Middle Finger: I will not steal; I will not rob others of their reputation.

    Ring Finger: I will not tell lies, deceive, nor cheat.

    Little finger: I will not covet for God in Christ is providing all I need.

    A common resolve by Church leaders at all levels, to get every Catholic parish, every Diocese, and all the Roman curia back to these basics would surely attract The Holy Spirit to help us transform the world, instead of disastrously invoking the world spirit to renovate the Church.

    What don’t we Catholics understand about: “If you love Me; obey My commands.”

    Keep safe everyone. Stay well.

    Ever in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

  33. Jesus spoke the truth with utter wisdom, simplicity and beauty.

    A five-year-old can understand His stories, yet scholars spend their entire lives delving their profoundest depths.

    Contrast the truths spoken by our Lord with the bland, soporific, totally predictable platitudes uttered in this synodolatrous document.

    They’re like a black hole where wisdom is sucked away and disappears.

    This bureaucratic blather — with its plethora of words and paucity of truth — has all the hallmarks of the evil one.

    • Key point, dear ‘Brineyman’.

      You’ve really discerned it well: “This bureaucratic blather — with its plethora of words and paucity of truth — has all the hallmarks of the evil one.”

      Many ordinary Catholics, like us, are asking two big questions:

      1. Is it that the leadership, under our present pope, welcome the aid of the evil one, the prince of this world, to help them get their way with the Church?

      2. Are all the bishops going to meekly acquiesce to being brain-washed & railroaded; to become sidekicks of the spirit-of-this-world (as it counterfeits The Holy Spirit) with its ancient aim of making the Church ‘a more welcoming place’ to those who despise God’s authority & willingly flout Apostolic instructions.

      In contrast: the actual Holy Spirit has always asked us to make the Church super welcoming to sinners who sincerely want to repent & earnestly desire to be reborn into Christ’s obedient righteousness and eternal favor with God.

      Saint Peter Damian, please intercede for the bishops of our Church to have their blindfolds removed, so they can discern what spirit it is that seeks to master them.

      Ever in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

  34. The post-Vatican II era and the current synod reminds me of the forty years that the Israelite people spent wandering in the wilderness. God did a great work in the Exodus. The Israelite people responded by mostly grumbling and being hard hearted and stiff necked, no different than Pharaoh. One minute they are swearing a solemn blood covenant and the next they have their Golden Calf synod and break their covenant. That generation was denied access to the Promised Land. Even Moses fell short and was also denied access to the Promised Land. The people longed for the fleshpots of Egypt and were very rebellious.
    In the post-Vatican II era the New Israel of the Church displays the same behavior that the Israelite people did in the wilderness. The same worldly longing for the fleshpots of Egypt. The same grumbling. Unrepentant sinners, hard of heart and stiff of neck, can be very rigid. The wanderings in the wilderness were a reflection of the spiritual aimlessness of the Israelite people. Christ gave the Church a mission with the Great Commission. He also left us with His New and Everlasting Covenant. How faithful is the New Israel of the Church to this covenant? Is the modern Church creating all-weather Catholics, or is it turning out fair-weather Catholics who falter like the Israelite people did in the wilderness?

    • Right on, dear GreB.

      Penalties of Disobedience depicted by the apostolic author of ‘Hebrews’ 12:

      Verse 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

      15 See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled,

      16 that no one be an immoral or profane person like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

      17 For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit his father’s blessing, he was rejected because he found no opportunity to change his mind, even though he sought the blessing with tears.

      18 You have not approached that which could be touched and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness and storm

      19 and a trumpet blast and a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further addressed to them,

      20 for they could not bear to hear the command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”

      21 Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

      22 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering,

      23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,

      24 and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

      25 See that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much more in our case if we turn away from the one who warns from heaven.

      26 His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, “I will once more shake not only earth but heaven.”

      27 That phrase, “once more,” points to [the] removal of shaken, created things, so that what is unshaken may remain.

      28 Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe.

      29 For our God is a consuming fire.

  35. The final part of an article in ‘The Catholic Herald’ January 30th, 2023:

    “So those who wish to change the Church’s teaching on sex offer the following argument: what if the quality of sexual affection between two people who are not married to each other might justify their actions? What if, for example, they reach such levels of ethically impressive intimacy, tenderness, need, affection, fidelity and permanence, that the merits accumulated by all this virtuous emotion outweigh the “sin”?

    To drive this home, it might be suggested that two homoerotically affectionate people have kind, generous and perhaps even a charming sexual intimacy; and if this is set alongside another (hypothetical) straight couple who are going through a difficult patch and whose sexual attraction is low, poor, unsympathetic, unsuccessful and badly-matched, then surely the gay sexual intimacy is ethically superior to the straight and rather more incompetent or unsympathetic intimacy? Is it not even “more loving”?

    But immediately we can see that the highest value in this argument is “what kind of loving sex are you having?”. And that is very much a prime concern of our culture. This is the new gold standard of ethics; and not, “what is the category of relationship that you are in?”.

    But is the integrity of the idea of a spiritual category undermined or reconfigured by the quality of sexual affection and intimacy (if such things can actually be judged)?

    How can we test the growing progressive claim that the category does not matter as much as the quality of the “loving intimacy” expressed between a hypothetical couple?

    What would we say to a brother and sister whose sexual relationship took place outside marriage and was incestuous? Does the quality of their “love” (remember always the mantra that “love is love”) outweigh the fact that this is incest and not marriage?

    What about the “minor attracted” step-father (previously known as a paedophile) who wants to express his love to his young step-daughter with a degree of sincere, intense sexual affection and with a terrifying degree of permanence?

    Let’s take the argument in another direction. Let us say two married people feel such an overflowing torrent of loving sexual and intimate affection that they feel its integrity requires them to invite a third person into the intimacy – what is known nowadays as turning a couple into a “thruple”?

    The argument that context (or intention) may remove all blame, and by implication sin, will allow the erosion of the monogamous heterosexual couple.

    By extending biological marriage of man to woman to same sex-couples on the basis of the intensity and authenticity of their romantic feelings for each other, the category of marriage is changed, and combined with the “elimination of fault”, the concept of sex outside marriage being a sin disappears.

    Both James Martin and Austin Ivereigh are confident that when Pope Francis said:

    “Every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault.”

    That this “elimination of fault” reflects the progressive claim that the quality of sexual intimacy outweighs the belief that the category of marriage is non-negotiable in being able to tell what is sin in God’s eyes, and what isn’t.

    Whatever it was that Pope Francis meant when he insisted that “the circumstances may eliminate fault”, the progressives insist he intended to and is changing Catholic teaching on sex, marriage and sin.”

    So: we humans set aside obedience to God’s commands and flout all that the Apostles and Saints have taught us. Humans become the sole judge of what is morally acceptable and push God off the throne!

    Pope Francis’ words seem to have all the treacherous appeal of Genesis 3:4, in denigrating God’s rightful authority to set the moral parameters for human life.

    I deeply disliked having to write that, but the evidence seems unequivocal.

    Then there is Genesis 4:7: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

    Can we all pray that this Pope wake up and remember that our Catholic lives in Christ Jesus are all about mastering ‘the croucher’; and that he has been given the sacred responsibility of exemplifying that mastery to more than a billion souls.

    Ever in the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

  36. How difficult is it for ordinary Catholics to proclaim: “God’s Kingdom Come”, when our heavyweight hierarchs & institutes are working so assiduously for the world spirit’s kingdom to take over.

    For example: this February & April, ‘Sacred Heart University Fairfield’ is hosting Archbishop Christophe Pierre and Cardinals Joseph Tobin & Robert McElroy in promoting: ‘Widening Our Tent: The Synodal Imperative for Radical Inclusion’.

    For this top rank synodalism soften-up series, SHUF is flying the dubious flag of: ‘cum Petro et sub Petro’.

    We only need glance at Saint First Pope Simon Peter’s witness in our New Testaments to notice that synodality and radical inclusivism could never be ‘with Peter’ and rather than ‘subject to Peter’, they vaunt themselves over Peter and above Peter’s LORD.

    We, little ones, thought all the clerical child sexual molestations and deceitful institutional, collusive cover-ups were as bad as it could get. What is being lined up now, is worse still. Hidden in the agenda of the synodalista is a normalization of clerical sexual activity, including clerical homosexual activity, and ‘tender, loving’ sexual exploitation of children & vulnerable adults.

    ‘Widening Our Tent’ sounds so innocent and homely, doesn’t it . . .

    Blessings on all who love and obey King Jesus Christ; from marty

  37. 1. Well, what is to be done?
    2. All the protesting statements by smart, well-educated, and holy Catholics isn’t stopping the evil identified in this article and in the other comments on this article.
    3. The bad guys are winning, and have been winning for some time now.
    4. Will we ever get our Church back?
    5. Is there any reasonable hope for that? I’d really like to know.

    • Hi, dear Gus. We are all sweating on that question!

      You are Church & I am Church & there are others like us. If we persevere & stay faithful then, at least there’s a nucleus for God to build from, once Divine Wrath has pulverized, disintegrated, & blown away the bad smell of the apostates.

      Bern Mendola had a similar question: “How can these brilliant men be so deceived by the evil one?”

      A great question, dear Bern: In Acts 20:28-31, Saint Luke reports on Saint Paul exhorting the leaders of the church at Ephesus: “Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock . . . I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard . . .”

      Our Lord, Jesus had also taught us that such things have to happen, as in Matthew 18:7 & Luke 17:1.

      Jesus tells us that these offences must happen, but we should be sure they don’t happen through us!

      So, right from the start until this very day, there is a clear binary in the Church that we must all be alert to.

      No comfort in that but I’m hoping it addresses your question, Bern.

      Ever in the persevering love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

      • Dear Dr Marty:

        While some highly intelligent men reject God and His plan of salvation, even more intelligent men are chosen to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul had his heart changed and his profound intellect was put to work to bless mankind. He spoke to everyone regardless of their point of view.

        Others such as Aquinas, Augustine, C S Lewis, Matthew Henry, John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers, C K Chesterton, A W Tozer and Fulton Sheen have brought deep enlightenment to the table. You will add to the list! 🙂

        2 Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

        1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

        1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

        Many blessings,


  38. I hope to see a strong showing of Catholic men at satan Con. Let them have their venue. Then please show up. Judging by the woefully lackadaisical response of some members of the Catholic Community in Macomb County, Michigan to the satanism of one of The satanic Temple’s Leaders beginning in 2003; there seems to be a curious level of reluctance to making a direct public response to this group. When they appear in the media, there tends to be merely a paltry little band of of primarily elderly Catholics that shows up in response; on one occasion a mass was said. We need the elders to be there, but are they the only ones willing to head to the frontlines? What accounts for the unwillingness to engage in vigorous public debate en masse with these folks? Why don’t 400 Catholic Men show up with a readiness to confront them? I pray that the men of the Catholic Community are finally ready to confront this problem directly with their presence and prayers, as opposed to simply attempting to interfere with their securement of a venue. It has been reported that one of the members of The satanic Temple was raised Catholic, and it would seem appropriate for them to reach out to him ministerially; perhaps had they done so sooner, we would not be confronted with the monstrosity that is After School satan clubs. A number of those involved in satanism were raised Catholic. It is high time for some tough talk about why young Catholics are turning to witchcraft and satanism. It is time for a few good Catholic Men to make their presence known at these events in droves to show the satanic temple that they are willing to confront evil head on. In so doing, they may draw a wayward Catholic out of satanism.

    In memory of Jackson.

  39. BLA, BLA,BLA. All talking heads need to get down on their knees and pray. God is in charge I don’t expect you to print this I just feel the need to go back into silence and solitude!

  40. Robin Moseley I would not hold that Revelation is incoherent.

    To say that Revelation is preterist is self-convoluting, besides.

    Then to claim “sola is not the right way” is a truth neither supporting your preceding confusions nor resolving them. More distortion.

    Bearing in mind the title of this article, you have given a remarkable service, thank you!

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