The Synodal Sludge

The text of the new Instrumentum Laboris is turgid and the verbiage is swollen with sociological terminology and bureaucratic bloviation. That’s apparently the “synodal style”.

Detail from synodal artwork on the Vatican's Facebook page for Synod 2021-2023. (Image:

Earlier this week, the Vatican issued the Instrumentum Laboris—the working document—for the October 2023 Synod. The 27,000 word document is divided in two basic parts: a section of dense descriptions and often repetitive directives, and a section of leading and often skewed questions.

First, the good news: if you enjoy the adjective “synodal,” you’ll be thrilled to read about the “Synodal church” (116x), the “synodal process” (33x), the “synodal life,” the “synodal experience,” the “synodal way,” the “synodal path,” the “synodal perspective,” the “synodal dynamic,” the “synodal orientation,” the “synodal journey,” the “synodal style,” “synodal action,” “synodal key,” “synodal framework,” “synodal manner,” “synodal spirituality,” and, well, you get the synodal drift.

Furthermore, whether you knew it or not, you are a part of the synodal-fest. Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general for the Synod of Bishops, says the Instrumentum Laboris (IL) “is a text in which no one’s voice is missing” and that it “is not a document of the Holy See … but of the whole Church. It is not a document written on the desk. It is a document in which everyone is a co-author, each for the part he is called to play in the Church, in docility to the Spirit.”

The synod, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator of the Synod on Synodality, assured synodal listeners, does “not speak about the Church’s teaching — that is not our task and not our mission — we just welcome everybody who wants to walk with us.”

Consider me skeptical. In the spirit of things, let’s call it synodal skepticism.

As expected, the IL has many, or even most, of the characteristics found in the Working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), the October 2022 document from which this new document draws its breath and being. I’ve already written at length about the DCS, describing it as “the most incoherent document ever sent out from Rome.” (I won’t bother revisiting that analysis here, but it is worth reading if you missed it the first time around.)

The writing is turgid and the verbiage is swollen with sociological terminology and bureaucratic bloviation. And so there are many mentions of “walking together” and “process(es)” and “experience,” along with constant references to “institutions,” “structures,” “method(s),” and “procedures,” to the point that you sometimes wonder those if who successfully read the entire text will be awarded a certificate in business management or technocrat-speak.

I nearly forgot “space(s)”. For example: “Rooted in this awareness is the desire for a Church that is also increasingly synodal in its institutions, structures and procedures, so as to constitute a space in which common baptismal dignity and co-responsibility for mission are not only affirmed, but exercised, and practised.”

And, in the question section:

How can we create spaces where those who feel hurt by the Church and unwelcomed by the community feel recognised, received, free to ask questions and not judged? In the light of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church because of their status or sexuality (for example, remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people, etc.)?

No one is surprised by the laundry list of those “who feel excluded,” as this has been a constant theme for over ten years now. Of course, no one is actually excluded from the Church, as all are truly welcomed. But there are definite criteria involved in embracing Christ, entering His Church, and following His commandments. Not that “commandments” are ever mentioned. And the few mentions of “conversion” almost all refer, in vague terms, to institutional or “synodal conversion.”

Further, as noted by some who are likely not nearly as rigid and neo-Pelagian as myself, the text never mentions mothers, fathers, children, or human families (there are a couple of welcome references to the “family of God”). There are, for instance, two references to “polyamorous marriage,” but none to real, Catholic marriages. Perhaps because the latter are thriving and face no challenges?

As expected, there are dozens of references to women, who are unremittingly portrayed as being excluded, underappreciated, and devalued. “What new ministries,” we read, “could be created to provide the means and opportunities for women’s effective participation in discernment and decision-making bodies?”

And: “Most of the Continental Assemblies and the syntheses of several Episcopal Conferences call for the question of women’s inclusion in the diaconate to be considered. Is it possible to envisage this, and in what way?”

Here’s a question to add to the list: Why does it so often appear that the new and vital synodal Church is obsessed with the concerns of the aging Catholic progressives of the 1970s? And: How can we encourage men to be good fathers, faithful husbands, and loving disciples of Jesus Christ?

There is a great deal about ministry and ministries, including this question: “How does the triple office of the ordained Ministry relate to the Church as a prophetic, priestly and royal People?” It’s as if the pontificate of St. Pope John Paul II never took place and he never addressed this at length and in detail. Of course, John Paul II is hardly referenced and Pope Benedict XVI is never mentioned at all. Perhaps because he never wrote much at all about ecclesiology, ministry, and the role of the laity (that’s a sarcastic remark, in case you missed it).

There are, in my reading, some Trojan Horse sections sprinkled throughout, often rendered with a sort of limp, passive-aggressive quality. Of course, the clever aspect of this document is that it is (we’re told again and again) simply and faithfully sharing what the “People of God”(66 mentions, for those keeping count) have to say, though that is difficult to accept.

Here is one example, quoted at length to provide context and flavor:

Some of the questions that emerged from the consultation of the People of God concern issues on which there is already magisterial and theological teaching to be considered. To give just two examples, we can note the acceptance of remarried divorcees, dealt with in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, or the inculturation of the liturgy, the subject of the Instruction Varietates legitimae (1994) of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The fact that questions continue to emerge on issues like these should not be hastily dismissed, rather, it calls for discernment, and the Synodal Assembly is a privileged forum for so doing. In particular, the obstacles, real or perceived, that have prevented the steps indicated by previous documents from being realised should be considered and reflections offered on how they can be removed. For example, if the block stems from a general lack of information, then improved communication will be needed. If, on the other hand, the problem stems from the difficulty of grasping the implications of the documents in ordinary situations or an inability of persons to recognise themselves in what is proposed, a synodal journey of effective reception by the People of God could be the appropriate response. Another instance could be the reappearance of a question which emerges as a sign of a changed reality or situations where there is a need for an “overflow” of Grace. This requires further reflection on the Deposit of Faith and the living Tradition of the Church.

Personally, as I’ve written about several times in recent months, I wish we would reflect further and more deeply on the actual Deposit of Faith and the Living Tradition of the Church. (To that point: “catechesis” is mentioned three times and “doctrine” once.) But, what to think about “a changed reality”? And situations needing an “overflow” of Grace? What are we talking about? (“Alex, I’ll take ‘Catholic Moral Teachings’ for $1000.” Did I mention that the document never mentions morality at all?)

This document, like almost all of the synodal documents of the past decade, is shot through with a strong presentism: a constant insinuation that the past has little to offer us; in fact, the sense that we need to embrace change as we raise our wetted fingers into the swirling winds of the zeitgeist. The mind-numbing and incessant references to the “synodal Church” (and the other synodal “stuff”) is a perfect example. Did the Church, prior to 2015—or 2021, or 2023?—have nothing to do with communion, participation, and mission, the “three priority issues for the synodal Church”?

The opening sentence of the IL blithely declares: “The People of God have been on the move since Pope Francis convened the whole Church in Synod in October 2021.” Were they stuck in neutral prior to 2021? Going backward?

One final note: a newspaper claiming to be Catholic recently reported that Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle “suggested that pockets of resistance to Pope Francis’ invitation to synodality within the global Catholic Church is rooted in fear of change and insecurity about Catholic identity.” Tagle says that the “synodal church” is “a church that rediscovers this wonderful gift of the Spirit given to the whole church in Vatican II.”

As someone who happily counts the reading of the Vatican II documents as an important part of my journey into the Catholic Church, I am rather puzzled by the comment. It’s one thing to say that the notion and concept of synodality are related to Vatican II; it’s another thing to say that these various documents proceeding forth from Vatican-based committees in recent months are presenting an accurate and transparent understanding of synodality. The fact is, there is a diversity of understandings, and they do not all get along or correspond well to the historical and theological record.

“I don’t want to judge people,” says Tagle, “But sometimes I just wish people would calmly, calmly read the documents of Vatican II and get in touch with the teachings of Vatican II rather than rely on some caricatures or biased presentations for what Vatican II stands for.” Agreed. And to this observer, who has read and studied the documents for many years, some of those “people” are heavily involved in producing the DCS and the IL texts.

So, where will all of these lead? Those of us suffering from synodal saturation are quite curious. Time will tell. Rome in October 2023 is going to be a time of notable encounters and processes, without doubt, as the search for clarity within the synodal Church promises to be quite the, um, synodal experience.

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About Carl E. Olson 1217 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.


    • Yup, the 1970s or 80s are calling this artwork home. Maybe from a rotary phone in a now defunct United Methodist church. It’s like looking through a time warp.
      My dear Nana’s family were old time Methodists and I’m not picking on the denomination as a whole but what’s happening to mainline Protestant churches should be an object lesson to Catholics. If you’re seeking demographic aging and extinction just follow the strategy of progressive Methodists and Presbyterians.

      • Agree, mrscracker, the synodal path of tripe and nonsense, truly “sludge,” follows the slippery slope to extinction forged by the progressive Protestant denominations.

        Cardinal Grech says that the synod does “not speak about the Church’s teaching—that is not or task and our mission….” Well, since Christ’s Great Commission to the Church in Matthew 28 is not what the good cardinal is about, he might feel more at home in one of. those meaningless woke Protestant denominations.

        Thank you very much, Carl, for your work and witness.

      • Mrs Nutcracker,
        If we accept the evidence that each protestant heretical sect has a Freemasonic Founder, and further the evidence of Cardinal Gagnon’s secretary Fr Charles Murr that the Roman Curia of the 1950s had fallen to Freemason infiltrates, then what is happening in those Freemasonic-founded sects is precisely the Cancel Catholicism Programme being implemented.

        The apparently Munus-less Active Ministerium publicly claimed to be “following the programme they handed to me.” The devil cannot help but proudly boast of his exploits.

        We might well ask of the Active Ministerium:
        What Sankt Gallen Mafia Programme exactly?
        In exchange for what?

        Answer to 1 is appatently the Freemasonic Cancel Catholicism Programme announced by almost every Pope 1717-1957.

        Answer to 2 is apparently editorial Protection from Argentina.

    • Well now. We have a lady priest, a Pride belt and a rather over weight woman (I think it’s a woman)—- where’s the tranny??? Was Mulvaney not available?

  1. The preoccupation with only folks at the “periphery” who feel left out of the barque of Peter—this distortion reminds us of another “unsinkable” craft…its lifeboat capacity was also calculated not for the passengers but only for rescuing victims of other less fortunate ships…

    The Titanic was equipped with only enough lifeboats to rescue victims of other ships less unsinkable. The lifeboat capacity was 1,176 if fully loaded, but unfortunately the ship was designed to carry nearly three times that number (3,295), and on her fateful maiden voyage carried 2,234 passengers and crew.

    Unsinkable except for a single scratch from an iceberg, measuring only a quarter of an inch wide, but 300 feet long, and twenty-two feet below the waterline. Not unlike a very narrow synod scratched around the world by only one percent of living Catholics (and discounting G.K. Chesterton’s perennial “democracy of the dead”—the past 2,000 years plus the Magisterium).

    The upended Titanic at least had a compass and a rudder. Butt, of today’s upending synodal bridge building, and as the Brits back in Southampton might say, “rum thing that, the ineptness on the bridge.”

  2. Maybe those in all the liberal synods need to figure out how to convey to those who are feeling “excluded ” that their problem is EXACTLY their sinful sexual status.Weirdly, these synods appear bent on twisting church law in this area to accommodate the highly secular “feelings” of those most outside the church. These folks have no intention of amending their ways, and want to force the church to change to suit them.. Maybe they need to understand the words of the church better and alter that status, with new behavior which befits a Christian ( which does NOT include multiple sex partners, whether straight OR gay) . Also, as a woman who serves happily in a church ministry, I am nobody’s second class citizen. I am tired of women with no self confidence and apparently few brains perpetuating this myth. There is no need for new, bogus, ministries to accommodate them. This is simple. If you want to genuinely be a part of the church,make an effort follow the rules and accept church teachings . Its offensive to suggest the church needs to change for you.

    • Ironically maybe, but the real truth of the matter is that most of the “excluded” have little to no desire to be “included” in the Church. The motivation for this activity — pretty much all of it as a matter of fact— is an attempt inside he Church to shore up the demographic decline which is currently occurring. My best guess is that most of it will end up being “insider baseball” that will change little in the real world of people.

  3. I am wont to refer to just about any government operation inside the Beltway as “The Swamp.” It’s time now to extend this appellation to the City of Rome as well. Henceforth, I will refer to it and its center core at the Vatican as “The Unholy Swamp.”

    In August, God willing, we are planning a family trip to Italy with my son and his family. Since our grandchildren have never seen “The Unholy Swamp”, my wife and I told them that we’ll meet them in Tuscany, as I’ve seen just about all I can stomach of the Bergoglian Church. Art and architecture are little consolation for the wreckage Bergoglio has done to the Catholic Church.

    I’ve recently commented to a priest-friend of mine that an excellent husband and father would make a good priest and that, likewise, an excellent priest is one who would make an excellent husband and father. I’ve begun to apply thus standard to Bergoglio and the ecclesiasts he surrounds himself with. Can you guess how they fare in my mind?

  4. I hate to say but I find all this synodal stuff boring and silly. But I found this article funny and clever. And better yet “right on”. Thank you Mr. Olson.

  5. I used to think (simplistically, I suppose) that out of the goodness of his heart the pope was casting his nets over the most shallow waters – to gather in those who have been alienated by the church. Then, I witnessed his hostility toward those already IN the nets, Catholics in “lace”; Catholics who “breed like rabbits”, even an attack on what might be our BV Mother ridiculed as one who “delivers her messages like a postal worker”. I saw him advocate for abortion-tainted vaccines, even denying a cardinal of the church access to the Vatican on account of his absent vaccination papers. I have seen pacha mama extolled and reference to his own office as “Vicar of Christ” discarded. Now, this sin-nod that seems to suggest – not in light of Catholic teachings – but IN SPITE of Catholic teaching, that homosexuals, trans-sexuals, polygamists and divorced have more standing (and status) in the church than the SSPX. As Catholic Faithful, when can we ask at what point it might be evident that “Rome has lost the faith?” IMHO, we’re likely already past being there. Come Blessed Mother, cast your holy mantle over the remnant of your Faithful.

  6. I find myself approaching the conclusion that the Catholic Christianity into which I was baptized eighty-five years ago either self-destructed at the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 when it embraced the “spirit” of Vatican II, or is about to self-destruct in the current complex efforts to orchestrate a strange new aura of infallibility for what I fear to be the current Pope’s vision of a globalist “Synod-on-Synodality”-type of Church in which the timeless truths of the Catholic Faith are scrapped in favor of times-conscious, trendy untruths, created in the chaos of fickle human social, political, and religious preferences—turning God into an image and likeness of—Us !

  7. The “style” of synodality seems to include the corruption of “proportionalism” (warned against in Veritatis Splendor)…and, therefore, Cardinal Tagle’s admonishment to read the Documents of Vatican II (second-to-last paragraph in the article) might be an example.

    Tagle is on record as being a Pope Francis lookalike, and less than clear about divorce/remarriage and homosexuality (Penton, ed., “The Next Pope,” 2020). The Vatican II Documents include this:

    “Contemplating this melancholy state of humanity, the Council wishes to recall first of all the permanent binding force of universal natural law [!] and the all-embracing principles, Man’s conscience itself gives ever more emphatic voice to these principles. Therefore, actions which deliberately conflict with these principles, as well as orders commanding such actions, are criminal” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 79).

  8. My comment of an hour or two ago has apparently been stricken in your moderation process. “Moderating” doesn’t seem to mean “censoring.” The fact that you require the email address of one who submits a comment implies that a moderation process exists, in which you might suggest to the one who submitted the comment what in the comment is immoderate and in need of change or moderation. If that is not so, perhaps you should change your announcement to: “All comments posted at Catholic World Report are [omit ‘moderated’] censored.if deemed immoderate.” I make this suggestion only because my censored comment is an honestly held viewpoint that I believe is shared by many Catholics who are scandalized by changes in the timeless truths of the Catholic Faith that have been wrought by the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the writings of our current Pope.

    • It was not stricken. Since we do moderate comments, not all comments are immediately accessed and put through. In addition, the nature of WordPress, servers, etc., means that it can take an hour or two before comments show up on the site.

      • Thanks very much for your very kind and reassuring reply. I regret my intemperate overreaction. (These are edgy times for Catholics concerned about the current somewhat chaotic state of affairs in the Church.)

  9. “Sludge” indeed!


    A tip of the chapeau to you, Mr. Olson, for finding the appropriate terminology.

    I.e., the words that graphically describe the stenchy and overripe rankness of the synodal sensibility without overstepping the protective CWR censorship threshold.

    It’s a delicate balance, and your footwork is flawless.

  10. I am so glad that you wrote this. Now I do not have to. I read the IL yesterday and thought “crap, now I need to comment on this silliness again.” But your essay nails it. I wish the younger folks who are out there who might be a bit confused by all of this could understand what it is us older folks know. Nothing about this synodal process is new. Not one bit of it. This is recycled theology, both moral and ecclesiological, from the 1970’s. It is the same empty rhetoric. The same bureaucratic and sociological jargon, and the same tone of irenic love which will hold sway until they are in charge. And then all dialogue ceases and all tolerance goes out the door. For 60 years the progressive wing of the Church has sought to baptize the sexual revolution and to turn the Catholic Church into something very similar to liberal episcopalianism. And here we are again.

    It really is as if JPII had never existed. And that is their wish.

    • Spot on, Larry. The only weapon we have to counter the Father of Lies and his followers is Truth. In this world, you have only one of two sides to be on: you are on God’s side or the side of Satan. There is no such thing as a fence-sitter.

    • We read: “This is recycled theology, both moral and ecclesiological, from the 1970’s.”

      Yes, the Call to Action thingy of bad memory. Butt, parts are not even the recycling that you identify. It’s pre-adolescence, or worse, in a red hat. Consider this mid-century analysis from Georges Bernanos:

      “The modern world will shortly no longer possess sufficient spiritual reserves to commit genuine evil. Already . . . we can witness a lethal slackening of men’s conscience that is attacking not only their moral life, but also their very heart and mind, altering and decomposing even their imagination . . . The menacing crisis is one of INFANTILISM.”

      (Interview with Samedi-Soir, Nov. 8, 1947, cited in Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence” [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1996], 457, caps added).

    • Dr. Chapp – So what can we actually do to stop the implementation of Pope Francis’ radical progressive agenda at this point? The cardinals and bishops mostly seem to be either on board with the project of PF or too weak / afraid to speak out. The one bishop in the US who has been willing to openly question the agenda of PF has now (reportedly) been rewarded with an apostolic visitation. I know you are doing good work with your writing and videos, but I fear that doing interviews and writing essays isn’t going to make any real difference. I do worry, sometimes, when you say in your essays and commentaries that this is “nothing new” and “we’ve been here before” it gives the impression that we shouldn’t be all that worried since it’s been tied before and it failed (implying that it is bound to fail again). Well, last time the pope wasn’t leading the charge. PF has been craftily putting the pieces in place for a decade and now the program is reaching its crescendo. He knew that he couldnt be straightforward about his intentions at first, or he would fail in his objectives. So we have been subjected to duplicity, gaslighting and misdirection while he has put the necessary personnel in place. All the while, his real intentions have been clear to those who have watched his episcopal appointments (almost exclusively radical progressives), who he has appointed as cardinals and to important episcopal offices, his carefully planned “off the cuff” remarks, who he has praised and received in audience, his supposedly “private” letters and gestures. Now, he seems to have the cardinals, the bishops, and the vast majority of so-called Catholic laity on his side. By all appearances, the “contest” for the future of the Church is over without some direct human or divine intervention. But what concrete action can be taken to actually stop this from happening? It does not look like anything can or will be done at this point. I know we can pray and we all need to do that. Would it be sinful to pray for the immediate death of Pope Francis, for the sake of the Church? I’m serious. Would it be sinful?

      • You have echoed my own thoughts. I can no longer even look at a picture of Bergoglio without a feeling of loathing. and I avoid thinking about him lest I hope for his death, which I do not want to do. I try to pray for his conversion, but that seems like an exercise in futility. I have even begun to wonder if the papacy is a human institution, not divine. Did the bishop of Rome just keep grabbing more power and no one smacked his hands? Are the Orthodox right? Never have I felt so at sea as I do now.

        • No need to wonder (Mt 16:18), although aggrandizement by both the state and the Vatican is also part of actual history…

          Regarding the renewed conundrum of decentralization (bishops) and centralization (papacy), we now have a muddled and even infiltrated focus on synods. The good, the bad, and the ugly. On the one hand, many of the individual features in the outline capture a lot and have considerable merit, but then the overall package (the Instrumentum Laboris, IL) is problematic and even ideological. A camel is a horse designed by a committee.

          A sort of MRI might be applied by crudely comparing key word counts between the IL and, say, Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which has a clearer foundation than even its own exercise of “walking together” down mainstreet. The word count: IL 27,400/King 6,900. The King Letter mentions morality 19 times, the IL zero. The King Letter mentions Jesus Christ 2 times, the IL 2 times. The King Letter mentions natural law 1 time as its foundation, the IL zero. (The Protestant King Letter even mentions Aquinas while the IL does not.) The King Letter mentions God 15 times, while the IL (four times as long) this time tops out at 102.

          On the other hand, the IL does speak of teaching (19), governing (18) and sanctifying (14; sanctity 13/sacraments 1). But, one underlying maelstrom of concern–other than places at the table for anti-binary sexuality and McElroy’s admitted revolutionizing the Church!—is the subliminal displacement of the interior life (0) with actions (22).

          As for your other question, “Are the Orthodox right”…

          Pope Francis’ recent June 14 comments on synods and the Orthodox Church (NOT the ambulatory focus-group version now roiling the Latin Church), his writers seem at least to affirm the balanced (“hierarchical communion”) articulated by the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium (Chapter 3, and with its included Preliminary Note!): “The Church is not properly understood as a pyramid, with a primate governing from the top, but neither is it properly understood as a federation of self-sufficient Churches” Distinct from governance, still needs something more about guarding the Deposit of Faith (with moral absolutes–i.e., Veritatis Splendor as now part of the Magisterium, n. 115).

          Deformed synodality? How to salvage and advance the good, actually reject the bad, and work on the ugly?

        • I greatly admire the Eastern Orthodox and I used to have a Greek Orthodox employer. Their churches, icons, and liturgical music are beautiful.
          But the Orthodox get three tries at marriage. Divorce, contraception, and other issues are treated differently than in the Catholic Church.
          We have much common ground but we should also be aware of the differences. Of course how many Catholics take Church teaching on marriage and family seriously?

          • The last sentence in your response was going through my mind as I read the response. Yes, the Catholic Church has specific teachings on divorce, contraception, etc., “on the books,” but how many Catholics heed, know, or even care about them? This, of course, is not reason to abandon them or even water them down, but the cafeteria Catholicism that followed in the wake of VatII, is still, among many, par for the course, and the current papacy sometimes seems to be aiding and abetting it.

    • And those who believe in the message of our Lady of Akita understand that the “revolution” will go full force. Message of Akita in 1973 spoke of “bishop against bishop and carninal against cardinal” and the church “full of those who accept compromises.” Then there is cardinal Martini and San Gallen Mafia who favored Bergoglio since the 1990s as thier man for the revoĺution.

      Only God’s intervention can drain the swamp in the church at this point which has reached the top.

    • You read the IL? All of it? Your stomach must be stronger than mine. I could barely make it through the quotations in Mr. Olson’s article! Halfway through each one, I thought, “Surely this is satire!” Can anyone with a functioning brain take this conglomeration of contemporary cant seriously?

  11. Saint Francis in his prophecy for the end time church refers to the “destroyer” as “cunning.”

    Got to watch pope Bergoglio closely to see his true face.

  12. There are things I agree with in this essay.

    But this sentence bothered me greatly.

    “Of course, no one is actually excluded from the Church, as all are truly welcomed. But there are definite criteria involved in embracing Christ, entering His Church, and following His commandments.”

    I’m just curious which commandments you’re referring to for those living with mental health challenges and those who reported clergy abuse because they were in fact abused and then suffered the cover up conducted by the bishops.

    The truth is people in the Church truly have communicated to these folks that they aren’t welcome. I’m working on projects to change that.

    But dismissing their voices when they acted courageously to include their description of their experiences in this process as unwillingness to acknowledge “their sin” is just wrong. They turned to the Church in their time of need and the Church failed them. It would be great if the Church welcomed them, but it hasn’t been happening so far.

    • That sentence was written in specific response to the paragraph above, from the IL, which states: “… what concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church because of their status or sexuality (for example, remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people, etc.)?”

      All of the examples given involved situations in which people have made choices. That is, of course, quite different from the horrific situation of someone who was abused. And, yes, I know that victims are sometimes treated poorly, or dismissed, or even attacked.

      My point, put another way, is if someone enters into a polygamous marriage, or engages in homosexual acts, or is co-habitating, etc., and then say they don’t feel welcome because the Church says those actions are objectively sinful, well, that is not a failure on the part of Catholics or Church teaching—or Christ himself, whose moral demands are indeed daunting (cf., The Sermon on the Mount).

      I am not suggesting, by the way, that this is easy (not at all!), or simple. People are complex, damaged, wounded, and we are often not honest about our situation, or our motives, and so forth. But, again, the key point here has to with clear Church teaching (for example: sexual relations are only for those who are truly married).

      Finally, the direct nature of my comment is hardly unreasonable or strange. Christ Himself said:

      “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.” (Mk 7:20-23)

      I would also point to St. John Paul II’s “Veritatis Splendor”, which discusses how demanding are the commandments of Christ:

      There is no doubt that Christian moral teaching, even in its Biblical roots, acknowledges the specific importance of a fundamental choice which qualifies the moral life and engages freedom on a radical level before God. It is a question of the decision of faith, of the obedience of faith (cf. Rom 16:26) “by which man makes a total and free self-commitment to God, offering ‘the full submission of intellect and will to God as he reveals’ “.112 This faith, which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6), comes from the core of man, from his “heart” (cf. Rom 10:10), whence it is called to bear fruit in works (cf. Mt 12:33-35; Lk 6:43-45; Rom 8:5-10; Gal 5:22). In the Decalogue one finds, as an introduction to the various commandments, the basic clause: “I am the Lord your God…” (Ex 20:2), which, by impressing upon the numerous and varied particular prescriptions their primordial meaning, gives the morality of the Covenant its aspect of completeness, unity and profundity. Israel’s fundamental decision, then, is about the fundamental commandment (cf. Jos 24:14-25; Ex 19:3-8; Mic 6:8). The morality of the New Covenant is similarly dominated by the fundamental call of Jesus to follow him — thus he also says to the young man: “If you wish to be perfect… then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21); to this call the disciple must respond with a radical decision and choice. The Gospel parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price, for which one sells all one’s possessions, are eloquent and effective images of the radical and unconditional nature of the decision demanded by the Kingdom of God. The radical nature of the decision to follow Jesus is admirably expressed in his own words: “Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:35).

    • Gilberta: You will find a YouTube “channel” that is quite humorous and involves a bit of satire like the Babylon Bee uses, and it is all about Catholic Apologetics.

      Seek out on YouTube “How to Be Christian” that is produced by excellent (and seemingly quite young) Catholic Apologist Ferris Murdoch who uses lots of humor and props,…and just when you think he is only being silly, he provides superior and easy-to-understand refutations of Protestant interpretations of Scripture with superb visual aids. His focus is almost exclusively on debating Protestantism and illustrating where it goes off the rails while also illustrating the truths of the Catholic Faith.

      In some ways, Murdoch reminds me of the late, great Rush Limbaugh who purposely used humor and sarcasm to help illustrate the absurdity of Leftist positions.

      To give Murdoch a fair shot, I urge you to watch a handful of his videos as just one or two might only provide a false/incomplete impression, but if you select 5 or so from different times over the past few years, then you will get a fair sense of his operation, and you will also see how humorous and insightful he is at the same time, which might interest you in watching more of his videos.

      Indeed, even if you already know a good deal about how the Church interprets Scripture and defends itself against the Protestant challenge, Mr. Murdoch will share even more insights that you will benefit from having as well as being entertained in the process.


  13. If the synod is not to do with Church teaching, I have no time for it, Life is short.
    Cardinal Tagle, since Vatican II was only the latest Council of the Church, it would be a very fruitful exercise, rather than to spend precious time on more readings of Vatican II, to study those early councils and the documents emanating from previous popes. We might then be more freshly competent, and in the right frame of mind, study and correctly understand the documents of Vatican II in their proper context within the life of the Church. It would also prove enlightening to study Pope John XXIII’s opening address setting out the purpose of the Council. Here is a short quotation:

    “A positive proof of the Catholic Church’s vitality is furnished by every
    single council held in the long course of the centuries—by the twenty
    ecumenical councils……..And now the Church must once more reaffirm that teaching authority of hers which never fails, but will endure until the end of time. For that was Our reason for calling this most authoritative assembly….
    The voice of the past is both spirited and heartening. We remember with joy those early popes and their more recent successors to whom we owe so much. Their hallowed, momentous words come down to us through the councils held in both the East and the West, from the fourth century to the Middle Ages, and right
    down to modern times. Their uninterrupted witness, so zealously given, proclaims the triumph of Christ’s Church, that divine and human society which derives from its divine Redeemer its title, its gifts of grace, its whole dynamic force…”

  14. I see that the get religion website is getting into trying to figure out the S o S. Maybe they’ll have better luck.

  15. A good commentary Mr. Olson. I note the absence of the phrase ‘yada yada yada’ and the word ‘blither’. Though there was more than enough room for both, you chose not to use either of them, and I congratulate you on your restraint.

  16. Is it possible for the “People of God”, after examining the IL, to simply, respectfully, even lovingly reject it? I seem to recall something about the original agenda (was it also referred to as an IL?) for Vatican II being rejected and replaced with something else.

    I just think we can do so much better!

  17. Interestingly, just as the synod is “not about Church teaching” neither was the Second Vatican Council doctrinal in nature; it was “pastoral.” Yet given how we can see how it was opportunistically twisted to different ends, no one should suffer under any delusion that this therefore makes it any less a threat.

    Carl Olson references various words and teachings of Christ above and yet I suspect many Catholics would find “this Jesus” shocking — in part because of how much was excised from the liturgy that was deemed “negative” or “judgemental.”

    It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to see how these various lines run parallel to one another and to see how what we’re seeing today is merely a continuation of what has been seen in particular since the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    The only ‘sin’ and judgement today, it would seem, is for those who are being “too traditional.”

    Ideas and criticisms that were once the sole preserve of traditionalists are fast becoming much more widely accepted and plausible. Perhaps Benedict’s ‘prophecy’ of the Church going back to the catacombs and becoming significantly smaller is something we are witnessing before our very eyes as we observe what Paul VI called “the smoke of Satan” now, in these past 10 years especially, turning into a raging wildfire.

  18. “What concrete steps are needed to welcome those who feel excluded from the Church because of their status or sexuality (for example, remarried divorcees, people in polygamous marriages, LGBTQ+ people, etc.)?“

    The truth is that if these people feel themselves to be “judged” it is by the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps the Spirit is convicting them of sin and the need to repent. There is nothing that can (or should) be done about that. The only solution is to change the teachings, so that they no longer feel themselves to be judged by those teachings. That is, of course, the end game or the so-called synod.

  19. “Ideas and criticisms that were once the sole preserve of traditionalists are fast becoming much more widely accepted and plausible”. PP above.
    True for this backwardist, at least. And pretty much thanks to Pope Francis. Delicious irony!

  20. At a meeting of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars some years ago, the moral theologian from Dunwoody was present at an the meeting of US Bishops with Pope Saint Paul II. I forgot theologian’s name but I remember this: One of the bishops, they were from NY, asked the Holy Father if it is true that people with invincible ignorance do not go to hell. He looked up from his soup and said ‘only those who teach invincible ignorance go to hell.’ After that, the priest was there said, ‘ no one asked him any more questions.’

  21. Thanks Carl.

    Amazing patience to sift through that awful text so we can see for ourselves the turgidity. It seems the tactic is to wear us out with verbosity.

    Blah blah blah would effectively summarize the IL I reckon.

  22. What, pray, is the name of the person responsible for the ‘artwork’ which we were forced to look at? With a cover like that one reels at the thought of what might be inside.

  23. There are The People of God and the people of «god». The «icon» conveys all we need to know to distinguish the two sets. For that at least we must be thankful.
    Choose your identity wisely.

  24. 1. This excellent article says: “Of course, John Paul II is hardly referenced and Pope Benedict XVI is never mentioned at all.”
    2. In the same way, the Vatican II Council documents never mention or reference the teachings of:
    Pope Gregory XVI (in office 1831-1846)
    Pope Pius IX (in office 1846-1878)
    Pope Leo XIII (in office 1878-1903)
    Pope Pius X (in office 1903-1914)
    Pope Benedict XV (in office 1913-1922)
    Pope Pius XI (in office 1922-1939)
    3. The popes above wrote some encyclicals of great doctrinal importance, including key magisterial documents against the heresies of Modernism, Ecumenism, Religious Liberty for Heretics, and Communism.
    4. Yet, all this was totally ignored in the creation of the Vatican II documents, as if these popes and their magisterial documents never existed.
    5. And so, this “amnesia” process is being repeated again in this synodal process that Pope Francis and allies are using to sneakily transform the moral teachings of the Church.
    6. The point is: This sleight of hand “gambit” was commenced at the Vatican II Council.
    7. I can see no conclusion this: All our troubles go back to that Council.
    8. In the Catholic ritual of Baptism, this is included:
    V. Do you reject Satan?
    R. I do.
    V. And all his works?
    R. I do.
    V. And all his empty promises?
    R. I do.
    9. I can see no solution but for the Church to reject the Vatican II Council, and all its works, and all its trickery, and all its empty promises.
    10. We need our Holy Church back! We need the insanity and deception at the hightest levels to cease! Lord have mercy!
    11. Someone might say that this solution is too radical, too disruptive. I agree. It is too radical and disruptive. I don’t like it. Yet those who want to stick with the Vatican II Council can’t give us any hope of any thing better than Pope Francis type trickers and corruptors for the next 500 years, and that’s even more unbearable. Enough is enough. Our children need the True Faith now! Two or three lost generations is enough!
    12. Please good men of Catholic World Report, please lead us into some solution. Just chronicaling the deeper and deeper decline of the Church isn’t enough. We don’t need to read 999 more articles about trickery coming from the Vatican or some bishop’s conference or synod.

  25. I was ‘out of service’ so to speak when this article was published. Much has been written on the defects of the great Synod. Editor Olson’s the “Instrumentum Laboris is turgid and the verbiage is swollen with sociological terminology and bureaucratic bloviation” is that and more [for one we’re becoming opportunistic in inventing new words, example bloviation, that I have too, perhaps the aggregate form in new, easy flowing, more ready to use language for use beyond the internet]. My own irreverent take is that it’s barroom pole dancing disguised as Julliard School for Dance material. Sludge at its finest.
    Widely agreed upon is that it’s engineered to be seen as honest brokerage for addressing a most serious moment in Church history. Apostasy. Bartolomé de las Casas’, “Please good men of Catholic World Report, please lead us into some solution. Just chronicling the deeper and deeper decline of the Church isn’t enough. We don’t need to read 999 more articles about trickery coming from the Vatican or some bishop’s conference or synod” has purchase. Although, they’re limitations to what a Catholic website can do without losing credibility with a wider audience of those seeking guidance, some light of wisdom during the darkness. Some of us have offered our best. Making it plain where loyalty resides, and that return to the ascetic life of prayer and sacrifice, addressing the truth is the viable pathway.

  26. In the end, the “synod” will produce turmoil, confusion, and division but I am confident that the Church will survive, albeit with a lot of eternal deaths in the wake. We will suffer for another few decades – Francis stacking the college of cardinals has assured that his damage will last a while. It will be determined that from 1963 to about 2050 was the age of confusion. But we’ll right ourselves eventually. We survived Arianism, the Protestant revolt, and communism. We’ll make through. Articles like this serve to remind the true faithful to REMAIN FAITHFUL!! 1) Deep and overt and externally manifested reverence for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species. This includes substantial time in Eucharistic adoration. 2) Unabashedly unambiguously anti-abortion (the word pro-life is being hijacked by lefties). 3) Strict adherence to God’s divinely designed natural law as the basis for our moral laws. 4) Deep love of and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 5) Steeped in traditional Catholic devotions especially the rosary. 6) Regular participation in the Sacrament of Confession. 7) Great respect of hardworking, truly traditional Catholic priests. 8) Regular practice of mortification and acts of reparation for one’s own sins and the sins of the world. 9) Modest dress at Mass. 10) Love love love Jesus Christ as give him overt homage as the King of kings and Lord of lords!! 11) Treasure the Sacred Tradition of the Church (pre-1963).

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