20.9.15

Sandro Magister: Presences, absences, surprises of the upcoming synod

"... compared to the previous session there are big changes in those participating in the synod ...

No longer among these, having lost their positions, are cardinals Zenon Grocholewski and Raymond Leo Burke. And the latter is an especially blatant absence. Burke was and is one of the most resolute defenders of the traditional doctrine and pastoral care of marriage. The pope sent him into forced retirement after the synod of 2014, and has now made a point of not including him among the 45 synod fathers chosen at his discretion.

Who are quite a few more than the 26 of last year. Francis has fished some of the new ones out from among the runners-up of the voting in the episcopal conferences. This is the case, for example, of the New Zealander John Atcherley Dew, whom he made a cardinal, and of Blase J. Cupich of the United States, whom he promoted as archbishop of Chicago, both active members of the progressive wing.

One more whom the pope has fished out from among the runners-up is the bishop of Ghent, Lucas Van Looy. With whom the synod representatives of the tiny and decrepit Belgian Church increase to three, all prominent exponents of the progressive wing and opponents of their primate, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels André Léonard, whom Pope Bergoglio has never wanted to make a cardinal and now has not even included among the synod fathers of his appointment.

The other two representatives of the Belgian Church at the synod are the bishop of Antwerp, John Jozef Bonny, for years a close collaborator of Cardinal Walter Kasper and pushed ever farther in a reformist direction, and the octogenarian cardinal Godfried Danneels, personally appointed by Bergoglio, whose election he decisively supported from outside the Sistine Chapel in 2013.

Another overrepresented national Church is that of Greece, a country in which there are very few Catholics.

To representative elect Fragkiskos Papamanolis, bishop emeritus of Syros, the pope has decided to add Ioannis Spiteris, archbishop of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Cefalonia, the very islands where in the 16th century the Council of Trent, according to the questionable judgment of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” admitted remarriage for Catholics as well as for the Orthodox:

The runners-up in the various countries also included leading personalities of the conservative wing, like Salvatore J. Cordileone in the United States, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama in Nigeria, Olivier de Germay in France, Héctor Rubén Aguer in Argentina, José Antonio Eguren Anselmi in Argentina, Klaus Küng in Austria, Juan Antonio Reig Plá in Spain.

Francis has not selected any of these among the synod fathers of his appointment.

But the most glaring absence on the list of the 45 may be that of Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, an authority on the subject examined at the synod, for five years the president of the pontifical council for the family and the organizer of the two world meetings that preceded the one soon to be held in Philadelphia: in Mexico City in 2009, and in Milan in 2012.

In recent months, Antonelli has repeatedly warned about the debasement of the sacrament of marriage that in his judgment would be produced by some of the reformist proposals:

But evidently he has made no inroads with the pope, who has preferred to appoint another veteran on the subject, but much more accommodating, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, recently charged by Francis with studying the newly announced Vatican congregation for “laity, family, and life.”

In addition to Antonelli, seventeen other cardinals have recently spoken out in defense of the traditional doctrine and pastoral care of marriage, in two multi-author books released this month in several languages:

But only six of these will take part in the synod, and only two of these at the pope’s invitation: cardinals Carlo Caffarra, of Italy, and Philippe N. Ouédraogo, of Burkina Faso..."

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