Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 21, 2019 Column Father De Celles

Picnic. I hope you had as good a time as I did last Sunday at the parish picnic. From the looks of things and the feedback, it seems you did. It really is good to get together like this as brothers and sisters in Christ, a parish family, to get to know each other better and to have some good simple fun. Thanks to all who came, and thanks especially to all those who worked so hard to make it a success, including the Knights of Columbus and their wives (especially Phil and Alice Bettwy), and the parish staff. Particular thanks to Kirsti Tyson and Eva Radel who coordinated everything. But most of all, thanks be to God, especially for the wonderful weather, once again.
Also, thanks to the pro-family, pro-life Catholic political candidates who joined us, including parishioner Steve Adragna (running to be our state delegate), and Fairfax County School Board candidates Elizabeth Schultz (running for re-election as Springfield member) and Vinson Palathingal (running for “at large” member).

Disgrace at George Mason. The website reports that on September 10, George Mason University sponsored a “Consent Carnival” featuring bizarre and sexually themed games and booths, including a disgusting ring toss and bean bag toss. You can read a full description of the event on that website, which is too graphic to include here. Taxpayer dollars are paying for this—your money! And this isn’t unique to GMU, events like this happen all the time on college campuses.
Do you know what your kids are being exposed to at their colleges? If not, why not? And what are you doing about it? I’m all for letting college kids have some independence, let ’em grow up. But if parents are paying the bill, parents are still in charge and responsible. And even if you’re not paying, you’re still Mom and Dad. God bless you and your kids.

Amazon Synod. Some of you may have heard about the upcoming gathering of Bishops in the Vatican from October 6 to 27 to discuss issues relevant to the Church in the “Pan-Amazon” region of South America. Many serious concerns have been raised about the Vatican issued document, called the Instrumentum Laboris (“IL”) which officially summarizes the topics to be discussed at the synod. For example, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a 7-page critique of the IL, and in a recent interview, in response to a question whether the document includes heresy, responded:
“Heresy? Not only that, it also lacks theological reflection. The heretic knows Catholic doctrine and contradicts it. But here there is only great confusion, and the center of it all is not Jesus Christ but themselves, their human ideas to save the world.”
Other key prelates who have spoken out similarly include Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship; Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, former President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Cardinal George Pell, former Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and member of Pope Francis’s “Council of Cardinal Advisers”; Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; Archbishop Carlo Viganò, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and former Secretary-General of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
With these concerns in mind, Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider have called for a “40-day crusade of prayer and fasting” from September 17 to October 26, 2019, for the Synod. They recommend we pray at least one decade of the Holy Rosary every day and fast once a week (eating only one full meal during the day, and two smaller meals, no snacking)
I invite you to join me in this “crusade” of prayer and fasting.

German Synod. Meanwhile, the German bishops plan to hold their own Synod in Germany from September 23 to 26, in which they plan to address issues “about which the Magisterium has made determinations,” including “the separation of power in the Church, priestly life, women’s access to ministry and office in the Church, and sexual morality.”
But the Pope, through his ministers, has told them they cannot do what they propose. In a September 4 letter Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, told Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German Bishops’ Conference, that:
“…plans for a Synodal Assembly must conform to guidelines issued by Pope Francis in June, especially that a synod in Germany could not act to change universal Church teaching or discipline.
“Ouellet also sent Marx a four-page legal assessment of the German bishops’ draft statues…The assessment, signed by the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, says that the German bishops’ plans violate canonical norms and do, in fact, set out to alter universal norms and doctrines of the Church.
“In his legal review of the draft statutes, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, noted that …‘It is easy to see that these themes do not only affect the Church in Germany but the universal Church and – with few exceptions – cannot be the object of the deliberations or decisions of a particular Church without contravening what is expressed by the Holy Father in his letter’.” (Catholic News Agency (CNA), September 12, 2019).
But the German Bishops have chosen to ignore the Pope. In a letter to Cardinal Ouellet, Cardinal Marx responded: “I cannot see why questions about which the Magisterium has made determinations, should be withdrawn from any debate, as your writings suggest” ….“Countless believers in Germany consider [these issues] to be in need of discussion…’
“Marx’s letter informed the Vatican that the German synodal process will continue as planned, despite recent instructions from the Vatican curia and pope, and will treat matters of universal teaching and discipline.” (CNA, September 16).

Schism. Two weeks ago, on the plane coming back from his trip to Africa, a reporter asked Pope Francis the question, “On the plane to Maputo, you acknowledged being under attack by a sector of the American Church. …are you afraid of a schism in the American Church…?” The Holy Father’s answer, which was widely discussed in the media, was long and somewhat confusing—at least to me. But it was interesting that both the question and the answer presumed the threat of schism comes from what the pope calls “rigid” Catholics, which seems to be a reference to what most people call “conservative” Catholics.
Now, let’s be clear. I’m not calling anyone a heretic or schismatic, and I pray to God neither heresy nor schism finds its footing. Nor am I making or intending any criticism of His Holiness. But I do wonder whether the real threats to the unity of the Church are coming from folks like Cardinals Sarah, Müller, Brandmüller, Pell and Burke, who defend traditional Church doctrine, or from those who oppose and want to change church doctrine. Is schism threatened by Catholics who are supposedly “critics” of the Pope, or from some of those whom the press usually refers to as the Pope’s “allies”?

God save us from heresy, and schism. God bless Pope Francis.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles