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October 1999



Church Synods have had their ups and downs over the centuries but have gained a particularly bad name in recent times. They have come to be seen as mere extensions of the ecclesiastical bureaucracies and episcopal advisory bodies that blight the Church today i.e. costly and unrepresentative paper-shuffling/talking shops, through which salaried dissenters orchestrate the protestantisation of the Faith out of Church funds. That pretty much sums up your average postconciliar Diocesan Synod. On the other hand, there is the more encouraging history of the Synod of Bishops founded by Paul VI in 1969. These 3-4 yearly international gatherings of delegates from each bishops' conference are presided over by the Pope and have been utilised to counter, if not rein in, epsicopal dissidents. The release of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio as the final document of the 1980 Synod on The Christian Family, for example, stymied attempts by Achbishop Worlock and Cardinal Hume to subvert Church teaching on contraception and Communion for the divorced and re-married (CO November 1998).

Mercifully, at least some of the continental Bishops' Synods held thus far for Africa, America, Asia and Oceania, as preparation for Jubilee 2000, have also been turned to holy advantage under a watchful papal/Vatican eye. A 21-page Statement of Conclusions which followed hard on the heels of the Oceania Synod in Rome, crushed the hopes of liberal Synod Fathers who had called for married priests, admission of re-married divorcees to the Sacraments, regularising of General Absolution etc. For good measure, at the conclusion of their subsequent ad limina visits with the Pope, each Australian bishop received an admonitory letter from the Holy Father to be opened and read privately - the contents of which left the mega-Modernist Archbishop of Brisbane feeling "hurt" and "somewhat depressed"! (Though not, of course, repentant!)

The last of these continental Synods commences on 1 October when the Bishops of Europe and a small army of their 'advisors' gather for a three week talk-fest. Despite Vatican oversight, however, we can safely assume that it will not be the radically penitential affair it should be. While issuing predictable warnings and calls about the paganisation of Europe, the need for renewed evangelisation of the Old Continent and so forth, the final statement of this Synod will steer clear of the underlying issue of episcopal dissidence and negligence which the above Statement of Conclusions so bluntly addressed. Unsurprisingly, it is not on the agenda. The Synod's Instrumentum Laboris (working paper) proposes far weightier matters for discussion than the conversion of episcopal hearts and minds. Issues such as "ethnic nationalism," Europe's secularisation and (laughably) the Euro's potential as "a great instrument of liberty" are to the fore. The EU as a fact of life and necessary vehicle for future "peace" and "unity" will be taken as given.

All terribly au courant I'm sure. But is anybody listening? You cannot give what you do not have. How can men who have disavowed truth as the foundation of unity and oversighted the greatest internal fragmentation of the Church in history, who cannot or will not control dissent and disobedience within their increasingly dysfunctional and moribund dioceses, ever hope to offer any credible advice to anyone about anything, let alone about European "renewal" and "unity"? If the Synod Fathers spent a few sessions prayerfully contemplating this self-contradiction, they might better understand why Christianity fades ever more rapidly from European consciousness in inverse proportion to the number of statements they issue. They might finally see that the societal maladies afflicting Europe are rooted and mirrored in a much deeper illness within the Body of Christ and embodied in their sinful selves.

But no, Shepherds who have run up the white flag with one concession after another these past thirty years, who have preferred to submerge the true nature and mission of the Church under the delusion that She will gain influence by Her submission to the Lords of the earth, are not about to swap their Social Gospel agenda for self-examination. Instead, they will duly regurgitate the dangerously submissive attitude to the European Union and the Euro already adopted by bishops of member countries of the EU. Like the Scottish hierarchy who, when they are not contributing directly to European "renewal" by oversighting sex-ed plans to teach Catholic five-year-olds about their genitals [CO May 1998], are issuing grandiose statements about the EU as a quasi-salvific "beacon of hope in an increasingly fragmented world," while Cardinal Winning enthuses endlessly about tiny Scotland's "growing realisation that our future as a nation is in Europe"!

This kind of facile obeissance is what Monsignor George Kelly had in mind in a recent piece he wrote about "the other side of cyclical downfalls in Catholic fortunes, the tendency of high or low ecclesiastics to make deals with secular overlords, often with the mistaken idea that the world's approval will bring advantage to the Church, when it may only serve the private purpose of those intervening." He added that "good relationships with the world can be a blessing" but "if dependent on unfriendly conditions, tend to become curses." Well, is it not clear enough that the gnostic elites behind the EU subset of the New World Order are not only "unfriendly" but openly hostile to the Catholic Faith? And is it not transparently obvious that the very term "European Union" is an oxymoron: that Europe is as fragmented as Christianity and Catholicism itself? That its diverse nationalities share nothing in common beyond the practical atheism of all consumer cultures, and that a European federation is thus unattainable and unsustainable except by force of arms and coercive law and economics?

Whatever 'friendly' conditions may have prevailed at the time of the early Catholic Europhiles like Schumann and Adenauer, they have long disappeared. The Old Continent is no longer receptive to the Faith. The Social Gospel has done the devil's work, snatching faith, hope and charity "away from their hearts" [Lk 8:12]. Doubt, cynicism and philanthropy have replaced the theological virtues, cementing lawyers, guns and money - power and profit - as the Brussellian bedrock of post-Christian Europe. Thus, even qualified papal/episcopal endorsements of the "European project" only serve to harness Church prestige and resources to alien ends. De Gaulle's commonsense appeal for a "Europe of Nations" was and is the only realistic option. The Federal EU promoted by Brussels - one flag, one currency, one state - is as perilous as it is impossible: an "unfriendly" movement to which our pliant Shepherds, on cue, rush to bend the knee.

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