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No, the pope can’t order them to stay, or return to the Synod


The other thing also is that as the Synod begins to wear on, there’s an awful lot of people right now, faithful Catholics, who are becoming concerned, and many laypeople aren’t really sure what they can do. And they feel right about that because there really isn’t anything they can do on the temporal level. We can certainly pray; as we’ve said on the Vortex every day, be sure to pray your Rosary specifically for the Synod, specifically for the Church.

But outside of that, when we’re dealing with these sorts of questions about what can lay Catholics do, a number of them are starting to get a little panicky about what’s happening. To that end, there’s even one effort, an online petition, encouraging some of the bishops to walk out of the Synod — just do a walk-out. While that certainly may be well intentioned, I’m not sure how that would play out because what happens if the Pope turns around the next day and says, “Get back in here”? They’d look a little silly. But it’s not the question of petitioning to walk out, it’s the point that there are many, many faithful around the world who are starting to get very nervous as they see things unfolding.

I’m going to say it again: I like Mike. I consider him a friend (we have had dinners and drinks whenever we’re on the same continent and he even attended my 45th birthday party, to great hilarity all round) and I like and respect his work. I know he’s done a huge amount of good helping Catholics understand the seriousness of the crisis, and he has done some great work exposing certain prelates, in a Catholic journalistic atmosphere that is almost stifling when it comes to bishops. We don’t agree on every point, (and some of the people he works with can be a little… odd… now and then) but the points of disagreement aren’t at issue for the moment.

But I do want to correct him on a little of the above. First, as I posted the following under his piece:

“Mike, the pope invites bishops to participate. They are free to come or not, or to go. Perhaps a little bit of the papolotry we see so often has crept into this assumption that the pope could or would “order” a bishop to attend a synod once the latter had decided to leave. The idea would be abhorrent, particularly to the liberals who claim to value collegiality and the notion (heretical) that the pope is merely first among equals. They’re supposed to be colleagues, freely participating in a gentlemanly ‘process’ for the good of the Church and the good of souls.

Even from the point of view of PR, it would be disastrous for Francis to do anything like that, since it would severely undermine the careful facade they have all been at such pains to create. The synod, moreover, is nothing like an ecumenical council or conclave, that does have some kind of canonical requirements.

It was all conceived by Paul VI (probably from the Anglicans whom he admired) as a very modern notion of ‘dialogue’ and ‘discussion’ to perform, ultimately, a strictly advisory role. Even in the case of Councils, there have been cases in the past where bishops have deemed the process to be so corrupt or the discussions so dangerous in terms of leading the Church towards heresies that they have left, in protest.

People have asked what good it would do if they did leave. but if nothing else, it would grant them, at least temporarily, a platform in the press to say freely what they want to say. And I’m pretty sure even CNN, the BBC and the NYT would grant them more than the three minutes offered by Baldisseri and his cronies.

Second, I’m afraid he has unfairly characterized the motives of the petition’s authors and sponsors, of whom I am one. The reaction we are expressing in the letter, which can be found here, is not “panic” or “nervousness”. In fact, among all those in the Church objecting to the goings on at the Synod, the self-identified Traditionalists are the least frightened, nervous or worried. And we are far from being “panicked”.

Traditionalists have been expecting precisely this kind of result since the close of Vatican II and all that followed. We are neither nervous, nor panicked. Honestly, we are not even surprised. Weary of being misrepresented… but nothing new under the sun, eh? It is certainly true that many in the conservative Catholic world, perhaps particularly in the US where this phenomenon of “papal positivism” has become so prevalent, nervousness, and even outright fear, seems to be the order of the day. This problem of Catholics being afraid has been one of my main motivators to creating this site, and to taking the bullish and lighthearted tone at What’s Up With the Synod?. We aim to help talk people down from the ledge, give them a laugh, and remind them that a bad pope does not make the Faith untrue.

This petition is part of that effort. It is simply the obvious logical response to a situation that has already got so far away from the purposes of the Church that it has become a public disgrace. My fellow petitioners have been careful to point out that its request that the bishops leave the synod is conditional. The letter says, “if,” the situation deteriorates to the point where participation can no longer be justified we urge them to leave. This action, moreover, has longstanding precedent in the history of the Church.

Personally, I believe that point was reached last year, and confirmed in the intervening year when Pope Francis appointed the same group of men, allowed the Instrumentum Laboris to be published as we have seen it, and then went to the extra trouble of personally inviting Cardinal Danneels and men of his ilk, men who have spent their entire episcopal lives working to destroy the Faith of Christ. Had I been the sole author of the letter, I would not have bothered with the conditional “if”.

This is not a matter of “panicking”. This is a sober evaluation. The Synod is “locked down”. The evidence is clear that the outcome is fixed, and has been fixed since long before they bought their tickets to Rome. A man of integrity does not participate in a “process” that can only end to the destruction of souls.

We have called ourselves the Canon 212 Society, because we are availing ourselves of the means of public communication to address our legitimate concerns, for the good of the Church and for souls, to our lawful superiors in the Faith.

Can. 212 §3 They have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

Now, Mike appears to disagree with this assessment. He has not signed, and I have just been informed that after my comment, another of the letter’s signatories attempted to post a link to the petition but that it was immediately removed by the site’s administrators. This is also fine. It’s their site. They don’t have to post things they don’t want to post. We don’t have to agree on every method and means. But I do ask my friend Michael Voris to be careful from now on how he characterizes his fellow Catholics who are gravely and soberly responding to the outrages being perpetrated before the eyes of all the world.

I continue to be grateful for the work of Mike and his staff, and send them fraternal greetings, should they stop by WUWTS.



23 thoughts on “No, the pope can’t order them to stay, or return to the Synod”

  1. reconverted idiot says:

    I have my moments 🙂

  2. @FMShyanguya says:


  3. Stephen says:


  4. Stephen says:

    I dont think walk-outs or sit-ins are particularly effective. I’d like to see a good old fashioned melee. Love to see some African Bishop whose flock has been murdered by islam take a big-ol swing with his staff at those pornography-publishing-nimrods from Germany. Can you see Burke too? “Come on pinko – heretic, WANT A PIECE OF ME?” They need to drop the nuerotic V2 foolishness and kick some heretical buttocks. Voris seemed to be on this track early on until the wiff of SSPX testosterone made him ” uncomfortable “. Its seems he went from church militant to church bitchy. It is easy to forget Christ selected fishermen not college professoes and interior decorators. Thank you Lord for The Faith in all its glory and joy.

  5. Ad Orientem says:

    Thanks reconverted. It seems that Guest has taken up a very simple but very flawed argument and run with it. I can understand that. We live in confusing times. Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass have decimated the faith and spiritual lives of countless millions.

    The Propitiatory nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass (a real sacrifice that makes satisfaction for sins) is the central aspect of Mass, as it is the very same sacrifice offered by Our Lord on Calvary. The Mass is the centre of the Catholic Faith. To deny this is tantamount to denying Christ Himself.

    This should give one pause when considering the fact that the Novus Ordo does exactly this, even though it is valid if the necessary conditions are present: Valid minister, matter, form and intention to do what the Church does when confecting the Sacrament.

    If writing the post above doesn’t do our friend “Guest” any good, then maybe someone else reading this blog might profit from it, especially if they see a trivial straw man argument that tries to dismiss the valid and serious objections groups like the SSPX have regarding the Novus Ordo. I am sure it will do some good, somewhere.

  6. reconverted idiot says:

    Servant of the True Church turns to the faithful with a censer. Servant of the NuChurch hits them with a censor.

  7. reconverted idiot says:

    Ad Orientem, you are generous by half. Good on you. I doubt it will do any good. My guess is that “Guest” has been feeding his mind on CMTV dross for so long he/she’s been whipped into a trolling frenzy and likely gave up use of his/her mental faculties to the authority of self appointed ‘experts’ a while ago. But kudos to you for trying, a fine response all the same.

  8. reconverted idiot says:

    Oh no, I’m completely ruined, what an awesome and well informed takedown, you totally broke my little heart. Woe is me, what shall I do? I am powerless in the face of such impeccable logic and ruthless application of reason. Lol. Shat ap ya plank. You’re not impressing anyone but yourself with this uninformed bilge.

  9. Ad Orientem says:

    It’s not so much the use of the Latin language (however the use of Latin in liturgy serves as a safeguard against the distortion of intent and meaning of the Rite, and therefore against heresy, intentional or otherwise) but the ambiguous and deficient nature of the Novus Ordo rite itself which is the question. The downplaying of the propitiatory nature of the sacrifice, who is offering it etc. is a big problem. The re-presentation of the Sacrifice at Calvary on the altar in an unbloody manner under the appearance of bread and wine is the heart of the Mass. The Mass is the heart of the Catholic Faith. It is it’s very essence, and to obscure and/or remove that essential character is the question of whether or not it is offensive. If you said the Nicene Creed with every third line removed or altered to the point of making the entire Creed ambiguous – because you didn’t like what it said, or thought that it might upset an unbeliever – would that not offend God?

  10. Jacob says:

    The synod is not a legislative body, so it really doesn’t matter. Francis is going to do what he wants in the end regardless of the synod. If the synod fathers were able to fully express their adherence to tradition through proper votes and a final report, it’s not likely Francis would feel himself bound to abide by their wishes except insofar as good PR required.

  11. Guest says:

    SSPX has said the Novus Ordo offends God. Thus, SSPX defames God, which is a grave sin, indeed. God does not require a Mass to be in Latin, otherwise He would have said the first Masses in Latin. Guess what, reconverted idiot, Jesus did not say Mass in Latin! Hopefully that doesn’t make you and SSPX cry, but it is true.

  12. reconverted idiot says:

    Theoretically he can do what he likes, actually no he can’t.

  13. vixpervenit says:

    I no longer give CMTV’s editorial policy the benefit of the doubt. They are doing more harm than good now, though I expect the cruises business is doing well.

  14. Hilary White says:

    A sincere response: we don’t really know. The Church no longer functions according to the normal rules and there is simply no precedent for what is happening (and this has been true for a long, long time.) In a situation like this, we no longer have any recourse to precedent or history. We are thrown back exclusively on our on ability to discern correct actions and on Divine Providence. We are left only able to do the next right thing, and leave the consequences in the hands of God.

  15. JockB says:

    I’ve posted a few comments the other day on the church militant site. Comments on judging other people’s conscience (and actions). and that we should leave the ultimate judgment to God. We are fallible and our judgments can be wrong. Even the pope can be wrong, remember? The reason being I find Voris extremely and disturbingly judgmental in his commenting. Hell is never far away. He seems to know who is going there and exactly why. Anyone who doesn’t think the way he does is basically doomed – unless he changes his mind, falls to his knees and says: Michael, I’m sorry, you were right all along. Does he think he’s the Almighty himself? Does he really think all the prelates in Rome discussing mercy for the people in ‘irregular’ situations are devils in disguise? Come on. Then the pope is a devil in disguise too, because he’s the champion of mercy these days. That’s a fact Michael always seems to forget mentioning. Anyway, I got blocked before 24 hours had passed. You too got ‘censored’. You’re right. It’s their site. They can block, refuse, moderate, scrutinize and censor all they like. Still, a person blocking everything in his mind (and from his site) that’s even remotely challenging, seems to me to be a person with ‘issues’. Reason can’t contradict faith. All faith and no reason is not healthy. Blocking reasonable and challenging arguments is not faithful at all. What will Michael Voris do if the Church decides to change it’s pastoral policy? Hide in a cave and wait for the end of the world, perhaps?

  16. @FMShyanguya says:

    Church Militant Censorship.

  17. Felix_Culpa says:

    It is utterly disheartening to see the Kasper proposal having such support. What would King Henry VIII think of all this? What would St. John the Baptist think?

    The Pope and the bishops united with him are supposed to uphold the traditional teaching of the Church. And yet, in practice they have certainly been proclaiming the garbage that adultery is not really a mortal sin.

    And yet, who am *I* to be calling it “garbage”?

    When one is trying to a counter-revolutionary Catholic in a sea of relativism, it sticks in the craw that layfolk can start dictating upwards to the clergy what is and what is not orthodoxy! After all, in the classic “Liberalism is a Sin,” Fr. Salvany contrasts the Protestant idea that everyone may interpret the deposit of revelation according to the dictates of his own private judgement with the Catholic principle of authority in religion. The liberal “subjects God’s authority to the scrutiny of his reason, and not his reason to God’s authority” (chapter 7). And Anne Roche Muggeridge in “The Desolate City” called liberalism the “anti-authoritarian principle.”

    There is a real “cognitive dissonance” when an aspiring counter-revolutionary Catholic thinks the Pope is full of baloney. Perhaps Michael Voris is likewise having difficulty with this; he certainly seems to be one of the “good guys” and I definitely bear him no ill-will.

    I had never noticed the existence of Canon 212 before, but the idea of laymen “…have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church” is definitely something to think about… But it can so easily be abused by the other side; and indeed it has been by all the Cafeteria Catholics.

    At the end of the day we are still stuck keeping our fingers crossed and remembering Matt 16:18. Yet the Kasper proposal seems to emphasize the very next verse, 19.

    This all gives me a very big headache.

  18. Charles G says:

    According to Vatican I, the Pope is the supreme governor of the Church, so he certainly could theoretically order bishops to return to the Synod on that basis. Whether it would be prudent or what disobedience to that command would mean for those who do not return is a different question.

  19. Barbara says:

    So who’s going to put his hand up first and say, “er, Your Holiness, can I go to the bathroom”…and scarper? Who’s just not going to come back after lunch? Who’s got a dying grandmother?

    We’re dreaming if we think any of those men who have been in on this whole new-think from seminary to bishop’s palace will be courageous enough to leave. This exercise does have PR value amongst Faithful Catholics though. It will make the statement that this is real, serious, and a game changer.

    The Catholic Church will not be better for this Synod and it will never be the same again.

  20. Hatchetwoman says:

    I’ve thought long before this that the bishops should perhaps walk out … but what would be left? The wishy-washy, the heterodox, and the heretical … and what would happen then? Would they clap each other on the back and say, “Great! Now we can do everything we want, and it will be ‘collegial’ and ‘merciful’ and we can make those idiots look like Pharisees”?

    Does the synod fall apart, or does it go on withou the opposition and go to town? I’m asking sincerely, since I’m not sure how this would work.

  21. Mac says:

    Well done for starting the petition. The synod fathers are being boiled like frogs. I believe they have an obligation to fight even when it is obvious that the fix is in. But once there is nothing more that can be done to oppose the propagation of heresy then those Catholic still in the aula should wipe the dust off their feet and depart. For the sake of their own immortal souls if for no other reason.

  22. reconverted idiot says:

    Hilary, you are far more charitable with Voris than I could manage. Fair play to you. Personally I find the lack of clear thinking from CM, which at a minimum amounts to obfuscation and at times appears downright disingenuous, to be sufficient reason to avoid them altogether. As for Voris’s utterly false, and even defamatory misrepresentation of the SSPX, well, I’ll shut up before I say something I later regret.

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