The Pope has not Convened the Cardinals for Seven Years. Is He Looking to the Conclave?
8 Marzo 2021
Dear readers of Stilum Curiae, these days mark seven years since the reigning Pontiff convoked a secret Consistory for the last time. A Secret Consistory is a gathering of the pope and cardinals, in which the major problems of the Church at that moment are addressed and discussed. But a Secret Consistory is also – and perhaps above all – the moment in which direct, personal contact between the cardinals takes place; and in particular between the ones who are newly appointed. They speak together; they get to know one another; they share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.
In our humble opinion, it is no coincidence that for a full seven years now the reigning Pontiff has carefully avoided calling this sort of meeting. For various reasons. You will see below what happened during the last secret Consistory. But we believe – and we are happy to be proven wrong – that in reality this notable omission has a different purpose, that of preparing the election of his successor, and to make the work of the future conclave more easily open to manipulation, since for all these years he has prevented the creation of shall we say “natural” connections between the cardinals, the fruit of sharing together in moments of communion.
It is a manipulation that will be even easier, since there already exists a group, the heirs of Saint Gallen and McCarrick, who, in contrast, move and act together in a highly coordinated way…We are thinking of the appointment of Joseph Tobin to the Congregation for Bishops, which already has Blase Cupich as a member, we think of the two million dollars paid by the Archdiocese of Washington, led by the super-progressive Wilton Gregory, to his predecessor Donald Wuerl, yet another exponent of the line of men originating in the disgraced cardinal.
Read here below what was written on several websites in 2014 quoting San Pietro e Dintorni (which is no longer accessible, alas…), Libertà e Persona, and Chiesa e Postconcilio .
Note the declaration of Cardinal Ruini on the Council and its conclusion: “…it would be a fatal error to want to follow the path of pastorality without making reference to doctrine.” Could there be some reconsideration of pastorality beginning, the vehicle of change that turned out to be not simply “aggiornamento” but a true “rupture”? A small breach in the unavoidable paradoxical dogmaticity attributed to the mythical Council?
On the Consistory and Cardinal Kasper’s address, Tosatti writes names and surnames and notes the expressions of those cardinals who have expressed their disapproval. They are different, but the news in the media is centered on Kasper. This would suggest that the Church, or better the Church of Bergoglio, is one step away from an epochal turning point. Thus it is easy to foresee that people will form a strong opinion in one sense and then ask that this opinion be respected – an effect also of synodality and the prior survey – and, if this opinion is not respected, there will be no lack of criticism and distancing from the Church. Perhaps Benedict was not completely wrong when he spoke of a Council of the press versus the real Council.
The Consistory of February 22  was supposed to be secret, in order to discuss the family. But instead it was decided from on high that it would be opportune to make public Cardinal Walter Kasper’s long address on the theme of giving Communion to the divorced and remarried. Probably in order to open up the track in anticipation of the Synod on the family next October. But one half of the Consistory remained secret: the interventions of the cardinals. And perhaps this was not by chance, because after Cardinal Kasper gave his long (and apparently not very light) presentation, several voices were raised to criticize it. So much so that in the afternoon, when the Pope gave him the task of responding, to many the tone of the German cardinal seemed offended, if not angry.
The current opinion is that the “Kasper theorem” intends to give general permission to the divorced and remarried to receive Communion, without the recognition of the nullity of their preceding marriage. At the present time this is not the case: based on the words of Jesus on divorce which are very severe and explicit. Anyone who is living a full matrimonial relationship with another without his or her first marriage being declared invalid by the Church is, according to present doctrine, in a permanent situation of sin.
Both Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna as well as the German Cardinal Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, both spoke clearly in defense of this understanding. In addition, Cardinal Walter Brandmuller spoke explicitly (“Neither human nature nor the Commandments nor the Gospel have an expiration date…It takes courage to speak the truth, even when it goes against prevailing custom. A courage that whoever speaks in the name of the Church must possess, if he does not want fail in his vocation…The desire to obtain approval and applause is a temptation that is always present in the spread of religious teaching…” And afterwards he made his words public). The President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Bagnasco also expressed himself in a critical manner against the “Kasper theorem”; as did the African Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of “Cor Unum,” who recalled, at the end of his intervention, how over the centuries there have been disputes and controversies within the Church even on dramatic questions, but that the role of the Papacy has always been that of defending doctrine.
Cardinal Re, one of Bergoglio’s great electors, made a very short intervention, which may be summarized as follows: “I will take the floor for a moment, because the newly appointed cardinals are here, and perhaps one of them does not have the courage to say it, and so I will say it: I am totally against the presentation [of Cardinal Kasper].” Cardinal Piacenza, the Prefect of the Sacred Penitentiary, also spoke against it, and said more or less: “We are here and we will be here in October for a Synod on the Family, and so if we want to the Synod well I do not see why we ought to touch only on the theme of communion to the divorced.” And he added: “If we want to offer a pastoral teaching it seems to me that we ought to take account of a widely diffused pan-sexualism and of the aggression of gender ideology which tends to unhinge the family, as we have always known. It would be providential if we were lumen gentium to explain the situation we find ourselves in today and what can destroy the family.” He concluded by exhorting that the catecheses of John Paul II should be taken up again in their totality because they contain many positive elements on sex, the nature of man, the nature of woman, procreation, and love.
Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, also took up the theme of aggression against the family, also in light of relations with Islam. And Cardinal Scola of Milan also raised theological and doctrinal perplexities.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini was also very critical. He added: “I don’t know if I have an accurate impression, but up to this point about 85% of the cardinals who have spoken seem to be opposed to the approach of the relation [of Cardinal Kasper].” And he added that among those who said nothing and thus could not be classified, he caught silences “which I believe are embarrassed.”
Cardinal Ruini then quoted the “Papa Buono.” Saying, essentially: when John XXIII gave his discourse opening the Second Vatican Council, he said that a pastoral council could be held because fortunately doctrine was peacefully accepted by everyone and there were no controversies; thus a pastoral slant could be given without fear of being misunderstood, since doctrine remains very clear. Cardinal Ruini said that only God knows if John XXIII was correct at that moment, but apparently in large part it was perhaps true. Today this could no longer be said in the most absolute way, because not only is doctrine not held in common, it is fought against. “It would be a fatal error” to want follow the path of “pastorality” without making reference to doctrine.
Thus it is understandable that Cardinal Kasper seemed a little piqued in the afternoon, when Pope Bergoglio permitted him to respond, without however allowing a real debate to take place: only Kasper spoke. It should be added that the criticisms raised in the Consistory against the “Kasper theorem” are constantly being added to, either expressed to the Pope in a private manner, or publicly by cardinals from all over the world. German cardinals, who know Kasper well, say that he has been impassioned about this theme since the 1970s. The problem pointed out by several critical voices is that the Gospel is very explicit on this point. And not taking this into account – this is the fear – would make any other point of doctrine based on the Gospel very unstable, able to be modified at will.
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