The Pope will intervene to end the possibility of a schism opening up in the Church over a German synod which departs from Catholic teaching, an Australian cardinal has predicted.
Cardinal George Pell said he was certain that Pope Francis will exercise the Petrine ministry to ensure unity of teaching within the Catholic Church following the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
His comments follow the demands of the German Synodal Way to change the Catechism of the Catholic Church on areas of sexual ethics and the allow the blessings of same-sex couples, as well as comments in support of such moves by a small number of high-ranking European prelates.
He said: “I have great confidence in the successor of Peter. Unlike the Orthodox and the Anglican churches, the Catholic Church has an instrument we believe ordained by God — Peter, the rock man.
“The special role of the papacy is to maintain the purity of the apostolic tradition and the unity of the Church around that tradition. So I’m confident that the Holy Father will speak.
“On the question of women priests or homosexual activity, the situation is not muddy and unclear where people can choose from a variety of options.”
He told Dr Ashenden, a former royal chaplain to the Queen in the second of the Catholic Herald podcast series, that what was at stake was the revealed teaching of God.
“It’s quite foundational and quite simple,” Cardinal Pell said. “We appeal to Christ, we appeal to revelation, to our Judeo-Christian tradition and not to sociology or medicine. What weight do we give to the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles? It’s a basic challenge to face.
“It’s a question as to whether you believe we stand under the apostolic tradition or are its masters. Do we feel free to reject the teachings of St Paul?
“Do we feel like going to do that, or does revelation and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles have a special authority for us?”
Cardinal Pell also spoke in support of a “Fraternal Open Letter of Correction” to the German Church signed by more than 85 bishops from around the world, including Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh and Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld, Scotland.
The letter warns the German bishops that the radical changes proposed by the Synodal Way “will inevitably result” in schism and that it reveals “more submission and obedience to the world and ideologies than to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour”.
Cardinal Pell, himself a signatory, said the letter was an “important initiative” to demonstrate “that the overwhelming majority of Catholic bishops throughout the world stand with the Tradition”.
He said that European bishops who leaned toward changing Catholic teaching were “heading and facing in the wrong direction” and were “making a bad situation worse”.
“The basic teachings are very, very clear,” he said, adding that “more fundamentally, our German brothers studiously ignore this”.
“Bizarrely, they think that, by adopting the teachings of the world around them, they are going to help the Church,” he said. “History is unanimous in demonstrating that this is absolutely disastrous.”
He said that the synodal process was in danger of being hijacked by “the world, the flesh and the Devil”.
Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German bishops’ conference, has responded to the open letter by writing to Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, one of the most prominent critics of the synod, telling him he found the accusations to “surprising”.
“The Synodal Path is our attempt in Germany to confront the systemic causes of the abuse and its cover-up that has caused untold suffering to so many people in and through the Church,” Bishop Bätzing wrote.
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