One after another, over three days, three more cardinals – like the Germans Walter Brandmüller and Gerhard Müller before them – have aimed severe criticisms at the “Instrumentum Laboris,” the base document of the upcoming synod on the Amazon, as well as at the general state of confusion into which they see the Church plunging.
The first is Cardinal Robert Sarah, Guinean, prefect of the congregation for divine worship, in an interview with Edward Pentin for the “National Catholic Register” of September 23:
The second is Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, American, former president of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, in a statement signed together with Kazakh bishop Athanasius Schneider, made public September 24:
The third is Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Venezuelan, archbishop emeritus of Caracas, in an interview with Inés San Martin for “Crux” of September 25:
> Venezuelan cardinal: Synod document strong on ecology, weak on ecclesiology
Of the three, Sarah is the only one who will take part in the synod, and his words in this regard are reproduced in their entirety further below.
As for Burke, this is how his statement begins:
“No honest person can anymore deny the almost general doctrinal confusion which is reigning in the life of the Church in our days. This is particularly due to ambiguities regarding the indissolubility of marriage, which is being relativized through the practice of the admittance of persons cohabiting in irregular unions to Holy Communion, due to the increasing approval of homosexual acts, which are intrinsically contrary to nature and contrary to the revealed will of God, due to errors regarding the uniqueness of the Our Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work, which is being relativized through erroneous affirmations on the diversity of religions, and especially due to the recognition of diverse forms of paganism and their ritual practices through the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ for the coming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon.”
Burke continues by claiming – with examples taken from Church history – not only the right but also the duty to speak openly in defense of true doctrine, even by calling the pope back to his task of “confirming the faith,” as requested by Francis himself, who is remembered for these words he spoke at a previous synod, in 2014:
“One general and basic condition is this: speaking honestly. Let no one say: ‘I cannot say this, they will think this or this of me…’. It is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels… A Cardinal wrote to me, saying: what a shame that several Cardinals did not have the courage to say certain things out of respect for the Pope, perhaps believing that the Pope might think something else. This is not good, this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say all that, in the Lord, one feels the need to say: without polite deference, without hesitation.”
Finally, as for Urosa Savino, he says that the Church does well to promote an “integral ecology” for the Amazon, but the preparatory document for the synod says too little about “the main work of the Church [which] is evangelization, bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, to all populations,” including the urban populations of the Amazon, not only the indigenous dispersed in the forests.
“These people require a direct, explicit, open evangelization of Jesus Christ.” Urosa Savino continues. But this is “little touched” in the document, which “presents an almost idyllic Amazonian population, the perfect man, the noble savage of Jean-Jacques Rousseau,” when instead these are “normal people with the same problems, virtues and defects as all people in the whole world,” and “to them too we have to bring the Gospel.”
“The text ,” the cardinal goes on to say, “talks a lot about accompanying, following, understanding and dialoguing with, but little about the need to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that, in some ways, explains the reality of the growth of the Pentecostal and Evangelical churches in the region, while the Catholic faith in the Amazon is not growing with the same force.”
And for this lack of growth – Urosa Savino continues, alluding to the request to ordain married men – “the cause is not in the shortage of priests.” He recalls that between the 1800’s and 1900’s much of Venezuela suffered a grave scarcity of priests, and yet “the faith was lived and maintained. It is not just a matter of receiving or not receiving the sacraments, but of the experience of the faith that was had, that arrived through the catechists to the families, that communicated them to their children.”
Theo Đức Hồng Y Jorge Urosa người Venezuela, tài liệu chuẩn bị cho Hội nghị thượng đỉnh sắp tới của Vatican về khu vực Amazon là “thiếu sót, yếu kém” vì Chúa Kitô bị trình bầy sai lạc. Theo Urosa, cựu Tổng giám mục của Caracas, tài liệu được gọi là tài liệu làm việc (instrumentum laboris) là sai lầm khi đề cập đến Chúa Giêsu Kitô là “người Samaritanô nhân hậu.”
Chúa Giêsu Kitô không bao giờ thể hiện mình là người Samaritanô nhân hậu, ĐHY Urosa nói với Crux ngày 23 tháng 9 rằng: “Người Samaritanô nhân hậu là người chúng ta phải bắt chước bằng cách giúp đỡ người khác. Chúa Giêsu Kitô giới thiệu mình là Đấng Cứu chuộc, là Đường, Sự thật và Sự sống, là Phục sinh, như Ánh sáng của Thế giới. Đây là một lỗ hổng, một điểm yếu của tài liệu làm việc.
Trong cuộc phỏng vấn, ĐHY Urosa đã nhấn mạnh “hai mục tiêu chính” của Hội nghị Giám mục ngày 6-27 tháng 10 về khu vực Pan-Amazon: “Thứ nhất là thúc đẩy một hệ sinh thái không thể thiếu cho khu vực Amazon. Và thứ hai là đề xuất những con đường mới cho Giáo hội trong khu vực đó.”
Sự bảo vệ của Amazon là rất quan trọng, ĐHY Urosa nói, “tạ ơn Chúa, Giáo hội đã thực hiện một sáng kiến rất có giá trị để bảo vệ nó.” “Tuy nhiên, vấn đề của Amazon theo quan điểm giáo hội vẫn chưa được trình bầy tốt.”thê
Hơn nữa, ngài lập luận rằng hầu hết những người nói về Hội nghị “chỉ chạm vào các khía cạnh sinh thái và văn hóa xã hội, và rất ít về các khía cạnh giáo hội và mục vụ. Có một sự mất cân bằng, bởi vì công việc chính của Giáo hội là truyền giáo, đưa Tin Mừng của Chúa Giêsu Kitô đến với thế giới, đến tất cả dân tộc.”
The Pope affirmed that God does not positively will the diversity of religions, Bishop Schneider claims
Pope Francis has clarified that God does not positively will a “diversity of religions” but only permits it, Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said.
Bishop Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, joined fellow Kazakhstani bishops for their ad limina visit to Rome last week, during which they raised several concerns with the Pope.
The bishop told LifeSiteNews that he had a direct exchange with Pope Francis on a declaration signed last month by the Pope and the Grand Imam of Abu Dhabi. The document states that the “pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings”.
Schneider says the Pope explicitly told him that he could share their discussion on this point: “You can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions means the permissive will of God.”
The Pope also “acknowledged that…the sentence can be understood erroneously”, especially as the difference between the sexes are positively willed by God.
“When we mention both of these phrases in the same sentence, then the diversity of religions is interpreted as positively willed by God, like the diversity of sexes,” Schneider said.
“The sentence therefore leads to doubt and erroneous interpretations, and so it was my desire, and my request that the Holy Father rectify this. But he said to us bishops: you can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions means the permissive will of God.”
In his interview, the Astana auxiliary also branded the abuse summit a “failure” and a “clerical show” that failed to address the “deepest root” of the problem. In his opinion, “one of the evident, observable and deepest roots of the sexual abuse of minors is homosexuality among the clergy.”
The other deep roots include “relativism on moral teaching which began after the Second Vatican Council”, “a lack of asceticism in the life and formation of seminarians” and the “lack of a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ”.
“This was not stressed in the summit,” he said. “Therefore, I consider the summit to be a failure, as a doctor fails to cure an illness when he fails to address its causes. This problem will break out again.”
The bishop said that men with homosexual inclinations should “categorically not be accepted in seminaries”, adding that current rules do not go far enough.
“Currently the norms only say that those with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ should not be admitted to seminary, but for me this is not sufficient. What does ‘deep-seated’ mean? If an adult man comes to the seminary and feels homosexual attraction, even if it is not yet deep-seated, it is still a homosexual attraction.”
Speaking on the forthcoming Amazon synod, Bishop Schneider condemned proposals to ordain married men in order to cope with a shortage of priests.
“This has been the aim since Luther. Among the enemies of the Church and sects, the first step is always to abolish celibacy. Priestly celibacy is the last stronghold to abolish in the Church. The sacramental life is only the pretext for doing so.”
The idea, he said, was being proposed by “priests who themselves are not living a deep apostolic and sacrificial life. Without the true sacrificial life of an apostle you cannot build up the Church.”
“Jesus Christ gave us the example of the sacrificial offering of himself, as did the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church, the Saints, the Missionaries. This built up the Church with lasting spiritual fruits for entire generations.”
Giuseppe Pezzini on Catholicism in Japan and the incredible story of an A-bomb survivor who put his personal grief aside to strive for peace and reconciliation through a life in Christ.
For Christians, August 15 is the day of the beautiful Feast of the Assumption. For the world, this date marks the anniversary of the formal end of the Second World War in 1945, when Japan surrendered to the Allies. Six days before, an A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, an important coastal city in the south-west of Japan, causing the largest single slaughter in human history. For Japanese Christians, August 15 is a date charged with those and even more meanings, which, in mysterious ways, also concern us all.
I will start my story zooming in on the Ground Zero of the Nagasaki bomb, that is the area of Urakami, in the northern outskirts of the city. On a morning of late 1931, 14 years before the bomb, a young man of 23 is walking to a beautiful house near the recently built Catholic Cathedral.
His name is Takashi Nagai, a convinced atheist and a proud descendant of a samurai family. He is studying medicine at the nearby university, and needs accommodation: the two-storey house, surrounded by camellias, looks like an ideal place, and Nagai decides to knock at the door asking whether they are interested in taking a lodger.
Nagai had no idea, but that house had been an important site for Japanese Catholicism, the home of the Moriyama family for many generations. Originally from Nagasaki, in the 17th century the Moriyama had receded to Urakami, then a small village, to flee the persecution of Christian. The Moriyama were among the first Japanese to convert after the arrival of the missionaries from the West.
Christianity had come to Japan on another Assumption day (August 15, 1549), when the Jesuit Francis Xavier was allowed to land in the port of Kagoshima, not far from Nagasaki.
Struck by the passion of these missionaries, many converts, from all social classes, joined the Church, which by 1579, the height of missionary activity, counted more than 100,000 members.
Most lived in Nagasaki, which had become a main port for Western trade. Japanese authorities, who were initially interested or at least tolerant, soon became suspicious of this new ‘Western religion.’
Suspicion turned to persecution, and thousands of Christians were martyred, among them St Paul Miki and his companions, crucified in Nagasaki in 1597, and the ‘188 martyrs of Japan,’ beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, who died between 1603 and 1639.
Christian persecution reached its peak in 1639, when a final wave of forced apostasies and brutal executions convinced the shogun authorities that Catholicism had finally been eradicated in Japan. As a magistrate declares in the wonderful novel Silence by the Catholic writer Shūsaku Endō (set in that very year): “Japan is not suited to the teaching of Christianity.
“Christianity simply cannot put down roots here… You have been defeated by this swamp of Japan.”
For Endō’s magistrate, Christianity is a ‘Western’ religion, bounded with the culture, sensitivity, and power of the West, and thus inevitably ‘foreign’: there is no space for it in Japan.
In fact, all of his convictions would be proven wrong, in God’s time.
The glorious sacrifice of the Japanese martyrs is just one part of the story of Japanese Catholicism. The protagonists of Endō’s Silence (one of whom is portrayed by Liam Neeson in Martin Scorsese’s film) are not the martyrs, but rather the ‘betrayers,’ the ‘apostates,’—that is the large majority of Christians who did not openly embrace martyrdom, but gave up their Faith (or pretended to do so) by trampling on a desecrating board (the fumie), as required by the authorities.
In his novel, Endō does not justify their apostasy. The betrayal of the Japanese apostates is as sinful as that of Peter in the Gospel, or of the ‘Whisky priest’ in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, which is the main model for Silence. Greene’s novel is also set in an age of persecution, and has as protagonist a sinful, apostate priest, who will yet become an instrument of God’s Providence.