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Dismantle: Church Restructure through Synodality - the "Decentralization" Francis Seems Poised to Impose


Dismantle: Church Restructure through Synodality
The Destructive Program for “Decentralization” Francis Seems Poised to Impose

By John Vennari

posted at

Note: This is an updated excerpt from what appeared in the May, 2015 Catholic Family News. It helps lay out the dynamic now in place at October Synod.

During the 2015 Ordinary Synod, we've heard discussion of the possiblity of "regionalism," that is, allowing national bishops conferences to decide diverse "pastoral policies" regarding the Eucharist for the divorced and civiliy remarried, cohabitation and even homosexuality. In an October 15 interview, Raymond Cardinal Burke rightly said that the proposed "regional diversity" is " simply contrary to Catholic Faith and life. "

Yet Pope Francis himself in an October 17 speech brandished his resolve to "decentralize" the Church, even if he has to impose this decentralization from the top down, which would be a perfiduous abuse of authority.[1]

This un-Catholic "regionalism" and de-centralization did not appear suddently at the Synod, it has a history.

"Decentralization" and Church Restructure

A destructive new program now in the works, which had been flying under the radar of most concerned Catholics, but is now coming to light by means of the Synod now undersay. It is the proposed radical restructure of the Church based on the modernist thinking of Cardinal Martini, Cardinal Lehmann, Cardinal Danneels, Cardinal Kasper, Archbishop John Quinn, and yes, even Jorge Bergoglio. This new program is the basis for the “regionalism” now being voiced at the 2015 Synod on the Family.

Anyone who is familiar with the St. Gallen group will know what I'm talking about.

This group was quietly formed in 1999 during the administration of John Paul II.

In order to prevent what they consider to be meddlesome interference from the Vatican, the St. Gallen group worked for a fuller development of Vatican II's teaching on collegiality and synodality, with the ultimate aim of giving Bishops’ conferences more autonomy from Rome.

Proposals include granting national bishops conferences full doctrinal authority, the freedom to choose and appoint their own bishops, final say over liturgical questions and more.

In short, the radicals want to unleash on Church structure the same destructive force they unleashed on the Mass following Vatican II.

Ultimately, this restructuring is for the unopposed proliferation of even more heterodox doctrine, morals and pastoral practice. The post-Conciliar synods are a major force, brandished with zeal under the Bergoglio pontificate, to achieve this end.

The St. Gallen Group

The St. Gallen group is a cadre of bishops organized by Bishop Ivo Furere from the diocese of St. Gallen, Switzerland, who are working towards more collegiality and synodality in the Church.[2]

Its members comprise a who’s who of contemporary modernist prelates:

• the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan;
• Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium;
• Cardinal Lehmann of Mainz;
• Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany;
• Cardinal Comac Murphy-Conner of England;
• The thoughts and ideas of Archbishop John Quinn, author of the best-selling progressivist book,
The Reform of the Papacy.

These prelates are modernists, all; heterodox, all; perfidious, all, scandalous, all; Vatican II enthusiasts, all; deadly committed to their revolution, all.

And they appear to be some of Papa Bergoglio’s favorite

For example, Francis has lavished unqualified praise on Cardinal Martini and Cardinal Kasper, two of the boldest radicals of our time.[3]

Likewise, in 2012, while still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio told Archbishop Quinn, that
he had read Quinn’s book [The Reform of the Papacy], and is hoping that what it proposes will be implemented. [4]

The Saint Gallen group contains prelates who chaffed at Pope John Paul II and his allegedly conservative manner in governing the Church.

For example, Pope John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger insisted that when Bishops held their national conferences and issued statements, Rome still needed to review what they produce, and either approve or disapprove their final documents before release; Liturgical translations also needed to be cleared with Rome before publication; the Vatican may step in an censure of radical theologian, even if that theologian enjoys the support of the national episcopate, etc. St. Gallen prelates disdain this as bothersome papal intrusion.

These same St. Gallen bishops were horrified to hear Cardinal Ratzinger, then-head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, insist that the universal Church is “ontologically prior” to the local Church,[5] and thus needs guidance by the universal pastor, the Pope.

St. Gallen group prelates, along with Bergoglio, believe we need a further development of the Council’s teaching on collegiality, a more decentralization of power.

Collegiality and synodality, is a necessary development order to become a more horizontal Church, rather than an “orders coming from the top-down” Church. They call for the world’s bishops to be more involved in decision-making, including doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral issues.

This modernist collegiality effectively denies the Pope’s “primacy of jurisdiction,” as reiterated in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical,
Satis Cognitum and countless other magisterial teachings.

As any right-thinking Catholic recognizes, the proposed horizontalization and “decentralization” can only result in the further fragmentation of the Catholic Faith worldwide. It is a blueprint for the emergence of national churches, the proliferation of contradictory doctrine and pastoral practice from nation-to-nation, all loosely joined in an alleged “reconciled diversity” (Cardinal Kasper’s term), which sounds the death-knell of the immutability, stability, unity, and universality of the Catholic Faith.

Bergoglio Endorses Martini

At the Synod of 1999, Cardinal Martini called for a more collegial and synodal approach to Church government, indirectly suggesting new Council to hash out these points that would favor the progressivists. This was too much even for John Paul II’s Vatican, which did not look favorably upon Martini’s proposals.

Papa Bergoglio, however, is firmly on board with Martini’s radical plan. As noted in past issues of
CFN, Francis has publicly praised Martini as a “prophetic figure” and a “father for the whole Church.”[6]

Likewise, in his infamous October 2013 interview with 
La Repubblica’s atheist Editor Eugenio Scalfari, Francis spoke of Cardinal Martini as “someone who is very dear to me and also to you.”

Francis went on to say, “The first thing I decided was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisers. Not courtiers but wise people who shared my own feelings. This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal.
When Cardinal Martini talked about focusing on the councils and synods he knew how long and difficult it would be to go in that direction. Gently, but firmly and tenaciously.”[7]

A more detailed proposition for a “non-Vatican-centric church” can be found in Archbishop John Quinn’s 1999 work,
The Reform of the Papacy. Quinn calls for:

• increased collegiality and synodality (along the lines of proposed by Cardinal Martini);

• greater decentralization of Church governance;[8]

• priest and lay participation in the selection of bishops;[9]

• a method of choosing bishops more in line with that of the Eastern Schismatic Orthodox and Anglicans;[10]

• more “horizontal ”communications and more internationalization;

• a greater participation of laymen, especially women, in decision-making positions of the Roman Curia.[11]

• a change in the Papacy for the sake of ecumenism: one reason given that Anglicans, Evangelicals and Orthodox will be discouraged from a more robust ecumenical amalgamation with Catholics if they see the Pope “interfering” too much in doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical affairs.[12]

Archbishop Quinn also:

• Effectively looks at the Curia as a barrier between the Pope and bishops;

• Deplores the monarchial aspect of the Papacy;

• Takes umbrage[13] at the statement in the 1984
Ratzinger Report when Ratzinger rightly explained that Bishops Conferences “have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function.”[14]

• Quotes approvingly Bishop Hadisumarta of Indonesia who said, “Theology, spirituality, law and liturgy should be as diverse as our language and cultures. In the future this should lead to a change in the relationship between the episcopal conference and the various Roman discasteries. The Roman Curia would then become a clearing house for information, support, and encouragement, rather than a universal decision-maker;”[15]

• Rejoices that in his 1995 ecumenical Encyclical
Ut Unum Sint, John Paul II does not use the language of “primacy of jurisdiction” in reference to the papacy;[16]

• Deprecates the notion of a “college of cardinals,” claiming this can make the “college of bishops” seem like a “second rank” body;[17]

• Specifically denounces of Vatican censure Father Jacque Dupuis, the modernist Jesuit “theologian” who affectively taught, among numerous other heresies, that false religions themselves are means of grace and salvation. Quinn scorns this Vatican meddling, since “Cardinal Konig, the bishops of India and the Jesuit Provincial of India, and the former Dean of Theology at the [Jesuit] Gregorian in Rome have all either questioned this intervention or publicly defended Father Dupuis;”[18]

• Complains that Synods do not yet have a deliberative on issues discussed, but only make recommendations to the Pope;[19]

• Laments that major Synods are held only in Rome;[20]

• Expresses horror at “restorationists” groups who work to restore “not only the pre-conciliar Mass liturgy but also the preconciliar sacramental liturgies.”[21]

• Overall, calls for a comprehensive modernist restructuring[22] of the Papacy, of the Roman Curia, and of the manner of appointing bishops.[23]

Archbishop Quinn is still on the lecture circuit stomping the collegial program. His newest book,
Ever Ancient, Ever New: Structures of Communion in the Church,[24] written during the reign of the “centrist” Pope Benedict and released in 2013, cautiously continues the same themes as Reform of the Papacy. Under Pope Francis, we can be sure that Archbishop Quinn can become even bolder in his proposals.

One wonders why any Catholic would put stock in what Archbishop Quinn has to say, since his modernist mindset is manifest, not only in the above citations from his book but in other areas as well. It is can be concluded from Quinn’s June 1996 Oxford lecture he considers issues such as the ordination of women to be an open question (even New York’s Cardinal John O’Connor called out Quinn in this point).[24] When Archbishop John Quinn was bishop of the San Francisco diocese, his territory was among the first to open its doors to “Dignity” ministries and host an openly “gay­friendly” parish, Holy Redeemer,[26] a scandalous parish whose pastors have given blessings to “Gay Pride” parades.[27]

Yet as noted earlier, Pope Francis, when still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, told Archbishop Quinn during a chance meeting in Rome that
he had read Quinn’s book, and is hoping that what it proposes will be implemented.[28]

We see the beginnings of this implementation in the general orientation of the Bergoglian papacy, especially manifest in the tumultuous Extraordinary synod of 2014, as well as the proposals for October Synod of 2015, wherein open questioning of Catholic morality and the scandal it causes is deemed more important than the stability of traditional doctrine.

We also recall that Pope Francis public praised Cardinal Martini’s program of Synodality when he said to Eugene Scalfari, “This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal. When Cardinal Martini talked about focusing on the councils and synods he knew how long and difficult it would be to go in that direction. Gently, but firmly and tenaciously.”

Along the same line, the infamous Hans Küng had nothing but grand applause for Pope Francis’ 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, particularly in regard to collegiality and so-called “church reform.”

Kung said, “In his Apostolic Exhortation 
Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis ... speaks out clearly in favor of church reform ‘at all levels’. He specifically advocates structural reforms – namely, decentralization towards local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favor of a more effective presence of women in the Church, above all in the decision-making bodies.”[29]

Francis’ program appears to be scripted straight from Cardinal Martini’s St. Gallen group, and from Archbishop Quinn. This is evident from the section Francis’
Evangelii Gaudium [#32] where he seems poised to grant bishops conferences “genuine doctrinal authority.”[30]

We should not be surprised, then, when we read the words of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Chairman of the German Bishops‘ Conference, where he effectively declared the German Church’s independence from certain aspects of Vatican rule. He said in late February, “We are not subsidiaries of Rome. Each conference of Bishops is responsible for the pastoral care in its culture, and must, as its most proper task. We cannot wait for a Synod to tell us how we here have to shape pastoral care for marriage and family.”[31]

It seems Cardinal Marx does nothing more than read the writing on the wall, anticipating Pope Francis’ apparent nod toward possibly opening the door for “greater doctrinal authority” of national bishops’ conferences. The result of such a move would be doctrinal, moral, liturgical and pastoral chaos. Even the late Msgr. William Smith, professor of Moral Theology at Dunwoodie Seminary, once said in a lecture, “The reason Rome is suspicious of national bishops’ conferences is because they often lead to [independent] National ‘Churches’.”

To quote Cardinal Burke once again, the "regional diversity" now being proposed that the proposed "is simply contrary to Catholic Faith and life. "[32]

As noted, the horizontalization and “decentralization” – now being advanced at the October 2015 Synod – can only result in the further fragmentation of the Catholic Faith worldwide. It is a blueprint for the emergence of national churches, the proliferation of contradictory doctrine and pastoral practice from nation-to-nation, all loosely joined in an alleged “reconciled diversity” (Cardinal Kasper’s term), which sounds the death-knell of the immutability, stability, unity, and universality of the Catholic Faith.


1. see "
Pope Francis is now effectively at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the Catholic Church could fall apart," Damien Thompson, The Spectaotor, Oct. 18, 2015 - and - "Pope Francis Reminds the Synod that He Has the Last Word," America, Oct. 17, 2015
The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, Austen Ivereigh [New York: Henry Hold & Co, 2013], p. 257.
3. See “The Martini Pope,” John Vennari,
Catholic Family News, January, 2014 (for Kasper material, see below, endnote 36).
4. See “Quinn to priest group: Church poised at a moment of far-reaching consequences,”
National Catholic Reporter, July 7, 2014.
5. Ivereigh, page 257.
“The Martini Pope,” J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, January, 2014.
7. “The Pope, How the Church Will Change,”
La Repubblica, Oct. 1, 2013 (emphasis added).
8. These first three points are widespread throughout the book.
The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity, Archbishop John Quinn [New York: Herder, 1999], p. 117.
10. Ibid, p. 123. Atila Sinke Guimaraes, writing in
CFN on the topic in 2001, explains, “Quinn’s generalization is excessive because in fact there are innumerable ways of choosing a bishop according to the traditions and privileges of each dioceses, and they are not able to be reduced to a single formula.” Quoted from “A New Papacy on the Horizon,” Guimaraes, Catholic Family News, April, 2001. I would add: We should note that the main criteria for those choosing a bishop, and those who are chosen as bishops, should be absolute fidelity to the Catholic Faith at all times. Quinn’s overemphasis on tampering with structures is yet another indication of his deficient understanding of Catholicism itself.
The Reform of the Papacy, pages 166 & 171.
12. This aspect of the proposed change in the papacy is a huge topic and will have to be dealt with at a later date. The ever-ecumenical John Paul II proposed unspecified changes in the Papacy for the sake of ecumenical concerns. He did this in his ecumenical Encyclical
Ut Unum Sint (May 25, 1995), which Quinn cites throughout his book. Quinn rejoices that this aspect of Ut Unum Sint is “precedent-breaking” and “revolutionary.” See Quinn’s The Reform of the Papacy, p. 34. Cardinal Kasper likewise argues for a re-structuring of the Papacy for the sake of ecumenism.
The Reform of the Papacy, p. 115.
Ratzinger Report, 1984, quoted from “Pope Francis’ doctrine chief: Bishops conference presidents are not ‘vice-popes’,” Lifesitenews, December 30, 2013.
The Reform of the Papacy, p. 160 (emphasis added).
16. Ibid., p. 30.
17. Ibid., p. 143.
18. Ibid., p. 160.
19. Ibid., p. 113.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid, pp. 167-169
22. As was the case when the Vatican II radicals imposed the New Mass, supposedly based on “ancient liturgical practices,” Quinn attempts to argue that what he proposes is actually a ‘rediscovery’ of Tradition regarding Church governance. His claims are a collection of statements that are misleading, half true, over-generalizations, lacking in crucial distinctions, and conspicuous in what they refuse to affirm; but this too requires more explanation than can be given in this issue. He also fails to make a proper distinction collegiality and legitimate subsidiarity. That being said, Quinn does also manage, here and there, to point out some valid problems, such as the overemphasis of papal authority that virtually believes the Pope is infallible in everything he says or does; as well as Cardinal Sodano’s self-serving claim that effectively says the Curia should never be criticized.
23. The Reform of the Papacy, Table of Contents.
24. More on Quinn’s 2013 book in a future installment.
25. “The Claims of the Primacy and the Costly Call to Unity,” Archbishop John R. Quinn, June, 1996; and response from Cardinal O’Connor: “Reflections on Church Government,” Cardinal John O’Connor,
Catholic New York, July 25, 1996. Both found at EWTN Library on line.
26. “Pope Appoints Gay-Friendly Bishop to San Francisco,” Dr. Marian T. Horvat,
27. “Life and Death at a Gay Parish,” Randy Engel,
28. “Quinn to priest group: Church poised at a moment of far-reaching consequences,”
National Catholic Reporter, July 7, 2014.
29. Quoted from “Pope Francis' text is a call for church reform at all levels,” Hans Küng,
The Tablet, November 29, 2013.
30. “Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach,” Pope Francis,
Evangelii Gaudium, #32.
31. “German Church declares independence before the 2015 Synod: ‘We are not a Roman Subsidiary’,”
Rorate Caeli, February 25, 2015 (emphasis added).
32. "
Cardinal Burke: controversial Synod proposal ‘simply contrary’ to Catholicism," Lifesitnenews, October 15, 2015.

This is an abridge version of from our top front page
Catholic Family News of May, 2015


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