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In the previous post titled Francis’ Nash Equilibrium (see here), your humble blogger demonstrated that a Nash Equilibrium existed in a prospective STRATEGY that could be executed at the Stealth Sex Synod™ of 2015, a STRATEGY  that would entail the following elements:

• First of all, a midterm report will not be released.
• The plan is for the Synod to carry out discussions mostly in “small groups” (circuli minores) without a general discussion.
• No final report or post-synodal apostolic exhortation is foreseen at the moment, at least according to recent rumors.
• In the end, the reports of the small groups would be put in the Pope’s hands, and the Pope would then give a final address.

The reason that this strategy contains a Nash Equilibrium is due to the observation that no player has anything to gain by changing the strategy (as per outlined above) and if any player changed the strategy, a worse result (payout matrix) would occur for that player.

Therefore, the Nash Equilibrium was defined as:

TEAMFRANCIS can do no better than executing a strategy that produces no OFFICIAL SYNOD DOCUMENTS, since any DOCUMENT that would arise and would designate a “change in doctrine” would be voted down by the Synod. TEAMFRANCIS needs a change of doctrine.

TEAMORTHODOXY can do no better likewise since if it tries to force the Synod to issue a formal DOCUMENT and then proceeds to vote down the “heterodox/heretical” passages, this will create a situation whereby the pope will have been defeated in a vote by the Synod of Bishops. This will weaken the Petrine Office since it will demonstrate that the pope and bishops are not united in questions of faith and morals.

While the situation for the TEAMFRANCIS side of the STRATEGY is very well understood, the situation for the TEAMORTHODOXY side is less so. As a matter of fact, your humble blogger received a comment to this effect. The comment was made by DJR and is as follows:

Why would Pope Francis lose if the proposals of TeamFrancis are voted down, and how would the authority of the Petrine Office suffer in such a scenario?
We saw last year that voting on the inclusion of certain paragraphs in the final documentation was meaningless, as Pope Francis overruled the vote and had the rejected paragraphs inserted anyway.

That doesn’t seem like a loss to me at all. If anything, it demonstrates the pope’s unchecked power.

This is a very good question, and it was actually the subject matter of the next post in this Nash Equilibrium series. Therefore, I will use  DJR’s comment as a lead in and try to explain why the above explanation of the issue for TEAMORTHODOXY is a TRUE STATEMENT and more importantly, a proper concern for the forces that have been termed as TEAMORTHODOXY.

To begin with, the reason that the opposing force to TEAMFRANCIS have been designated as TEAMORTHODOXY is that these individuals represent more than just “an interest in a specific outcome” at the Stealth Sex Synod of Bishops.

As I mentioned over the course of the last three posts, after Francis’ declaration of war on Christmas message to the Roman Curia, a CIVIL WAR broken out behind the Sacred Vatican Walls. This CIVIL WAR was and is being fought on various fronts. The most obvious is the doctrinal front at the Synod of Bishops.

But the individual battles of the CIVIL WAR span much more than just this one battle. For example, the battles also entails Collegiality itself, or the proper place of this “SYNOD” novelty in the governance of the Church. This NOVELTY created during the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium Chap. III) could have a direct impact with respect to the “management” of the Catholic Church and its teaching office. If we recall, Francis claimed that he wants a more democratic church, and that he wants the synod to be “developed” into what can be termed as a “second branch of government” of the Holy See.

Given the above, it is with a certain level of “curiosity” that we observed how Francis completely disregarded what the Secret Synod of 2014 had to say on the subject of The Three Paragraphs (see here), and had those paragraphs that were voted down by the Synod Bishops after the mid-term Relatio, inserted into the Final Relatio. (see here)

What is important to understand from the above episode, is the Francis consciously strives to debase the power of the Petrine Office. By setting up a synodal structure, a structure he wants to make permanent (see here), Francis is in fact setting up a competing “branch of the Holy See”, he hopes that this branch will develop into a counterweight to the Petrine Office in the years ahead.

Here we need to mention the words of the titular bishop of Tiburnia, Victor Manual Fernandez who provided us with key to understanding this process. (see here) Once again, according to Francis via his closest and most trusted accomplice and ghostwriter: “But Catholics, reading the Gospel, know that Christ assured special guidance and enlightenment for the pope and bishops all together, but not for a prefect or another structure.” AND “Gathered around the pope, in a theological sense, is the College of Bishops in order to serve the people.”

But just in case the above is insufficient and does not meet the preponderance of evidence threshold, so to drive the point home, Francis has taken other actions in order to undermine and devalue the Petrine Office. Among the most blatant have been:

  1. Complete disregard for convention, i.e. no mozzetta, no red shoes, not using his papal title pp. when signing documents, not wanting to be called pope, but rather bishop of Rome,
  2. Not residing in the papal apartment but in a larger residence occupying an entire floor at Domus Sanctae Marthae,
  3. Attempting to make the Vatican II novelty synod of bishops into a permanent fixture with legislative powers,
  4. Disregarding the Curia with respect to contents of formal speeches and documents. This gave rise to the “theological structuring” functionality (see here)
  5. And the list goes on…..

With respect to the orthodox bishops, the problem that Francis is facing is that the bishops, as per their representatives at the Secret Synod of 2014, continue to see the Petrine Office in its proper context. In other words, they see the synod as a consultative body.

They were shocked when Francis had the “voted down” paragraphs inserted into the Final Relatio, but were even more shocked when he ordered that the vote count on those respective paragraphs be revealed.

The main reason that the bishops were stunned at the release of the vote count is because not all the bishops voted according to their “sensus ecclesiae”, but rather were voting “with the pope”. Now in normal times, “voting with the pope” would be the same as voting with a “sensus ecclesiae”. But as we know sports fans, these ain’t normal times. But I digress…

This concept of “voting with the pope” is an OBJECTIVE REALITY and a long-held Catholic tradition. (see here) The reason for the “voting with the pope” tradition is that it is based on Catholic magisterial teaching. Here is how one source defines the Magisterium: (see here)

By the Magisterium we mean the teaching office of the Church. It consists of the Pope and Bishops. Christ promised to protect the teaching of the Church : “He who hears you, hears me; he who rejects you rejects me, he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me” (Luke 10. 16). Now of course the promise of Christ cannot fail: hence when the Church presents some doctrine as definitive or final, it comes under this protection, it cannot be in error; in other words, it is infallible. This is true even if the Church does not use the solemn ceremony of definition. The day-to-day teaching of the Church throughout the world, when the Bishops are in union with each other and with the Pope, and present something as definitive, this is infallible.

Therefore, from the above, it is an ex post facto REALITY that for an orthodox Catholic bishop, he has a huge problem with the concept of not “voting with the pope”. Therefore, in questionable situations, the pope is always given the benefit of the doubt. On an aside, this is why we observed the large number of votes for the heretical documents at the Second Vatican Council. As per Card. Kasper, heretical concepts were incorporated into the text with Catholic teaching. Sometimes into the same sentences. (see here) But I digress… The fact that this orthodox bishop has to not “vote with the pope” must be the more problematic when he observes that Francis himself doesn’t give a rats rear end about the tradition of “voting with the pope”.

Furthermore, from his side of the fence, the orthodox bishop does not consider Francis as a Vatican strongman or even a modern-day oracle of Delphi. He is “just” the successor of St. Peter. And the Church that he “overseas” is not his Church, but the Church of Our Lord. It must be a psychologically devastating situation to be in, when this bishop sees how Francis is “putting a sledgehammer” to the Petrine Office. A good example of just this is in the video above, at the 26:00 minute mark when Card. Burke speaks about being in conflict with a fellow cardinal.

I will end on this note. Just to sum up the above. Every bishop always wants to “vote with the pope”. To not “vote with the pope“, the bishop needs good cause. All benefits of doubt must go to the pontiff. When the Faithful observe bishops not voting with the pope, it depreciates the Petrine Office by undermining its authority.  The continuous depreciation of the Petrine Office will have a direct impact on future pontiffs. And since the Catholic Church is Our Lord’s Church and will be with us until the second coming, it is very logical to understand that a bishop, when placed in a situation of not “voting with a pope” or not voting, would choose the latter.

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