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Francis Led Off StageThe below is the translation of the Die Welt article that was authored by Julius Muller-Meiningen and appeared on September 10, 2015. I will have more to say about this in a followup post. I am re-posting the translated version from the Novus Ordo Watch website without comment…

FOR THE RECORD

Revolt Against Francis

High-ranking Vatican clerics are rebelling against Francis’ most recent decision regarding marriage annulments. They are accusing him of giving up an important dogma.

by Julius Müller-Meiningen

They’ve had enough. In three weeks’ time, the Catholic bishops of the world will meet in synod to deliberate about the future course of their church. In Rome, the clergy will encounter an apparatus that is dead set against the Pope, definitively. A dossier is being circulated in the halls of the curia, which has been made available to The Christian and the World of DIE ZEIT [weekly journal included in ZEIT], which systematically lists the alleged sins of the Pope. “Francis has taken off his mask”, a high-ranking Vatican cleric says. Some prelates even feel physical aggression coming up against the Pontiff, and they’re even willing to say so under cover of anonymity [<– this last sentence has since been removed from the German original, without acknowledgment —Transl., 12-SEP-15].

The trigger for what one can confidently call the preparations for an organized resistance against Francis, was the most recent decree of the 78-year-old Argentinian. With the document he published last Tuesday [Sep. 8], which enables simpler and faster annulments of marriages in church, he set the Church before a fait accompli. Mitis Iudex Dominus is the title of the edict, which is supposed to be in reference to Jesus the meek Judge. But within the curia, the meekness that Francis wants to show the faithful who find themselves in conflict with ecclesiastical norms, is out of the question. A number of monsignors who are officially in charge of directing the affairs of the church at large, are beside themselves.

This is manifest in an incisively-worded dossier that has recently been disseminated throughout the most important offices of the Vatican, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Secretariat of State. In it, the decree for the simplication of marriage annulments is juridically picked apart. The main accusations [against Francis] are that the Pope bypassed the committees that are in charge of this matter that is of such fundamental importance to the church, and that he has introduced de facto “Catholic divorce”. The report, which is several pages long, speaks of “unsettling developments” and argues that Francis “circumvented” the regulated process for changing legislation for the universal church. Most of the safeguards found in matrimonial annulment trials were deliberately “eliminated”, the report claims.

The importance of matrimony, especially the question how to deal with divorced spouses who marry again [sic], is at the epicenter of the debate about the future direction of the church. The indissolubility of marriage is the dogma conservative clerics stick to. “Divorce the Catholic way”, enabled by the Pope, would mean the worst-case scenario for the guardians [sic] of doctrine such as the German Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. On his desk, too, is found the inofficial bill of indictment against Francis. Muller and his friends, who are spread throughout the curia, fear that the entire edifice will collapse if one of its foundations is removed. In their view, this is a matter of the very continuation of the true Catholic Church.

The introduction of a speedy process for discerning the nullity of marriages under the supervision of the [local] bishop is of particular concern to the Pope’s critics. From their point-of-view, a lot of controverial theological problems were ignored by Francis. Thus in the decree are found several extremely vague reasons that suffice for getting a speedy trial started, such as “lack of faith” or other motives that are not clearly defined. If, as is feared by the Pope’s opponents, this should now lead to a flood of annulments, the problem of admitting remarried divorcees to the sacraments, which has long affected the church, would be practically eliminated. From now on they would be able to simply exit their Catholic marriage, supposedly contracted in perpetuity, without a problem. Per papal decree.

The synod, set to begin October 4, is thus in danger of being turned into a merry-go-round of debate. The Pope — such is the tenor — makes his decisions according to his own pleasure anyway. He didn’t stick to the regular process of changing legislation, according to the seven-page document. The bishops’ conferences as well as all curial offices were bypassed, including the Vatican’s own canon lawyers.

A commission put together by the Pope, which had been ordered to keep silent, quietly drafted the [new] legislation. Otherwise it would presumably have been crushed and prevented by the curial apparatus. Although there were loud protests at the previous synod last fall against the idea of a speedy process for determining the nullity of a marriage under the supervision of the [local] bishop, it nevertheless is now a part of church law — even before the synod could take up the matter once more.

Does the Pope want to impose his long-predetermined course of action with all his might? In the most important offices of the curia, the doubts have long turned into certainty. Many of the faithful, however, will be cheering.

[Julius Muller-Meiningen, “Aufstand gegen Franziskus”, Zeit Online, Sep. 10, 2015; translated by Novus Ordo Watch]

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