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Synodality ‘neo-Marxist, New Age good will’, Pell says in parting column

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Cardinal George Pell with Pope Francis at St Peter’s Basilica in 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Synodality has “developed into a toxic nightmare”, is “poutpourri”, “neo-Marxist jargon” and an “outpouring of New Age good will … hostile in significant ways to the apostolic tradition,” Cardinal George Pell wrote in an article shortly before his unexpected death, published on 11 January in the British magazine The Spectator.

In his column, Cardinal Pell summarises the Synod on Synodality’s latest working document before launching into a series of stinging attacks, writing that “working documents are not part of the magisterium”.

“It is incomplete, hostile in significant ways to the apostolic tradition and nowhere acknowledges the New Testament as the Word of God, normative for all teaching on faith and morals,” the Cardinal wrote.

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“The Old Testament is ignored, patriarchy rejected and the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments, is not acknowledged.”

The Cardinal does not criticise the Holy Father, noting instead that in parts of the Church “discipline is loosening – especially in Northern Europe”.

Cardinal Pell also calls into question the suitability of the synod’s relator, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich.

He writes that Cardinal Hollerich has “publicly rejected the basic teachings of the Church on sexuality, on the grounds that they contradict modern science”.

“In normal times this would have meant that his continuing as Relator was inappropriate, indeed impossible.

“The synods have to choose whether they are servants and defenders of the apostolic tradition on faith and morals, or whether their discernment compels them to assert their sovereignty over Catholic teaching.

“They must decide whether basic teachings on things like priesthood and morality can be parked in a pluralist limbo where some choose to redefine sins downwards and most agree to differ respectfully.”

He adds that Bishops have been the main actor in all synods and councils of the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and that this should be asserted “in a gentle, co-operative way” during the continental stage to preserve sound doctrine.

“Bishops are not there simply to validate due process and offer a ‘nihil obstat’ to what they have observed,” Cardinal Pell wrote.

“None of the synod’s participants, lay, religious, priest or bishop are well served by the synod ruling that voting is not allowed and propositions cannot be proposed.”

The Spectator’s religion editor, Damien Thompson, wrote a preface and post-script to the column in which he said Cardinal Pell had written it shortly before his unexpected death.

“The Australian-born cardinal, who endured the terrible ordeal of imprisonment in his home country on fake charges of sex abuse before being acquitted, was nothing if not courageous,” Mr Thompson wrote.

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