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The Ignatius Press conspiracy to control the synods on the family

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 29, 2015 | In Reviews

While we’re on the topic of conspiracies, I think we have to be perfectly honest. Ignatius Press, a bastion of intelligent orthodoxy, has been trying to control the course of the synods on the family for the past two years. So when Ignatius published its own allegations of conspiracy—The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?—was it only a smokescreen?

Move over, Edward Pentin.

You might recall that in the Fall of last year, in the nick of time to sway the discussions of the assembled bishops, Ignatius published three books which were transparently intended to scuttle the Kasper Proposal. Still relevant this year, the titles are Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church (by selected priests and prelates); The Hope of the Family by Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and The Gospel of the Family: Going beyond Cardinal Kasper’s proposal in the debate on marriage, civil re-marriage, and communion in the Church, by two highly-credentialed scholars who both teach at the John Paul II Institute in Rome.

This year we find the California publisher at it again, with three more books calculated to thwart their liberal counterparts (led by certain German bishops) by guiding the Synod fathers into a positive vision of sexuality and marriage that will respect Our Lord’s plan for both. Here is the latest conspiratorial triad:

  • Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family: Essays from a Pastoral Viewpoint. Edited by Winfried Aymans, this volume consists of essays by eleven current and retired Church leaders who wish to highlight pastoral approaches to marriage which can strengthen the understanding and permanent commitment of those called to it. The eleven cardinals are Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Baselios Cleemis of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Paul Josef Cordes (former President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum), Dominik Duka O.P. of Prague, Wilhelm Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht, Joachim Meisner (former Archbishop of Cologne), John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Antonio Maria Rouca Varela (former Archbishop of Madrid), Camillo Ruini (former Vicar General of Rome), Robert Sarah (Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments), and Jorge L. Urosa Savino of Caracas.
  • Christ’s New Homeland—Africa: Contribution to the Synod on the Family by African Pastors. Here Ignatius takes advantage of the vibrancy of African Catholicism as compared with the frequently tepid faith of the secular West. As a rule, African Catholics instinctively value marriage, children, life-long commitment, and the complementarity found in male-female sexuality. Accordingly, the publisher has gathered together essays by no fewer than ten African bishops, archbishops and cardinals. Clearly crafted with the second Synod on the Family in mind, the collection is divided into three parts: (1) The Synod on the Family: From One Assembly to Another; (2) The Gospel of the Family; and (3) Pastoral Care for Families that Are Hurting. The volume closes with an epilogue by Jean-Pierre Cardinal Kutwa of Abidjan entitled “An Appeal from the Church in Africa to the State”. There has been a good deal of news about the efforts of the African church to counter the machinations of the German and Austrian churches on issues of marriage and sexuality. This volume is clearly part of that effort.
  • Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same-Sex Attraction. Now, just when you were beginning to suspect that Ignatius Press was a one-trick pony, thoroughly preoccupied with the permanence of marriage, the remarkable Catholic publisher has given us a stellar book on the problem of homosexuality—the inordinate attachment which underlies the catastrophe of same-sex marriage. Unless you are thinking politically, this is the most significant of the three new books, by a country mile.
    That’s because this is not a collection of high-ranking prelates designed partly to overawe the other Synod fathers. No, here we have a dozen of the best Catholic scholars, psychologists and doctors exploring the nature of same-sex attraction, what it signifies, and how to deal with it. In addition, six authors, who are committed to living chastely despite experiencing same-sex attraction, offer their personal testimonies. Edited by the incomparable Janet Smith and Fr. Paul Check, Living the Truth in Love is a direct response to the questions raised in the lineamenta for the upcoming 2015 Synod on this topic.

Since I recognize Living the Truth in Love as a very special title, I intend to read it slowly and carefully so that I can give it a fuller review later. But I would not like any delay in fulfilling this commitment to prevent readers from getting their own copy in time to benefit from it while the Synod is in session—even though its value will clearly extend far beyond the end of the year.

Now as to this extended conspiracy on the part of Ignatius Press, perhaps it isn’t fair to use that word. Conspiracy derives from the Latin conspiratio, from the verb conspirare, which means “to breathe together”. The folks at Ignatius certainly do that. But to be a conspirator, one must keep everything in the dark, whereas Ignatius shouts from the housetops. In any case, there is no sin in attempting to influence the deliberations of bishops. The sin consists in influencing them toward evil.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Oct. 01, 2015 8:07 PM ET USA

    Students of Latin know that it was Catiline who gave "conspiracy" the taint it has today.

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 29, 2015 9:36 PM ET USA

    Thank you for the heads up. Throughout the history of the Church every challenge to Catholic Faith resulted in better clarification of the doctrine. Hopefully, this is what we are witnessing right now.

  • Posted by: seewig - Sep. 29, 2015 6:47 PM ET USA

    Thanks for the hard work of sorting it out for us. It's not easy, since so many agents are trying to pull the narrative their way, which one would have to check again for veracity.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Sep. 29, 2015 3:47 PM ET USA

    Beware the Ignatius Press conspiracy of virtue!