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Synod of Bishops might resist machinations of leadership

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 29, 2015

In the promising new series of Letters from the Synod, edited by the pseudonymous Xaiver Rynne II, George Weigel opens things with an intriguing and encouraging historical comparison.

In the months leading up to Vatican II, according to the standard historical narrative (for now, we need not be concerned whether that narrative is fully accurate or not), Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani was confident that he had things fully in hand. He didn’t. The Council fathers rejected the preliminary documents offered by Cardinal Ottaviani and his curial staff, and went off in entirely new directions.

Today, Weigel observes, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri seems to think that he has the Synod of Bishops under control. (His purposes are very different from those of the late Cardinal Ottaviani; he is pushing for dramatic changes, while Cardinal Ottaviani was resisting them. But again, that need not concern us here.) He, too, may have miscalculated.

When the Synod opens next week, scores of bishops—including whole blocs of prelates from African and Eastern Europe—will be poised to resist any move that they see as potentially weakening Church teaching on marriage. We could easily see the drama of Vatican II played out again—this time in reverse. Oremus.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Sep. 29, 2015 2:37 PM ET USA

    Hope springs eternal. I would like to see the Africans and Eastern Europeans spiritually body slam the Germans and company at the Synod. Oremus.