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The Pope met on September 9 with Archbishop Robert Prevost, the prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops; and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the US, to discuss Bishop Strickland’s situation, Pillar reports. (Both Archbishops Prevost and Pierre will become members of the College of Cardinals at the consistory later this month.)
Citing a “senior official close to the dicastery,” Pillar said that the meeting was devoted to the results of an apostolic visitation of the Tyler diocese, and would likely result in a request for Bishop Strickland’s resignation.
While the apostolic visitation looked into complaints about mismanagement in the diocese, Bishop Strickland has become prominent because of his unabashed criticism of Pope Francis, in particular his statement that “I reject his program for undermining the Deposit of Faith.”
“We are excited to see the policy and hope especially it facilitates even greater support and partnership between USAID, local Catholic partners, and other religious leaders critical to peace and justice around the world,” said Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services.
In his analysis of the Gospel story, Father Spadaro says that “Jesus appears as if he were blinded by nationalism and theological rigor.” But the woman’s faith, he says, shook Jesus out of his rigid attitude, “to ‘convert’ him to himself.”
Conservative Catholics, the Pope said, “lose the true tradition and you turn to ideologies to have support. In other words, ideologies replace faith.”
The Pontiff made his remarks in a meeting with Jesuits in Lisbon during his visit there earlier this month. A transcript of the Pope’s talk was published August 28 by the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica.
In response to a question about criticism he has received from American Catholics, the Pope said that “in the United States the situation is not easy.” He attributed the problem to an organized opposition, in which “membership in a sector of the Church replaces membership in the Church.”
Pope Francis described his critics as “backwards,” and said that it is “useless” to treat Church doctrine as a “monolith.” He added: “The other sciences and their evolution also help the church in this growth in understanding.”
As examples of changes in Church teaching, the Pope cited the issues of slavery and capital punishment, pointing out that actions which were accepted in the past are now condemned. He said:
Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh— appointed by Pope Francis as an expert at the upcoming Synod— responded that “What Barron has trouble understanding is that the bid to convert others to the Catholic Church—proselytism—contradicts evangelization, which is firstly about facilitating the encounter with Christ.” Responding to Ivereigh, Bishop Barron writes that “one scarcely knows where to begin responding to the confusions on display here.”
Ivereigh’s understanding of proselytism as an objectionable “bid to convert others to the Catholic Church” differs markedly from the discussion of proselytism in a 2007 doctrinal note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There, the Congregation stated that “the term proselytism was often used as a synonym for missionary activity. More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.”
The German cardinal said that “I pray all this will be a blessing and not a harm to the Church.” But he insisted that the Synod must not become “a political dance around the golden calf of the agnostic spirit of the age.”
Cardinal Müller spoke of “false prophets”—including “even bishops who no longer believe in God as the origin and end of man and the Savior of the world. He voiced his fears that the Synod would focus on issues such as climate change rather than the Catholic faith.
The Synod must not and cannot change Catholic doctrine, the cardinal stressed. “No one on earth can change, add to, or take away from the Word of God.”
Regarding suggestions that the Synod might open the way for church blessings of same-sex couples, he said such an action would be “a direct contradiction of God’s word and will, a gravely sinful blasphemy.” He added that not even the Pope or the bishops could approve such radical changes, “because they contradict Revelation and the clear confession of the Church.”
Regarding the relationship between the Pontiff and the world’s bishops, Cardinal Müller said that the Synod should focus on “the Pope’s collegial relationship with the bishops, who are not his subordinates but his brothers in the same apostolic office.”
The 61-year-old prelate was appointed Archbishop of Berlin in 2015.