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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Vatican officials are hinting at the prospect of voting rights for non-bishops at the upcoming Synod on Synodality.
In an interview Sunday, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Cdl. Mario Grech, mentioned that at least one non-bishop would be voting in the final stage of the global Synod on Synodality in Rome.
"It is a synod of bishops, so the bishops are very important," he began. "But I'm sure other members will participate. And of the lay people, at least Sister Nathalie Becquart will have voting rights."
When asked if one woman's vote would be enough to bring about change in the Church, the Maltese prelate responded, "The focus on the question of voting rights surprises me because we are not making any progress with voting. Synodality does not mean winning or losing votes. It's about trying to reach a consensus."
In a homily during the European synodal assembly, Grech also tried to allay the concerns of faithful Catholics, though without providing much real clarity. "The synod is not there to destroy distinctions, to destroy the Catholic identity," he said. "It is not there to raze distinctions. Rather, it is there to uphold distinctions, to understand the Gospel and what makes the Catholic Church truly One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic."
Despite Grech's protestations, the relator general for the Synod on Synodality, Cdl. Jean-Claude Hollerich, is pushing ahead with the notion of synodal voting rights for the laity. In an interview, the heterodox archbishop of Luxembourg quipped, "The assembly in Rome will be a synod of bishops according to canon law. But there will also be a larger number of lay people, and I could imagine that some of them will also have voting rights."
Sister Nathalie Becquart and Cdl. Hollerich are two of the key players behind the Synod on Synodality.
Last year, Becquart endorsed the dissident pro-gay group New Ways Ministries. The organization was previously censured by then-Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger during his time as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Ratzinger labeled New Ways' sodomitical ideologies "erroneous and dangerous."
Becquart has also enjoyed the support of the Women's Ordination Conference, which, as the name would suggest, promotes female ordinations to the diaconate and the priesthood.
When asked about the prospect of the global synod achieving female ordinations, Becquart simply responded:
The vision of Pope Francis, through this synod, is to get rid of a clerical Church and move to a synodal Church — to disconnect participation in the leadership of the Church from ordination. ... The question of women is a sign of the times. It is a powerful call within our societies and in the Church.
In 2020, Hollerich outright admitted that he was "open" to women becoming "priestesses." The prelate has also endorsed homosexuality, in contradiction to the teachings of Holy Mother Church, which he called "false." He explained:
I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct. What one formerly condemned was sodomy. One thought at that time that in the sperm of the man, the whole child was kept. And one has simply transferred this to homosexual men. But there is no homosexuality at all in the New Testament. There is only discussion of homosexual acts, which were to some extent pagan cultic acts. That was naturally forbidden. I believe it is time for us to make a revision in the foundation of the teaching. ... [W]e cannot give the answers of the past to the questions of tomorrow.
Both Hollerich and Becquart have also touted the leftist climate change agenda. Hollerich once claimed that climate change is or will be deadlier than COVID-19 and, much more recently, Becquart used Oceania's synodal assembly (comprising Australia, New Zealand and numerous islands in the Pacific) as a bullhorn to promote climate change ideology.
Grech is also part of this camp, despite his seemingly moderate stance on issues such as female ordinations and laity voting in the synod. As bishop of Gozo, Grech took to national TV to laud the country's decision to legalize same-sex so-called marriage. He has also long been in favor of divorced and civilly remarried couples receiving the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the Maltese prelate even threatened his Gozo priests who upheld Church teaching and denied those couples Communion.
Despite various noncommittal statements and semi-spiritual vagaries, Becquart, Hollerich and Grech are leading the charge for decentralizing the Church's inherent hierarchical structure.
In 2020, Pope Francis told U.S. bishops that synodality does not mean democracy.
Bishop Robert Barron, one of the prelates who met with the pontiff on the occasion, recalled, "Whatever Pope Francis means by 'synodality,' he quite clearly doesn't mean a process of democratization, or putting doctrine up for a vote. He means, it seems to me, a structured conversation among all of the relevant ecclesial players — bishops, priests, and laity — for the sake of hearing the voice of the Spirit."
One of the key tenets of the Synod on Synodality is listening to the sensus fidelium (the sense of the faithful). While listening to the faithful is far from a novel concept, its implementation in the Synod on Synodality seems to be an inversion of its rightful operation.
According to the Vatican's International Theological Commission, the Magisterium of the Church ought to listen to the faithful in order to clarify doctrines the faithful themselves are bound to receive and accept. What is happening now in the Synod, under the guidance of Becquart, Hollerich, Grech and other heterodox prelates, is seemingly the inverse: The Magisterium (or rather, those in charge of preserving and preaching the Magisterium) is listening to the faithful not in order to clarify but in order to change doctrine, as though the Magisterium were bound to receive and adopt the opinions of the faithful.
Shortly before he died, Australian Cdl. George Pell wrote a scathing criticism of the Synod on Synodality, calling it a "toxic nightmare."
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.
Without ever mentioning synodal voting rights for laity, Pell explicated why that particular duty is reserved for bishops. The Australian prelate wrote, "Since the time of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, the bishop is ... the guarantor of continuing fidelity to Christ's teaching, the apostolic tradition. They are governors and sometimes judges, as well as teachers and sacramental celebrants, and are not just wall flowers or rubber stamps."
It remains to be seen whether the laity will be given voting rights at the final stage of the synod. As Cdl. Grech correctly noted, "The final decision on this rests with the Holy Father." Although he did warn, "This question has not yet been clarified."