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Double Standard

Heretics Demonstrate at Vatican

by Christopher A. Ferrara

As we know, the Vatican apparatus at the command of Cardinal Sodano made certain to announce---only one day after the terrorist attack on America---that Father Nicholas Gruner is "suspended" by the Bishop of Avellino and that a conference on world peace and Fatima sponsored by his apostolate "does not enjoy the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authority."

Rather extraordinary interventions against a priest who has done nothing wrong and a conference of clergy and laity that does not need "approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authority" in the first place. Yet this very week here in Rome, during the Synod of bishops, there was another conference---something called the "shadow Synod."

This conference was attended by a collection of dissident groups which challenge Church teaching on the impossibility of women's "ordination," contraception, priestly celibacy and a host of other settled matters of Catholic doctrine. Indeed, reports that "While bishops gathered in the Synod hall on Thursday, a group of Catholic dissidents met just outside the Vatican to unite in calls for radical changes in Church doctrine and discipline. The dissident group, led by 'We Are The Church,' said that they would present their own message to the bishops as their meeting concluded."

Did the Vatican make any announcement to the effect that "the shadow Synod" does not "enjoy the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authority"? Well, of course not. Just as the Vatican took no action against one Sister Chichester when she very loudly and very publicly attended a recent conference in favor of women's ordination, despite the Vatican's polite "request" that she not attend. And then Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls made a special announcement to clarify that there would be no discipline of Chichester.

Strange days indeed in this our beloved Church. Vulgar dissidents demonstrate at the Vatican and demand changes in settled Church teaching; dissident nuns attend heretical conferences in open defiance of the Vatican; Hans Kung publishes a book describing Blessed Pius IX as a psychopath and denying the Scriptural basis of the papacy. And the Vatican does nothing. But the same bureaucracy is galvanized by the prospect that a few clergy and laity will meet in Rome to discuss the Message of Fatima.

Whether or not one supports Father Gruner and his work, this is a state of affairs that one ought to ponder. How different is it, really, from the situation lamented by Saint Basil and Saint Athanasius? This latter Saint was "excommunicated" and exiled five times during the Arian crisis of the 4th century, and Saint Basil described the situation as follows: "Only one offense is now vigorously punished---an accurate observance of our fathers’ traditions. For this cause the pious are driven from their countries and transported into deserts."