VATICAN CITY — Two cardinals have sent letters to fellow members of the College of Cardinals, raising concerns about the working document for an upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazon Region.
“Some points of the synod’s Instrumentum laboris seem not only in dissonance with respect to the authentic teaching of the Church, but even contrary to it,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller wrote to fellow cardinals in an Aug. 28 letter obtained by CNA.
The synod is scheduled to take place in Rome Oct. 6-27.
“The nebulous formulations of the Instrumentum, as well as the proposed creation of new ecclesial ministries for women and, especially, the proposed priestly ordination of the so-called viri probati arouse strong suspicion that even priestly celibacy will be called into question,” the cardinal wrote.
Cardinal Brandmüller said that the leaders of the pan-Amazon synod have given him concern about its proceedings.
“The sole fact that Cardinal (Claudio) Hummes is the president of the synod and thus will exercise a grave influence in a negative sense, suffices to have a well founded and realistic concern, as much as in the case of bishops (Erwin) Kräutler, (Franz-Josef) Overbeck, etc.”
Cardinal Hummes, a native of Brazil, was prefect of the Congregation for Clergy from 2006-2010. Bishop Krautel, 80, is the emeritus bishop of the Brazilian Prelature of Xingu in the Amazon, and has been a longtime proponent of married priests. Bishop Overbeck, 55, is the Bishop of Essen. Overbeck is known in Germany as an advocate for a re-examination of the Church’s teaching on ordination and sexual morality.
Cardinal Brandmüller, 90, was for three decades a professor of Church history, and was president of the International Commission for Contemporary Church History from 1998 until 2006. He was made a cardinal in 2010, but, at age 81, he had passed the age limit for participation in the election of a pope.
“We must face serious challenges to the integrity of the Deposit of the Faith, the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church and its Apostolic Tradition. With all this has been created a situation never before seen in the Church’s history, not even during the Arian crisis of the fourth and fifth century,” Cardinal Brandmüller added.
The German cardinal said that all cardinals must consider how they will react to “any heretical statements or decisions of the synod.”
“I would hope, therefore, that Your Eminence, for your part, will seize this opportunity to correct, according to the teachings of the Church, certain positions expressed in the Instrumentum laboris of the pan-Amazonian synod,” the cardinal concluded.
Also on Aug. 28, Cardinal Raymond Burke wrote to fellow cardinals, telling them that he “shares completely the deep concerns of Cardinal Brandmüller on the upcoming Synod on the Amazon, based upon its instrumentum laboris (working document).
Noting that the synod’s instrumentum laboris “is a long document marked by language which is not clear in its meaning, especially in what concerns the Depositum fidei,” Burke added that it “contradicts the constant teaching of the Church on the relationship between the created world and God, the uncreated Creator, and man, created in the image and likeness of God to cooperate with him as guardian of the created world.”
Cardinal Burke also claims that the instrumentum laboris “characterize the teaching regarding the unicity and universality of the salvation brought by Christ alive in the Church as relative to a particular culture and emblematic of what they call ‘petrified doctrine’ (n. 38).”
In the synod’s working document, Cardinal Burke added, “the truth that God has revealed Himself fully and perfectly through the mystery of the Incarnation of the Redeemer, the Son of God, is obscured, if not denied.”
“Cardinal Brandmüller indicated in his letter the serious difficulties regarding the ordained ministry and perfect continence of the clergy. These proposals, as the cardinal indicates, attack the ‘hierarchical-sacramental structure’ and ‘the Apostolic Tradition of the Church.’”
The “disturbing propositions of the Instrumentum laboris” Cardinal Burke said, “portend an apostasy from the Catholic faith.”